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She seemed so cold with her pursed lips and slanted eyebrows buried deep into her lids. With her head tilted to the side and arms crossed over her breasts, I couldn’t help but get the feeling that she was summing me up, and I was failing miserably. Perhaps she was. Perhaps I was being paranoid. Maybe it’s the strong smell of coffee perfuming the air, wafting harshly in my face as the fan blows loudly in the background. I’m looking at her trying to keep from accidentally swallowing my pride to step out and clear the lump in my throat.

“Where is the restroom?” I asked to cover my nervousness. It seemed a plausible reason to step out.

Her eyes widened slightly and her head tilted to the other side. She shook her head as though shocked by the sudden question after the long pause of painful silence. She blinked a couple of times before answering. “Uhm,” a slight pause, “down the hall… to the… left, second door on your right.” She gestured the directions with her hand, but I was mostly paying attention to the slight stutter in her words and the hesitation it took to get from her brain to her mouth.

“Thank-you. I’ll be right back.” I stood up awkwardly and bowed, grabbing my purse with my cold and clammy hands. I exited, closing the door behind me and letting out a slow but loud sigh. I straightened myself and headed to my temporary haven, praying that it was at least somewhat decent in terms of cleanliness.

I looked around the maze of hallways, attempting to remember the actual words she had uttered… stuttered. It seemed to wander aimlessly in the back of my mind. There was no way she was interested in me. Her mind was definitely on other things. I glided through the white walls and gray carpet and found my destination. The mirror seemed to glare at me. My hair was fine. I opened my mouth to check my teeth. There was nothing there. Baffled by my sense of insecurity, I straightened myself, took a deep breath and returned to her office.

I opened the door and immediately the strong smell of coffee invaded my senses.

I hated coffee. That brown strong smell and overwhelming bitter taste.

I bowed before sitting down in the black leather chair. In her hands she held a steaming mug, filled to the rim with that icky brown liquid. She looked up, handing me a sheet of paper with a label at the top: “Policies” I am certain I looked like a deer in headlights. My stupefied expression did me little good, but she seemed convinced.

“I apologize for being so rude,” she said, taking a sip from her mug with a smile, “I haven’t had my coffee this morning. I’ll see you Monday.”

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