Anna walks swiftly, but quietly out the door of the conference room. Sandra starts to call after her.
How easy it is to see through her indifference, how understandable her angst has become. The company has set Anna aside, yet still she remains, owned by the invention she once claimed. Her purpose has long since been served and everyone knows this, as they whisper at her passing. She’s been losing responsibilities each week, each month.
It’s been a contest between the company trying to get her to quit and her trying to get fired, and it’s making everyone around her uncomfortable. They’re afraid to choose sides. No one wants to jeopardize their job, yet they can’t help but sympathize with the mother of their product.
Sandra stands up to call after Anna, but the courtyard door closes at the end of the hall. Anna’s backside has become a common sight to everyone that works at the Academy.
Sandra turns to the wood simulated conference table, as if to address the backs of the chairs sitting flush against an oval plane of emptiness.
She has a husband and two small children, yet at this moment she feels utterly alone. Not just because the room is empty, but also the abandonment that Anna must feel. Yet that emptiness is shadowed by the realization that she too is just another cog in this machine.
Shaking off the engulfing sense of emptiness she credits herself with noticing that Gail is a rising star. She remains standing in this cool room, as she reminds herself that her children will lead protected lives as long as she remains working here.
“It’s for the children,” she continues reminding herself as she studies the bare walls. The cracks between the panels create a series of vertical lines, which give an allusion of lasting stability. “As long as I continue making myself indispensable to Gail,” she thinks to herself, “I’ll make this last at least until they’re out of college.”