Orange light danced across the waves as the ocean caressed the shoreline. The soft cries of gulls rode on the breeze as she walked along the beach. Before her was a sheer rock face of white stone, gleaming in the sunset with hues of yellows and reds. Squinting, she covered her eyes and gazed along the shore, searching.
Suddenly, she smiled. At the foot of the cliff was a child, a boy. His face was hidden from her, but she could see his hands working diligently to finish his sand castle before the sun disappeared below the horizon. Noticing her, he waved her over to join him.
In childish glee, she ran over to him and dug her fingers into the wet golden sand to add to the boy’s structure. Their laughter mingled with the gentle breeze as the image began to fade.
In her fading vision, she saw the boy place an item in her palm and close her hand. His mouth was moving but she couldn’t hear a sound. Leaning in, she finally heard his voice.
“At the gate between earth and sea, you’ll always find me.”
“Gate between earth and sea?” she repeated.
The boy pointed behind her. She turned and was met by a dazzling beam of light.
Sofia woke up with a start, starfished across her bed, the sheets in disarray. The early morning light was seeping through the blinds across her messy room and directly into her face.
That dream again?
The alarm clock by her bed began to blare, causing Sofia to jump in surprise.
All thought of the beach and the boy was gone.
“Tahira, this report is inadequate. I need you to do it over.” Sofia dramatically dropped a heavy portfolio on Tahira’s desk.
The young woman, caught off guard, stared blankly at the papers. “I, erm…”
“Do you not understand? It needs to be overhauled.” Sofia sat on Tahira’s desk and leaned in towards her.
“Um, y-yes ma’am.”
“By this afternoon, understood?”
“B-but what about the Milton project?”
“THIS AFTERNOON,” emphasized Sofia as she walked away.
Whispers from surrounding cubicles followed Sofia as she made her way back to her office.
“Who does she think she is?”
“Why does she have to be so rude?”
“She’s acting like she owns the place…”
Autumn, a tall, slender woman with short afro, met Sofia at the door to her office.
“Well that was entirely unnecessary,” she said as she followed Sofia to her desk.
“How else will things get done around here?”
“Sofia,” Autumn sighed deeply, “I know the last presentation meeting didn’t go as planned, but this isn’t the way to get back at Jasper.”
“Who said this has anything to do with Jasper? Tahira is simply incompetent, is all.”
“Tahira has only been with the company for a month! She’s still learning the ropes, and you’ve been putting too much pressure on her. The projects you’ve given should be handled by more senior staff.”
“When I first started here, I learned quickly to pull my own weight. It’s the only way to survive, get acknowledged, and be respected. The way I see it, I’m doing the girl a favor. Besides, Autumn,” Sofia looked up from the papers she had been shuffling on her desk, “who’s the manager? Who needs to ensure that our company’s output is at the highest standard?”
“Sofia, I understand the struggle, believe me. But you’re middle management – not the CEO!”
“And if I don’t make sure everyone under me is doing their job right, the higher ups will come breathing down my neck. Or worse, Jasper. You remember how hard it was for me to get this position, I can’t risk losing it because of other people’s incompetencies.”
Autumn looked at Sofia, dumbstruck. “Wow…” she said. “It’s true what they say… power really does corrupt people.” Autumn turned and walked out in disgust.
The other office members, who had been watching on silently, rushed back to their desks as Sofia angrily followed Autumn and slammed the door.
Later that afternoon, there was a shy knock on Sofia’s door. “Come in,” she said rudely.
Tahira appeared in the doorway with a large stack of paper in her arms. “Ms. Pérez, I did my best to rework the Branson report. I hope it will be sufficient…”
“Whatever you’ve done will have to do; we’re out of time. Give it here,” Sofia tapped an empty space on her desk impatiently. Tahira obliged and then turned to go.
Turning back shakily, she started to ask, “Ms. Pérez, could you perhaps let me know how I could improve for next time…”
“If I have to explain everything,” interrupted Sofia without looking up, “to you and to everyone else then I would never get any of my own work done, now would I?”
“N-no, ma’am, but…” Tahira stammered.
“I don’t have any more time to spend on you,” Sofia interrupted again. “Get to work on the Milton project. We need to send those numbers in by close of business today.”
“But it’s already 3 o’clock!”
“Then get moving, or you’ll have to stay late. That project absolutely cannot be delayed.”
Tahira quickly left Sofia’s office in tears.
A small portfolio on the Milton project was on Sofia’s desk by 5:00pm. Sofia rolled her eyes and muttered under her breath, “Guess I’ll have to flesh it out myself.”
Annoyed, Sofia flipped through the pages and started notating areas she would have to add or enhance details. Opening her desk drawer for a highlighter, her eye caught the glimpse of red.
Looking down, she noticed a pair of small red and gold earrings. Sofia picked them up to inspect them more closely. The stones resembled a ruby, but with alluring hints of blue and green. The gold crawled around and across like veins, enclosing the gorgeous stones in a network of fine metal.
It almost looks like… a tree?
Sofia glanced around her office. There hadn’t been anyone other than Autumn that had stopped by since the morning, and she had barely left the room herself.
Where did these come from? she wondered.
She looked back at the earrings in her hand, mesmerized. And why do they seem… familiar?
Breaking herself out of the trance, she muttered “I have too much to do to worry about this!”
Tossing the earrings in her handbag, Sofia returned to fleshing out the project portfolio. She didn’t notice that from the bag there began to emit a soft, mysterious glow.
Comments (0)See all