There was a line, and it had been crossed.
I wasn’t stupid. I knew how I looked. I was his puppy dog, his whipping post, his girl Friday. I swooned around him and jumped at his every command. For all my dedication and obedience, all I got a pat on the head, not even on the butt. I was sexless on his eyes, but at the same time, he took advantage of my attraction to him. I was alright with that, in fact, it made me work harder. I wasn’t doing it to win his heart or get a kiss. I served Mr. McIntyre because I wanted to and it made me happy, and he deserved it.
To an outsider it may have seemed like I got nothing out of it, but how can I explain the explosion of joy that went off every time I got a “nice work” or a “good job, Abby?”
What happened that morning with my diary was something else though, something new and of scared me more than all the secrets, all the waiting, and all the frustration. My heart had given up racing. There was a new fear, and it was slow and methodical.
He didn’t call me into his office for the rest of the day. He came back from his meeting, and as he opened his door, I could see the little bit of pink on his desk. It was if he asked me to put my heart on his desk so that he could have it for lunch.
He went to another meeting a few hours later and had a drink with a client. When he came back, he didn’t even look at me as he walked inside. His face was as unreadable as ever. I was sitting at my desk like a death row inmate. The calm of inevitable doom had come over me.
He would read my diary, and he would know what a horrible person I was. He would see that I was a pervert and that I was obsessed with him.
I thought about the ten pages I used up describing my first day of work. Paragraph after paragraph detailing my love of his chin, his cologne, the way he wore his suit, my feeble imaginings of the size of his cock.
I felt my face flush as I recalled the time his wife came into the office, which sent me into a long rant about what I imagined their sex life to be like.
At five he came out of his office holding his jacket, his briefcase, and my diary. He placed the book on my desk and looked down at me.
“Interesting. I wonder what Jung would say,” he said with a grin.
I felt his eyes on me, and I was frozen.
“I’d like you to finish writing out your dream,” he said plainly, as if telling me to water the plants.
I opened my mouth, but nothing came out. I tried again, and it was only a croak.
“I don’t rem-” I started, but he raised a hand.
“Make it up, then. Just finish it,” he said in that tone that told me not to argue.
He put his hat on and slipped his arm into his jacket.
“You certainly do have a healthy imagination, Abby,” he said with a smile as he left.
Surprisingly, I didn’t cry on the train. I opened my little book and looked through the pages wondering what he’d read, wondering what he skipped. I fingered my silly words, my straight rows of Catholic school script. His shadow now loomed over every word. If he’d read enough, he now understood the awkward shyness that kept me home on Friday nights and the dirty thoughts that made my hands creep under my sheets at night or up my skirt –
A flash of dark ink caught my attention. It was on the next to last page I wrote in.
There I was in Mr. McIntyre’s office, my skirt pulled up, and my hand pressed tightly in-between my panties and body. Soaking wet from the tension of the whole Marcy Peterson debacle, rubbing myself fast, hoping not to get caught, maybe hoping to get caught. My handwriting slightly sloppier as I wrote about how hard I came and how I pounded on his desk.
Under that little vignette was his dark bold print, the kind he uses to add an addendum to a contract.
“The things I miss when I’m out of the office.”
He knew. I wasn’t his mousy little secretary anymore. Well, I was, but I was something else too. A dirty little pervert. I wanted to cry. I wanted to quit. I wanted to crawl into a hole and never leave.
In my stomach, poison shame was bubbling up, but the whole time it was mixed with something else. All the time I was clenching my fists and barely aware of the ache. Arousal and shame so tied together I didn’t know where one started and the other began. Snakes eating their tails. So bad in so many ways.
What would come the next morning? Would he laugh at me or punish me or scratch some fraction of the itch that was always there when he was around? What would I see when I looked up at those piercing eyes?
That night at home I forgot to eat dinner. I threw myself on the bed and took out my pen and opened my diary, which suddenly felt new and electric and frightening. I went to the page where I’d left off. I waited, I tried to remember. I couldn’t write what happened in my dream, could I? Not now that I knew he would read it. Now that I knew every dark fantasy would be exposed to him.
I had to try. I closed my eyes and pictured the hotel room. Marcy with her bratty little grin. Mr. MacIntyre walking towards me, taking the rope. He was going to wipe that smile off her face. I’d watch and help. I’d be good and do what he told me to do, to the letter. Marcy wouldn’t. That’s why he was tying her down.
My hands were on my body as I remembered. The weight of the day had made me weak, but hungry. My breasts were sore under my bra, I got out of bed and pulled off my blouse and skirt and underthings. Naked, I laid back down, I went back to the diary where I hadn’t added anything to the dream but a blue dot where my pen rested. I laid back down and rubbed the soreness from my neck, smoothed the little lines my brassiere left under my breasts.
My nipples were so sensitive I almost couldn’t touch them. So much arousal and fear all day. My body was so primed, pulled so tight the lightest touch is nearly painful. I imagined being on Mr. McIntyre’s big chair, naked. When my fingers trailed down to the soft hairs between my legs I was scared to touch.
Then the warm wet welcome, the familiarity of my body and my touch. It wouldn’t take long. I was already climbing. I could finish the story when I was done, free of the burden of all this desire.
I awoke to find the edge of my diary resting on my face, the hard cardboard digging into my skin. My cheek stung. The sun hurt my eyes.
Morning? I looked at the clock, and it read 8:20 am. I rubbed my eyes knowing it was lying. It must be 6:20 am. I went to the living room, naked, and saw the same on the clock on the wall.
The panic came over me like a tidal wave. I didn’t finish my assignment for him. I was going to be late for work. I would be even later if I tried to write something. I could try and write something on the train, but what if I couldn’t? I’d never been late in my entire life. How did this happen?
I picked up the phone on the wall in the kitchen. Some part of my brain had taken over. Damage control. I called the head of the secretarial pool.
“Hi, Margie – It’s Abigail. I’m not feeling well, I’m sorry for the late notice, but I can’t come in today.”
Margie was lovely as always. She laughed because it was the first time I’d ever called in sick. She said she was glad I was human like everyone else. She said it was no problem and I almost laughed out loud.
No problem? My life was over.
The idea of a whole day alone in the apartment was horrifying. My roommate Eloise, who was a dental assistant, would be out all day, so I would be there alone in the little apartment with nothing but guilt to eat away at me. Even more terrifying was the image of Mr. McIntyre coming in to see some temp from the steno pool at my desk. Someone who wouldn’t know how to take care of him the way I do. Someone who wouldn’t get his coffee. Plus he would know I failed. I failed him for the first time.
With that, I tumbled back into bed and cried. I cried and cried until I passed out.
The doorbell rang a little after eleven. When I sat up, I knew it was him. I knew it without a doubt. I’d failed him. I’d called in sick when I wasn’t. I was a dirty girl who fingered herself in his office. I was a liar. I was a mess. A servant who had outlived her usefulness and become pathetic.
I was still naked, the way I’d fallen asleep, I found my nightgown and slipped it on. I ran to the door and stood in front of it. The bell rang again and again.
I unlocked the two deadbolts and put my hand on the knob, turning, slowly. This was it. He would be in my apartment. He would fire me or fuck me or slap me. I don’t know which I was more afraid of.
And then the strangest thing happened. I opened the door and saw a black dressed, white-gloved, perfectly manicured Marcy Peterson.