Corey slipped into her cotton dress and examined herself in the full-length mirror. It was just a casual dress, with short sleeves and a flared skirt. She felt good in it though. Two years ago, she never would have dreamed of putting on such a thing, but she’d grown into it somehow. Maybe it was a natural rebellion, or maybe she was just getting older, but for whatever reason Corey was determined not to go through life looking like a tomboy anymore. She’d grown her hair out and everything. The blonde locks she used to wear short now hung down past her shoulders in soft waves.
She felt like someone new.
Since her father owned a construction company and she used to follow him everywhere, Corey had practically grown up on a construction site. She could swing a hammer better than most guys she knew, but still... It got old. Hanging around sweaty old men and hard hats. Eating sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Having rough hands and sawdust-filled hair.
She’d had enough.
Which is why she wasn’t particularly excited that her father had asked her to come work for him over spring break, or that her mother was forcing her to go through with it. In the end, she’s agreed only because she needed the money for college. Plus, her dad had sounded pretty desperate, and he’d promised her that she wouldn’t have to do any hard labour.
Not that she was afraid of any hard labour, she simply wished her dad would stop trying to turn her into a boy.
It was only a few short years ago that Corey had begun to enjoy being a little more girly, and all at once her dad didn’t seem to know what to do with her anymore. It was like he’d lost interest. That was around the time she decided to go live with her mom. Her mother had moved into the city after the divorce, and it seemed like the only place to escape to.
Since then, her dad hardly had time for her. It hurt, but she still held strong. She was who she was, and her dad would just have to live with that. Even if it meant their relationship would never be the same again.
Even now, he’d fairly begged her to come help him over the summer, but she’d found out that he wasn’t even planning on seeing her. He was sending her to his office to help out, since his secretary had quit on him. All the while he was going to be working on some big contract job outside of town.
Corey wasn’t sure what to think, but it seemed like he was trying to avoid her.
Anyway, she wasn’t going to worry about it now. She finished getting ready, grabbed the lunch she’d prepared, and then slipped on a pair of flats on her way out.
She climbed into her little used sedan and turned the key into the ignition. It started on the second try with an awful choke. The car made a few more rumbling complaints before settling at a mildly-deafening noise level, and Corey wondered if she could somehow convince her dad she would need a more reliable method of transportation to do this job for him, although she doubted it. Their relationship wasn’t near repaired enough to start asking favors yet. Instead, she cranked the radio up to drown out the noise, then drove off to face her first work day.
Corey pulled up into the mud pit that was the parking lot to her father’s office building and was immediately struck with a rush of nostalgia. The building was actually just a mini home, nothing big or fancy, but it had served her father’s company well these last 10 years. Seeing it now reminded her of how this place had once been like her second home.
And despite all the good memories she had, now it felt like a cage. All the air left her lungs as drove up to the house, fearing for her little sedan as it bumped around dangerously through the thick wheel tracks indented into the dried mud.
“Hang in there, baby.” She said as she patted the dash.
As much as she hated this car, it was her only means of transportation and it hadn’t let her down yet. Even though she drove with a heavy foot and loitered the floors with old coffee cups.
She parked on the side of the house and then clambered out to inspect the exterior, making sure no harm had come to the sedan. Once satisfied, she turned towards the mini home. Yesterday, while on the phone with her dad, he’d tried to explain to her where the spare key was, but she probably hadn’t paid as much attention as she should have. It ended up taking her way too long to find it. She hunted around under the porch, then all around the base of the mini home, before realizing she’d passed it three times. It was hidden beneath the steps.
Once inside, she switched on the lights and went straight to the kitchen to make coffee, trying to shake off the frustration from looking for that damned key. She was usually less grumpy in the mornings once she’d had her coffee, so it was a good way to start. Coffee with lots of sugar.
The mini home consisted of a small kitchen, a lounging area with a flat screen TV and a cracked leather couch, a bathroom, and three small bedrooms converted into offices. It was, quite simply, ugly. Not to mention messy. Trying not to get discouraged by the state of things, she tidied up the kitchen while she waited for her coffee to pour, then carried the cup with her into what was marked the secretary’s office.
She nearly dropped her coffee as she came to an abrupt halt in the doorway, her eyes bulging as she took in the state of the room. She braced herself against the door jamb as she waited to recover from the shock.
Corey hadn’t been expecting the easiest job in the world, her dad had sounded pretty desperate after all, but she certainly hadn’t expected this.
The secretary’s office was a bleak looking room with a single filing cabinet and a massive corner desk her father had built out of cherry wood. But you could barely make out the desk! It was thoroughly buried under mountains of paperwork. Like, actual mountains. Corey had never seen anything like it. It almost would have been impressive if it wasn’t so terrifying, considering she was the one who’d have to clean it up.
She turned stiffly on her heels and marched right back into the lounging area, plopping herself down onto the soft leather couch. The couch sank beneath her, looking as worn out as she was suddenly feeling. She sat there practically inhaling her coffee, as she seriously considered walking away from this job as soon as she’d finished her cup.
Obviously, whoever had been the previous secretary had been terrible at organizing paperwork. There was no way the place had gotten this out of hand from just one week sans secretary. This was the work of months, maybe years, at the hands of a neglectful person. It was like a personal hell made of paper. Didn’t her father notice the chaos that was going on in his offices?
But even as she asked herself the question, Corey knew the answer. Her dad was good with tools, good with materials, good with construction. But when it came to this sort of stuff... He didn’t really care. He had too much on his mind already.
But she cared. Seeing the place in such disarray was sending her OCD tendencies into overdrive and making her eye twitch.
Corey groaned and rested her forehead into her palm, because she already knew she couldn’t leave things like this. Her dad really needed her help, and she’d always said she wasn’t afraid of a challenge. She’d never hesitated to work hard and dirty before, and that hadn’t changed even though she wore dresses and heels now.
Besides, her dad would pay well.
Her mind made up, Corey pushed off the couch, poured herself a fresh cup of coffee, then stomped back to the battlefield.