The Slippery Slope
“Okay, next thing on the agenda is next weeks’ available shifts,” Mark began, looking at the clipboard covering up a yawn. We had spent the entire night shift searching for a sexual predator who had escaped Bowden Correctional Centre and was seen in our district. We found nothing, but was kept busy with other calls. Our 12 hour day quickly exceeded 14 when a giant collision occurred, forcing us to stay until it was cleared up.
“Hold on, Sarge,” Tess muttered, her exhaustion forgotten. Her face was covered in sweat and smoke from the collision. It made her look smaller, younger, and more mature.
More time had passed, as I was now an officer for three years. and the time had taken a toll on all of us. Policing is a difficult job with stress, workplace dangers, shift work, nights, shit like that, but Tessa had taken the brunt end of it. She was still beautiful but when the light hit her a certain way you could see how shrunken her face was. Her skin had lost that luminescence and instead of a cream colour, it looked pale and fragile. But still beautiful.
“I already took those shifts; it's fine, sir.”
“Sorry, Stark,” Mark sighed, looking away from the reports. “The chief thinks someone else should get those shifts; he thinks you should be home resting on your days off instead of running around here and tiring yourself out.” Anyone else would have nodded and relented, especially after the day we just had, but this was Tessa Stark.
“Excuse me, sir, but I believe it's my place to say what is tiring me out and what isn’t. I allow the casuals and others to take the shifts they want then clean up the rest, so I don’t see what the problem is. The shifts are covered and people have time off for their families.” She stared at the sergeant with that bright fire as the rest of us looked up warily. Tess was good at getting what she wanted but if the brass said no then that was it.
“I’m sorry, Tess, but the chief has made up his mind; it’s not a punishment. He just wants you to spend time with your husband. Go out and see a movie with Don, have some dinner he might like that. The chief just doesn't want you to burn out before your time. You spend so much time here you know this place better than anyone else and you need a break,” Mark argued back gently but we could see the fight building up in him too.
“No!” She growled and jumped to her feet, slamming her fist against the table. “I like it here! I’m not spreading myself too thin, Mark, please! I can do this!” Nathan stood up and pulled at Tessa’s shoulder.
“C’mon, partner, there’s nothing you can do; just let it go. If you get too bored, or too sick of Don you can come and watch the game with me. Taylor loves having you over; it’ll be good,” he assured, pulling her away as we watched her go. She never turned her pleading gaze away from the sergeant.
“What the hell was that?” Derek asked once the two partners left the room. We all glanced at another until Greg shrugged.
“Hormones,” Greg uttered as he pushed himself to his feet, “I remember when my daughters went through that. She’ll shake it off. She’s worried she'll miss a cool call.”
“She does love this job,” Mark muttered making some marks on his notepad. “But; she shouldn't spend so much time here. It’s not good for your mind to see this kind of shit every day.”
“She’s just tired, Sarge,” Greg muttered yawning. “Well, see you guys next set; I’m outta here!”