Twenty-Four: The Mail Room
It isn’t long after our discussion that Violet leaves. I already know what needs to be done but I dread it. I was horrible to Ella in High School and now my only option to keep her and I on separate paths was to transfer her to a mailing position in the basement.
The basement isn’t as horrible as the worse seems, it’s nice down there, but quiet and sometimes the temperature is even off which is why we avoid having more employees than necessary down there. Our mail room has two people at the moment, and its been managed pretty smoothly. Of course Ella would just help it run even better, but she has a face for front desk, a personality that’s welcoming and that’s why I hate to move her from this position so much. But Violet is my girlfriend and her feelings are my top priority.
Ella is on the phone when I walk out of my office and she gives me a small smile to indicate that she’s almost done her call. God, why couldn’t she be a bitch to make this easier on me?
Once she hangs up the phone, she sighs in relief, “Contractors are a pain in my ass.”
“You’re telling me,” I joke back with her before moving closer to the desk, “Everything good with the crew?”
“Yeah, the contractor was just complaining about getting permits from the city and telling me it could take two months, but I made the call myself and by the end of the day we will have a permit signed and faxed to the office,” Ella smiles proudly at the huge accomplishment.
Getting city permits is not an easy task, especially if you aren’t a contractor, but here Ella is, exceeding her job limits and doing a fucking good job at it.
“You’re amazing,” I mumble, “I didn’t know employees like you existed.”
Which is why I can’t send her to the mailroom. It would be a reckless professional decision, but Violet has me pushed into a corner and I feel like I have no choice in the matter. My girlfriend or the better decision for my company? How could anyone decide?
“Look, Ella. I’m sorry about Violet’s behavior earlier, she has some insecurities when it comes to you and I’m trying to make her feel at ease, you know?” I have no idea how to approach the situation but I begin to talk and hope she will make sense of it.
Ella raises an eyebrow, “Insecurities? Why would she feel insecure? I’m not your type and you’re not mine, which is clear. But--”
“Wait, what?” I cut her off, taken aback by her response. I know that she isn’t my type but I’m everyone’s type. “You have a type? But somehow I don’t fit the criteria which makes no sense at all to me.”
She starts to laugh and it isn’t until a few moments pass that she realizes I’m serious, “Seriously, Thomas? You’re really that surprised that not every girl is into you?”
“I just don’t understand what kind of guys you like that could possibly be better than me,” I’m aware that I’m coming off as arrogant but she knows what I mean. What do I not have that she’s in to?
When Ella leans back in her chair she frowns, “Thomas, it really shouldn’t matter to you.”
I guess she’s right, but when someone points out that you’re not their type it’s hard not to wonder what about you isn’t appealing to them? I begin to think back, did I dress badly? Absolutely not. I know we had a rough past but I’m really nice to her now.
“It isn’t that you’re a bad person, you just have a big personality,” She begins to finally explain, “Much bigger than me. I’m just used to more mellow and laid back guys. I seem to connect with people who don’t make me feel like I’m being judged.”
“I don’t judge you,” I defend myself.
“Ugh, you’re taking this wrong...” Ella takes a deep breath before flailing her arms in frustration, “Why does it matter so much? I’m not asking you why I’m not your type... Friends shouldn’t need to give an explanation.”
I’m prepared to tell her exactly why she isn’t my type. I give a quick once over and think about reasons, her hair is pulled into a messy ponytail and she somehow still manages to make it look nice. So, I don’t dislike her hair. I don’t even bother trying to critique her body because Ella Fat-eau from high school stepped up her game. Her personality reminded me of Jade and that’s something I can’t complain about.
I have nothing. Absolutely nothing about Ella turns me off, if anything I’m drawn to her. Is it attraction? I have no idea but after taking the moment to think of why I’m not attracted to Ella I quickly realize how dangerous this is and that Violet could possibly be onto something.
Because if anything, I’m highly attracted to Ella.
“You need to go,” I suddenly say to her. My mind is now getting ahead of me and I’m filled with guilt that I had denied this to Violet when now it seems so obvious.
“You can’t... Ella, I’m sorry but... You can’t work at the front desk for Mason and I. It’s unfair to Violet and I need to respect her feelings,” I finally spit it out and I can only hope that Ella will understand. Of course she will, she’s Ella.
She slowly stands from her chair, her expression speaks for her and I can see that she’s stunned by my words, “So you’re firing me?”
“No! No, of course not...” I run my fingers through my dark hair before frowning at Ella. She looks so confused and I’m sure behind the confusion she’s also hurt, “You’re a valuable employee, and friend. I’m going to transfer you down to the mail room, okay? You would be a great asset there.”
It takes Ella a moment to process my words but in complete Ella-fashion, she nods her head, making me relax by managing a small smile, “I understand by you need to do this... You need to make Violet happy and if I’m an issue somehow, do what she asks of you. However, I respectfully decline the new position.”
Just as it seemed like everything was falling into place, Ella shocks me with her refusal to work in the mail room. What other position could I possibly offer her? This was the only option and she doesn’t want it.
“Ella, there’s no other position that I can--”
“I don’t expect another position. I respect your choice to make this decision for the best interest in your relationship... I will happily step back, but I’m working towards a career in business, being in a mail room is a step back and this job was only temporary anyway, so this could be a good time to leave now.”
I’m disappointed in her words, I don’t want her to leave but I certainly can’t force her to stay. That’s it, after Ella walks through the door I’ll probably never see her again. She will be off to bigger and better things, things that don’t include me.
“Okay,” I say softly, nodding my head and taking a step back. “Could you at least stay your final two weeks so we have a chance to find a replacement?”
“Of course,” She nods her head and slowly sits back in her seat.
I say nothing more as I walk back to my office, stepping inside and closing the door behind me. Why am I so disappointed by an employee leaving the company? I’ve had plenty of employees leave before but this was obviously a much different circumstance.
As I sit in my chair, I stare blankly ahead of me. What is happening in my life? It’s hard enough for me to have feelings for one woman, let alone two. But here I am, being so much like my father than it terrifies me. The difference is I know that I would never cheat on a girlfriend, let alone a wife.
Still, the resemblance is uncanny. When I look in the mirror I see an all too familiar face, not me, but the shadow of my father’s twenty-six year old self looking back at me. I’m unsure what shocks me more, being attracted to Ella or the fear of becoming my father.
I pick up my phone and search my contacts until I find my dad’s number. I can’t remember the last time I called him, but here I am. Calling him and desperate for some advice from the one person in the world I would always refuse to get advice from.
“Hey, Tommy. What’s up?”
“Dad... I need you.”