Flash Fiction Challenge 100 – Day 65
“Again, I’m sorry for snapping at you,” I say to Maria. She works with me at the spa where I give massages.
“Uh-huh,” she says.
I think she suspects something is up with me. I unloaded on her earlier. The funny thing is I don’t remember why. One second we were discussing the possibility of changing my work schedule, the next minute, I’m in a rage, shouting and swearing. I am lucky no clients heard me. The fallout would’ve been much worse.
When I look at her now, I see fear in her eyes.
Damn! What came over me? That was out of character for me.
I think about apologizing a third time, but I discern that now is not the best time. Maria is angry and hurt by my words from earlier. I don’t even remember what I said to her now. It must have been dreadful.
I am careful to avoid speaking with Maria today. I smile at her broadly, try to make eye contact, but she seems traumatized by yesterday’s version of me. I wish I knew an olive branch I could extend to her.
The day passes, as it does when we aren’t busy, slowly.
One client, a regular of mine, tries to pin me down where I am politically. But this is Texas, and I am not a far right-wing, ultra-conservative republican. Not by a long shot. I diplomatically try to dodge the question, but she presses me on several times.
At some point, I just snapped.
That was stupid of me. Ordinarily, this client booked several sessions out with me. When I looked at my appointment calendar later, she had canceled every single one of them.
But when I look closer, I see she didn’t cancel them. She only changed to a different therapist, one who is probably more politically aligned with her. If she complains to management, I will have to figure some way to make amends. Ugh. This spa would be a great place to work if it weren’t for all the jerk customers.
I wake up, and my face is nearly full of hair. I had a goatee once upon a time, years ago, but I’ve never grown facial hair quickly. Even when I had the beard and mustache, it took me nearly two months to grow it. I usually got by with shaving only once or twice a week.
As I look at myself in the mirror, I idly wonder if I’ve been asleep for a month. Dismissing that idea, I shave, shower, and get ready for work.
Well, it happened again.
What the hell is going on?
A second client questioned me on my politics.
Like the one from yesterday, he wasn’t content to accept my diplomatic dancing around and refusing to answer the question. What I should have done is kept quiet or end the massage. I wish I’d done that. There will be fallout over this. My words and actions deeply offended him. Ugh, I cringe with shame every time I remember it. And I seem intent upon remembering and replaying it every thirteen seconds now. I wish my brain could drop it.
No word from my manager yet, but I’m sure that it’s only a matter of time before she calls me into her office; writes me up, and possibly even fires me. I should probably start looking for a job, preemptively quit before I am fired. Maybe I can still salvage my career, but I need to figure out what is happening soon.
When I look in the mirror after I arrive home, I am surprised to see my face is nearly covered in hair again. But it’s odd; it seems to grow further up on my face. I swear I can see some tiny gray-blonde hairs sprouting from my forehead.
I called in sick yesterday. I couldn’t face my coworkers.
During the day, I GOOGLEd several counselors in my area. I dialed two numbers, but hung up before either answered. I remember trying talk therapy in my past. It never seemed to do a great deal for me.
I check myself in the bathroom mirror at work.
I pull the three pieces of toilet paper from my forehead. Yep, I shaved my forehead today for the first time. I’m not used to shaving that region. The geometry is very different, and the skin feels thinner there, more delicate.
No one at the front said a single word about the little bits of blood-soaked tissue when I entered. I guess I’ve nearly alienated everyone here. I think about walking out, just shouting some variant of ‘I quit’ on my way, but I need an income. I can’t afford to quit.
That’s when I decide I need a new job.
And when I get there, I need to get a grip on all of this. The extreme mood swings, the shaving, the new and not at all welcome hyper-reactivity.
A regular client asks me about my political ideology.
I stop the massage and tell them to please drop their inquiry. I hint at my outbursts earlier in the week. They drop it, but they still look stunned by my sudden shift in tone.
I don’t work on Saturdays. I spent the day online looking for jobs. I didn’t limit myself to massage either. With how I am around people now, that might have to become my ‘former’ job. Damn. I enjoyed it until I didn’t – until I changed. I still do not know what’s going on with me.
When I shaved my forehead this morning, it did not surprise me to see two hard bony nodules have formed under the thin skin on my forehead. The center of each was slightly red and felt hot to the touch. What fresh hell is this, I wonder while I consider and reject the idea of going to an urgent care facility.
While shaving, I see the nodules on my forehead are bigger this morning. They ache in a dull, slow-pounding fashion.
I send my manager a two-word text message: ‘I quit.’ Classy, I know, right?
Then when my manager calls repeatedly, I turn my ringer off.
I make a pot of coffee, sit on my couch, and wait for my horns to emerge.