Blinking, as defined by the average human being, is the opening and closing of the eyes rapidly to prevent the eyes from drying. Blinking, as defined by Anna Finn, meant something entirely different. To Anna, blinking was a form of self-help, a way to get away. That night she lay awake, staring at the blankness of her ceiling wondering why the ceiling was always empty and void. She slowly lifted her covers and closed her eyes as if all the weight in the world was holding her down. Each step felt heavier than the last as if her feet were made of bricks. She shivered as her bare feet touched the cold, tile floor of her kitchen. Flipping the light switch on and squinting, she took a moment to glance around her apartment. Fashion magazines lined the shelf space and decorated her desk. Her closet was filled with designer dresses and numerous pair of shoes she would never wear. Shaking her head, she caught a glimpse of a blinking light. Her seventy-four dollar answering machine reminded her of the call she ignored last night. Those soulless reps from Calvin Klein called her at 1:00 in the morning. Stupid time zone, she thought. She was fed up with it all. The facade she had to put up everyday.
In her world, the fashion world, looks were everything. It also didn’t help that she was one of the best designers in Los Angeles and was expected to look her best at all times. It’s not that she didn’t enjoy designing; she just didn’t like what she had become. Always the one everyone looked to, always the one expected to be the best of the best. They all failed to realize that the best of the best really was a just a big fake. She opened her wallet and glared at the many receipts lodged in its many crevices. No one knew of the trips to WalMart or Good Will. If they did, they wouldn’t stand for it. She wished they knew. She wished she could waltz down to the office in nothing but blue jeans and an old t-shirt. No belt, No handbag – just plain old Anna.
“Never going to happen,” she sighed as she poured a cup of coffee and pressed the always beckoning light.
One New Message, 1:13 a.m.
The automated voice made her smile, which was a rare thing for Anna Finn. Her job was to blame she thought or was it her –
“Hello, I’m calling from the business office at Calvin Klein…” This voice on the machine startled her. The voice was deep, unlike most reps from these zombie-like agencies. She was slightly intrigued and hit the replay button.
Message One of Six.
She rolled her eyes and hit the next button five times until she heard his voice again..
“Hello, I’m calling from the business office at Calvin Klein. My name is John Humes and I am calling to remind you of the meeting you have with Mr. Shelton at 1:00 on Wednesday at our New York office. Please bring your current portfolio and anything you wish to share with him. All information regarding your plane tickets and hotel reservations will be emailed to you by tomorrow morning. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to call. Thank you.”
She wanted to pick up the phone and scream, “I HAVE A QUESTION! How about, WHY?!” She shook her head and stared at the machine dumbly. New York?! In two days? The last thing she remembered about this so called “meeting” meant nothing about New York City. She knew that there was this big meeting with big executives about some big change and she was the big deal. She didn’t know whose idea it was or who wanted the meeting clear across the country and she tried, very hard, not to care.
This was the big league and if she failed to appear, it would show that she wasn’t dedicated. If they saw that she wasn’t dedicated, well, she wouldn’t be the best and if she wasn’t the best, she would shortly be collecting unemployment.
“Money, Money, Money…” she closed her eyes and tried to remember why she ever chose this job, what drove her to be like this, let alone live like this. She knew the answer before she asked it. It was her parent’s fault. They drove her to perfection. That alone was the reason she hated them. She loved them like all children do. But past that, she couldn’t stand them. Her memories turned to her high school years and she gritted her teeth at those thoughts. Panic was to high school, as distress was to college. College was just the same. Stress and anxiety and the need to be “the best” drove her insane. The life she chose was what she made of it and she hated herself everyday for those choices. The only thing now that drove her to wake up in the morning was money and that was not a good thing. What she really wanted, what she desired was just to be herself without any pressure or any consequences.
Blink. Blink. Blink. Her eyes fluttered at her attempt to wash away all memories that were lodged inside her mind. She sighed at her failed attempt and sipped the last of her coffee. She always failed. Never with fashion of course, that was her gift to mankind. Her mother would always say so and it drove Anna crazy. It’s not a gift to me, she would say back, and her mother would shrug it off as Anna’s thoughts and Anna’s feelings didn’t matter. They never mattered. Not to her parents, not to her assistants, not to anyone and she was sick of it.
“Who says I have to go through this, who says?” she thought to herself as she stepped out of the shower. She looked at herself in the mirror and examined her features; blonde hair past her shoulders and bright blue eyes stared back at her. Hitler would have loved me, she thought, placing her hand on her face. Hitler would have loved me.
She glared into her closet and sat there pondering. Her plane left in two hours and she had yet to get dressed, call her mother, and run to the agency and for once in her pathetic life, she didn’t have anything to wear.
“What to wear, what to wear…” she bit the inside of her mouth. It didn’t help that her phone kept ringing over and over again, screaming sounds of annoyance. Her nervous eyes glared at the clock.
Hour and 30 minutes. The clock was ticking and yet she stood there, staring and wondering. Hour and 15 minutes. The phone continued to ring and she didn’t answer. 45 minutes. She reached into her closet and grabbed her favorite pair of blue jeans. 30 minutes. She pulled her favorite blue baseball tee over her head. 15 minutes. She closed her eyes. 5 minutes. She opened them. 0 minutes. She smiled.
It was going to be a great day, she thought, a great day to begin a new life. A life she wanted. She looked over at the blinking light, beckoning her once again as it always did. She moved almost in slow motion as if the entire world was watching her every move, and unplugged her seventy-four dollar machine. Blink no more she thought. Blink no more.
Short story about a woman stuck in the clutches of a love/hate relationship with her job.