Slipperless #5

By: Sloan Storm



Gabe interrupted me. “No, Fiona, you don’t understand…”

I cut him off in return. “Gabe, please let me finish.”

I paused for a moment and looked at him. As I did, he nodded and leaned back in his chair.

“Okay, Fiona. Go ahead.”

I nodded and continued.

“If this was just about the drama between me and them, I wouldn’t have done what I did,” I said, as I turned and pointed in the direction of the conference room door. “But, those two behaved in a way that put the entire project at risk. Things were already in a delicate state before I took my leave of absence, but the very fact that they’d blocked all progress is completely unacceptable. Don’t you agree?”

Gabe nodded.

“Yes, of course, I agree, Fiona. But, the problem is it will take a considerable period of time to find suitable replacements. I realize you’re angry with them, and I respect the fact you took a stand and did what you did. But the situation is far worse than it was before you did it. You do see that, don’t you?”

I shook my head.

“No, I don’t. Frankly, I think you should be grateful I fired them. They weren’t contributing anything of value to the project.”

“Fiona, I never said you were wrong. It’s just a matter of you making a poorly timed, emotional decision when you shouldn’t have. As I stated, given the short timeframe, it’s going to be incredibly difficult to fill those spots.”

I dropped my hands in my lap. Thinning my lips, I shook my head as I looked at Gabe. He did have a point, and the more I thought about it the more I realized I owed him an apology.

“You’re right, Gabe. I did let my emotions get the better of me in that situation. I’m sorry.”

Pursing his lips, Gabe stared at me for several moments.

“It happens, Fiona. This is a difficult, highly charged time. Look, I, know you’ve been going through a lot. The loss of your grandmother, me firing you… I realize none of this has been easy.”

I swallowed hard as he spoke.

“Gabe, I’ll be fine, really. This—what happened between me, Amanda and Melissa, has nothing to do with any of those things.”

“With all due respect, Fiona, I think that’s bullshit,” Gabe said, as he angled his head at me in suspicion. “You mean to tell me you can compartmentalize things to that degree? Well, I think that’s just not true. And, the sooner you accept the fact those other issues are bothering you, the sooner we can move forward and do the work that has to be done to get this project completed.”

While Gabe made his point, I couldn’t help but think about my grandmother.

Him firing me was merely an extension of how I’d handled it. In the days since her death, I’d grown more and more despondent over the fact the clinical trial for cancer treatment would have never be available in time to save her.

I’d agonized over not being more firm with her about her chemotherapy. And now, if and when the treatment proved to be viable, I’d have to live the rest of my life knowing I’d let her down simply because I didn’t want the confrontation.

As Gabe and I sat there in silence, I sensed my head began to drift forward a bit. Soon after, the familiar sting of tears reentered my awareness. Before I realized, it heated streaks made their way down my cheeks and impacted the table below with a series of wet splats. I reached up as soon as I could, and covering my hand with my sleeve, I began to wipe away the tears from the tabletop.

“I’m sorry,” I gulped, as I smeared them. “I’m sorry.”

“You want to talk about it?” Gabe asked.

I sniffled and reached up towards my cheeks to wipe away the remainder of the salty discharge. “Talk about what?”

“Really?” Gabe said, with a hint of disgust in his voice. “You’re just gonna sit there and cry and pretend like nothing is wrong?”

“I’m not pretending anything, Gabe,” I began. Shaking my head, I leaned back in my chair and placed my hands in my lap once more, swallowing them in the sleeves of my shirt. “There’s nothing to talk about. We just need to get replacements for Amanda and Melissa. That’s all.”

Gabe ignored me. “Is this about your grandmother? The clinical trials?”

As soon as he uttered those words, the grief returned, and I sensed my face disfigure with ugliness as the tears flowed again. Only this time, I couldn’t say anything in return.

Sobs coming from inside my soul caused me to convulse as I wept.



GABE

Fiona’s sudden emotional outburst caught me by surprise.

I figured there were probably a lot of reasons behind the firing of Amanda and Melissa, but I didn’t realize how deep the hurt went. Looking at her, I stood from my chair and walked around the conference table to where she sat.

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