Straighten up and fly right, Merrilee told herself trying to shake off the dream-state she had been pulled into all day. Her boss glared at her.
“Oh, uh…” she followed the laser pointer to the point. “The specific color of green shown was chosen for the response of ‘freshness’ after multiple surveys of focus groups.”
“Yes, each element was specially researched…”
Merrilee’s pulse pounded. She felt as if she’d stood against a blast of wind and had fallen when the challenge of resistance receded. At least she had caught on and spoken her part. Would this meeting never end? Her consciousness drifted to the hallway of her childhood home. She could feel the noisy plastic drop cloth crunching under her feet as she approached.
“There’s no way we’re painting your bedroom green. Would you like pale blue or apricot.” Her mom began pouring the blue into the white while Merrilee turned the stick to mix it.
Her mind came back to the board room but her emotion swirled like the paint. She couldn’t figure out why she felt so stirred up. Like someone tossed her insides to the breeze. She glanced at her reflection in her netbook screen. Professional and put together. She breathed in a momentary calm hoping there would be no more sudden gusts.
“…We thank you for your time and look forward to working together with you.”
She stood along with the others, shaking hands and mouthing appropriate power words and social niceties. She could tell as she left Parker’s Pears that they had landed the account. The faces that followed her retreat were open and smiling with anticipation. But she wasn’t sure how that occurred, and she hurried her escape to the car.
Merrilee decided to take the freeway back since there were less obstacles. She had almost missed the stop sign on the way out of the parking area, like she wasn’t seeing what was in front of her eyes. When she was safely traveling east, she jumped, startled by the abrupt vision, loud noise and heavy vibration of running off the road onto the rumble strip. She quickly corrected her course and began to pant with adrenaline and suppressed tears.
“What’s wrong with me?!” she pulled off the next exit and found a safe place to stop.
Merrilee leaned her head back and closed her eyes. It felt as though water lapped against her consciousness, rolling her subtly back and forth like a log caught against the shore, tossed by the wake of something traveling unseen across the far side of the lake—unable to free itself to either rest on the earth or float away on the gentle water.
She checked her phone. They’d be missing her at work any minute now, she was sure. Though she felt no connection to how much time had lapsed.
“Three-thirty,” she spoke out loud to give some reality to the numbers.
The date caught her eye just as the phone blinked out again. April 23rd. Her mother’s birthday. 2013. Had it really been ten years that she’d been gone? This time the strange stirring released her like a warm breeze, and the tears flowed like gentle rain leaving her at rest. She sighed. Everything steadied and the road ahead was clear.