Lucas – Chapter 1

She sat at her desk and listened to the frantic footsteps approaching her office.
„Idiot!“ He swears.
He walked around her desk without stopping and walked in. She’d never heard him slam the door before, but now she expected it. He didn’t do it and, on the contrary, came back to her:
„That asshole didn’t do it. I have the presentation of the year in half an hour and I don’t have the handouts for it!“
He didn’t wait for her reaction and with the same resolute step he returned to his own. She heard him throw himself into his chair.

„Hey, you got a boss here?“ A ringing voice echoed from the door behind her. She turned around:
„I do, but you don’t want to go in there right now.“
„Is he having a bad day?“ Whispered her colleague, trying to lean away from the door so she could see something through the boss’s. Lucia just nodded silently.
„I’ll come back later,“ the visitor assessed and disappeared.

Lucia let out a deep breath and lowered her forehead to her knees helplessly. Thoughts ran through her mind like a race.
‚To help, not to help, …´
After a moment, she slowly stood up and walked out into the hallway, towards the kitchen. At the vending machine, she thoughtfully watched the stream of brown chocolate flowing into a cup.
‚If I help, he’ll drill into it. Knowing his stubbornness, he will more likely than not.´ A shot of milk.
´Might all roll over and my work is done. On the other hand, if I don’t help him and this project doesn’t work out, heads will roll. And his will be the first. And I’m off work anyway.‘
And an extra extra dose of chocolate. She picked up her cup and walked to the office in the slowest possible step. She sat down and stared into her drink.

´And how do I know that another boss wouldn´t be cool too? …well, only someone from the company can advance. And of the options given… My great, quiet job is gone.‘
Furious flipping through papers and quiet muttering could be heard from the boss. She bit her lip thoughtfully for a moment longer, then sighed resignedly. Rising to her feet, she closed her door leading to the hallway and stood in his.

He sat, elbows propped on the desk, face buried in his hands. It was only when he folded his arms that he noticed her and looked up at her. He would have sent her away at once, too, if she hadn’t been standing in that way of hers: with the arm of her hand, the thumb of which she had only lightly slipped into the pocket of her trousers so that her other fingers hung loosely beside her body, she was leaning against the doorframe. Legs folded over each other, her crossed leg resting on the carpet with only the tip of her high stiletto, and a drink of some sort in her free hand. Every time she stood in his doorway like that, she’d launch into a few sentences that just oozed sarcasm. But if he didn’t interrupt her and breathe out the unspoken taunts, he always had to acknowledge that she had steered him to the right solution. He already suspected that she had just, once again, saved him. Only she was silent, and even then she still looked very uncertain, though her ego always screamed at that attitude.
„I am listening to you,“ He tried to challenge her.
„Why don’t you do it yourself?“ She tried to grasp at the last stalk.
„The last time I saw anything like this was in third grade at college. I don’t have a chance to remember how to do it that quickly. Besides, I need to finish something else, so I can’t even think through the no-table plan.“
She nodded. She took a deep breath and let it out, making a strange gesture of decision with her mouth.
„I’m an assistant because I enjoy this job,“ she tried to sound determined.
He watched her more and more tensely and nodded in silent agreement.
„If I were to change positions, or if my routine were to change in any way, I would have to resign. And I’d really hate to do that.“
He thought for a moment and then, shaking his head, said:
„I still don’t understand.“
„Could you please repeat that?“
She looked him straight in the eye, so earnestly that he didn’t think for a second:
„You’re an assistant because you enjoy it. Under no circumstances are you going to change any of that.“
„And if I’m forced to, I’ll quit.“
He frowned, but repeated:
„Yes, if you were forced, you would resign.“

She nodded contentedly. She straightened up, and before she took the necessary three steps toward him, she shifted the cup to her left hand. With her right, she reached across the table to him:
„Give me that assignment.“
He raised his eyebrows again, but this time it took him a few seconds to respond. Chaotically running his hands across the desk, he found the folder and handed it to her.
„I’ve got twenty minutes, yea?“ She stated, already turning around.
„Seventeen,“ he corrected her after glancing at his watch.
„I’ll make it.“ She concluded calmly and walked away to her room.

He heard her sit up. The rustling of papers and then the sound of the keyboard. He stared at the empty door without moving for an absurdly long time. When he awoke and replayed the last few minutes in his head, he decided he must have misunderstood something and needed to check. He got up, stood in his doorway, and just looked out of it, first at Lucia, more specifically her back, and then at her monitor. Yes, beneath her fingers and his gaze, what would save his head seventeen minutes later was forming.
„Lucia, do you know how to do contingency tables?“
„I don’t like them, like probably no one,“ she replied into the monitor, without letting her fingers slow down, „but I’m afraid I can’t put this all together in seventeen minutes any other way.“

She turned to the assignment, ran a second page, a third, checked something back on the second. He stared at her in disbelief:
„You understand?“
She paused for a moment, looked in his direction, then with poorly played surprise in his face:
„And you don’t need to finish your part?“

As if in a dream, he walked over to his desk. He opened the papers, found the section he needed. He reached for his pen, wondering when and why he had decided that his Lucia was a kind, caring, and meticulous girl, but one who didn’t need to be given any complicated assignments. He took off the cap, placed the ink on the paper, and an image of her face emerged in his mind as she tried to make the first analysis he had given her. She’d conjured it so perfectly that when he decided to take pity on her and take it away from her after two hours of torment, he hadn’t even been able to identify the assignment. He had to search for it again in the internal system for the specialist department. Even the simpler spreadsheet, which the experts didn’t have time for, he had to do himself after her attempts. He scribbled two or three notes on the paper, but his mind ran away again – when he gave her the analysis to read and needed to find only a few answers in it, she handed him complete nonsense after a few days, which annoyed him tremendously at the time. He put down his pen and listened.

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