Balance of Power

It had been another late night, and the idea of donning her work uniform and setting off for the hour long drive made her feel defeated before the day had even begun. The monotonous journey on the freeway to the cement plant was often enough to  lull her to a much needed sleep. Loud music and the window wound down with the rush of air coming in and the loud whoosh of passing semitrailers and other early morning commuters was an attempt to stay awake.

After the usual milestones had been passed- the three McDonalds; the service station with the luke warm coffee; the hideous public art that had been commissioned by one of the councils, the narrow bridge ahead signaled her journey was almost over. It felt safe to wind up the window and allow her chilly earlobes some reprieve. Time and the line between dream and reality were blurred when she suddenly opened her eyes with the alarm of the road markings making the de-de-de-de-de sound as her tyres rolled over them. She had veered across to the lane on her right, the time taken for a blink of the eye was just enough to allow her to steer left and avoid a b-double heading toward her, vulnerable in the flimsy metal shell of her cheap Korean car.

That day’s events were imprinted clearly on her mind and came back from the place she’d compartmentalized them 2 years earlier. It was Mike’s voice on the line that brought it all back.

“…I’ve been trying to contact you for the past 6 months. I’m so glad I finally got through to you.”

What? Does it mean they weren’t passing messages on? She had only recently left the life that had seen her hit rock bottom, the life and its circumstances that had only gotten worse after she was fired from her job, where she’d been a wet behind the ears graduate engineer. That day, Mike had said they couldn’t give her another chance. Her performance had slipped, she had unexplained absences and there was nothing more they could do.

“Since you left, I have carried that poem you wrote in my shirt pocket everyday”

Those words made her cheeks flush with embarrassment at her angst-ridden gesture before she’d left the office. With all the melodrama she could muster, she’d pinned a poem to the notice board to let them know how wrong they were, how little they knew of what the true reasons were for her less than model employee behaviour.

He’d kept my poem all that time?

Then an absurd thought came into her mind as she mulled over his words.

Has he worn the same shirt everyday?

Once the embarrassment eased, it was hard to suppress the swell of pride that her words, her poetry, had had such an impact on him.

“I’d like you to come back. I have a project in mind, and I’d like to offer you a 4-week contract. We’re looking to upgrade the raw materials processing plant…”

Those 4 weeks extended to 2 years. It was a second chance, the beginning of the next of many chapters in her life. New friendships were forged, debts cleared, and she allowed herself to dream, leaving after 2 years on her terms, destination Paris. Her move was on a whim, after reading George du Maurier’s “Trilby” first inspired French lessons at a community college and then plans for a month’s holiday evolved into grander plans of a year long working holiday.

The irony wasn’t lost on her, in reflecting on the series of serendipitous events, that du Maurier’s book had popularised the use of the term “Svengali” for a man with dominating powers over a female protégée, though after that phone call, the balance of power had shifted. They were equals.

Prompt from Writing 101 Day 12.  Today’s Prompt: Write a post inspired by a real-world conversation. Today’s twist: include an element of foreshadowing in the beginning of your post.

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