a broken pencil on a light blue surface

One Interview, Three People

Flash Fiction — 28 Days of Stories #7

Isla waited until 9:32 AM to leave her office for the interview. She prided herself on being able to flush out any blowhards or problem kids with her “be late and be bubbly” attitude toward these mandatory requirements where no one in the room is actually being themselves, telling 100% of the truth, or comfortable. Plus, if the candidate was Pez Dispenser guy from her elevator ride up this morning, he was already marked by being 15 minutes late.

When she got into the elevator, she pulled his resume out of its folder. On paper, Dan Stevens was ripe for pulling apart. Communications Analyst, Marketing Manager, Content Director — all perfectly fine and respectable positions showing career progression. Except he broke the cardinal rule of keeping a resume to one page, and had the audacity to have a widow/orphan situation with the page break.

Tsk, tsk, Dan, Isla thought as she shook her head.

The elevator doors opened and Gina was there waiting for her. “Good morning! How goes the remodel?” She asked.

Isla rolled her eyes. “Don’t ask. We’ve graduated from petty passive aggression to not speaking to each other for days.”

“I’m sure your designer is delighted.”

“The first two are. They walked within weeks of attempting to navigate this disaster. I hired the current one because she used to be a combat officer in the military.”

“Logical choice,” Gina said, nodding and raising an eyebrow while side-eying Isla. “So about our friend Dan, here.”

Isla giggled. “I think I rode up in the elevator with him. Was he late?” She cooed.

“Yes, and he apologized so many times I lost count. He’s in the Larimer room. Doug is wrapping up. Lena is staffing it for HR.”

“Seriously? Dig Doug is on the interview panel?”

Gina nodded and glossed over Isla’s snarky comment. “Go ahead and break in whenever you’re ready.”

Isla smiled and did her best runway walk to the conference room. Shoulders back, smooth pace, hips a bit forward and almost but not a kick before each heel hit the floor. She put her best almost-smile on her face as she opened the door because she could hear everyone laughing.

“And there she is,” Doug said, gesturing toward Isla with his free hand while he wrote something down on a scrap of paper that he handed to Lena. “Isla, allow me to introduce Dan Stevens.”

Dan turned just as Isla closed the door. When they locked eyes, Dan’s smile, eyebrows and mouth all collapsed as if they were being sucked into a mini-vortex.

“Pleasure to meet you, Dan,” Isla said, popping her hand under the sanitizer dispenser on the wall before rubbing her hands together. “Hope you don’t mind. I’m a bit of a germaphobe.”

“Not at all,” Dan said. He cleared his throat, which seemed to reset his face.

“If you will excuse me,” Doug said, grabbing his folders and stacking them together. “I have a deadline I’m up against or I would stay. Good luck to your Chiefs, Dan. I think they’re going to need it this year.”

“Same to your Eagles, Doug,” Dan said, smirking and tipping his head back like a mafia don.

Isla pulled the chair away from the head of the table and seated herself. She had a routine. Door closes, big smile, lean in with arms balanced on the table, holding a pencil in her right hand. The one time she did this move with a pen, she destroyed her favorite suede jacket. She wouldn’t let that happen again. “I’m so glad you could make the time to meet with us today.”

Dan cleared his throat. “Thank you. About my being late.”

Isla waved her hand and cut Dan off from his statement. “We all have those days when things don’t go the way we intend for them to go.”

Dan nodded. “Sure.” He said the word abruptly, his lips terse. “Isla is an interesting name. I’ve only heard it once before, other than Isla Fisher, of course.” His voice had absolutely no intonation. It reminded Isla of an interview with a psychopath she saw on Netflix.

Isla smiled bigger and showed more teeth. “Yes, my mother was Spanish and my father was Scottish, so it was a name they could agree on.” She tried to shake the cold feeling that was creeping over her as Dan stared her down. She leaned back a bit and rolled her pencil between her fingers on her right hand. Then she closed her fists around both ends, as a conductor would with a baton before starting the orchestra, she thought.

He didn’t so much smile as purse his lips and force his cheek muscles up. “Do you happen to know a designer named Koa Kalua?”

Isla tipped her head to the side. Why would Kwazy Koala come up today? Koa was a nightmare. Always deferring to Rick’s decisions on the remodel. Never once taking her side. Isla had been forced to come up with a series of unreasonable demands as a means of making Koa quit. It had been exhausting. She smiled.

“Yes, I had the pleasure of working with Koa on a project,” Isla said as she flipped open the manila folder containing Dan’s resume.

“Interesting,” Dan said.

Isla put her reading glasses on and began skimming Dan’s resume. She resumed clutching the pencil in both hands. “How do you know Koa?”

“She’s my wife.”

A snap echoed in the silence as Isla broke her pencil.


About Christine Wilcox Anderson

Writer, former corporate communications exec, and perpetual student of life on this rock.
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