Mary sat at the conference table between space junk Wonder Boy and The expert on space weather. She wondered what she could possibly contribute to the efforts of this team. She could not remember half the names of the ten people in the room. She had not even introduced herself correctly. She thought she heard herself say her names was Murray.
“I would like gather a preliminary set of risks to our assets, and then…” said Michael as Mary’s attention wandered off. Mary made an effort to remember this person’s name because he was the facilitator. He had two other people with him. One was named Richard. She remembered his name because Dick is short for Richard. There was a Dick in her family. She could not remember the name of the other person even though she could not forget his face. She told herself to stop worrying about names and start paying attention. She missed a lot of what Michael said after assets.
“Murray, why don’t you start us off?” asked Michael. Everyone in the room looked at Mary. Adrenaline shot through her body. Her hand began to tremble. She felt her forehead moisten. Mary had to swallow before she could speak.
“It’s Mary,” she said.
“Sorry, I didn’t hear what you said,” said Michael.
“Cybersecurity,” said Mary. Richard typed the word into the notes page projected on the wall. Mary’s ears perceived each click of the keyboard like points being added next to her name on a scoreboard.
“Excellent,” said Michael. “Who would like to go next?” Mary did not hear what the next person said. She was too happy she had guessed correctly what to say. She had even contributed and there was a credit on her credibility ledger. She forced herself to pay attention so she would not be caught with her mind elsewhere again.
To keep herself engaged, Mary commented whenever someone else provided a good suggestion. Her strategy worked for the first half hour. She was feeling a connection between herself and the others in the room. She felt like she was a part of the group.
Richard stood up to let the other guy sit in his place and take notes. The room darkened a little as if clouds had rolled in. The lights flickered. ‘What the hell is that guy’s name,’ thought Mary. She stared at his face trying to remember. She thought his teeth were too big; especially his front teeth. His lips draped over his incisors like a miniskirt over butt cheeks of unusual size. His nostrils revealed an undergrowth of hair in his nose. He had eyes like a Chihuahua. His mother must have considered drowning him in the toilet.
“Did you say something, Murray?” asked the new note taker. He noticed her staring at him.
“It’s Mary,” she replied. “I was just thinking that we don’t have a good plan for disposal.” Michael nodded his head thoughtfully. A conversation began in the room. No one noticed the man had not typed in Mary’s suggestion.
“Could a competitor damage our assets?” Patricia asked.
“Good point, Patricia,” said Michael. “Please write that down, Logan.” Logan typed in a note summarizing her comment.
‘What the hell kind of name is Logan?’ thought Mary. She did not have a problem with the name; she had a problem with the person taking notes. She expected him to be named Beaver or Bug-Eye or Skid-Mark. Mary was determined not to break even or have a deficit in the esteem of her colleagues. She straightened her posture and cleared her throat.
“I’m sorry to press, but I still think we contribute to space junk without a proper disposal plan,” said Mary. “That adds to everyone’s risk.” She tried to make eye contact with Logan. She looked at his right eye, but it looked as if he was staring at Patricia. She looked at his other eye, it was looking at her. ‘Write it down, Skid-Mark,’ Mary thought. Mary could see in her periphery that other participants were nodding, but she stared at Logan’s eye and waited for him to enter the note.
‘What is your problem with me,‘ Mary thought. She guessed at why Logan wrote Patricia’s comment, but not hers. Patricia was a pretty blond. Her big innocent blue eyes made men’s intelligence plunge when she rested her gaze on them. ‘What do you think is going to happen with Patricia,’ Mary thought. ‘You think she wants the spawn of a walleyed Chihuahua?’
“Why don’t you write that down, Logan?” suggested Michael. Logan hesitated. Mary’s eye lids narrowed. Everyone in the room stopped moving and appeared to hold their breath. Then, Logan began to peck at the keyboard.
The sound of each keystroke tickled Mary. She won that fight. She scored that point with the experts behind her after she took a risk and asserted herself. Her idea was projected on the wall for everyone to see. There was so much to savor in that victory that she felt like she was floating. She was so excited she could pee herself.
‘Oh, crap!’ Mary thought to herself. ‘I think I just peed myself!’
Mary wore a skirt, so she could not look down to see if there was a visible wet spot. She had felt a tiny squirt. The volume of liquid felt like a cheap water gun had been fired from her body. She felt a warm sensation. Then, there was cooling.
There was no way Mary was going to leave the room without someone noticing a wet spot on the back of her skirt. Wonder Boy was a known butt ogler. There was an ongoing debate among the women: one side argued that he was an avid connoisseur of posteriors and the other side said his glances were hardwired and involuntary. Regardless, Mary was in danger of detection. She did not have anything with her to wrap around her waist. Even if she made it out of the room, she was not going to avoid being seen in the halls on the way back to her desk.
Since Mary did not want to be noticed, she received a lot of attention from the meeting participants. They rallied around her after the unprovoked attack. As the meeting wound down, small talk began and people asked her questions about herself. Had she not soiled herself, she would have basked in the attention. She would have lain on the table with her arms and legs spread out awkwardly and purred like a cat. She might have gotten down on her hands and knees and done a figure 8 around Michael’s legs. Instead, she wanted to crawl alongside the walls and find a hole in which to hide. She gave short answers to questions and diverted attention to others by asking questions about them as a part of her response.
Richard and Logan walked around the conference room and tidied up as Michael allowed the conversation to signal the conclusion of the meeting. Richard picked up extra copies of handouts on one side of the room, and Logan gathered the extra copies on the side where Mary sat. When Logan reached for the copies that were in front of Mary, he knocked over her coffee cup. The lid popped off of the cup. A tsunami of coffee poured across the table toward her. A waterfall went over the table. The liquid’s journey ended when a plunge pool of coffee found her lap. One of Logan’s eyes looked at Mary. He apologized with a note of insincerity in his voice.
“It’s one-hundred percent OK,” said Mary cheerfully. “I have a change of clothes in a drawer at my desk.” She was gracious and sincere. Logan looked hurt. He did not know he solved her peed skirt problem and gave her one more opportunity to be awesome. Mary purred as she left the room.
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