Twisted lies

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“Stella!” My heart rate sped up. Nothing triggered my fight or flight like the sound of Meredith’s voice. “Yes?” I hid my trepidation behind a neutral expression. “I trust you can bring all the items back to the office yourself.” She slipped on her coat and tossed her handbag over her shoulder. “I have a dinner reservation I simply can’t miss.” “Of—" She disappeared out the door. “Course I can,” I finished. The photographer shot me a sympathetic look, which I answered with a tired shrug.

I wasn’t the first magazine assistant who’d suffered under a tyrannical boss, and I wouldn’t be the last. Once upon a time, working at a fashion magazine would’ve been a dream. Now, after four years at D.C. Style, the reality of the job had dulled any shine the position once held.

By the time I packed up the photoshoot, dropped the items off at the office, and started my walk home, my forehead was slick with sweat and my muscles were well on their way to becoming Jell-O. The sun had set half an hour ago, and the streetlights cast a hazy orange glow over the snow-packed sidewalks.

The city was under a blizzard warning, but the bad weather wouldn’t kick in until later in the evening. It was also faster for me to walk home than take the Metro, which freaked out whenever there was so much as an inch of snow. One would think the city would be better prepared considering it snowed every year, but nope. Not D.C. I shouldn’t have been looking at my phone while walking, especially given the weather, but I couldn’t help myself.

I pulled up the email I’d received that afternoon and stared at it, waiting for the words to rearrange themselves into something less upsetting, but they never did. Effective April 1, the cost for a private room at Greenfield Senior Living will increase to $6,500 per month.

We apologize in advance for any inconvenience this may cause, but we are confident the changes will result in even higher-quality care for our residents… The green smoothie I’d downed during lunch sloshed in my stomach. Inconvenience, they said. Like they weren’t hiking the prices of an assisted living facility by more than twenty percent. Like living, breathing, vulnerable human beings wouldn’t suffer as a result of the new management’s greed. 

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