We were told today to focus on the truth as we went about our work. “Just the truth.”
Today the truth is that Katherine is dead and the downed tanker in Galveston Bay will block the harbor for months to come.
We all feel the weight of what happened yesterday. It bears down on us as if we were the ones to load the bombs and ignite the fuse. The world at large is turning its head towards Iran, but at work, the bull’s-eye is directly on our back.
It’s the end game of all bad deeds: we need someone or something to blame for it.
I have been blamed for Katherine’s disappearance, and while it hasn’t been said, I’m sure K.I. holds me accountable for her death as well.
I feel grief for the loss of this woman, but I also feel angry. Angry that Will gave me this impossible choice that caused me to abandon Katherine in the first place. Angry that K.I. blamed me for Katherine leaving. Angry that Katherine left after we begged her to stay. Angry that I had some part in the end of her life. And anger. Anger that I feel this way at all.
Katherine was a good woman. A woman who only wanted to know the truth. The truth of what caused her husband to take his life. I hope if she found her answer before she died.
The truth is also that I love Will. I love him despite knowing that he is damaged. More damaged now than he was before David’s death. Perhaps so damaged that he may never be whole again. But I love him still.
And while Will can trust me to hold his secrets close, the truth is he may have made a mistake by staying at work, but my fear of losing him told him he couldn’t quit now — he couldn’t quit now after all that’s happened to bring us this close.
My day started out like any other day. Up at five to study, shower and eat. Then wake Sophie, and get her ready. Out the door by seven, drop Sophie off at school, and arrive at work by eight.
But today became so much more than any other day.
I walked into a storm of people at work. FBI, CIA, NSA, DIA. All the alphabet groups were in attendance. The phones were ringing so incessantly that between the noise of people and the noise of the phones, it sounded like the inside of a jet engine.
It was hard to make sense of what was going on. As an assistant, I am deliberately kept in the dark about what my team does with the raw data I roll into the conference room each day.
By 8:30, Will still hadn’t arrived. His cell phone kept going to voicemail. His team was looking for him. Given the level of activity, it was possible he’d been sent on location. I thought K.I. might know. Before I could ask, K.I. requested my help.
Sophie slept thought the night last night for the first time since Craig left. She’s been through so much the last few months, and I work hard to be brave for her. It’s frightening at times. Living in New York, away from everyone we know, but I’m also proud of what we’ve done. Despite the setback with Craig, Sophie has shown a strength of spirit I admire. Making friends and doing well at school.
I’m still determined to become a translator. I study on my lunch breaks, weekends and at night after Sophie’s asleep. It’s important to me to have a career and not just be an assistant. It’s important for Sophie too. She desperately needs a role model. She is my motivator when all else is bad – I only need to see her smiling face to remind me of what I’m after.
I’ve been grateful things at home have been more quiet. Especially since the last few days have been tense at work. Something big is brewing, and everyone is on edge. I’ve heard rumors that Will’s been leaving early and coming in late. After 9/11, he was early for everything. But he’s changed since David’s death. More isolated. Paranoid. Distracted. And with the pressures at work…
Before my transfer, I noticed he was spending more time with K.I.. He says he’s Will’s guardian angel. Will needs one. K.I. seems to care, he’s even asked after Sophie, but there’s some larger motivation for his actions. Some game Will and I are a part of. It’s unsettling not knowing what role we’re playing.
When Sophie called me at work, I thought something had happened to Craig, but then I realized it was much worse. He had abandoned her. Later on, she told me he had left her a few times before but only for a short time. He’d turn on a cartoon for her and be back before it was over. This time he didn’t come back.
The fear in Sophie’s voice shook me. I didn’t even think of telling anyone where I was going. I was frantic by the time I got to the motel, hoping Craig was still gone so I could get Sophie and leave without a confrontation. I just wanted her safe, and I would deal with Craig later. That was the one thing Craig and I had always agreed on: no fighting in front of Sophie. But by the end, we couldn’t even keep up that part of the bargain.
I was so relieved to hold Sophie in my arms. Once I knew she was safe, I took a quick look around Craig’s room. The place was littered with containers of rotting food, dirty clothes, and empty liquor containers. This is where my little girl was staying. The more I thought about what had happened, the angrier I became even as I fought to stay calm for Sophie. I knew we had to leave before Craig got back, but then I felt his presence behind me, and my anger boiled over.
I screamed at Craig. I told him he would never see Sophie again and if he tried, I’d have him arrested. Then he played right into my deepest fears. He threatened to sue for custody and to have me arrested for kidnapping. I got out of there as quick as I could.
I got back to work with Sophie, wanting to finish the day, get Sophie home and then think about my next move. But I knew I needed help, and although I still don’t trust him, I hoped K.I. would happen by my desk. I told him what had happened, and he offered what I could never ask for, a way to keep Craig out of our lives. “I’ll take care of the rest.” Those words said it all.
It’s been a few days, and I haven’t heard from Craig. Sophie hasn’t really asked about him, but I know her wounds from that day go deeper than anything I can see with my eyes. We both need time to heal.
I woke up today determined to go to work and act like it was any other day. I was determined to continue on like nothing happened. Because if I think about what did happen, I ache. I know it’s ridiculous. Will and I weren’t a couple, and there was no indication we ever would become a couple, but losing my position as Team E’s assistant has broken my heart. It’s not just that I won’t be near Will to help his day run smoothly, but I won’t be able to help the team as a whole. The entire building knows Mr. Spangler favors them over the other teams. It was a point of honor to be their assistant.
But now all that is done. And I was determined to move on. I would focus more on my career instead of what was best for Team E. With some luck, I might be able to become a translator before the end of the year. I got up early. Took extra care with my hair and make-up. Wore my favorite brown dress. These little things always give me a boost of confidence. But I couldn’t find my shoes. I have other pairs, but this one pair would have gone perfectly with my outfit. Then I realized: I had left them in my old office. I’d have to go back there. I was worried I would run into Will, and of course, that’s exactly what happened. I ran into him, and then the temp Emily showed up at the same time to introduce herself. It couldn’t have gotten anymore awkward. Until I opened my mouth. He was right there in front of me. He looked so tired. I wanted to say something, anything. So I tried to apologize. He wouldn’t listen. Was he late for a meeting, or will it simply never matter what I say? Could it be that some things just can’t be forgiven?
How could I have been so stupid to have trusted K.I.? How could it be that little Japanese candy wrappers could hold so much weight? I hate him. HATE HIM. I never should have agreed to snoop for him. I want to leave. In fact, when K.I. told me that he’d told Will I’d been spying on him, I tried to quit on the spot, but K.I. wouldn’t let me. My mother says I need my job more than I need to be right. She’s right. But how do I face Will each day with him knowing that every time I went into his office, I was trying to find little clues — albeit innocuous ones — to give to his boss?
I’ve always known in the long run this would get better, but is there ever even going to be a long run? Will doesn’t trust anyone to begin with. I wish I could tell him the care I took in making sure that I never gave K.I. anything that would ever blow back hard on him. I would never, ever knowingly do that. But how do you tell someone, “Yeah, OK, I was spying on you, but only a little bit, and in fact I was protecting you”? He’ll never believe me, and I’ll never have the nerve to confront him. Now that I’m being moved to a different floor, I don’t know when I’ll ever see him again. K.I. told me I’m going to be a floater until something opens up in translation. Who knows how long that will take? And who knows who I’ll end up working for in the meantime? There are all sorts of shady characters in that office, and nobody takes a temp very seriously. And can I even believe K.I. when he says he’ll get me into translation if something opens up? I don’t trust him any more than Will does. I’ve really messed things up.
I feel like I’ve already been reading about it and hearing about it everywhere, and now people have started asking me about it too. OK, OK, you win: I took the plunge and joined Twitter. Somebody beat me to MaggieYoung and Maggie_Young, so I went with MaggieYoung_. Follow me, won’t you?
There’s no comfort in knowing that we all have secrets. Tanya’s scared they’ll ask her about her drug use and Miles about his marriage; secrets that aren’t secrets to anyone but themselves. If they had let us leave the building, I would have walked out of API and never looked back. I’m going to tell him that our arrangement needs to change or I’m gone. I can’t do this anymore. Not one more day. If it means I have to work at McDonalds and move out of the city, well, then, so be it. Because the truth will come out, and I don’t want to be there when it does. Everyone’s got secrets, and I don’t want to be everyone, not one day longer.
I’m so humiliated I can barely write these words in the privacy of my own bedroom. I had no idea how lonely I’d been until I had a night away from Sofie. The second I got home and she wasn’t there, the loneliness set in. Like a tidal wave. My mother always told me I’d regret any decisions I made after 10 PM. Well, she was right. 10:15: Strike one. I call Will and ask him to have a “drink” with me because I think “he said I looked good today. He must want to sleep with me.” Wrong. 10:30: Strike two. Because I’m so God damn lonely and haven’t had sex with a human being in three years, I call up the human question mark, Mister Personality, and have sex with him! I’m cringing as I write this. Sometime after midnight, as I’m lying in bed hating myself, hating Mister Personality, wondering how I’m going to pry him off of me and out of my apartment, Will comes over. There he is. Despondent, yes, but at my door. Wanting to sleep in my apartment. And I’ve got this idiot panting like a lost puppy. The hardest part of all of it was showing up to work the next day. “Hey Will. Good morning. Can I get you some coffee? Oops about last night.” The next time Sofie stays at her dad’s house, I’m going to do us all a favor and rent a romantic comedy. Alone.
I don’t know more than I said I did. And if I do know something, I don’t know that I know it. Or that it would mean something to him. I can’t tell if he’s losing his mind. He doesn’t sleep. Ever. And rarely does he eat. He’s full of grief. He’s paranoid. He trusts no one. He trusts me. He was whispering. With the door shut. I keep going back to that. The whispering. His breath was on my neck, so close to me that it was easy to forget what he was asking me to do. There’s something going on.