Essie Hadden walked into the office that Thursday morning sore and hungry. She just wanted to get to her cubicle and do her job without any interruption, but it was not to be. As she walked past the first cubicle, she heard her name being whispered.
“There’s Essie. She looks like hell.”
“Doesn’t she always? Why doesn’t she do something with herself?” was the reply.
Essie felt her face grow hotter as she walked faster toward the very last cubicle where she spent her days. She heard snickers and laughter all the way down the line. She KNEW they were aimed at her. Of course they were.
Essie slid into her chair and out of sight of the others. Dropping her large shapeless purse under her desk, she leaned her elbows on her desk and buried her face in her hands. She would not cry. She never cried. She remembered clearly the last time she had actually cried. Her father had said something particularly ugly to her and when he saw the tears, he had beat her. She had missed two days of work because of it. When she had returned, some of the bruises on her arms had shown which fueled even more gossip and imagined stories. Essie was sure today was no different. Her father had been angry the night before over biscuits that weren’t quite right to him, so he had beat her. She didn’t have the obvious bruises this time but she walked a bit stiff. She could only imagine the stories these stupid women would create over this.