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Cosmic Snowball

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Being summoned to HR for poisoning her boss was a new low.

Now, Kay sat across from HR Rep. Chad.

Chad tapped the fingers of both hands on top of his desk. He gave a deep, meaningful sigh that said 'I don't want to do this, but it is my job.' The faux sincerity was ruined by the beat of annoyance in his fingertips.

"Do you know why you're here, Ms. Oritz?"

Peer pressure. Back stabby, conniving peer pressure, from 'colleagues' who provided the dramatic chorus of nudging and carousing but didn't directly produce the instrument of her undoing. Aspiring lawyers were the worst, or arguably the best, when it came to inter office sabotage.

"I swear, I had no knowledge of Mr. Silverstein's allergies, sir." Kay clasped her hands together.

Chad's brow rose as if Kay just confessed a cardinal sin. "You've worked under the tutelage of Mr. Silverstein for six months. Didn't you bring him lunch every day?"

The staccato tap on the wooden desktop derailed her train of thought. Was that real mahogany?

Focus Kay! Her job, her future, was on the line here!

A stray thread stuck out from the seam of her slacks, taunting her, but fidgeting was a sign of weakness. HR Rep. Chad was ready to pounce. She pressed her hands together until her bones whined in protest.

"No, I mean yes, I brought him lunch, but I thought he was on some kind of Keto, low sodium diet," said Kay. She didn't look Chad in the eye. Instead her gaze wandered across his tidy desk, including the neat stack of paper in the intake tray, not a paperclip out of place, and settled on the thread sticking out of her slacks. Chad was the sort to notice a stray thread. She licked her lips. Don't pull it, don't pull it. Don't give him the satisfaction.

"Keto?" Chad let the word hang between them until a muscle in Kay's eye twitched in betrayal. The beat paused as he reached to the intake tray to adjust and readjust the stack to uniform perfection.

"Mr. Silverstein's attorney informed me they will not be pressing charges, but this is a serious matter, Ms. Oritz, and I'm afraid it will go on your permanent record."

Charges? Record? Permanent? Somewhere, deep inside, a tiny version of herself squeaked and quailed at the words. It was enough to snap her self control. She plucked at the thread, which bunched and popped off, opening a sizable hole along the seam that revealed her strawberry Jolly Roger print tights. A grinning skull winked through the hole.

The universe was laughing at her.

An internal alarm bell went off as the absurdity of the whole situation swelled and breached the levee of her good judgement. Kay opened her mouth.

"It was a harmless prank!" It was an office tradition. The partners expected the interns to pull a little something on the first of April, small little things like veggies in a donut box or switching out the sugar in the morning coffee.

Chad made a soft 'ah' noise. Kay mentally kicked herself. Any hope of a reference was toast.

"While the intent of your rather childish prank--" Kay sputtered at the description. Alex put saran wrap on the men's toilet seats and she was the childish one? "--the result remains the same. You poisoned a main partner of the company, which results in immediate termination."

Kay did flinch at that. Could you really be terminated if they weren't paying you? But she needed this internship. It was key to her five year law school plan.

"I didn't poison him," she began, her voice too quiet. PR Rep. Chad steamrolled right over her.

"As I previously stated, this incident will go on your permanent record. Someone will collect your belongings and you will be escorted from the building."

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