Chapter 24 - It's Astrid

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Everything was different. The layout, the furniture, even the smell. Mia looked around her new workspace once more, trying to let it all sink in, and with much pride. She actually had an office now, a small one, fit to house her creativity. One with her name on the door. Even the environment itself was an alternate universe as people were busy and productive, but not chaotic.

But it still had its hint of weirdness.

"Hi."

Mia snapped out of her thoughts and looked over her shoulder. Standing behind her was a man — a boy, a term she found most suitable — in a purple plaid sweater vest and dark gray trousers. The sleeves of his lavender button down were rolled up and she noticed the way he rested with his hands clasped together. His face was soft and kind, very young. She guessed that he wasn't a day older than twenty-one.

He flashed her a timid smile before switching back to a poker face. "Hi," he repeated, a bit more firm than before.

"Hello..." Mia said, as more of a question. She was distracted by a loose strand of black hair that stuck out from the side of his head while the rest was neatly waxed down. She turned her body towards him completely and narrowed her eyes. "Can I help you?"

He appeared nervous, a deer in headlights who didn't know where to find refuge. She actually couldn't believe that he was right in front of her office, as if he was guarding it. Mia had left it open in a welcoming manner, without the need to protect its walls. There weren't any eminent threats nearby anyway, she hoped.

He quickly shuffled to the side and nearly tripped on his own heel. He placed his hand on a table nearby, just a few feet away from her door. It wasn't a cubicle, not even a desk. It was simply a table, one that could be folded and stowed away. Behind it was a plastic chair. Mia hadn't even noticed the setup when she walked in.

"I'm your i-intern, Ma'am," he stuttered. He sounded unsure as his face turned red. "Ezra."

"Intern? Right, um..." Mia took a step back and gestured for him to sit down. "Excuse me for a moment, Ezra."

She began to walk toward the elevator. There was no way she could have an intern already; or an apprentice, or anyone else to look after. It was her first day, and they were barely established as a new branch of media. Her office wasn't even decorated yet. Who had signed it off?

Mia ascended three floors up to the executive wing. Her heels trotted against the hardwood floor and her hair swayed from side-to-side. She immediately noticed that the aura of this deck was different, but it had nothing to do with work at all. The people who worked at their cubicles seemed distracted by something; whispers were exchanged everywhere as well as subtle giggles. Everyone appeared to be on a coffee break when it was already well into the afternoon.

"Mia!"

Mia turned her head to the right and waved at Calvin, one of the company's copy editors. He was typing away at his desk, but made time to greet his new co-worker. They had just met that morning at a meeting, and they got along well.

"Hey! Good that you're here. I have an intern?" she expressed, staring down at him.

He remained seated and adjusted the angle of his chair. "Are you asking me or are you telling me?"

"I'm asking you. When did we get interns?" She frowned, realizing that she sounded like antagonist-of-the-month. "I mean, I wasn't told."

"I wasn't told about it either, but there they are." Calvin pointed to a round table at the far-end of the floor. Three teenagers sat around it, busy on their laptops. "Mine's from London Met. What about yours?"

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