Thank you, baby, she thought again.
Merry’s green eyes hardened.
“I’ll ask him, though. It’s just that he’s always busy with his job…” Jane let her voice trail off, the words a subtle dig at Merry’s aspiring actor boyfriend. The guy was pretty, but he also had no job to speak of, and his only acting credit had been a supporting role in a franchise film…five years ago.
Merry’s lips curved into a sneer masquerading as a smile. “Just let me know.”
As the other woman walked away, Jane thought, Boom.
But when she turned around, Jane realized that her legs were shaking badly.
Oh my God, she had Spoken Up again.
She had faced her fears.
And she had survived.
Boom, Jane thought again, and this time a smile started to wobble on her lips.
By the time she had gathered her things and she made her way to the elevator, ‘booming’ in her mind, she was happily humming Nicki Minaj’s Super Bass.
Granted, she had to make up a little lie in order to score a victory but—-
It wasn’t like she’d see her ‘baby’ again.
But Jane was wrong.
Employee Appreciation Day
AMC’s Grand Amphitheater
Life sucks. The words echoed in Jane’s mind even as she kept a smile plastered on her face as she watched Merry ascend the stage to accept her fourth consecutive win of Ms. Beautiful, a crown – literally – that no one had so far been able to steal ever since Merry had started working at AMC.
“It seems we’re fated to worship her,” the company’s vice-president said with a chuckle.
A couple of minutes later, and Jane’s name was called out.
“Congratulations, Jane! You’re this year’s Most Hardworking Employee, and for those who don’t know, this is Jane’s fifth consecutive win. Everyone should learn from her!”
Jane obediently took her place on the stage and put on a happy face. Ever since Merry had started working for AMC, she couldn’t help comparing her life to the other woman’s, and with every year that passed, she found herself increasingly dismayed.
Was she being selfish and vain to want more?
She was already recognized for her diligence. Was it bad that she wanted…was it bad that she wanted to experience, even just once, her own Disney moment? She just wished that there could be a day she would feel more beautiful than any woman—-
The words sounded ludicrous even to her ears.
Okay, Jane. If you really need an answer then yes, you’re being selfish and vain! So will you please—-
Her thoughts were interrupted by Merry, who had sidled up next to her while the vice-president called out the third awardee.
“This is just crazy, isn’t it? We’re always winning these awards.”
As always, the other woman’s striking height made Jane want to shrink even more. “Just lucky, I suppose.” She hated how she had to crane her neck just to meet the other woman’s gaze, but she had no choice. It was that or be at eye-level with Merry’s boobs.
The vice-president then called out all awardees to move forward for an official photo, and Jane said in relief, “Let’s go.” But she didn’t bother waiting for an answer, instead hurrying away to put as much distance between Merry and her.
But Merry seemed bent on sticking to Jane like glue, with the other woman standing behind Merry, their positions highlighting the difference between their heights.
Great. Just great.
The photographer asked them to make funny faces, and while Jane dutifully contorted her facial expression, she saw Merry simply blow a kiss at the camera—-
She suddenly had an epiphany.
That was the key to having one’s Disney moment.
Being one’s self.
And Merry, for all her flaws, was always herself.
When the photo session was over and they started descending the stage, Merry caught up with Jane, asking, “Did you bring your plus one with you? I’d love to meet him.”
In her mind, she could hear Jaike and Derek, who had now swapped their horns for halos, advising her piously, Be yourself.
Jane took a deep breath.
“He wanted to make it, but he’s tied up at work.”
When Merry’s gaze went straight to her neck, Jane’s hand automatically went to that part of her anatomy, as if covering a hickey. “Oh no. Did you see it?” She pinched herself as she spoke. “I told him he should stop it, but…” She lifted her hand. “Is it still visible?”
Merry stared. “I can’t see anything.”
Jane’s eyes widened. “Oh my God!”
Merry turned around, following Jane’s gaze.
Jane quickly pinched herself again.
Merry turned back to her. “What?”
“Sorry,” Jane apologized. “I thought I saw someone giving you the finger.”
“But actually he was just going to pick his nose, so, umm, yuck.”
“Who the hell—-”
“Anyway,” Jane interrupted, “do you see it?” She turned her head to the side.
“No.” And this time, Merry’s voice was hard.
“Are you sure?” But Jane was already wondering if she should have pinched herself harder.
“Not a mark.”
Well, shit. What the hell did a girl have to do to get a self-made hickey? Stab herself in the neck?