First Draft

Page 27

Mara had not moved by the time he had returned from the other room. He heeded her twisted smile for a moment, but then moved towards his desk, placing his coffee on the corner. Reaching over her head, Ben gripped the back rest of the chair and rotated it away from himself. Mara’s head rotated with the chair in the opposite direction of her body, her grotesquely wide smile and devious gaze never breaking from his face.

Ben breathed in again, grabbed his coffee, and taking a swig he looked up at nothing in particular on the wall. Then, in an act of feigned confidence that not even he believed, he looked back down at Mara’s teeth, pointed to the ground with his right hand, and snapped his fingers.

Mara made no immediate sign of response. For a moment, she continued to smile. But then, after meeting Benjamin’s gaze for just long enough to make his discomfort nearly unbearable, she launched herself from the chair into a pinball-like fit, bouncing from one corner of the room to the next in a streak of white and black. Ben rotated the chair back into its usual position and then sat, scooching up to his desk. He pulled his coffee closer.

Mara finally settled, darting up to her perch on one of the shelves and coming to an abrupt halt. The momentum of her voluminous black hair caused it to whip up and around her face, obscuring all but the twinkle of her menacing eyes and a few sparkles of sharp white teeth.

Benjamin set his mind to his work, knowing full well that Mara was watching him. He shuffled through the stack of folders to determine which he would begin with. Stick notes pasted on each folder gave him a short commentary on the work required. “Take to full, complete construction set,” “Adjust floor plans and elevations as shown,” “Adjust per client’s remarks.” He rubbed his forehead and temple, closing his eyes tight. None of them felt alluring to him, though he knew that “Adjust floor plans and elevations,” would take the least amount of mental prowess. He opened his eyes and drew the appropriate folder from the stack, and then tossed the rest off into a far flung corner of his desk. As he double-clicked on an icon on his screen, he glanced over at Mara’s perch. She had already disembarked, and was nowhere to be se–

Benjamin jolted in his seat, upon looking down to find Mara seated like an obedient hound on the floor, with her twisted, toothy smile just inches to the right of where his hand had just been hovering. He retracted his hand slowly towards his chest.

Her eyes followed his hand, but then turned back towards his face. She made a deliberate chomping sound, as she clicked her teeth together. It was her version of a playful taunt.

Benjamin’s face contorted in mild agitation. He swiftly went back to ignoring her haunting presence, and rested his hand back on the computer mouse. He waited for his software to load his project file – Mara hadn’t budged. Clearing his throat, he looked to his left, and located his cup of coffee. Dragging it closer, he saw that it was still nearly full. He took a sip and then pushed it away again. He tapped his left pointer finger for a moment, impatiently waiting for his software to load. Remembering the folder that lay in front of him, he opened it, scanning through the printed drawings and floor plans, all marked to hell and back with red lines and scribbled words: notes to add, walls to remove and/or relocate, changes to ceiling heights, window sizes, door panel styles.

Looking back to his screen, Benjamin saw that his computer had finally loaded up the project file. And so, fully aware of the presence that loomed somewhere below, behind, in front, or possibly even above him, he set to work.

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