I send email to Elisabeth to say I hate my job and I wish I could quit but I don't have the guts and there's so much stigma attached to getting fired.

The next day I get fired.

And what kills me is I didn't copy my résumé onto a disk before they dragged me down to Human Resources and read me my rights while upstairs they disconnected my computer.

I go back to my cube the next day because I have to pack up my stuff. I have tons of stuff: stationary, Nirvana CDs, newspaper articles I'd been meaning to read. My boss watches me the whole time to make sure I don't steal a computer. I'm sure he's thrilled to see that I have enough stuff here to fill up my work days with not-work. I ask him to get me another box for my stuff.

"It looks like I'll have to make a few trips out to my car," I say, as I stuff my plants into boxes.

"I'll help," he says. I let him take the heavy box.

On the way to my car, I walk behind him and I watch his ears and neck turn sunset red. I've seen this happen in meetings, like when someone said the copy that the programmers wrote for the ordering section of the Web is fine. "Who cares if there's an apostrophe or not?" they said, and my boss got red.

Before we get to my car he stops to rest and his pallor returns.

I hold my hatch open while he sticks his head inside my car to place the box in the back, neatly. I mumble something about my car accident. Something unintelligible even to me. And when he pulls his head out, he holds the hatch for me.

We do this again. My pace gets bouncier. "I know you're really pissed at me for what I've done," I say, not knowing exactly what he's caught me at. "I want to thank you," I say, "for being such a nice guy to work for."

He says, "Thanks." He says some corporate drivel about how he's sure I'll find a job that makes me happier. He almost says "a better job," but he stops himself.

He reaches out to shake my hand. His hand is big and soft and I remember how attracted to him I was in my interview. Before I knew how gawky his casual-day wardrobe was. Something sticks to me as I pull my hand from his. I look to see if there's slime on my hand.

"Oh," he says, and tries to put his dilapidated Band-Aid back on his palm.

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