The Lady Wore Red – Chapter 1
Copyright Mark Graham 2012
Published by Mark Graham at Smashwords
Another late night surrounded by file boxes, paperwork and twelve different documents labeled with "Important!" sticky-notes. Lily sighed, sitting back in her chair to rub her tired, nearly watery eyes under her glasses. She knew she shouldn't be doing this. She was wearing herself out working late. Twenty-nine years old and she'd found a single gray hair in the mirror this morning. One single gray hair but it stared at her accusingly. She wasn't even really afraid of losing her job if she didn't stay so late - she just didn't want to leave anything at all to chance in this job market. She was a slightly dumpy nearly thirty-something with a fairly good understanding of family law and a nearly anal attentive to detail. And, in any case, she didn't mind the distraction of working late. It was something to take her mind off of an empty, cold apartment.
She could feel a headache coming on. Whether it was the glare from the LCD monitor in the dark office or trying to concentrate on so many cases at once or something else, she was done. After another sigh, she signed off the computer and shut it down. The street lights outside the office let her see well enough to find her purse and keys without having to turn on the overhead lights. Her coworkers never understood why she liked working in the dark and she never planned to admit the truth. In the dark, everything was hidden. All of her many imperfections. All of her faults. She ceased to exist to a small degree and she was fine with that. Plus, having the lights off helped keep the headaches to a minimum when she was up late.
The walk through the office was uneventful and typical as she worked through her internal checklist - doors locked, files put away and computers all turned off. She triple-checked the front door as usual. They'd had two attempted break-ins this year - angry soon-to-be-ex spouses trying to... do whatever angry people do. She tried to keep her thoughts purely to what was written in the files and leave her imagination out of it. No need to speculate on who was right or wrong since, more often than not, the people lied. It was an underfed thing, her imagination. She let others do it for her - reading her stories and watching the few shows she cared about. Going through her life trying to be as comfortable and invisible as possible.