Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Sisters of Sundance--Part 2

(The first part of this reworking of the Grimm tale starts on the post below.)

Jan was trapped. And paralyzed inside. She couldn’t think of an escape and so, a week later, she found herself in a cramped and cluttered administrative office of the Sundance Institute.

Stephanie, the breezy executive director, gave her a tour.

“Jan, we are so thrilled you were willing to take us on! As you can see, we’re in desperate need of your organizing skills! And your housekeeping!”

Stephanie’s laugh was light and carefree—was it a carefully choreographed display to distract Jan from the filth surrounding her? Even if she worked everyday for a month, Jan could never scrub this place clean.

Stephanie pointed to three stacks—each at least 10 inches high--of paperwork. “These contracts need to be re-entered into the system and these are letters to answer for Mr. Redford. There are forms for the fan mail, something for the agents, here are police forms—if you find notes from crazy stalkers… No! I’m not kidding!” She laughed again and moved to the computer. Jan watched Stephanie’s long, frosted fingernails daintily tap the keyboard. “Here are the files. I’m sure this will make sense once you get into it. This room, over here, we have file folders and boxes. You should have everything you’ll need. Cleaning supplies are in this closet.”

Jan struggled to keep her own plastered smile in place and her tears repressed until Stephanie finally pranced out of the room. Then, Jan locked the door, collapsed into a grimy chair and cried into the evening.

The next day Jan sat in the scummy space, overwhelmed and appalled. She couldn’t, she wouldn’t….she had neither the skill nor the will. To clean, and organize, and administrate? Jan found a sticky radio and turned it up. She locked the door and tried to think but her brain wouldn’t work. All she could do was cry.

On the third day, Jan again sat immobile. At lunchtime, Stephanie knocked on the door.

“Jan? You in there?”

Jan sat motionless.

“Hello? Hello?”

Jan heard the sound of a key and watched the door open. Stephanie was bringing another huge stack of paperwork.

“What’s going on? What’s wrong?”

Looking into Stephanie’s mirrored sunglasses, Jan caught a glimpse of her own red, swollen eyes and tear-drenched face.

”I…I…” Jan could only stutter.

“I know it’s overwhelming, and I’m sure you miss your sweet Mother. Many of our interns have a tough first week. But Jan, if you can’t do this, I’ll have to send you home. I hate to do that, especially because it’s late now. You know we’ll have to charge you for your airfare both ways, and the week’s housing stipend. And some other charges. I told your mother this.”

Jan nodded.

“I’ll be back tomorrow,” Stephanie continued, with her practiced sing-song tone and toothy smile. “If you haven’t cleaned this room up and finished all this paperwork, I’ll have to put you out on the streets. Sorry….”

This was it. The end of the road. Jan went to the window. Should she escape first or wait until dark? Or at least until after dinner? Should she grab the blankets from her cot and find a place to sleep outside? Homelessness. That was her future.


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