Fiction in response to Reduced Inequalities
By Caroline Sun
The camera clicks on, its blood red eye blinking in sudden birth. The image shifts slightly, then zooms in on the slouched form of a man, wearing a rumpled black suit. Across from him sits a woman. Her stone gray eyes are wary, burdened with a weariness that exists only in hardship. The man is silent.
My name is Camila Gonzalez.
The woman’s low voice is soft, like the wings of a moth when first escaped from its cocoon.
I am here today—
Yes, yes. The stiff man interrupts her. You are considering the position of…
He sweeps his gaze across the papers clutched in his talons, aquiline nose tilting downward. Now he looks up at her. … a managing director?
Yes, sir. I believe that I am a very good choice. You see, I—
The stiff man holds up a hand, head turned away in a bored fashion.
All your qualifications should have been ahead of time. You do not need to waste my time with your pandering.
The woman’s face does not change, yet something shifts behind her eyes. A flare of astonishment, then anger, that this man should dismiss her so rudely. And finally the light settles to a dark, stormy gray. Realization. Acceptance. But never surprise. No, the woman had been through this many times. Surprise was not something she easily felt any longer. She sighs. She has to get this job. Her children, her rising debt, everything depended upon this.
Of course, sir.
The man turns his pinched face towards her, eyes half-lidded. He seemed to be frowning, almost as if displeased at the woman’s calmness. With forced politeness he begins the interview.
A short while later, the woman has answered most of his questions, ignoring the poorly-concealed contempt hidden behind his sneer.
One more question, if you please.
The man twirls his pen whimsically, drawing an invisible fence across the tension-filled air. He eyes the woman critically. She had several degrees from various prestigious colleges, but he still found her skeptical. Women just weren’t… cut out… for this kind of job.
Gonzalez, is it? Cuban, if I’m not mistaken.
The woman stiffens, eyes narrowing only slightly. Her ethnicity was not something she felt pertained to the matter at hand.
Yes. My parents brought me here right after I was born.
The man smiles, the grin of a hyena that has driven its prey into a corner.
I see. An immigrant?
A pause. Yes.
The man stands up now, chair skidding back with a screech of metal.
Well, I thank you very much for coming in today, Mrs. Gonzalez. It was a… pleasure talking to you today.
Before the woman can reply, he continues on.
Your application was quite excellent. Unfortunately, you are not what we are looking for at the moment.
The woman stands up as well, heels clattering crisply on the hard tile floor.
Of course, Mr. Wulf. There is no emotion in her voice; she had known better than to expect something else for a middle-aged, immigrant woman with no family background. She heads for the door, hands clasped tightly before her.
Thank you for having me.
* * *
The camera clicks on, its blood red eye blinking in sudden birth. The image shifts slightly, then zooms in on the straight-backed form of a man, wearing a sharp black suit. Across from him sits another man, younger. His clean-shaven face is brimming with the hope and restlessness that exists only in youth.
Ahem. The cardboard-cut man clears his throat, eyeing the papers held in his long white fingers. Henry Browning, it it? He turns his basilisk gaze upon the young man, who is now sweating profusely.
Y-yes, my name is Henry Browning. Before the cardboard man can reply, he rushes on. I am here today with the hope that you will consider me for this job offer. I do believe I am cut out for this job, and sincerely wish for your approval!
The man stares, speechless, no doubt taken aback by the pure enthusiasm of this young man.
Well, of course. Ahem.
The man regains his composure, and places both hands carefully on the table.
Well, Mr. Browning, I have a few questions for you.
The young man nods eagerly, eyes glinting with fervor. Adrenaline tingles across his skin, a thousand arcs of lightning streaking as he prepares himself. He had to get this job. His father, his family’s honor, everything depended upon this. How disappointed his father would be if his own son couldn’t even become a manager, much less a CEO like himself.
Alright, Mr. Wulf.
Interested in this young, promising candidate, the man begins his interview.
A short while later, the young man has answered most of the questions, barely concealing his excitement at the man’s nodded approval.
One more question, if you please.
The man writes rapid letters across his paper, noting the brilliant personality of this young man. His work was a little bit lacking, and the only reason he even got this far was because of his powerful father. But that wasn’t a concern next to his charm and eagerness; he just seemed… right… for this job.
You’re the son of William Browning, if I’m not mistaken?
The young man brightens, face opening like a budding flower. If this man knew about his father, about his powerful family background, surely they would accept him.
Yes, he is my father. I believe this makes me even more suited for this job, if my family has such a well-known past with this kind of work.
The man nods, white smile plastered across his face.
I do believe you’re right. What can be more influential than a father like yours?
He stands up abruptly, chair sliding back with a muffled squeak.
Well, thank you very much for coming in today, Mr. Browning. I very much enjoyed talking with you, and what I have found in you is indeed very promising. You may be just the man for the job.
The young man grins in delight, standing up as well. The two men shake hands, before he heads to the door. The young man turns around to nod at Mr. Wulf one final time.
Thank you for having me.