So that’s what happened.
That morning when Vie walked in with me, Cowen immediately called me into his office. I knew by the drag to his face I wouldn’t like his words.
“Diamond, would you shut the door behind you?”
“Sure, Mr. Riley.”
After hanging up my coat on the coat tree, I took a seat in front of the mahogany desk, wondering, “What’s wrong?” because Cowen’s face looked exhausted, his tie loosened—which was definitely abnormal—and he wasn’t clean-shaven. His unusual appearance gave me the desire to reach across the desk and stroke all the worry lines from his brow.
“Diamond, you’ve been doing a fantastic job with the plans, but I’m afraid that we’re going to have to put the plans aside for a while. Do you mind taking back the receptionist desk for a little while? I’ve got a lot on my mind, so I’m in no position to give the plans much thought.”
“No. Of course not, Mr. Riley. I don’t mind,” I said, lying, wondering what’s the problem; but his head in his hand told me that the discussion was closed.
I walked around camouflaging dejection for a whole week, wondering why Cowen took away my job of decorating the agency—my only joy.
If I hadn’t heard Jackie gripping to Vie about answering the phone and re-filing files I would have thought that what Cowen said was legit, his own initiation. Though I found working daily with him in the office somewhat distracting. Sometimes, seated in the corner of his office, I would look up to see him watching me, his eyes warm. It felt wonderful. I woke up in a hurry to get to the agency. So I thought that maybe he felt that we were getting to close. So it came as a shock today to hear Vie and Jackie discussing Mr. Riley’s wife.
They were whispering, like always whispering together, but since I was back at my desk next to Jackie’s, right next to me, I wondered, did they want me to hear, or not?
Vie said, propped on Jackie’s desk, “she suffers from depression?” Jackie turned her head, her hand covering her mouth, but I heard, “It’s pretty serious; that’s why he always looks like he has something on his mind. He worries about her. I heard him talking on the phone about her.”
I thought, that’s so sad that he has to deal with that. And I wondered about her depression. I thought medicine could care for that.
It wasn’t until later that I asked one of the guys that I found out what was the true problem.
Wow. So she’s mentally sick. Is it genetics, stress, or what . . . I wonder does he would want to talk about it? But how do I explain that I know? I’ve never discussed his wife before; do I start talking about her now?
I should’ve asked about her before now. Why didn’t I? I find that the strangest question of all.
Cowen’s words of praise had been a lifeboat to me drowning. When we discussed the agency, everything I said and showed him he sincerely loved, expressing it in his eyes. It made me want to do more. Then suddenly when he pulled the plug, told me that we wouldn’t be working together, it left me hurt, feeling rejected and depressed.
Actually, did I really want to know?