"People don’t let me talk about you but I do anyway. I open my mouth and the words fall out onto the pavement, melting on contact like wet snowflakes."
My creative non-fiction piece Making Words, about my personal experience with grief and the frustration that comes from trying to express it, has been published on Tell Us a Story. Read it here:
My flash fiction piece In Transit has been published on the literary web magazine Truck. Check it out at http://halvard-johnson.blogspot.com/2014/02/heather-rose-babcock.html
Excerpt from Half Off (published in issue 27 of Front&Centre Magazine):
The glass soda pop bottles.
Mr. Proctor was using words like restructuring, downsizing and economy, but Wilbur could only think of the glass soda pop bottles hidden underneath Jason’s desk.
Due to the financial crisis, we have to make difficult decisions such as this one in order to stay afloat, Mr. Proctor was saying. The decision was solely based on your level of employment seniority, Wilbur. It isn’t personal.
In actuality, Pete had been hired five months after Wilbur; however it did not cross Wilbur’s mind to point out the fallacy. During the three month probationary period of a new hire, the management team at Imvaughan Pharmaceuticals worked diligently, combining a blend of e-newsletter propaganda, shame inducing all-staff meetings and general every day acts of intimidation in order to effectively disable the employee’s natural instinct to assert the obvious.
Even now, during his employment termination, Wilbur could feel his head bobbing back and forth in agreement. His face, contorted like a finger poked ball of clay, struggled to convey a look of understanding and selflessness.
Mr. Proctor’s own face had shut down, as though he was disgusted by Wilbur’s acquiescence. He turned his ergonomically correct black leather chair sideways and passed the severance check across the desk towards Wilbur in exchange for the latter’s signature declaring that he would not sue, nor talk ill of, Imvaughan Pharmaceuticals.
Mr. Proctor got up from his chair and motioned for Wilbur to do the same.
Can I get my things? Wilbur asked him.
He shook his head no.
We’ll have Maria mail them to you.
Mr. Proctor wasn’t holding Wilbur’s elbow as he escorted him to the elevator, and yet it felt to Wilbur as though he was.
At the front desk, Mr. Proctor had Wilbur hand over his keys and swipe card to Maria, Imvaughan’s receptionist. Maria had always been friendly towards Wilbur; the two had even shared lunch together on a few occasions, however today she simply nodded at Wilbur’s smile, averting her eyes as though employee layoffs were contagious and could be spread through direct eye contact. Wilbur understood her fear – as the lowest paid employee at Imvaughan, Maria had the most to lose.
Besides, in the past few months Wilbur had grown used to feeling like an abomination.
The alienation had started shortly after he had filled out the medical reimbursement form for his anti-retroviral drug prescription. As an underling in technical support, all matters related to Wilbur’s health care benefits had to first go through Jason, the department’s supervisor. Jason was the stereotypical tech guy: a man-boy who masturbated to cartoon anime girls and who had an unfortunate aversion to deodorant. Wilbur had felt certain that he wouldn’t know what the medication was for.
A month later though, Wilbur was searching for a spare cable and instead found the stash of urine filled glass soda pop bottles calmly hidden under Jason’s desk.
It was that moment in which it had dawned on Wilbur that Jason had stopped using the tech office washroom. It was that moment in which Wilbur had realized, with a deliquesce fear, that his secret was out.
Written by Heather Babcock 2011
To read the full story, order Front&Center magazine issue 27 by going here: http://blackbilepress.com/Black_Bile_Press/F%26C_Archive.html