Sharon’s note: Life is an uphill battle. Everyone struggles, just some people’s paths are different. Objectively, you can look at two different paths and say that one is harder than another. It is really hard to look at your own path objectively. Looking at any path objectively is hard. Just try to remember that a person’s reality is about perception, not facts. You may not feel that someone’s path is as hard as yours, so they have no reason to complain. Just remember that the hard things they are going through are hard for them, even if they wouldn’t be for you. Be kind. Warning: Main character having a bad day.
“I’m getting a new desk?” I’d been at the same desk for the year I’d been Operating. After my last failed mission, I’d spent a year in physical therapy before transferring to Hearth. I’d spent six months in training, being yoked to Pamela, my predecessor. I’d done the research, made coffee, called and coordinated with scouts to make reports, and anything else that needed doing to prep help teams on their mission. It sounded like an easy type of job when I’d originally heard of it. Being on the other end, receiving the briefs and directions, I hadn’t thought about all the work that went into it. Straight out of therapy, it was all I could physically manage.
To start, I could only work a couple hours at a time. Then I had to go to sleep on one of the on call beds because I my reactions were too slow, and I was unsafe to drive home. Slowly, I worked myself up to longer and longer shifts, then suddenly, Pamela was retiring and I had her desk and team. It was a daunting responsibility, until I realized that I was doing the exact same job since I had started with the exception that I was the one calling in a sub for my active missions when I needed a bathroom break. I would never have believed that being told I was switching desk would trouble me this much. God help me, I was attached to a chunk of particleboard and aluminum.
“You’re not.” Seth said over his shoulder. “Frank is.”
I turned to narrow my eyes at the man behind me. “Why do you need a new desk? You’re getting reassigned next week.”
“Not any more.” Frank’s cheerful grin made me want to punch him. Then again, most things Frank did made me want to punch him. “I’ve spoken with Seth and the doctor. Missing my arm like I am, I just don’t think I’ll be any help in the field, so they’re keeping me on permanently.”
Involuntarily, my teeth clenched. Even though I was forcing myself to relax, I couldn’t keep the incredulity out of my voice. Admittedly, I didn’t try that hard. “You are leaving the field because you’re only missing an arm? Not even a whole arm. It’s like half and arm, and you have a new fancy prosthetic.”
His lips pursed as anger flickered across Frank’s face. “Yes. I only lost half an arm when a werewolf ripped it off. I’m sure you’d be right back in the field after that.”
“If I possibly could, yeah.” My glare was probably made slightly less effective by having to lean against the wall. I had been on my feet for too long and was going to need to sit down soon. It was hard to have a conversation when your legs are starting to scream. “I would kill to just have your problem.”
Frank’s nostrils flared and he swallowed hard before he said in a quiet voice that threatened to shake. “I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since that night. I wake up, sweating and shaking. I’ve cried. I haven’t cried since I was a baby. I’ve had nightmares . . .”
“Do you honestly think the rest of us haven’t?” I hissed. “We are Hunters, Frank! Nightmare’s are part of the job! If you can’t handle that, then maybe you should just get the hell . . .”
“Joy!” Seth’s voice came sharp behind me, and my mouth clicked shut. He must have heard us arguing and come back down the wall. “Frank, go set up your cube. Joy, I’ll go with you to put your lunch in the break room.”
No one moved for a second, then Frank turned to walk away. I barely heard him say flatly, “I’m sorry I’m not broken enough for you.”