Halle Butler: Jillian

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Halle Butler Jillian
  • Название:
    Jillian
  • Автор:
  • Издательство:
    Curbside Splendor Publishing
  • Жанр:
    Современная проза / на английском языке
  • Год:
    2015
  • Язык:
    Английский
  • Рейтинг книги:
    4 / 5
  • Ваша оценка:
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Jillian: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Megan, recently out of college and working a meaningless job as a gastroenterologist's secretary, openly hates all of her friends for being happy and successful. She makes herself feel better by obsessively critiquing the behavior of her coworker, Jillian, a rapid cycling, grotesque optimist, whose downfall is precipitated by the purchase of a dog.

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Halle Butler


Jillian

Part 1

ONE

Jillian was in the rapture of one of her great musings.

“But what I really want is to be a personal assistant, or to go door to door and help people get organized. Not, like, as a psychologist, but I might be good at that, too. More like helping people get the right bins and sort through their stuff. Just go in and help people get organized.”

“You really like organizing?” Megan asked. Megan was not listening. She pronounced it flatly. “You really like organizing.”

“I’m obsessed,” said Jillian. “My house is packed with color-coded boxes and labels and stuff like that.”

“You’re a collector,” said Megan.

Jillian burped, a discreet, air-valve release through her mouth. “Haha, yeah.”

The phone rang. Megan picked it up and said, “Good afternoon, doctors’ office.” The woman on the phone asked if this was Dr. Billings’s office. Megan answered in the affirmative.

“Well, finally,” said the woman. “I left a message on your machine and I did not receive a call within 24 hours as promised.”

“How may I help you?” asked Megan.

“I was beginning to think Dr. Billings was a figment of my mind,” said the woman. “Like I was imagining him, and that maybe I had dreamed leaving the message.”

Megan sniffed.

“But when I checked my call history just now, I saw that I had really called.” Megan didn’t have the energy.

“Umm, hello, hello,” said the woman.

“Yes, how may I help you?” said Megan.

“I’d like to make an appointment, like I said in my message. Should I just start from the top?”

“Could I have your name and availability, please?” said Megan. She thought of her current mindset as “allowing the shit to happen.”

The microwave beeped in the background. The microwave was in the closet where they kept drug samples, and it sat on top of the mini-fridge. People used the mini-fridge to store both lunches and biological samples, side by side. Megan did not like to use the mini-fridge or the microwave. She did not like to think about how the heat from the microwave might combine the side-by-side contents of the mini-fridge.

She thought about the microwave and the mini-fridge while scheduling the appointment, and she also thought about how people affectionately referred to using the microwave as “nuking.”

“All right, Mrs. Davies, we’ll see you next Wednesday at ten,” said Megan.

Jillian walked back to her desk from the microwave, holding her lunch. The lunch came in a small plastic tub and had an indeterminate odor.

Jillian’s desk was large—executive, almost—and made of mahogany colored laminate. Megan’s desk was small and made of glass and cheap, black metal, and Megan had decorated the glass with a fanciful pattern of coffee splatters, adhesive, and various other dribblings. Megan’s desk was placed in the corner between a fax machine and an oversized, locked trash can. She had a nice view of the wall.

“I mean, don’t get me wrong,” said Jillian, “I love my job.” She peeled the plastic flap off her lunch and slapped it on her desk with a practiced gesture. “But it’s a dream of mine to work on my own terms. And I think, you know, when a person has a passion, they should follow it.”

“Mmmm,” said Megan.

“And since I keep collecting all this organizing stuff, I think it’s pretty clear that it’s a passion, so I’m trying to really listen to it so I can understand what it means for my future.”

Megan squeezed the bridge of her nose.

“I’m sorry?” said Jillian.

“Oh, nothing, I’m sorry. I was talking to my computer.”

“Oh, don’t worry. I do that all the time,” said Jillian. She laughed. “So what do you think of my idea? Do you think about that stuff sometimes?”

“Yeah, I guess. I don’t know about organizers, though,” said Megan. She dropped her voice an octave for the authoritative thrill. “I think sometimes people buy organizers to make themselves feel satisfied with their intentions, rather than to help them organize.”

“Hmmm, that’s interesting,” said Jillian.

“It’s just an opinion.”

“It’s cool how different people are,” said Jillian.

“Yeah, maybe,” said Megan.

“So, Miss Megan, what’s your dream job? Go ahead and describe it to me.”

Jillian was a 35-year-old woman. Megan was 24. They were both sitting in a gastroenterology office in an upper-middle class neighborhood in Chicago.

“Gee, I don’t know,” said Megan. “I guess this.” She widened her eyes at her keyboard. “I guess I would like to have a job that’s easy like this, but maybe with better pay and fewer hours.”

“Awww,” said Jillian.

“What?” said Megan.

“We do hard work.”

MEGAN THREW HER SKIRT on the floor and said, “Jillian.”

Her boyfriend, Randy, was making dinner. He was cutting a zucchini into slices and laying the slices on top of a frozen cheese pizza.

“Today she burped in the middle of a sentence,” said Megan. “Like it was a word in her sentence.”

“Haha,” said Randy. Megan leaned against the kitchen sink.

“jillian!” said Megan, raising her arms.

“Yeesh,” said Randy.

“She thinks she’s going to become a personal organizer.”

“I don’t know what that is,” said Randy.

“Yes you do.”

“Yeah, I guess I do,” said Randy.

“When she told me about it, it occurred to me to say, ‘Well, never in all my life!’”

Megan thought about this and tried to sit on the edge of the sink. “I don’t really know why I wanted to say that. I just want to do my work without having to listen to her dreams.” Megan gestured again. “I don’t want to stress out about her dreams.”

“It’s a really small office, right?” Randy asked. “So, you’re really trapped in there.”

“Completely trapped.”

Megan kept thinking about Jillian and tried to sit on the edge of the sink, but fell backwards into it. She hit her head on the aluminum cabinets. Randy heard this, along with the noise of some dishes.

“You all right?” asked Randy.

Randy walked to the sink, which was attached to the wall shared with the living room. Megan started shaking and said she thought she might throw up. He put his arms around her and lifted her out of the sink. When he looked down into the sink, he cringed.

“I fell on that knife,” said Megan.

“You sure did,” said Randy.

He walked her through the living room while assuring her that she would be fine. Megan’s knees jiggled.

“Here, lie down,” he said. Megan got on her stomach on the bed and Randy pulled her tights down. He looked over at the pile of clothing in the corner of their small, unlit bedroom, hoping to see a pair of sweatpants in the wad.

“I’m going to get something for this,” he said.

“Did I cut myself?” asked Megan.

“You did,” he said.

“I thought so,” she said, and then nearly fainted.

Randy got up from his squat beside the bed and walked to the kitchen. Megan continued to lie on the bed on her stomach, her face pointed at the clothing wad. In the kitchen, where he was getting a bowl of warm water and a roll of masking tape, Randy saw the knife she’d sat on. It was surrounded by watery blood. Next to the knife, floating in a tea cup, was a small crouton.

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