And then as he moved his hand closer to her leg where it rested on the bus seat, she pulled the pencil she was clutching out of her purse and jammed it into the fleshy space between his thumb and index finger. She felt the corners of her mouth rise as he screamed.
Maribeth would like to carry out all of the revenge fantasies she lived in her head. If she could do it without consequences. She didn’t want to go to jail or anything, she just wanted some justice, no matter how small. Her daily rounds were a death by paper cut – not one fatal blow but hundreds of tiny slashes. She was tired of the pain.
Like the man on the bus this morning who kept ‘accidentally’ touching her leg. Nothing adding up to an actual assault of course but it was no accident. She knew better and so did he, and his tilted head and smirk showed that he knew there was nothing she could do about him touching her.
Karen at the front desk let the coffee boil dry again. She always took the last cup, leaving just enough at the bottom to cling to a sliver of truth in the phrase ‘it wasn’t empty.’ Maribeth found herself soaking and washing the coffeepot for what had to be the thousandth time since she started working there.
Sherry stepped ahead of her in the lunch line, Mike had taken all the pens off her desk again, a client belched in her ear. The doctor kept her waiting while he chatted in the hallway about the hockey game, the grocery store clerk put the bread on the bottom of the bag of tinned food.
None of these things were significant in themselves but they made up the avalanche of tiny indignities that would have crushed her if she didn’t imagine her revenge.
In her mind, she was much more assertive. She wore red heels, and maybe a pair of those enormous sunglasses. She carried a great purse, she had a brain full of witty comebacks, and she took action immediately. She didn’t shuffle like she did in real life, revenge fantasy Maribeth had a bit of a strut. No one got one over on that Maribeth.
Lecherous men found themselves extracting pencils, coffee bandits got ex-laxed, line skippers and pen stealers were featured in Wanted posters on the company bulletin boards. Nasty clients got accidentally left on hold. Disrespectful doctors encountered a wall of rage in red heels, and grocery clerks found themselves in long meetings with their managers. Revenge fantasy Maribeth did not fool around.
Real-life Maribeth looked out the window on the bus and pretended nothing was happening. She washed a coffeepot, waited longer for her lunch, bought more pens, and ignored the belch. She slouched in the chair in the doctor’s office, and then went home to make sandwiches out of oddly-shaped bread.
She chewed quietly, sipped some tea and browsed online for red heels, enormous sunglasses and a great purse that she’d never buy.