The Wall of Winnipeg and Me(12)

by Mariana Zapata

I understood why I was a good fit for Aiden. I was pretty patient, and I didn’t hold his callus, picky nature against him. I knew how to handle crazy in all its forms thanks to my family, but maybe I’d just been expecting so much worse from him, and he’d never gone straight into anger-management zone. He was way too controlled for that.

Realistically though, especially after yesterday, I wasn’t going to hold my breath. Maybe I’d feel worse about quitting if Aiden was my friend or if Trevor had actually been nice to me, but neither one of them would remember me two months from now. I knew who cared about me and who meant something to me, and neither one of them were on my list… and sure, that made me feel a little bad. But survival of the fittest and all that crap, right?

Both Aiden and Trevor would dump me like a hot potato if our roles were reversed. I’d let my misguided sense of loyalty, paranoia, and self-doubt keep me shackled to my not-so-bad cell.

All Aiden needed was someone who could do what he wanted. Cook, clean, wash, fold, answer e-mails, call Trevor or Rob when he wanted things out of my jurisdiction, and post things on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Then there were the things I had to do when he traveled. It wasn’t anything crazy.

Anyone with a little bit of patience could do it.

But from the look Trevor pierced me with, he didn’t feel the same way. Mostly, I thought he was just being lazy. He blew out a breath, and started massaging his temples as the chat buffered and his image blurred for a moment. “Are you positive you want to do this? I can talk to him about reducing your hours…” His voice carried over the speaker even as the screen froze.

I only just barely managed not to ask him to let me think about it. “No.” I couldn’t. I wasn’t going to half-ass this opportunity in my life to go solo. I didn’t want to invite failure in the door by being hesitant.

“Vanessa…” he groaned. “You’re really doing this?”

This was exactly what I’d been working toward from the moment I finished school with my undergrad in graphic design. Graduating had been an uphill battle that sometimes felt like plain torture, and I’d done terrible, awful things to get my schooling done. It was why I had worked multiple jobs at once, why I now technically only had two, and why I had been sleeping four hours a night for the last four years and lived off the bare minimum. I took almost any and every job that hit my inbox and jobs that didn’t: book covers, web banners, posters, bookmarks, business cards, postcards, logos, T-shirt designs, commissioned pieces, tattoo designs. Everything.

“I’m positive.” I had to fight the urge to smile at how confident and determined I sounded even though I definitely didn’t feel that way.

Back at massaging his temples, Trevor sighed. “If that’s how you’re going to be, I’ll start looking for a replacement.”

I nodded and let a sense of hesitant victory tickle my throat. I wasn’t going to let that smart-ass comment at the beginning bother me. This was exactly how I was going to be.

He waved a hand in front of the screen. “I’ll let you know once I find someone.”

Without another comment, he logged off the chat like a rude jerk. He reminded me of someone else I knew with his lack of manners. If it wasn’t for Zac and some of the other Three Hundreds he’d introduced me to over the years, I would have figured everyone in their industry was self-absorbed. But no, it was only a few people, specifically the ones I had to surround myself with. Go figure.

It wasn’t going to be my problem anymore though, was it?

“Vanessa!” a familiar voice bellowed from somewhere upstairs.

“Yes?” I yelled back, exiting the app on my tablet, and wondering if he’d overheard my conversation with Trevor or not. I mean, he was the one who told me to call him in the first place, wasn’t he?