A Misanthrope Indeed, Pt. 1

Hey, how about a Christmas story?

There were some executives that Robert had never seen, even after ten years of working with PomM. Part of him wondered if they existed at all, an absurd notion that had nevertheless become more insistent over the past few years (ever since Maria left, he thought, although he couldn’t say for certain.) The idea troubled him. Not because he really believed it was true, but because the way he’d found himself coming back to the possibility (entertaining it, playing out the consequences and possibilities such a reality would necessitate) probably meant he was slowly but steadily going insane.

Of course, the executives had to exist. What would be the point of orchestrating such a massive, detailed conspiracy for more than a decade? He was not so important that he would be the sole focus of the ruse (after all, in a hundred years no one would remember his name, not like they would Sandra Jacobs) and he’d seen nothing to suggest that anyone else saw the executives’ physical absence as he did.

And somebody had to be writing the emails he received, like the latest one from Senior Vice President of Product Integration Marketing, Richard Smythe (what an obviously fake name and position. Like something that’d been created by a random number generator) asking for updates on the EAR module. He’d never heard of Richard Smythe before, and now Robert evidently reported directly to the man. Or maybe he’d always been there, manipulating things from behind the scenes, and he’d just now taken an active role in the EAR project. Or maybe he’d taken over the project from someone else, from Sergei or Jack or Peggy or whoever the else had been in charge last.

It was eight o’clock on a Tuesday night. Maria would be making the girls get ready for bed, telling them to brush their teeth and wash their faces. Alan would be in the kitchen cleaning up after dinner, putting things away, doing the dishes, waiting for her to finish with the girls so they could sit together on the couch and he could put his arms around her while they watched a movie.

Robert imagined the smile on her face, and despite everything, he smiled to himself. He’d lived for that smile once. Still did in some kind of a sad way, maybe. If she was happy, then he was happy for her. He’d understood completely when she’d told him she couldn’t take it anymore and she was leaving and she was taking the girls with her.

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