The man from the car service was waiting for her in the driveway, but she didn’t want to leave the house.
She looked furtively around the side of the curtains, careful that he shouldn’t see her watching him. She didn’t like the look of him and something about him made her feel very uneasy. The agency had sent a car to pick her up, but she had stressed to them under no uncertain terms that she was agoraphobic and that if they wanted her to sign the contract they really should come and visit her at her home. But they had insisted and she wanted the deal so much, it would make a huge difference to her financially and it would allow her to continue working from home. So she decided to accept.
But when push came to shove and the driver arrived to collect her, her body went cold and clammy and her heart palpitations sounded like a whirring old motor that was unhinged and likely to fall apart any second. Just the mere thought of leaving the house sent her into a blind panic. Then came another knock at the door. She knew he was waiting, but she didn’t know him, she couldn’t trust him. He knocked again.
A little while later the phone rang.
‘Majory? Hi, are you ok? Our driver is waiting outside but he says whilst he knows you are there you’re not answering the door?’
‘I told you before, I can’t. I can’t…. step outside….’ her breathing was laboured, she was convinced she was about to pass out.
‘He’s perfectly safe, honestly!’ the secretary implored her.
‘It doesn’t matter. It’s hard enough for me to come out of the house for someone I know and trust. I just can’t do it for a stranger, I’m sorry.’
Not knowing what to do the secretary explained she was going to seek some advice and would get back to her. Ten minutes later the phone rang again.
‘Hi Majory? I’ve spoken with Deanna and she’s on her way now, will you come out for her?’
Why didn’t these bloody people listen?! She was beyond frustrated. They just didn’t get phobias, to them it was all easy peasy just do it! But it wasn’t that simple.
‘I’ll try, but I really can’t promise anything.’
‘Good, she’s on her way.’
Thirty minutes later Deanna arrived and knocked on the door as Majory peered out again from behind the curtains. She walked to the front door and began unlocking all the bolts and chains, which took a good five minutes, then opened the door and Deanna walked in. As they exchanged pleasantries, Majory closed the door and proceeded to re-lock everything much to Deanna’s unease. Majory motioned for her to follow her to the kitchen where she had brewed a pot of tea.
”So Majory, are you ready to come with me?’
‘I really don’t get it. I have explained to you I have agoraphobia, it’s almost impossible for me to leave.’
‘All I hear is almost,’ Deanna replied smiling.
‘You are the one publishing my book! You KNOW why I am the way I am but you keep dismissing it! This isn’t something that can be brushed away with a comment or some encouragement. Every man I see makes me think of him, even my shrink comes to visit me and I’m not ready yet to even venture into my garden, so what makes you think I can manage the city?!’
‘I just thought, a little push was all you needed. You’ve got to go out some time, why not now?’
‘Listen.’ Majory was now speaking slowly, methodically, ‘If you insist on pushing me like this, it is clear to me that whilst you are all for publishing ‘Unwanted attentions’ you haven’t taken on board the devastation that man visited on my life; if my shrink can’t get me out, I can assure you, that you can’t and if that’s the case and you’re not prepared to work with me instead of bullying me, because frankly, that’s exactly what it feels like, then I won’t be signing your contract.’
Deanna had thought with her own powers of persuasion that she could have turned her, but now realising how stubborn this author was, and how much they had already invested in her, she couldn’t afford to not have her contract fully executed. Under the calm surface and reassuring smile, Deanna felt irritated by a woman she felt really should grow a pair.
‘OK, I’ve brought the contract, if you could just sign here and here, we should be good to go.’
‘You mean after everything I just said, all along you had the paperwork?! And you just wanted to see how far you could push me?! I may be trapped in here but don’t you go thinking I’m some kind of weak push over. I’m not!’
And with that and a few more pleasantries, Deanna left with the signed contract.
A couple of months later, Majory called as she was having some issues with the latest editing and however much she didn’t want to see Deanna, she needed her help.
‘I’m sorry. Deanna has left the company, but I can get Tracey to come and see you and don’t you worry, we completely understand your situation, so we will come to you.’ Relieved at the change in attitude, Majory replaced the receiver and relaxed.
Two hours later Tracey arrived. Majory went through the whole process of bolts and locks, to open, then to close and all the while Tracey had a genuine gentle smile on her face, not like the forced one Deanna had shown her.
This time the pleasantries really were pleasant and Majory really took to Tracey. She loved her book, and it wasn’t contrived, she really was a fan and completely took on board the whole affects the rape had had on Majory’s life. Later as they were chatting over a cup of tea, Tracey offered a bit of information Majory didn’t know. Deanna had left the company a month before under very distressing circumstances. She had been brutally attacked by a disgruntled author who’s advances had been rejected in Deanna’s usual callous manner, but this time it was someone else who had had the last word and Deanna hadn’t been outside since.