Writing Clash


"Now, I usually don't do this because I like to pair the newer empoyees with older ones, but in this case I feel that you two will work very well together. Your talents complement each other. And as an experienced journalist, I expect you will be able to handle showing Michael the ropes, Lotte."

"It's Alex," my partner muttered under his breath, although he seemed more amused than angry.

Mrs. Rowland was a character. She preferred to call her staff by their first names and had a giant calender with birthdays and Islamic holidays for one of the other journalists who was Muslim. In the center of her impressively disorganized desk there was a fountain with various coins and paperclips in it. I had steadily been becoming more transfixed by this fountain while she lectured, but when Alex Kane spoke I couldn't resist looking up.

He was more mature now.

That was the first thing I noticed. I don't know what made me think that, but I could see it in every line on his face and speck of color in his open eyes. He wore a blue button-up with the arms folded to his elbows. When we introduced ourselves, he shook my hand with a confident grip that wasn't hostile or even flirty. If he recognized me, he didn't say so, and I didn't either. Just because he was popular back in high school didn't mean I had the right to say I knew him, because I really didn't. It was just odd. And I was back to staring at that swirling fountain again.

"Here is your first assignment. Don't worry; I made it easy on you guys just this once!" Mrs. Rowland winked obviously and pressed a folder into my hands. I opened it to the first page. Alex leaned closer to read the printed text over my shoulder.

LOCAL STORIES: Effects of Drought on Farmers
Sources: Kevin Browning, Grace and Harry Katsman, Ian Sumner, Eleanor Peterson, Hannah Macer, Madeline and Jacob Everette, Jason Fitz

"Deadline is next Thursday. Make sure you sign all those legal forms and give them back to me before you do any reporting. Dismissed!"

Alex and I scrambled out of the office. Well, I scrambled. Alex walked calmly and perfectly normally.

When we reached a clear area between cubicles, my partner smiled at me. "When would you like to start interviews, Lotte? How does tomorrow sound? You look beat."

I huffed a bit. "You said it. I don't know how late I stayed up, but I can tell you I got less sleep than I --" then I realized I was rambling. I never rambled. But Alex didn't seem to notice, so I just shrugged and nodded. We planned to start our assignment and meet up tomorrow. As for now I would just have to fill out paperwork and read over moral guidelines.

Moral, moral, moral. What did that really mean, anyway? Was I even a moral human being anymore? Or was I just the lesser of the evils?

That reminded me I had to go shopping that night for toilet paper and dish soap, and probably breakfast food too. Maybe I would just order pizza. But no. I had Mary Lou to think about... and I couldn't let her down in any way. She was the sweetest girl you could ever have to care for on this planet. I didn't want to mess up whatever faith she had in me, and I definitely didn't want to mess up the custody faith either. Being a single parent was going to be difficult.

But when I thought -- just for a moment -- about Lou's big smiles and rosy cheeks when she laughed... well, then it was all worth it.

Tomorrow, then.