"Unseen Links" by Rebecca L. Monroe

“Two cents.”

Sarah looked up in surprised. “Oh, nothing. I wasn’t thinking anything.”

Emma raised an eyebrow. “Really? Is that why you were looking so pissed off?”

Sarah shrugged, picking up the next box on the assembly line to examine it for defects. “I guess it’s my natural expression.” Emma was new to her line – a plumpish woman who wore thick glasses, had a pasty complexion and blondish hair. Emma had been moved to replace Trish because Trish had quit the day before. Found another job and moved on. Sarah wished she had the guts to do that.

“I don’t think it is.” Emma picked up a box of her own. “The lines in your face say you laugh quite a lot. I can tell difference, you know.”

“Tell what?”

“The difference in what you’re saying versus what you’re thinking.”

“You don’t say.”

Emma smiled, becoming almost pretty. “I do say. You’re upset about something you think is none of my business.”

“It’s not. I don’t even know you.” Sarah immediately regretted her words and tone. “I’m sorry. I’m not an open person.”

“You’re not sorry.” Emma put her box down and picked up another. Four had gone by while they talked. “I am pushy and rather strange looking and you’re right, you don’t know me. Why try to hide the truth?”

Sarah pretended to find a defect in her box. This was going to be a long night.

“Sarah, you are okay to think what you’re thinking.”

“Well, gee, thank you. I’d rather not talk anymore, Emma.”

“You don’t want my life history? It’s very interesting It would take your mind off whatever is bothering you.”

“No. I don’t want your life history and I don’t have anything bothering me!”

“Oops. Okay.”

Sarah kept working, sensing the heavy weight of anger between them. Maybe she should take a cue from Trish and quit. Tomorrow, she’d start looking for a new job.

“How long have you worked here?” Emma asked.

“Two years.”

“What do you really want to do?”

The question startled Sarah. “Excuse me?”

“What do you really want to do? For a living, I mean. It can’t be this.” Emma’s blue eyes were a bit distorted by the thickness of her glasses.

“I haven’t decided yet.”

“You’re twenty?”

“Good guess,”

Emma shrugged. “Small town, no college nearby. Two years is a long time to still be thinking about it.”

“You’re pretty rude,” the words popped out before Sarah could stop them.

“No, dear. I’m direct. Not common these days. What do you want to do?”