During the company’s Christmas party, I won two tickets to a new exhibit at the local museum.
“Congratulations, Nora!” – said my boss.
“Thank you” – I said meekly, wishing that I had won the laptop instead.
“I can’t find anything online about this” – remarked Ophelia.
Ophelia and I have been friends since college, and since we are both single, I decided to invite her to the exhibit with me, and make a fun night out on the town out of it.
In response, I shrugged my shoulders, as if she could see me through the phone.
“How can there be nothing about it on the Internet? No reviews…” – she added.
“I don’t know. I think the tickets are for the opening night” – I mumbled, in hopes to end the pointless conversation.
“Oooh! That’s exciting!” – she exclaimed.
“Maybe we will get to see some influential people, celebrities, journalists…” – she continued.
“Maybe” – I answered halfheartedly, envisioning the computer that Drew won.
“Hey, Boss, what kind of exhibit is it? My … friend cannot find anything about it online” – I asked, not wanting him to know whom I was inviting to come with me.
“It’s my niece’s. She’s an emerging artist, and I’m trying to get her an audience” – he said, and I smiled warmly.
“Actually, I don’t know much about it, either. She just told me it would be “an experience of a lifetime”, and it would make a big impact on my life” – he continued.
I nodded my head as a sign of understanding.
When Ophelia and I arrived at the museum, there were already a few people queuing in front of the entrance.
“Please form a line along the red stripes” – said the sign pointing towards the colored markings on the ground.
My friend rolled her eyes at me, but we obeyed the order and queued behind the last person.
Victor, my boss, arrived shortly after, smiled and waved at me, and then joined the line.
As soon as the clock struck 8pm, the doors opened, and a young lady, who I presumed was my boss’ niece, came out.
“Ladies, and gentleman: I am honored to see that so many of you accepted my invitation. This is a one of a kind experience, and so I will ask that you enter the exhibit individually. That way, you will be able to take it in more. It will be an individually customized experience, so it will be worth it” – a girl with black hair, wearing a black dress, and black lipstick announced.
This time around it was me who rolled her eyes. Realizing that I won’t be able to drink wine and critique every piece in Ophelia’s company, I thought of ditching the line.
“Individually customized!” – whispered the man behind me excitedly.
Before I could decide one way, or another, the line started moving, and I was pushed forward whether I liked it or not.
“Once you’re through the door, you will be given a number. While you’re waiting for yours to be called, please enjoy our complementary drinks” – said the niece.
We entered the atrium and made our way to the corner bar.
“Shots!” – exclaimed Ophelia.
“Lower your voice” – I urged, elbowing her.
“You’re such a party pooper” – she announced, and ordered us a pair of sensible gin and tonics.
There were plenty of comfortable, leather couches on the other side of the room, so that was were we spent our time waiting.
“I have to say that it’s an amazing way of not making me feel like I’m standing in line” – Ophelia said, and took another sip of her drink.
Indeed. I was getting excited for the exhibit now.
As people got in, we realized that no one was coming out.
“That is so smart. They don’t want our experience to be spoiled, so they are letting them out through a different exit. That way, they cannot tell us exactly what they saw” – Ophelia said to me.
I nodded slightly, and sipped on my drink.
“Number 7” – announced the voice through the sound system.
“That’s you” – said Ophelia, pulling me up from the couch.
Suddenly, I did not feel like going in. Anxiety embraced my body, and all I could do was buy myself some time.
“You go” – I said with plea in my eyes.
“Fine. See you on the other side” – said Ophelia and walked through the door labeled “Exhibit”.
I was now holding a piece of paper with the number 8 on it.
“Nora, hey! Are you next? You excited?”
I turned and saw my boss with amber liquid in his glass. A double whiskey. Neat. That is how he likes his alcohol.
“Nora? You OK?” – he asked, since I took a moment too long to answer.
I was not sure how to tell him that it was an idiotic gift, that I would much rather be at home now, and that I felt weirdly agitated just thinking of going in.
“Yes, I’m OK! I can’t wait” – I answered, hoping that I sounded convincing.
“I’m number 11. I tried to calculate how much time I will have to wait, but it seems like they’re letting people in at random intervals.”
He was trying to chit-chat, while I was trying to compose myself before I had to go in. What a terrible evening this was turning out to be. All to please the boss, and not be laid off first when the time comes.
“Good luck” – he said, as I turned towards the door.
Because I have been doing shorter CW pieces lately, I decided to give a longer story a go. The thing is that it is turning out to be too lengthy for a single post. I do not want you to get discouraged and not read it all, so I decided to break it up into 2 parts. Above is part 1. Part 2 will be posted next week.
Click here for part 2.
How do you think this will end?
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