"I'm sorry Allison but we have no choice, due to the economy we're downsizing the office." The suit tells me, as my world shatters into pieces...again. "We will supply you with a reference and a a months worth of redundancy pay." He adds. "I wish you luck in your future endeavors."
<Luck?> I muse to myself as I get out of the chair, leave the office and desperately hold back the tears. No one else seems to be sad, no one else is going into the office and coming out five minutes later looking like their heart has been impaled on a stake.
"Have you seen the new analyst Ms Woods hired?" One of the other office girls asks as she walks past, her friend hanging on her heels and her every word.
"Yeah apparently the boss decided to fire that weirdo. About time too, she couldn't do anything right." The second girl states as they head to their desks.
<Reference? I doubt he'd have anything good to say about me. Everything bad that happens here is my fault, they'd be better off without me> I tell myself as I look at the few personal possessions I own and start putting them in my bag. Lily of the Valley Air Freshener, bag, Three Stegs to Heaven the soft toy Stegosaurus, bag, two 5p piece coins, pocket, Air Plant in a bottle, bag, everything else...anger bubbles up inside me, it's not fair, it's never fair, with one swift movement I knock everything not mine off the table.
"Miss Leigh, what is the meaning of this?" My former boss asks angrily. "Clean that up now!" He bellows, as Iwalk to the elevator. <Shan't> My brain thinks, seconds before a wave of guilt hits me. It's not fair on the cleaners or anyone else, so I head back and pick the papers and data files up under the uncomfortable states of my former colleagues and the muttering of, 'freak' and its multitude of synonyms. It's a relief when I finish, and I stalk out as quickly as I can.
Reaching the atrium I hand in my security pass to the solemn looking guard and head out into the midday sun. I can't go home, it feels weird to go home now. Do I break routine and head for my apartment or do I follow the plan of the day.
Confusion sets in, followed by its little sister panic, people are looking at me and that makes it worse, I need to go to the happy place, cool down and think this through. It's off to the park then, that calms me down until I realize I left my lunch back at work. I can't go in, and my Tabasco and peanut butter sandwich becomes another victim to my dismissal.
Dozens of ways to liberate my lunch come to mind, perhaps I'm secretly a ninja, or a fairy or one of those Spec Ops guys, perhaps they'll let me get it if I ask nicely. Perhaps they'll call the Police and have me arrested, that's the one that seems most likely. At this point I know I need to go to the park, I just need to calm down and think about what I have to do next.
I love the park, it's always been the place I go when I start to panic. And while I'm not going to stop worrying about my job, my finances even my lunch anytime soon, I can watch the ducks on the lake, feel the breeze through the trees and I can put that to the back of the mind for a while. I once ran away to the park, it was the day the test came back and my eccentrics, my uniqueness was given a name; Aspergers Syndrome. That day the anxiety, the obsessive behavior, the quietness and the fantasizing all stopped being quirks, and became symptoms of a disease.
Removing Three Stegs from my bag, I give the plush reptile a hug and ponder, the Stegosaurus is extinct, just like my chance of a career. Statistics roll through my head most of the time, but one in particular likes to stamp itself into my brain; 81% of all Aspergers sufferers can't hold down a permanent job for more than two years. Those lucky 19%, what do they have that I don't. <Tolerable bosses probably> I muse. While I know that the anxiety will come back I'm feeling better. I will go home, it's safe there, no people staring at me besides the woman in the mirror and at least she's a friendly face.
My apartment isn't tidy, not by a long shot but it's not filthy either. My room back at my parents was like this too, and when she wasn't pulling her hair out in frustration, my Mum called it 'organized chaos'. Placing my bag down on the sofa next to Mt Blanket, a permanent structure made of cushions covered by well a blanket, I walk to the calender and write 'Dismissed - Everyone hates me' on today's date.
I'm not sure what to do now, usually I'd be at work now, my routine doesn't stretch that far. Maybe a look at my emails will help, two minutes later I'm looking at a message slowly taking in every letter shown on my labtop's screen. It's one I've seen before, this one is dated two weeks back and it's from the Autism Society stating they'll send me a response in three working days. It's been ten since they sent it. The message feels like they lied to me, the organization who's meant to help me feels like they've betrayed me.
"I probably deserve it." I mumble to myself. "After all there are people further down the spectrum than me." I add as I go to my bag and unpack the survivors of the office of doom. Lily of the Valley Air Freshener, bathroom, Three Stegs, king of the mountain, Air Plant, windowsill. It's sad really, I have just taken more things out of my bag than I have happy memories of my work. Perhaps everyone was write, perhaps I am the freak, after all they looked so happy when I left.
It's then when I remember the writing contest, perhaps I'd finally got a vote, back to the laptop it is, page opens and there is a world where I don't have to worry about people's impressions of me. Opening the thread I see that somebody has voted, not for me but another author. It hurts, the person friended me onsite, and I know it's selfish to expect their support but it sometimes feels like a dagger in the back, especially on the days where I'm at my lowest. This didn't make me feel better at all, one vote would have sent my day spiraling into the stratosphere, but sadly today my feet are planted in the soil.
<Perhaps tomorrow, it's not like I have anything to do.> I tell myself. Then again it feels as much of a fantasy as the Rose Knight story I'm writing at the moment, in fact there are days where Rose Knight is more real, especially those days where I had to listen to the other girls in the office talked about their days, their activities and their weekends spent gyrating and vomiting in nightclubs to the most terrible music in the world.
Not that I was given the benefit of the doubt when I voiced my opinion on it. Apparently the tunes are sic and wicked, and everyone likes them, and the fact I don't makes me...you guessed it a freak. I don't understand words like sic and wicked either, are you being ill, is the song evil? And do I deserve to be laughed at and called simple when I don't understand.
Probably, being low on the Autistic Spectrum I have the twin burdens of being high functioning enough to avoid the usual stereotyping whilst still having 'the syndrome', hence why everything is my fault. After all numbers wise it's a million of me vs sixty three million of everyone else. It's obvious that I need to change, but how do you change something hardwired into your brain chemistry. Pondering that too long is the worst kind of anxiety I face, knowing that I was damaged goods from year dot.
Perhaps tomorrow will be better, I can only hope, perhaps somebody will have commented on this and allowed me to soar.
(Names changed for privacy reasons)