Copyright© 2017 Rebecca Jane
All Rights Reserved.
Author's Note: I’ve had to take a break from my autobiography, some things didn’t like being stirred back up. I plan on returning to it and finishing one day, I just don’t see that day coming soon. In the meantime I wanted to share with you another story that has been bouncing around in my head for awhile. ~Rebecca
Sarah knew that she was running late as soon as she stepped inside of her house. She was mentally kicking herself for not skipping her Saturday Yoga class this morning, even knowing how important it had been for her to have gone. The stress of the last week had been getting to her, and even though she was now rushing, she was calmer and much more centered than she had been when she woke up this morning. While she had quit counting, she knew that she had spent a minimum of sixty hours working since Tuesday morning. Lack of sleep and the situation at work had resulted in her being extremely stressed.
She both loved and hated her job at moments like this. Even with the stress of so many people counting on her, she lived for the excitement, and yet another chance to prove herself. That was probably her biggest character flaw, her constant need to prove just how good she was at her job. For the last eleven years, she had worked for an engineering firm in the Pacific Northwest, ever since she earned her masters degree in mechanical engineering. She had overcome a lot of prejudices and peoples perceptions of her after she first started working there. With her dedication and work ethic, she had moved from a glorified secretary to now being a team lead. She had always demanded excellence from her team, but unlike some leads she had seen, she had demanded no less of herself. Her team always delivered results, consistently ahead of deadlines. That was one of the many reasons she had earned and held her current position, her constant drive for excellence. Her small group would work 24/7 for her if she asked, only because they knew she would be there every minute with them.
She, and her team, had spent the last eighteen months working on improving an existing gear system for a local aircraft manufacturer. Due to rising maintenance costs, their ultimate goal was to modify an existing design to make it as maintenance free as possible. They had been so very close to achieving the target of forty thousand cycles. They had been within six thousand cycles shy of that goal when a small link had failed. A small part, barely three by six inches in size had cracked, and that had caused her team to scramble to find out the cause.
It had first started as a section wide email sent late Tuesday morning, alerting everyone of the failure, followed shortly by the main partners voicing their displeasure with her and her team. Sarah knew their design shouldn’t have failed, they had run the simulations hundreds upon hundreds of times. The next few days had been spent investigating the cause of the failure. It was late Thursday evening when they found the problem. The schematics they had drawn up, specifically called for a certain alloy and then for heat treating the part to achieve the proper hardness and durability. The supplier for the machinist they contracted with, had evidently shipped improperly labeled stock. The Rockwell hardness was a bit higher than our design had specified, which only meant after so many cycles it had work hardened and became excessively brittle during the testing and cracked. With the alloy being so close in weight, it had been overlooked during the milling process.
On Friday, Sarah had spent approximately seven hours in the office, running through more simulations, showing all their results and findings to the members of the firm. Finally late last night they had given the go ahead to start the test over as soon as the equipment could be reset and the new part remanufactured. With the next test resting completely on her and her teams shoulders, she didn’t get home from the testing facility and the machine shop until almost midnight. She had spent the rest of that day ensuring the new testing rig was up to specs, and now she was only waiting on the machinist to finish the new link.
Ben had told her at the machine shop that it wouldn’t be ready until close to 3PM, she knew Ben well enough to know that she needed to be there a few hours early. Not because she didn’t trust him, it was because she knew he would have it finished by the time she got there. Ben was the production manager at the shop, and since the faulty part was on them, he had given her his word that he would ensure this was done right personally. The firm had been using that shop for well over a decade and Sarah had developed a strong trust with Ben and he likewise with her. She also knew that he wouldn’t sleep until the part was finished, which was why she was going in before his estimated time of delivery. She had to do the final inspection alongside Ben and then deliver it to the testing facility. The sooner she got there, the sooner the testing could resume, and that her friend could also get some much needed sleep.
She was hoping to leave her house no later than 11AM so she could get to the shop just before noon, which gave her just over an hour to eat, shower, and hit the road. With every minute counted to her, she didn’t want to waste a second. She was doing her best not to think about how much this setback was costing the firm with each hour of inactivity. She settled for a quick, serving of cottage cheese and fruit before she headed upstairs to get cleaned up after her workout.
Half an hour later after she had dried off, she did spend a few minutes admiring her reflection in her full length mirror. That was one of her guilty pleasures, admiring all the hard work she had put into her almost thirty-five year old body. She had one more day though, until she could properly claim that number. Even so, over a decade of proper diet, and exercise, had left her with a body many college girls would envy. Even though she had narrow hips, she wasn’t lacking in curves, and had a lithe athletic body most women would kill for.
Quickly shaking herself from her admiration, she donned a pair of jeans, tank top, light jacket, and a pair of flats. Noting that her shoulder length light brown hair was still damp from her shower, she put it in a quick ponytail to keep it manageable since she was taking her convertible today. Her and Ben had designed a new front end suspension for her replica car she and friends had built over the last few years, and he had been wanting to test it out for himself. Taking a last quick look in the mirror, she smiled knowing that she looked like she should still be in college and not helping run a multi million dollar engineering contract. With just a bit of mascara and a touch of lipstick she decided she was done, and went downstairs to get her stuff ready to leave.
As she was making sure she had everything together, she ran her hand lovingly over the worn out leather backpack she had been carrying for over a decade. Several of the girls in the office would often kid her about the dilapidated old bag, and how she refused to ever carry a purse. She knew she needed to retire the poor thing, but she just couldn’t bring herself to do it. Even if it had more hand stitched repairs on it than the original machine stitching it had when it was new. People just didn’t understand what it meant to her. April, her older sister, had given it to her right as she had started college. April had even given her a hard time about it the last time she had seen her, back when April had gotten really sick. She had told Sarah if she didn’t buy a new bag that she was going to be forced to buy another one for her… Unfortunately the cancer spread too fast for her to keep that promise.
Sarah slowly fell down to her couch clutching the old leather bag as the memories of April’s last few months filled her mind, with tears slowly falling on the soft and worn leather. April had stayed close to home in Florida, while Sarah had moved as far away from that place as possible while still staying in the continental United States. With the distance, Sarah had only been able to visit a few times, before April got too sick to stay by herself anymore. They had stayed in touch through Skype, and would aggravate each other with Snapchat filters till their stomachs hurt from laughing so hard. It had only been three months since she had flown back home to say her final goodbye to her sister, and sometimes it still hurt just as much as when she first got the news. There was no way she could ever get rid of the bag.
She was drawn out of her memories by a loud and sudden knocking on her front door. She hadn’t been expecting anyone, so she assumed it was someone wanting to sell something. She wiped the tears off her face and took a few seconds to try to regain her composure before she walked to her front door. Looking through the peephole it took her a few seconds to recognize the two people standing outside her door. When she realized who it was, she immediately felt her adrenaline kick in.
Within seconds she was angry, scared, and hurt all at the same time. What the hell could they want with her… Now? After all these years?! How dare they come here?!? She had only seen them once in the last nineteen years, and that one time had been almost more than she could take…
Standing outside her door were her parents. The same parents who had kicked her out of the house when she was still in high school. The same parents who disowned her when she had told them… When she had told them that she was really a girl…
To be continued.
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