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The phone continued to ring, with no sign of any answer. Anna sighed and slumped against the side of the phone booth, letting her bag slip out of her fingers and thump to the ground. She held the handset up to her ear for several more long seconds before finally giving up and returning it to its cradle. Monika must not be in. It would have been nice to unload. Things hadn’t started off very well. She’d been increasingly dreading this day all week, and the deadline had finally arrived - but she had never been happy with what she’d come up with. And so last night she’d stayed up late trying to make some final adjustments. Really, she’d have liked to have started from scratch with some new idea, but she didn’t have the idea - and she certainly didn’t have the time. She didn’t like to work late into the evening, and usually tried to finish things with plenty of time to spare. But her days spent staring blankly at blank sheets of paper had robbed her of that luxury, and it was only in the past couple of days that the time pressure had forced her to put anything down at all. It probably didn’t help that she didn’t like the client, and she wasn’t particularly interested in the kitchen appliances he wanted to advertise. Lacking a personal interest in the products wasn’t unusual in advertising. But the man she’d been working with seemed disdainful of her from the start, and never failed to snipe at her suggestions. She’d been determined to avoid another awkward encounter when delivering her work today, but staying up late hadn’t helped her come up with anything she was truly happy with. What it had done was to cause her to sleep through her alarm. Anna had set it to go off early to give herself plenty of time to get ready and arrive on time, even if the buses were late. But her good intentions had lost the fight against her sleep deprivation and unwillingness to face the day, and she’d woken up with a start half an hour late, suddenly aware of the time and rushed to get out of the house on time for the meeting. She hadn’t had time to brew coffee and, in her haste, she’d forgotten to pick up the pages that she’d been working on last, too, and had to rush back in after having locked the door behind her. While, thankfully, the buses were running on time, the delays meant that she’d only just arrived before her meeting, and had been unable to spend any time mentally preparing for it, instead rushing into the office above the store and being ushered straight into the meeting. The man had slicked-back black hair and wore a suit that was just a little shabby. Anna might have thought he was a front he was a front for some sort of mafia operation if he didn’t seem too boring for something like that. She exchanged pleasantries reluctantly but, she had felt, convincingly enough, while he had returned them with thinly-concealed disdain. Things had only gotten worse when she actually produced her work, nearly dropping it out of her folder in the process - she had put it into her bag upside-down in the rush. Muttering under her breath before she caught herself, she had placed it on the desk with a nervous, forced smile. The man - Mr. Villiger - then peered at it through his round-rimmed glasses silently, looking through each page. Anna had studied his expression closely, hoping to get some sense of his opinion of the work, and that he would at least find it acceptable. He had frowned a little, and she felt it as a pain stabbing into her mind, wincing a little despite herself. “Ms. Meier, this is all very… nice.” He had looked up, fixing her with a condescending look over his rims. “But I’m not sure this really is what we were looking for. This is too plain, too minimal. We need something that will really capture the attention.” Anna had nodded in what she hoped was an understanding manner. “Yes, sir, I see what you mean,” she had replied through gritted teeth, “But I was wondering if you had any particular things you wanted me to change..?” Mr. Villiger had just shaken his head and cast his hand across the work. “Thank you, but I think we will try… someone else. I don’t think this is working out.” Anna bit her lip as he stabbed her ego again, harder this time. “I’m - I’m sorry about that. Sir.” She had wrapped up the meeting as quickly as possible and hurried out of the office, fearing that she wouldn’t be able to retain a professional composure for too much longer. As she’d left, her mind was swimming. Was her work really so bad it wasn’t fixable? Too plain? It was contemporary! And she had never liked that man! But it was her job to come up with something that would satisfy the client. Should she have even agreed to the job in the first place? And so she had come to this phone booth, hoping to tell Monika about everything that had happened. She didn’t want to talk to anyone who she knew professionally - the less they knew about her failure the better. Monika would understand, though… but she was out. Anna leaned more heavily against the wall of the booth and sighed, adrenaline draining out of her. Life would go on, she supposed, and she’d have to do better next time. But she didn’t feel like facing up to that just yet. Maybe she could finally get her coffee...