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He spoke but I wasn’t listening, instead writing in the notebook in my mind but forgetting words, too many of them, a cornucopia of words pooling at my feet, flooding the office floor, words upon words piling to the desktop, I’m sinking in them, everything sinks.

You must particularly peer into the recesses in your life, he said.

I nodded.

Recess, recess, he repeated, hissing, and walked out of my office.

I wondered if he’d meant a fissure or some type of indentation, or if he’d thought I was slacking on the job, much like a child would take recess from class. I couldn’t help feeling defensive.

I’m a leader, I shouted, but he was already down the hall in his own office. I said, I’ve always done what’s been asked of me, is this about the books? This must be about the books.

In my mind, my boss walked back into my office and said, What books?

The books I’ve been taking from the library, I said. I put them back, it’s not like I’ve been stealing them. I’m not a thief! I shouted. I’m not a thief!

A voice from the hall, perhaps Sarah from accounting, asked if I was feeling okay. TJ? the voice said.

Here I am now preparing for my death, I whispered.

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