23 - Perceptions

"Be careful…Not all are what they seem. Some people pretend to be the beach, but they're actually quicksand." – Steve Maraboli

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Violet stared at the two stacks of folders in front of her. She was still feeling fresh out of college, and had never been in charge of staffing a laboratory before. These would be the people helping her and working with her daily. While she wanted the best and the brightest, she also knew the importance of a working relationship and how much drama could build up due to clashing personalities.

It was impossible to make everyone get along, and she didn't expect everyone to be best buddies or anything, but she needed the work environment to flow easily. She'd thought it was going to be so easy, but she hadn't expected this many applicants.

"Hey, Vee," came a cheery voice from the doorway. "Kierstin and I are going to tie one on. Feel up to coming and partaking of adult beverages? Elisa's driving, so we can get properly toasted and not have to worry about how we're getting home."

Violet sat back in her chair, her foggy mind taking a minute to catch up. "Sorry?"

"We're going to the bar," Margaret said with a wicked grin. "Now that Kierstin isn't preggo and is done being a milk dispenser for her baby boy, she's desperate for a night out, so we're ditching our male counterparts and having a ladies night." She frowned at the stack of file folders. "Whoa. What are you up to?"

"Hiring people for the lab," Violet said with a sigh, rubbing her tired eyes. "Honestly, I've looked at only about half of them." She patted the shorter of the two stacks. "I've been through these, but all the words are blurring together and I can't remember who did what anymore."

"Tell you what," Margaret said, coming to Violet's side of the table and almost physically lifting the younger woman out of her seat. "You leave it for tomorrow. Come out with us tonight, and between the good doctor, Kierstin, myself and you, we'll work through it all tomorrow. I'll even work my magic and make up a spreadsheet for you."

"A spreadsheet?" Violet perked up a little.

"You really are a science nerd, aren't you?" Margaret laughed. "Not that that's a bad thing. I took basic chem because it was a requirement, but I use so little of it now, I couldn't tell you much without prompting."

Violet laughed a little as she was pushed along. "Alright, alright," she said. "Just let me change clothes."

Margaret eyed the AFI band shirt and the baggy sweatpants.

"Yeah," Margaret said slowly. "What ARE you wearing?"

"Hey," Violet said, wrapping her arms over her chest, "don't judge me. I wasn't planning on going out tonight."

"Or being seen by anyone, apparently," Margaret sighed dramatically. She lifted an imperious hand and pointed towards Violet's apartment. "Go. Put on something you want to be seen in. You have fifteen minutes."

Violet hurried to her small efficiency apartment. She'd been there almost two weeks now and had started putting little touches here and there. Small pictures and knickknacks had started showing up, but most of her paycheck, and more than generous advance, had gone to rebuilding her clothing supply.

After a year of captivity, living in the same clothes and shoes day after day, she wanted a variety at her disposal.

Knowing she didn't have much time, she made a wild grab for the cute dress she'd found at a nearby second hand shop. She slipped it on, somehow managed to get the zipper up on her own, and slipped into a pair of black flats. She took a few of her precious minutes to wind her hair up into a casually loose bun before racing back to the elevators.

The three women there were chatting lively as she raced around the corner. As she approached, the women stopped talking and eyed her choices.

Violet came to an abrupt halt. "What?" she asked, looking down at herself. The dark blue dress with tiny white polka dots and only slightly larger red cherries on it struck her as a very 1950's style that she adored. She'd lucked out on it fitting, and had bought it as her one absolutely frivolous purchase.

"You clean up good," Margaret said with a grin.

"I'll second that," Kierstin said.

"Have you ever been to a bar before?" Elisa asked slowly. "Not that it doesn't look good on you, it just makes you look so…young."

Violet squirmed a little. "I'm almost twenty two," she protested, then sighed. "But no, I haven't been to a bar before. I wasn't much of a partier in high school or college, and I turned twenty one in The Dungeon."

The females winced in unison.

"Alright," Elisa said. "Ladies, we're going to get a late start."

As the three females advanced on her, Violet felt a small twinge of fear.