Linda walked into the office, late as usual.
"Linda!" Margaret called before the door even had time to close behind her, "I've been waiting all morning for you to get here. If you haven't noticed, this place is packed, and I've been stuck doing everything... just like always... I don't even know why I'm surprised."
"I'm sorry Margaret," Linda insisted, just as she always did, "I slept late..."
Margaret sighed, "there's no use being upset over it now. Just get to work."
Linda nodded and took her place behind the desk, asking patients to wait or to go on back to the examining rooms. She occasionally answered the phone, if she didn't accidentally drown the ringing sound out of her head. Before long, the patients cleared out, for the most part, and she and Margaret were once again stuck with only paper work and phone calls, both of which Linda normally ignored.
Margaret didn't expect much out of Linda. Mostly she was just there because the patients liked her and she was generally a pleasant person to be around, once you got passed the aspect of her spacing out and never being productive. Margaret could usually handle the work on her own, and didn't ever stay angry with Linda for long. But then before she knew it, Linda would make another mistake, or completely forget to come in to work, and Margaret would yell at her again. But Margaret's anger lasted only a half-hour at most, every time.
As Margaret contemplated her chipper, unreliable, yet somehow pleasant co-worker, she filed paper work in silence. She assumed Linda would be doing the same... or painting her nails. Either way, they were both silent at the moment, and hadn't really spoken to each other ever since Linda had arrived. Now that Margaret thought of it, Linda had been very uncharacteristically silent all day.
"Margaret?" the silence was broken by Linda's voice. She didn't sound excited or happy like she might usually sound, but rather preoccupied, and maybe even concerned.
"What is it, Linda?" Margaret asked.
Linda sighed, "Margaret..."
"What is it, Linda?" Margaret asked again, becoming impatient.
"Are you mad at me?" Linda finally asked, looking Margaret right in the eyes, her facial expression looking extremely serious.
Margaret shook her head, "Of course not, Linda. I mean, I'd like for you to show up on time, but you know I'm not one to hold a grudge... Just try to be more dependable. Set your alarm tonight so you'll get here on time tomorrow, and we'll be fine," she smiled, but Linda still looked uneasy.
"Okay..." she said.
"Is something else bothering you?" Margaret asked.
Linda looked like she was considering this question, "Well..." she started, but hesitated, "um... You've met lots of guys in your life, right?"
Margaret raised her eyebrows, "What's that supposed to mean?"
"No... I mean, you've probably had lots of guys ask you on dates and stuff, right?" Linda rephrased.
Margaret didn't confirm or deny this accusation. She simply continued to look at Linda, silently giving her permission to go on with whatever problem or story this was leading to.
"What do you do if someone asks you on a date, but you don't really like them, but you don't really want to hurt their feelings, because you don't really not like them either? You don't want to say yes because you don't want to go on a date with them, but you don't want to say no because you don't want to be mean..." Linda asked, her words moving like cars on a racetrack, "I mean, I don't want to make him sad, but I really don't want to date him either."
Margaret shook her head as if ridding herself of excess and repetitive explanation, and then rephrased Linda's problem in more comprehensible words, "Someone asked you out and you don't know how to say no?"
Linda nodded, "I guess you could say that," she agreed.
"Why don't you just try telling him in a nice way," Margaret suggested, "You might say, 'It's nothing personal, but I don't think we are compatible.'"
"Margaret... I don't know what that means," Linda said. Instead of waiting for Margaret to explain, she continued, "I told him I'm dating someone else, but that I'd date him later if I ever broke up with the other guy... I know I shouldn't have lied to him, because now he's probably going to keep asking me if I broke up with my other boyfriend, and my other boyfriend doesn't even exist. I'm in a huge mess, Margaret..."
"You could just be honest with him, Linda. Tell him it's nothing personal, but you just don't think you and he are a good match. Or tell him you just don't want to date anyone right now."
Linda frowned, "Will you tell him?"
Margaret laughed, "Are you serious? How does that even make sense?"
"I just don't want him to be mad at me," Linda looked down at her feet.
Now Margaret was the one frowning, "You're not scared of him, are you?"
Linda looked up, "what do you mean?"
"Well, you don't want to talk to him... It's just because you don't want to hurt his feelings, right?" Margaret asked.
Linda nodded, "Yeah," she said, "he's kind of persistent though. What if he won't listen?"
"Maybe I should talk to him for you," Margaret suggested. She knew Linda was old enough to fight her own battles, but she was also small, gullible, and naïve. Margaret didn't want to take a chance of this mystery man being some kind of creep and have to regret not doing something about it while she had the chance.
Now Linda looked worried again, "I don't know," she contradicted her earlier suggestion. This reminded Margaret of a child asking her parents for help with a bully and then regretting it for reputation's sake. "I think I can handle it on my own. It's not really that big of a deal."
"Listen, Linda, if you need me to talk to this guy, I will... And I won't be rude to him or anything," Margaret insisted, "I just want to look out for you, okay? If you're scared to tell him no, I'll definitely make sure he takes your rejection seriously."
Linda nodded, "I understand. It's okay though. I've got it under control. I think I'm much more worried than I should be. I just don't like letting people down... It'll be fine though," she grinned, "I'm going out for lunch, if that's okay."
Margaret sighed. She didn't really know what to make of this. Linda sometimes made big deals of nothing, and sometimes didn't pay any attention at all to huge issues. She hoped Linda really could handle this on her own. She felt it wasn't really her place to pry into her colleague's personal life to such an extent, so she let it go.
"Be back within the hour," Margaret instructed.
Linda nodded, "okie dokie," she called back as she headed out the door, almost seeming to be skipping with joy, as though she had completely forgotten about how worried she was just a minute earlier.
Margaret shook her head, and expected Linda to be back within two hours, if she even remembered to come back at all.
Well, I could continue with this, if you want. My original intent was to be that Linda would have to deal with a persistent guy whom she's not interested in, and maybe Margaret and Becker would have to help her sort everything out to get him to leave her alone... This could end up being very serious and not really funny though, and I don't know if anyone in the Becker fandom is really interested in such things...
Linda is my favourite character, and I like to see how characters interact with one-another when one of them is in some sort of trouble. I'd like to perhaps write about Margaret and Becker being concerned about Linda and whatnot... I don't completely have a plan, but just let me know via review if anyone reads this and if you have any desire for me to write up another chapter. :)
Your reviews can make this happen. If no one reviews, I might write another chapter anyway, and I might not. I don't really know... Reviews sure would help though. I'd be much more driven to write more if I know there are people out there who want me to do so.