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  • R. L. Mosz

Novel Blog Two


The Difficult Coworker

Despite efforts to prevent bullying in the workplace, it still occurs all too often. It frequently takes the form of microaggressions, too small and subtle to actually report.

For instance, a coworker might be the nicest person in the world until you have to cross them. Then a completely different personality will emerge—one that is retaliatory, vindictive, and sometimes, downright evil.

Of course, these reprisals will most likely be insidiously subtle so the aggressor can remain above reproach. It often takes the form of emotional abuse.

In my new novel, The Other Ones, protagonist Damon Devereaux has been both a victim of domestic abuse from Bristol, his former wife, and workplace abuse with coworker Lila.

Excerpt of Damon crossing his coworker after already having done her countless favors:

“That doesn’t work for me,” Damon replied to Lila, as a last resort. Another contentious week of work at the Institute had passed, and now Lila was attempting to weasel out of yet another responsibility at the last moment and conveniently substitute him in her place.

“I never get to spend any time with my family,” she blasted back in response. “It’ll only be for a few hours.” A few hours was all she had. She exhausted any bit of vacation, family sick time, and personal leave the moment any accrued.

“I can’t,” he stated flatly. “Maybe get someone else to cover this time.”

“I tried,” she said. “There isn’t anyone.”

She’d asked on one too many occasions; that was the problem. Lila tinkered with her schedule every single week. He couldn’t recall the last time she’d put in a full forty hours. She was always gone.

“I’m sorry, and I sincerely hope you find someone, but if you don’t, you’ll have to come in. All right?” he added, determined to get an answer.

Lilia went silent, reminding Damon of another conversation when he'd attempted to extract the affirmative out of Bristol.

“Are you going to return that later this afternoon or not?” Damon had pressed. He felt angry and betrayed, yet struggled to hold his composure. Bristol had maxed out another credit card with an item from Ludwig’s.

She refused to reply.

“Are you going to return it?” he asked again.

“Yis,” she murmured inaudibly while donning her bull-headed expression.

“What?” Damon questioned. “I didn’t hear you.”

“Yis.”

“Yis? What does that mean?”

She refused to answer and stormed out of the house. A minute later, he heard her car back down the drive. Standing immobile for a moment, a heaviness settled in his chest and a feeling of suffocation choked the room.

He wondered if “yis,” instead of meaning “yes,” actually meant “hiss.”

“All right?” he asked Lila again in exasperation, back in the present.

She shrugged. “I’ll find someone else since you can’t be bothered.”

“Good luck with that, Lila,” Damon replied. “And have a nice afternoon.” He turned to leave and could feel her eyes drilling into his back. Despite his animosity toward her, it gave him no pleasure to turn down her request for help. Instead, he limped toward his office, his leg inflamed, exhausted from virtually no sleep, feeling like a dried-out husk of a human being.

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