Chapter 5 - Regret
“Mrs! Mrs! Please….please. I’m sorry. Sorry, sorry, sorry. Please forgive. Forgive me,” Clara implored Paola as she backed towards her sewing machine, unhanding her.
Paola took a deep breath and exhaled as she straightened her clothing. She moved away from Clara and paced around the small space for several excruciating minutes as Clara started to sob.
“Clara. We’re going to review your work. We’re going to take lunch out of the office and get some air and clear our heads. And when we come back, we will return to business as usual and you will kindly do your job…..all of it. You’ll communicate what you’re doing. And either Chiara or I will sign off on things. Is that clear?”
Between gulps of sobbing, Clara shook her head and said “Yes, Mrs.” Paola looked at her with a mix of horror, compassion, anger, and shock.
Strolling by Three Guys deli on Madison, Paola’s shoulders shook as she held back tears. She had never been assaulted like that and it shook her. It really shook her. This was a new feeling. She was a very independent woman and had made it to this point in her life other own. So. She could handle it. Her gulping sobs continued to shake her shoulders as she tried to put on a brave face while out in public. “Stop it,” she told herself. Buck up and do your job. You can figure this out. In fact, she HAD to figure it out. If she told Roberta or - God forbid - Melanie about this, it wouldn’t look good. She knew what they’d think. We hired a general manager who can’t even manage a seamstress in her 50s, how is she going to grow the business? She couldn’t look weak so this would never be mentioned. Thank God Chiara was at the post office. For once, it didn’t matter that she’d been gone for over two hours, it was pure luck.