Trading Places

Trading Places

by Rebecca Braun

photo by benjasmine

RCProse Contest Runner-up!

That used to be me. The one coming in the door late, searching for her name badge, hair tousled and looking like this is the last place she wants to be right now.

“I’m here for the in-service class on Crisis Intervention. What room is it being held in?”

I point toward the hallway she needs to follow, and tell her it’s past the elevators in Conference Rooms J and K. She wanders listlessly toward the hallway, and decides to stop in the bathroom first.

I shuffle the papers on my desk, and look to see what else is on the schedule for today. There are many make-up classes being held, at the moment, as there was a snow day last week. Today is the day for teachers to take the class they missed, and now there is double the amount of people looking for their classes as many come to take classes scheduled for today, and others are here to make up classes from last week.

So many faces and bodies pass by my desk. There are the professional attitudes from the insecure or fresh-faced teachers, and those of the more relaxed version who are seasoned teachers, confident in their abilities and who have taken all of these classes before. The older teachers look bored and disinterested, as if they are just putting in their time and waiting for the day to end.

Then, there is me, hiding behind this desk. I am the receptionist at the front door of the Public Schools Administration Building. No one knows I used to be one of them. They just see a common security officer, dressed in a long-sleeved light blue oxford shirt and black pants, smiling at them and giving them helpful answers to their questions.

It is ironic and odd to have been given this placement for my receptionist duties. I thought I had finally escaped my old life, and now here it all is before me. But, I find it soothing, not demeaning or cruel. I know these people, though they do not know me. I can guess what they are thinking, feel their excitement or their boredom, and watch them play their professional games to fulfill the requirements of their jobs. It actually makes me understand more why I left that life, and why I needed to seek a different path. I feel a bit like an imposter, as I check out badges and send these people to their desired destinations. For a moment, I feel a tinge of anxiety that I might be late to one of the classes I should be taking. The feeling quickly leaves, and I go back to my desk duties. It’s like glancing into a two-way mirror and looking into a world that I no longer inhabit. Yet, the memories remain to haunt and tease me. I am thankful I am behind the desk.


In some form or another, I have been a writer all my life.  Now, I am pursuing it more seriously, and my passion for creative writing is growing every day!  I am most comfortable as a poet, but am now exploring many different styles of writing.  As I get deeper into writing longer works, I have been writing short stories and have many ideas for novels.  I am drawn to writing fantasy fiction and creative non-fiction.  I truly believe that writing can set you free.

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