She stood at the bottom of the stairs looking up. With a sigh, she made up her mind, stomped up the stairs and stood at his door. Opening her purse, she took it out and held it in her hand. She hammered on the door with her fist. "Henry! Open up! It's me."
But there was no response. She couldn't even make out the sounds of someone living beyond the over-painted door, and when she pressed her ear against it that was what she felt. All of those layers upon layers, lovingly applied.
The door reflected the apartment beyond: too long lived in and much fussed over. He was more than likely in there somewhere, tinkering with something or making sure it was just so. She'd never so much as seen a doily out of place in there, though it wasn't the neatness of them that bugged her. It was the fact that the doilies were there in the first place.
It was the fact that the had these things and did these things, and now he was making her wait out in the hallway with his package in her hand. A light fitting, she thought. Or a set of curtain hooks that go better with the curtain rail.
Something to make his apartment neater, better, more ordered. It had to be. He'd never asked her for anything else in all the time she'd spent as his assistant, even though he hadn't listed it on the job specifications. Find useless items for me to match the giant rod up my ass hadn't been anywhere on that neat little ad, in the paper she wished she hadn't read.
Researcher needed for acclaimed author, it had said, and she should have known right there. Only someone like Henry would have put the acclaimed in there, whether it was true or not.
The fact that it just so happened to be didn't help her. It only made it more grating when he forced her to wait, when he didn't answer her phonecalls, when he had her pick up his useless things from weird people and then refused to buzz her in. She should have turned around at the bottom of the stairs and never looked back, but she hadn't.
And now there was this further humiliation to endure. By the time he finally deigned to open the door, the package had started burning through her hand. She wanted to throw it at him, or rip it open and laugh at the stupid things he wanted - and would have done.
If his near colourless gaze hadn't flitted over her as it always did, rifling through her sense of self for tiny flaws, minor imperfections, that thing she'd done last week and not told anyone about. He always knew, and even if he hadn't - she'd made a glaring error only a moment ago.
She'd shouted, when he only ever valued silence. In fact, his silence enveloped her the moment she stood before him, as heavy as a robe she didn't want to wear. She didn't, she didn't. And yet when he gestured for her to enter his lair, she did the same thing she always did.