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Anise, Annatto, and Arrowroot

Concetta checked the weather as well as the traffic on her phone and saw that both were good, which meant that she could allow herself ten more minutes of peace before she had to drive to work. Since she first started working, so for almost her whole life, she enjoyed watching a little bit of a movie while drinking coffee before she had to leave the house. It had become her morning ritual. Get up, start the coffee, shower, quickly dress, and then sit down to something that made her happy while her hair dried and she sipped from her mug. She loved coffee. And she loved movies. She, unfortunately, hated her job. But who doesn't? Come to think of it, she's hated every job she's ever had. Which doesn't mean she doesn't work hard at them. Oh no. She's a hard worker. There's just something so dreadful about having a boss. Any boss. They could be the nicest people in the world (though they rarely are) but the minute they try to "say something," in her mind, it's over for them.

She couldn't quite describe it other than to dwell on how she'd think something along the lines of "don't tell me things," when they'd tell her things. It would be so much nicer to go to work if bosses just assumed that their employees knew what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. Concetta knew what she had been hired to do ... put some damn spices in some damn tins. The job is the same every day. And that job would be so much smoother if her boss would just leave her in silence to do her tasks. But every morning, when she came in, Mr. Grabbly would make a bee-line for her and list off the spices she had to fill that day. She knew. She always knew. Anise, Annatto, and Arrowroot. She was section A, and these were her spices. She'd never need to be told that.

Today she'd selected Joe Vs. The Volcano to watch with her coffee, which seemed like a fitting choice. In the movie Tom Hanks plays a character named Joe Banks who works in a gloomy factory that is making him feel as though being deathly ill would be better than continuing to work there. He's eventually tricked by some South Pacific island folks to throw himself into a volcano, but the volcano spits him back out. Meg Ryan is also in the movie and she plays two different parts. The whole thing makes a lot more sense when you see it. Just before shutting off the TV Concetta paused the movie to take a longer look at the pretty lamp that Joe kept on his desk in an attempt to raise his spirits. The shade was painted with an ocean setting and the bulb made it glow the most beautiful deep orange. It did something soothing to her to look at it.

During the 20 minute drive to work she left the radio off and enjoyed the silence while she still could. The spice factory was incredibly loud. More so even than a lumber yard, she thought while rolling the window down to get a bit of a breeze. And she'd know because her last job had been at a lumber yard. The spice factory paid better, and had better hours, but it was loud. And it smelled. And she always came home with her fingers stained reddish orange. Sure, she wore gloves, it was a strictly enforced policy to do so, but the spices found a way to creep in. She'd even find spice in her underpants sometimes. This would often be a painful, as well as messy, revelation.

Concetta parked in her usual spot and joined the line of people making their way through the employee entrance. She punched her spice stained time card in the machine and then went to her locker to put her stuff away and retrieve her smock, gloves, and paper mask. Before she could even get situated she saw Mr. Grabbly walking her way. She wondered what it was about her specifically that made him think she had short term memory loss. She turned towards him and pasted on an expression that she hoped read "I'm listening," but which she suspected was probably more along the lines of "I'm going to poop." She tuned out his words but could still make out the shapes of "Anise, Annatto, and Arrowroot" as his chapped lips formed the letters around his spitty, yellowed teeth.

At her station she got into the meditative state that 10 hours of shoving something into another thing required. She shot her daily wink over to her friend Ginger, who was kitty corner to her in station F (Fennel, Fenugreek, File) and then got to it.

From the pocket of her smock she pulled a tiny envelope, looked around to make sure everyone had their eyes down, and then made quick work of inserting her secret into each tin of spices she packed. It would go like this: Pinch of Anise, pinch of pubes, into tin. Pinch of Annatto, pinch of pubes, into tin. Pinch of Arrowroot, pinch of pubes, into tin. Etc. Etc. It's surprising how far the contents of her envelope would go. Concetta would often find herself so consumed with her work that she'd skip lunch just to continue. Maybe just having a Snickers at her station, which she'd make sure to wash her hands before doing. Not like she had much to fear, they were her own hairs after all.

Last week, during a moment of delirious bravery, she waited until she saw Mr. Grabbly leave his office for one of his many bathroom breaks, and she snuck in like a ninja and emptied half of her secret envelope into the protein shake kept ever in the waiting on his desk. Thinking about it now made her laugh so hard that she had to shoot her hand up to cover her mouth as to not draw further unwanted attention to herself. The reddish spice from her gloves stained the front of her white paper mask and looked like lipstick.