The Sacrifice

Businesswoman against backdrop of gears

What would you do if you were asked to fire someone unjustly? This piece of flash fiction explores that question. 

Rachel stared at the phone in her hand, then let it drop into her lap. “That didn’t go well.”

Feeling the strength ebb from her body, she laid her head on the desk. “Now what?” She let out a long breath, gulped, and sat up. “Now what?”

Her supervisor’s boss was on a tear. Or rather, her ex-supervisor’s boss. He’d been fired two weeks ago. Now one of Rachel’s employees had botched a presentation to the boss. The boss got right on the phone to Rachel and demanded that the employee be fired. “We can’t have these incompetents. No more.”

If we’d pay a little more, we could hire better people. Rachel didn’t bother to voice her thought.

“Andy didn’t have much time to work on that presentation,” she said instead. “Remember? He was in charge of the employee awards event.”

“Look, I want him gone. If you can’t do it, I will. But if I have to do the dirty work, then I don’t need you. You’ll be going, too.”

Now what?

That was the question. Andy wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, that was true. But he was dependable, never complained, put in long hours when he needed to and was easy to get along with. One of those people who made managing a bit easier.

But he didn’t have a great work history. He might have a hard time finding another job.

Whatever I do, he’s out. Do I follow orders, or do I fall on my sword for him? 

She drummed her fingers on the desk. How could I I explain he’s fired? I’m satisfied with his work. But Gwen has always had it in for him. She’s a smart one, that Gwen. She made sure there were enough reprimands in his file to justify letting him go whenever she wanted to. The documentation is there.

But this isn’t right. We can’t just treat people like machines.

She bit the inside of her lip. I don’t like this one bit. I can offer him a reference, at least. But that doesn’t make up for him losing his job over one botched presentation.

Her thoughts were interrupted by a cough at the door.

It was Andy. “Gwen called me and said you needed to see me. Urgently.” He tentatively stepped into Rachel’s office, the tic under his eye betraying his nerves. When she didn’t speak, he eased himself into a chair and rubbed his hands on his pants legs.

That witch. Not even giving me time to get the paperwork done.

With that, she knew. If she gave in now, Gwen would use her whenever and however she wanted to. Rachel shook her head. She wasn’t going to work there one more day.

She looked into Andy’s dark brown eyes. “I’m resigning, as of right now. Just so you know, Gwen wants you fired, and I’m refusing to do it. She’ll come after you once I’m gone.”

She gave him a moment to blink, to close his mouth after his jaw had fallen open.  “Yes, I’m leaving.” She stood up and held out her hand to shake his. “It’s been a pleasure working with you. Feel free to get in touch for a reference.”

“No. You shouldn’t do this for me.”

“I’m not doing it for you,” she said. “This is for me.”

She walked to the door, then turned around with a grin. “And now I’m going to have a little chat with Gwen.  For once, this is actually going to be fun.”

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