Jenna Walsh slumped over a dented, rusty office desk in an office piled high with comics wrapped in shiny plastic and invoices dating as far back as 1988. She was the lone female employee at Merlyn's, the only comic book store in a three county radius. She scanned an online order form on an IBM reject from the 90s; she was trying to decide how many issues of the latest Dark Knight comic would fit in the store's budget. For the past two hours, she had been visiting sites of independent comic publishers, trying to find the next top seller for the store. She was still trying to live down ordering 100 copies of The Devil’s Panties. She found out the hard way adolescent boys in Mabel, Florida wanted to feast their eyes on heroes battling villains and big-breasted babes, not a geeky female comic book artist dealing with the realities of bills, biker boots, and cottage cheese thighs. So far, only five copies of Jennie Breeden’s comic had sold. This was a disappointment for Jenna, who was one of thousands of readers who regularly browsed Breeden's site. Chuck, Jenna’s boss, saw the comic as wasted space in the store.
Jenna’s cell phone buzzed in her pocket; she jumped at the sensation. Once, twice. At the third vibration, she pulled it out and flipped it open. She did not recognize the number, so she hesitated before answering. Phone calls were rare.
“I can’t hate you. I’m sorry. I can’t do it any more.”
The voice on the other end of the line made Jenna think back to phone calls made late at night, years before. Conversations that ended in screaming matches, where tears would stream down her face and burn her skin with salt. The slight whispers of the small white desk fan in front of her and the whir of her computer disappeared until the voice on the phone was the only sound she heard.