Conversations with Christopher: The Other Iama the Terrible

(Christopher sits facing a petite woman with shoulder-length dark hair, ivory skin, slightly slanted brown eyes who wears a red suit with golden buttons down the front.)

Christopher: I’ll admit, I’m confused. Right now Quartz is with another Iama the Terrible. I thought you were Iama the Terrible?

Maia: (She smiles.) Iama the Terrible was a villain in the children’s books my mother illustrated. My name is actually an anagram for Iama.

Christopher: Someone is worried, very worried about you becoming Iama the Terrible.

Maia: (Her smile disappears.) That would be Grace. Honestly, she’s too imaginative sometimes. Just because I got promoted doesn’t make me terrible. Nathalie encouraged her far too much in her storytelling, but what can I expect from Morisot’s daughters?

Christopher: It sounds like you didn’t care much for Nathalie and Grace’s mother.

Maia: I didn’t know her, not really. Oh, she was brilliant. One can see that just by looking at the books she wrote. Morisot was, however, extremely impractical. Her daughters picked up that impracticality. Both Nathalie and Grace spin fantasies right and left about the world around them, trying to make it a more magical place, and end up frightening themselves.

Christopher: While you’re more down-to-earth?

Maia: I want us to live well. It’s not enough to have a big house that Nathalie and Grace got from their mother. I want to turn it into a palace. I want to surround us with precious things, beautiful objects which will soothe and distract us from our pain. If I even wish to think of such a goal, I’ll need a job that doesn’t just pay well. I’ll need one that pays extraordinarily well. I’ll need to not just settle for being manager. I’ll need to take over the factory itself, make it grow, expand, even if that means sacrificing a few things to accomplish this.
Christopher: What do you need to sacrifice?

Maia: Well, our old way of life can’t continue, can it? Nathalie just walked away from it. Verity needs to change, to grow, to stop being a dull, somewhat old-fashioned little town. I’ll need to give up some time with Grace. Nathalie asked me to look after her while she went off on her mournful little soul-search and I’m doing my best, but Grace’s school tuition is expensive. Oh, we have enough to live comfortably, but that’s not enough. Not enough for the sort of lifestyle I dream of the three of us having. That’ll require serious effort.

Christopher: Just what have you done that Grace found terrible?

Maia: Well, I may have been a little harsh towards an employee who’s the mother of Grace’s friends in front of Grace. I’m not about to just start handing out vacations to people I’m not prepared to take.

Christopher: Did this employee need the vacation?

Maia: Well, it wasn’t like it was an emergency. Just some holiday time she wanted to take and spend with her family. You don’t see me taking any holiday time. I used to. I used to enjoy the holidays with Nathalie and Grace, but Nathalie just left. The times we spent together weren’t enough to convince her to stay. Why should I indulge other people in a frivolous waste of time when I know there’s no point to it?

Christopher: Maybe you see no point to it, but you’re the boss or manager at this factory, right?

Maia: For now. I intend to go higher. Much higher. All the way to the top.

Christopher: Perhaps, but the other people below are your responsibility, aren’t they? Their happiness while working at the factory is your responsibility?

Maia: Happiness, pah! Their productivity and welfare are my responsibility, not their happiness. They can find their own happiness. They can choke on it.

Christopher: Err, I see.

Maia: Lazy, ungrateful scabs, we’ll see how much they’ll continue to keep that up once I’m truly in charge. The way they smile at each other, taking it easy, never making any extra effort like my mother. They’re so content with what they’ve got. Well, not me. I spit upon their contentment.

Christopher: You do?

Maia: What right do they have to smile when Nathalie is gone? When I miss her so much, I want to scream? The only thing that makes the pain go away is work!

Christopher: Ah, I see.

Maia: I’ll get her back. Once I’m rich and powerful enough, I’ll make her come back. Grace, too. She’ll come around. Once we become truly wealthy, all thoughts of anything terrible will disappear. All of our troubles will go away. I’ll drown us in wealth until there’s no time to get lost in sad thoughts. Neither of them will leave me or doubt me, if I succeed.

Christopher: I’m beginning to see why Grace is worried.

Maia: What was that?

Christopher: Nothing. Thanks for stopping by.

Maia: You should thank me. There are several projects on my desk I could have made progress on while I was here.


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