Read More: A brief interview with Ronit Feinglass Plank
Genevieve was on top of the desk again, screaming over the music for people to dial. She ran her fingers through her blond hair and scoped the room like she always did to see whose attention she had. Matthew sat at his cubicle watching her from over his propped-up sales binder. He was still holding his lead sheet but had forgotten who he was dialing the moment Genevieve had climbed up there.
Before Matthew could look away she met his eyes and slid off the desk. He flipped the pages of his script to the beginning of the pitch and had just finished dialing his next lead when he felt her hands on his shoulders. Her mouth was close to his ear.
“Is tonight the night?”
“I’m working on it.”
“Don’t work on it,” she whispered. “Do it.”
Finally, he had her attention. After just six weeks at The Plan he was becoming one of their strongest salespeople. She squeezed his shoulders one more time and walked away, a trace of violet and sandalwood scenting the air behind her. He refocused on his lead sheets—he only needed to sell three more packages to have the highest sales of anyone for the week.
It was nine fifty-five in Manhattan: only another five minutes before the Team started calling the West coast. JC darted by and told everybody to focus. His metallic-sheened button down shirt was soaked at the armpits like it always was by this point in the shift. Stubble had erupted over his olive skin darkening his angular jaw, beads of perspiration clung to his forehead. His real name was Thomas, but they called him JC because the man could sell anything.
Nobody on the Team seemed to know for sure whether Genevieve and JC were still married or not. It was hard for Matthew to understand how they’d ever gotten together: JC was all coiled energy, always ready to spring, but Genevieve was The Plan’s creator; she was the content, the draw. The strongest, most dynamic woman Matthew had ever met. She appeared in a room like a shaft of light, transforming the place with her radiance and power.
Matthew dialed one more lead from the Central time zone before it grew too late to call. Across their shared divider Ashley rolled her eyes at something her customer was saying while she finished putting on another coat of mascara. She always came to work in tight dresses and full make-up like she had booked some club gig and was about to go onstage. At nineteen she was the youngest on the Team.
JC streaked by again and pointed at Matthew with his forefinger. “You got one?”
Matthew nodded and JC plugged his headset into the line to listen in.
“I been takin’em religiously, I just ain’t sure I can keep on.”
“Tell her that’s what her lesser self wants her to think.” JC said.
“Pam, that’s what your lesser self wants you to think.”
“Tell her continuing when it seems she can’t is what will set her apart.”
“You need to keep on, especially when you don’t think you can, that’s what sets you apart. That’s what makes you different.”
JC rolled his sleeves up around his muscled arms and worked his jaws vigorously around his chewing gum as he listened. He always chomped it like at any moment he expected somebody was going to come and pull it out of his mouth. “You got her, Matty, keep going.”
“Anybody can quit, but you decided to make a change. That’s why you do The Plan. That’s why you take the supplements.” Matthew lowered his voice as he’d been trained. “Let me ask you an important question, Pam. Do you feel better?”
“I do. Uh huh.”
“Are people saying they see a change in you?”
“Sure. Well,” she laughed, “I’m also pregnant right now.”
“Excuse me, did you say you’re pregnant?”
Matthew muted his headset. “JC, can pregnant women take the supplements?”
“I don’t see why not.”
Matthew studied JC’s gleaming eyes, his sweaty face.
“Seems like a lot of pills.”
JC tapped Matthew’s script. “Get back to the page, Matty.”
Genevieve peered over the divider to hand JC a cup of fresh coffee and he gave her a wink. Matthew turned back to his binder and got to the Objections page.
JC cracked his gum and rolled his eyes. “Let’s go Matty: ‘I’ll tell you what, Pam…’”
“Pam, I’ll tell you what. I’ll tell you what I’ll do for you. I’ll get you a six-month program for only one hundred and fifty nine dollars, that way you won’t have to worry about reordering for a while.”
“I don’t know.”
“Pam, you have to reorder now so you don’t have a break in your program. Is the MasterCard we have on file still good?”
“That’s a lot of money, I got all these kids.”
“This is not about money, Pam. This is about you. You have people who depend on you to be the best you can be, don’t you?”
“And the MasterCard is still good?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Okay, I’m going to take care of you. I’ll also send you The Plan pocket guide for free.”
“Well, thank you.”
“You are very welcome, Pam. Take care of yourself, and that baby.”
JC high-fived him and got up from the desk. He ripped off Matthew’s sales sheet and stuck it on the sales peg. “Matty got another one. Who’s next?” He went over to Ashley and crouched, his face closed to hers, his hand resting on her back, and listened in on her call.
Genevieve came over and dropped a Recharge The Plan Vita-Pack pill packet into Matthew’s hand like she gave him every shift when there was an hour left to go. “Here you go, love. JC, can you go help Vincent close? JC?”
JC looked up at Genevieve from where he huddled. “Ashley only has six.”
“That’s okay.” She kept her eyes on him until he got up. “I’ll help Ashley.”
Ashley looked down and fumbled a few pages in her pitch notebook.
Matthew took off his headset “Genevieve, can I talk to you real quick?”
“Not now, doll. You’ll ruin the energy in the room.”
“I just had a question about the pills.”
“Then meet me in the Focus Studio after you make your next four.”
The Focus Studio was also Genevieve’s office. When JC and Genevieve weren’t in a meeting or having an argument, crashing around in there like Titans, the Team gathered before their shift to listen to Genevieve’s Meditations. Afterwards the fourteen of them would share something they were grateful for.
Some of the sales team were in their fifties like Sue or had kids, like Vincent or Deborah. They came to the office for the eight to midnight shift after their other full time jobs. The Team wasn’t supposed to discuss their personal lives outside of Grateful Circle but they did when they could. Deborah had been there since The Plan opened in Manhattan two years ago. She was a single mom and brought her eight-year old Owen in on the nights she had him, and he’d do his math and science activity books cross-legged on the faded carpet. That was a special arrangement Genevieve and JC said they’d made for her. They knew Deborah was working The Plan as hard as she could but her Intention wasn’t Transformative the way it was supposed to be which is why she wasn’t getting her numbers up.
Most of the team was younger like Matthew or Ashley. She had left home at seventeen but ended up in even worse situations: sleeping wherever she could, partying, basically doing whatever it took to keep her from having to go back to her family. It was finding The Plan a year ago that helped her get her act together.
Everybody had some story of how they’d made their way to The Plan.
For Matthew it had been early May and he’d been facing another go nowhere upstate summer, bracing himself for the deafening cicadas and endlessly empty nights with only the stars to look at, when he called off an audio post he’d heard online of Genevieve’s voice asking for New York City area Closers: Closers who were ready to change their lives.
Matthew knew of The Plan, he had followed a lot of the principles ever since picking up the book last fall. He had tried to help his mother with it too, had read to her from his copy, but nothing seemed to get her up and out of bed anymore. She wasn’t ready to hear what Genevieve taught: You didn’t have to accept that what was would always be. Matthew loved that part: just because he grew up a certain way didn’t mean he had to have the same life everyone around him did.
He had always been pretty good at sales, whether he was signing students from Cornell and Ithaca up for phone plans or selling oil changes door to door. He called the number off the online ad but when Genevieve told him to come in that afternoon he had stammered, so she hung up on him. He assumed he’d been disconnected; people didn’t do that kind of thing where he was from. He dialed her back and when she answered she said there wasn’t room at The Plan for people who weren’t ready to change their lives Today.
“I am ready to change my life, today,” he told her, “I just have to wait until tomorrow to do it. The bus from Elmira gets me into the city at midnight. I can be there first thing in the morning. Are you still there? Hello?”
“We’ll see.” She’d said and hung up again.
The next morning when Genevieve and JC arrived, Matthew was already there, waiting in front of The Plan’s office doors on Lexington, only a little bleary-eyed after his cold shower and long walk across town. They tried him out on a sample pitch and when he closed the sale, they took him on. Just like that, he had Created his own reality. That was The Plan at work: the difference between accidental living and Setting Intention.
Matthew knew The Plan was his best chance at making himself into the person he wanted to be. What he didn’t know was it would be Genevieve that ignited him. That she would be what he believed. Everything she said sounded inside him like a bell, thrummed within him like a pulse. It was as if she could see inside him, he could feel her picking out the pieces of him that she wanted and he would give them to her.
At eleven-thirty Matthew broke the weekly record with one hundred packages. He felt a surge inside—Genevieve had challenged him and he’d done it. He was out of his seat to post his final sale on the board before he had even tossed his headset off.
With the bamboo shades pulled down low in the Focus Studio, and the oscillating fan always circulating the air-conditioned air, you would never know The Plan headquarters was on the basement level of the twenty-story building. The room was painted sky blue with a royal blue velvet sectional nestled in the corner, a burgundy high-backed chair next to it. Arching across the opposite wall a rainbow was painted in fat brushstrokes with a wind chime hanging from a bracket above it so every time the fan blew past the hanging bells, it sounded like a shopkeeper’s door had opened.
Deborah’s eight-year-old son, Owen, lay sleeping in the hammock hung caddy corner between two walls. His hoodie had slipped to the floor and he was curled up small in the cool room, his ribs rising and falling under his T-shirt. Matthew picked up the hoodie and draped it back over Owen.
“Well, well, Matthew. Nicely done.” Genevieve said, gliding in and shutting the door behind her.
“I told you I would hit it.”
“You did. Hold on a sec, Matthew. Owen, you need to get up.” She shook him at the shoulder. “Owen. Go find your mom.”
Owen looked up groggily and when his eyes focused, Matthew held the hammock still for him so he could climb out.
“Thanks,” Owen said and Matthew handed him the comic book lying in the hammock. “Here you go, buddy.”
Genevieve opened the door for him and watched him leave.
Owen looked back at her once, and then down again at his comic book as he headed for Deborah’s cubicle.
“His mother could be sleeping too for all the sales she’s making,” Genevieve said, shutting the door. She sat on the edge of her desk facing Matthew where he stood. “Tell me. What’s your next goal?”
“I’m about to set it. But I sold a double to a pregnant woman tonight and JC said it was okay.”
Genevieve’s light eyes were open and clear, but she didn’t acknowledge what he’d said.
“And actually, seven of my packages this week are for people who had to give me four different credit cards before one went through for the bargain package.”
“I’m just wondering, are there some people we shouldn’t sell to?”
“Matt, let me ask you a question.” She leaned forward. “Is selling okay with you?”
“Of course it is.”
“I don’t know. JC and I have invested a lot of time in you. I wasn’t going to tell you this yet,” she said, lowering her voice and locking eyes with him, “we think—I think you could be a Leader here. But,” she shook her head, “maybe you don’t want this.”
“No, I do. I’m saying I’m just not sure some of these people that are in debt should be on the program right now. Not, for example, if they have children to feed.”
“Poor Matt.” She took his hand. “That’s your Doubter talking. It means you have more work to do.” She brought him to the sofa and swung the burgundy chair around so she was sitting directly in front of him. “Close your eyes for me. Focus on your breath while you listen to my voice. That’s it. There is a reason you reached these people on the phone and there is a reason they talked to you.
I want you to remember how you felt when you first came here. You had hope for something better but no way of turning it into something real. Keep your eyes closed, Matt. See, that’s your Trust Deficit right there. Relax your forehead. Relax your lips,” she said running her fingers lightly down his temple and along his jaw line. “That’s it. Let this information in. Let the Answer in.”
“When you first came here,” she continued, her voice vibrating off his cheek, vibrating off his neck, “you weren’t sure what it was exactly, you just knew there was something more for you. But some of these people you are calling don’t even know there is something more. They don’t even have hope. Remember? You are providing them with hope and you’re providing them with the supplements to help them feel their hope come into being. Why would you take away their hope?”
She wrapped her fingers around his left wrist. A shiver traveled down his spine and rippled through the rest of his body. “I’d like to awaken your Meridians to Consciousness now, Matthew. Are you Open to that?”
“Think how many people can’t leave their town and come to New York or Los Angeles to see our seminars. The closest they will ever get to Wholeness is speaking to you on the phone. But think how close you are.”
She rested her hand on his heart. “Do you want it all?”
“Can you give us better than your best?”
“Yes, I can.”
He opened his eyes and in that instant before she had gathered her features together he caught a softness in her face he had not seen before.
“That’s who I want here with me; the kind of man who becomes a Trainer. With your Power of Intention and your closing record, you can have what you came here to get. You could be a Leader.” She squeezed his hand. “Listen to the meditation on track two every day until you hear it in your head.”
When Matthew walked out to the hallway, Deborah and Owen were getting onto the elevator. Deborah’s limp brown hair was pushed loosely off her forehead in a clip and she looked beat. She switched the plastic bag with the remnants of the snacks she had given Owen to eat during her shift to her other hand and yawned. Owen rubbed his eyes and as he did, he wobbled a little with the weight of the overstuffed backpack that hung from his shoulders.
“Whoa, that is one big bag.” Matthew said. “What do you have in there?”
“I got the rocks and minerals I’ve been collecting, my comic books, and also my circuit board.” Owen seemed to strain to stand up straighter.
“A circuit board, that’s what that was. I’ve never seen one like that before.”
“You can help me with it if you want sometime.”
“Sure, sounds fun.”
Matthew held the door open for them as they stepped out of the lobby and onto the street. “Can I get you guys a cab?”
“We’re taking the subway.”
“In that case I’ll walk you to your station.”
“You don’t have to, Matthew.”
“Why do you always say that? Where I come from, guys make sure women and children get home safely.”
“But you live in Queens. It’s not even the right direction for you.”
“It’s fine. I need the air. Besides you two can’t walk alone. It’s late.”
“Well, thanks, you’re sweet. A real gentleman.”
It was after midnight when Matthew dropped them off at their subway and began his walk back across town, but he wasn’t tired. He was still buzzing inside like he’d just left a party. That’s how he felt every time he finished work those weeks, jittery and a little drained, but content with himself. There was no question this job was the best thing he had ever made happen.
His friends back home were all having babies too soon or messing around with women they were about to run out on. His cousins were living thousands of dollars in debt, working in restaurants or in construction looking forward to fifty-dollar employee bucks at Christmastime. That wasn’t enough for him.
He had been raised not to ask for more than he had but, as Genevieve taught, there was Enough for everyone. Everybody had the same Opportunity, it’s what he or she did with it that mattered. And the part that he appreciated most was the part that used to worry him: that being successful didn’t mean others had to suffer for it. It was his obligation to shine.
You couldn’t just complain about your life, sit around hoping things would change. It’s when you approached your life from a place of Lack that trouble started,
that’s how you got stuck. If you wanted to transform your life you had to take responsibility for yourself. Yes, it took determination, but there was no end to what you could achieve. If people like Deborah could truly understand how amazing their Life Opportunity was, if he could help them see what choices they could make, they would understand success was for everyone.
Matthew listened to Genevieve’s meditations, during his six-mile runs in the morning, on the subway, and again at night before bed. He could feel himself becoming healthier and stronger–he had even lost ten pounds. He didn’t know anybody in the city outside the Team but that was all right because with two shifts a day he didn’t have time to do much else except exercise and travel to work and back.
Seeing the mind-boggling array of people he passed in the street every day invigorated him. The hot air wrapped itself around him, horns blared in the clogged up road, delivery trucks started and stopped again with the high pitched, splintering sound of their worn out breaks, and taxis crawled by as people jaywalked between them. Matthew kept pace with the men and women around him, their faces suspended in thought while their bodies jostled to cut paths through the city.
Back home, nobody was ever out past ten. Here somebody was always around, even at two in the morning they were on their way somewhere; men and women coming from work, from bars, from parties, all of them moving in every direction through the muggy night.
The damp air clung to him and the click of high heels drew nearer and farther again as Matthew made his way across town taking everything in. Korean grocers who looked like they never slept stood behind small check out counters under the fluorescent lights of their corner markets, the overripe cantaloupe and sour cabbage smell of garbage sweating in shiny black bags came in waves as he passed it piled up high curb after curb, and the lit up sky peered down on him from in between tall buildings; buildings in every height made of glass and of stone, unfolding as he approached, one after another, like possibility.
The city was not the dirty angry town his family had warned him about. It was a jumble of opportunities beautiful in its way. Everything he could want was in sight; it was only up to him how far he would go.
As soon as he got on the Seven train to Queens, he put on Genevieve’s meditation and felt the liquid gold warmth of her voice moving through him, filling all the spaces inside.
“Do you remember the feeling of having it all? You might have to think back
to another time, another place. When you were young and could still believe everything was for you. Before you had to explain yourself. You could have anything then; all you had to do was choose. Just by noticing, really noticing a leaf. Or the clouds wafting across the ice blue sky. The sound of the airplane humming above you. The smell of soil on your fingers. The buzzing of a lawn mower.
All reminded you of how you were alive.
In those small moments you were complete and you experienced the expanding of yourself. I want you to think about one of those complete moments now. Do you have one?
Capture it. Capture that feeling and hold it tight so you can crawl back and inhabit it. Wear it like a new skin though it is older and truer than anything.
Look out of your face the same way you did then. Use your hands the way you did back then. I want you to go into the world the way you did then. And see what happens.
See what happens when you stop investing in the unkindness you feed yourself, the unkindness you feel the world feeds you. The world will reflect what you believe.
What do you believe?”
On Monday, the first day of the new sales cycle, the lobby door of the office opened after the shift had started and Ashley hurried in with her head down, adjusting the front of her dress. He didn’t know how she managed in her shoes, her feet were almost vertical the heels were so high, but she wore them every day.
He waited until she had unloaded her big black bag off her shoulder and gotten settled. “Hey Ash, any idea what the record is for most packages sold in a month? I need to set my Intention. What? Why are you looking at me that way?”
“You’re still doing that?”
“Of course I am. Have been every day for two months. If you want to Live Better, you have to Do Better, right?”
“Easy does it, Elmira,” she said picking up her headset, “that’s a little much this early.”
The lobby door opened again and JC came in, he must have stepped out after distributing leads.
Matthew leaned in closer over their divider. “JC has the record, right?”
She searched his face as if she were checking for a trick. There were circles under her eyes and she had a half-inch of dark roots showing. Her hair was so bleached it had no substance; the only thing keeping it from blowing away was the piling up of it on top of itself.
“What’s the number I have to beat?”
“Three hundred and eighty six,” she said and put her headset on.
“Three hundred and eighty six? That’s like twenty a shift.”
“It can be done.”
“Hey, you two chatting it up?” JC asked as he approached. “Don’t let her distract you, Matty,” he said putting his hand on the top of Ashley’s head and squeezing it. “You might get into trouble.”
Ashley shot him a look and then dialed.
JC lifted his hand off her head and didn’t move away until he saw that Matthew and Ashley had each gotten in touch with a lead.
Every day for the next four weeks Matthew set his Immediate, Future, and Ultimate Intentions: to beat his sales goal of the previous week, to become a Trainer by August, and, finally, to become a Leader; every night he fell asleep listening to Genevieve’s meditations. He was still amazed by The Plan, that all he had to do was believe and focus and he would see results.
He was already coaching Deborah. He made a point of sharing some of his sales strategies with her on their walk to the Subway after their shifts together. If she listened to what Genevieve was teaching and followed the techniques he gave her, she would absolutely be able to sell doubles. Once she started selling bigger packages she would be able to clear the ten percent commission mark and there wouldn’t be so much pressure on her.
It didn’t seem fair that JC never gave Deborah a chance, that the people struggling the most to sell got the oldest, most used-up leads. It wasn’t positive. Matthew bristled at how JC called her D.D., short for Dumpy Dog, or how he constantly undressed Ashley with his eyes—he was at least double her age. Matthew couldn’t fathom how someone as Illuminated as Genevieve had ever tolerated JC. His slipperiness. Matthew knew he could be as good a Trainer as JC, better even. When he got promoted he would not shame his team, he’d take care of them.
Toward the end of July Deborah had started to listen to Matthew and was coming in early if her schedule permitted. She was already sitting in her seat when he arrived the last Monday of the sales cycle. He waved a hello and picked up his leads and when he got to his cubicle she leaned over her divider.
“Hey Matthew, I got two doubles and it’s only been twenty minutes. Pretty good, huh?”
He high-fived her. “That’s the way you do it.”
There was a new picture from Owen on his corkboard and he waved to him across the room. Owen held up the rock Matthew had found for him at the edge of a construction sight the week before. Matthew gave him the thumbs up and gestured he’d come over soon. He took a fresh lead sheet from his own stack of new ones, and passed it to Deborah. “Let me know when you’re done with that one and I’ll hook you up with another one.”
Deborah’s eyes lit up. “Really? Thanks.”
Genevieve came over and put a cup of iced coffee in Matthew’s hands. She pulled his chair out for him and rested her hand on his shoulder. “You need anything, Matt?”
He put his headphones on. “Nope, I’m good.”
“Are you ready to break yesterday’s record?”
She squeezed his shoulder and peered at Deborah from over the divider.
“Imagine if everybody here worked as hard.” Deborah smiled up at her but Genevieve stared back until Deborah looked down at her notebook.
On Saturday, July 31st, the last day of the sales cycle, Matthew picked up a slice of pizza across the street before coming in for the end of quarter bonus shift. He joined Ashley who was standing outside the office building sipping from a canned protein drink and smoking.
He had never been in this neighborhood on a Saturday night; the street was more crowded than he’d seen it before. Pierced young men and women and heavily made up groups of screeching girlfriends in tiny dresses passed by on their way to the clubs down the block.
A fire engine screamed by and right afterward a young woman stepped toward the curve and vomited in the gutter while a guy held her up. Someone across the street screamed that it was gross.
“I bet th—“ Just then another flashing fire engine tore by, siren blaring. She waited until the group of club goers in front of them finished whooping and catcalling the firefighters who had waved back to them and continued. “I was about to say, I bet this kind of stuff makes you want to run back to Elmira.”
“No way,” he laughed. “All I’ve ever wanted to do is get out of there.”
“Yeah?” She took a sip of her protein drink. “What did you even do up there—bag groceries at the general store or something?”
“Nice one.” He wiped his mouth with a napkin. “No, I bartended, landscaped. Sold oil changes door to door, stuff like that.”
“I think it’s cute you’re from the country. It makes you like, cleaner, somehow.”
“Cleaner?” He shook his head. “Wow.”
Ashley laughed again and nudged him with her shoulder. “Not cleaner, I mean more real. Like you’re more trustworthy or something.”
“That’s better, I guess.”
“It is. You’re not like the other guys around here,” she said gesturing toward their office with a tilt of her head. She took a long drag of her cigarette. “I went upstate once,” she said, exhaling away from him. “In sixth grade. My best friend’s mom took us on a bus trip to Albany.”
“What’d you think?”
“It was cold.”
“That sounds about right.”
“The windows on the bus were fogged up like practically the whole time. Me and my friend had to keep wiping them with the sleeves of our shirts so we could see out even a little bit. I was psyched about going though, I remember really looking forward to getting out of the city. To be going on a family trip—even though it wasn’t actually my family. Which was good, my family sucks. I was like, thank god, I get to leave.”
“So it was fun?”
“I’m not sure. I think I spent most of the trip asking my friend’s mom questions.
Like when would we be there, and what were we going to eat, and what would we see on the tour. I just kept asking her all these things. I could tell I was annoying her but I couldn’t stop. And then even when we got to Albany and were touring the buildings and everything I still didn’t stop. I asked her when we were going back to the bus and how long the ride would be and when we’d be home and all this stuff.”
Ashley stubbed out her cigarette and Matthew dumped his paper plate in the garbage. They stepped onto the elevator together and she shook her head. “The whole thing was so dumb. I thought it would be so amazing to get out of the city but once I left I was all freaked out, I didn’t know what to do with myself.”
Matthew held the door to the office open.
“It just goes to show you.”
“Show you what?”
“You can’t escape who you are.”
Matthew didn’t think that was true and was about to say so when JC put his arm around her waist to walk her to her seat. “There she is. Walk with me.”
Aside from Deborah who was out taking care of Owen because he was sick with strep, the whole Team had come in for the bonus shift. The room was charged with energy and contact was good. Matthew got in touch with almost everyone he called and ended up selling doubles to all but two leads that purchased triples.
Near the end of the shift Matthew glanced up when JC rolled a chair next to Ashley to listen in on her sales though she certainly didn’t need help, she had been selling almost as well as Matthew lately. JC sat close up to her, lifted up one of her headphones, and began whispering in her ear. With his face still close to Ashley’s his eyes shifted over to Matthew. “What you looking at, Matty? You know Ashley is a bad girl. Aren’t you, Ashley?”
Ashley’s face burned red. Matthew’s lead answered and he ducked his head toward his notebook to focus on his pitch.
JC had his head bent low to Ashley’s notebook when Genevieve pulled a seat up next to Matthew. She waited for him to complete his call. “Well done, Matthew.”
“Thanks.” He took off his headphones.
She pored over his face, her green eyes flickering. “Do you know what you did tonight?”
He had that feeling he got inside when he knew he was going to get what he wanted.
“You broke the record for most sales ever during a shift.” She took both his hands in hers. “I would like to invite you to become a Trainer.”
His heart felt like it stopped. He was almost dizzy from the impact. This was what he had been working for; this was his second Intention coming to fruition.
“Thank you, Genevieve,” he said, squeezing her hands, “I won’t let you down.”
“I know you won’t.”
From over the divider there was fumbling. Matthew heard Ashley gasp. Her head came back into view and she swatted in JC’s direction “Stop,” she hissed, stop,” and she stood up tugging at her skirt. She froze when she noticed Genevieve.
“Come, on,” JC chided, “get back here.” He moved to pull her back down and glanced in Matthew’s direction. “Don’t worry about Matty, he’s—” JC halted when he saw Genevieve. Within a moment he recovered and, switching gears, continued addressing Ashley. “—he’s closing at his own pace. And that’s exactly what you need to do. Like I keep telling you, Ashley.”
Genevieve stood up. Her eyes moved over Ashley and JC. Apart from what looked like a small twitch pulling her top lip, she was still. “Matthew,” she said without taking her eyes off JC, “let’s get you set up with training materials.”
Over enthusiastic Ska was blasting in the office when Matthew got to work on Monday. Genevieve’s office door was closed. Deborah’s seat was empty. When Matthew got to his seat Ashley was in hers, holding a pile of old-looking lead sheets. She looked pale, even her make up couldn’t hide it. She was gnawing on one of the cuticles of her other hand.
“You okay?” he whispered.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine. Just tired.”
He handed her a Recharge The Plan Vita-Pack from his desk.
Genevieve’s door opened and shut and JC came over without looking at Ashley. “How many you need, Matty?”
Ashley lowered her head and started dialing.
“Fifteen.” Matthew met his eyes. He couldn’t tell if Genevieve had told JC she’d need Matthew to start training immediately.
“Let’s go, then.”
When JC had walked away, Matthew handed Ashley a sheet of his choice leads.
Five minutes later Genevieve opened her door and entered the room wearing a peach silk blouse with the top two buttons open, her creamy string of pearls, and a close-fitting skirt. She must have had a Seminar that night.
“Oh good, Ashley’s arrived. We can do our Meditation now. No, don’t get up.” She cut the music. “We’ll do it here.”
“Look. Look at yourself. Look at the way you are in the world. Do you move with direction and purpose? Or are you without aim? Worse,” she said making her way past the cubicles, “are you barely moving? When others tell you their hopes, their dreams, do you hear them? Or does envy cinch you inside?
Those people are put in your way not to thwart you, no. They are put in your way to show you how much better you could be. Jealousy is a message. A message that there is something you are not doing.” She continued surveying the room, but her eyes returned to Ashley. “Will you keep letting your life force trickle out of your diminished being, ruining it for everyone else? Or will you listen to the message Higher Self is sending you?” Genevieve stood at Matthew and Ashley’s station. “Are you ready to admit you are not doing your best and offer yourself to another service until your time comes again?” She spoke directly to Ashley. “Can you do that so those around you can follow their lit up paths in peace? Don’t make everybody watch as you whither and collapse. It’s time you did something else.”
Ashley stared back at Genevieve.
“Pack up your stuff, Ashley.”
Ashley didn’t move.
“Go on now.”
Ashley cleared her throat. “What for?”
“For doubting The Plan. For creating bad energy. For not trying hard enough.” Her eyes glimmered. “For being this version of yourself. I can continue unless you’re ready now.”
Ashley scanned the room looking, it seemed, for help. […]
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Ronit’s work has appeared in The American Literary Review, Salon, Best New Writing 2015, Proximity, and The Iowa Review (runner up, The 2013 Iowa Review Award for Fiction), among others. Her story “Gibbous” was a Narrative 2014 Winter Short Story Contest finalist and won the Eric Hoffer Award for Short Prose. She earned her MFA in nonfiction at Pacific University and is currently working on a memoir. More about her and links to her work are at www.ronitfeinglassplank.com. “The Plan” was the first-prize winner of the 2016 New Writer Awards (fiction/nonfiction).
Read More: A brief interview with Ronit Feinglass Plank