I was so focused on the computer screen that I hadn’t noticed that the clock had already struck 8 PM and darkness was falling outside. Normally, my work day ended at 5, but I liked to stay a little longer and work on some of my own stuff.
I’d been working at Nessie Games Inc. for a little over a week. Of course, I wasn’t doing any really important things yet – just filing documents, making phone calls and bringing coffee. But at least I was working and making money in a field that had my interest.
Although as far as mom and dad knew, I was studying industrial design and staying out with friends every night. I still hadn’t worked up the courage to tell them. I’d decided to wait until after the wedding, when things would be a bit less chaotic.
“Enzo? Why are you still here?”
I startled and looked up. My boss, Michelle, had walked up to my cubical without me noticing. She was the one who’d hired me, even though I had nothing more than a high school diploma and a geeky love for video games. She was pretty nice – not to mention pretty good-looking for a boss.
“I thought I’d sent you home hours ago,” she continued. “Oh, I was just working on some of my own stuff. If that’s all right,” I added hastily.
“Of course it’s all right.” Michelle smiled. “What kind of stuff, if you don’t mind me asking?” “Uhm…” I did feel kind of embarrassed confessing my own little doodles to the Head of Design. “Nothing special. Just some game ideas, and some sketches for characters…”
“Really?” Michelle seemed genuinely interested. “That’s great. If you want, you can email them to me and I can give you some feedback.”
“You would do that? I mean, it’s really kind of stupid actually… It’s not like I’m an actual game designer…”
“Getting your own creativity out is never stupid, Enzo.” Michelle nodded encouragingly. “I hired you because I think you have a lot of potential. But you’ll never reach your full potential if you don’t let people help you progress the talent you already have. Seriously, send them to me.”
With flushed cheeks, I forwarded some of the files to her email.
“Good boy.” She sounded satisfied. “If you want, I’ll let you listen in on one of the meetings of the design staff. You could learn a lot just by sitting and taking notes. You know, get a feel for how those kinds of things work.”
“That would be awesome!” I said enthusiastically.
“Great. Tuesday, ten o’clock, the big conference room upstairs. Be early.”
Michelle winked. “I don’t want to chase you away, but I was planning on closing up the office and heading home myself. I’ve got a wonderful meal of instant mac and cheese waiting for me at home, and my cat probably wants some of it as well.”
“Of course.” I quickly shut down my computer. “Is your car parked in the back?”
“No, I like to walk home,” Michelle answered. “It’s only a few blocks and I enjoy walking. Clears my head a bit after a long day at work. You?”
I shook my head. “I only walk to the busstop, but it’s a good fifteen minutes from here.”
“I’ll walk with you for a while, talk you through some of your game inspiration,” Michelle offered. “Let me grab my purse.”
And so a few minutes later, I was walking through the crisp, fall evening air with my boss. Michelle was super helpful. She liked almost all of my ideas and helped me to clean up some rough edges of plot-lines or character ideas. And when I, shyly, told her that my parents had no idea I worked for her, she didn’t scold me but chuckled.
“My parents wanted me to be a nurse when I was younger. It’s safe to say me sneaking off to the arcade during class didn’t exactly make them happy. But really, Enzo, you should be honest with them eventually. Chances are they won’t be as upset as you think they’ll be.”
“I guess,” I said, shrugging. “I’m more afraid of my dad being disappointed than him being mad.”
“It’ll be okay. You can’t live your life for other people, Enzo.”
Michelle smiled. “Well, the bus stop is right there and this is my turn.”
I nodded. “Thanks for the talk, Michelle. I appreciate it.”
“Anytime. See you tomorrow!”
I waved goodbye as she walked away, heels clicking sharply on the pavement. Talking her had made me feel better about my decision. Self-assured, positive, even happy. I didn’t even realize I was smiling all the way home.