Data journalists are the kinkiest of sex vixens. All day long Mina was the manager of a small team of reporters. She was proud of the team she had grown. There were five people reporting to her now. She had even declined an offer for a more senior role because she wanted to code more. And because she felt meaning and value from her work. Disproving or proving fake news in one way or another using data was one of the most rewarding sensations she had discovered. The numbers never lied. She could control the numbers. She could extract numbers from a set of data and tell a story with it. A true story. Whether she exposed a business for making shitty decisions or criticized a candidate’s campaign for the way it was spending its constituents’ money, when the story came out, it always gave her a thrill.
She always had to deal with internet trolls trying to negate her work. They were always men. Asshole men who tore through her work and her data. The ones who didn’t believe she was capable of solid evidence. The ones who didn’t like her just because she was a woman. Fuck them all. There was only one rule: only reply to a troll once.
At night, she was wrapped up so tight from the news cycle that she fantasized about someone taking control away from her. She imagined her hands were tied to the ceiling. There was something exciting about this narrative. She had been captured. Or surprised. Taken. Put in a room without knowing how she got there. She wore only a skimpy skirt and top. She felt vulnerable. She breathed quickly as an unknown man walked into the room and started to circle her.
“You’re going to be fun, sexy,” he finally said.
She tightened her legs together as he approached. She didn’t know what he was going to do to her. He had his hand on the buckle of his belt as he arrived almost directly behind her. She could see him out of the corner of her eye. She panicked and tried to ask him what he wanted but she found that the gag in her mouth let out only a muffled bit of gibberish. The man started to touch below his belt.
“Yes, you’re going to be a lot of fun, you naughty little reporter,” he said. “I’ve been waiting to do this for a long time.”
Mina looked up from her laptop. It was eight thirty in the evening already. Mina had been writing non-stop for three or four hours. Sometimes time slipped away from her as she wrote. She got caught up in the words, their connotation, the narrative she attempted to convey. It was enthralling to follow a thread. The words were almost written on the page without the touch of her fingers on the keyboard.
She swept her shoulder length, light red hair behind her ears, a soothing habit, removed her glasses and stood up. She glanced around the office. It was almost completely empty. She saw Nick from the news desk tapping away at his keyboard far on the other side of the large, warehouse like room. In another corner of the office, Marcus was pacing back and forth behind a glass panel in a meeting room. He wore a headset and he was chattering away on a phone call. Marcus wasn’t her boss, but he did hold a more powerful role than her. He was quickly working his way up the ladder. It was easy for him. He was the kind of writer they liked. The kind without a voice. He filled every hole that the paper had. He was a yes man. She hated him. He had no spine whatsoever when it came to real journalism. He just wrote what they told him to write.
She went over to the windows looking out onto the street. It was dark outside, and she could see her reflection in the glass. It wasn’t raining in Berlin like usual. The sky was absent of gray clouds. Instead, the deep black infinity of space curled slightly over head. She felt its weight. It made her want to go home and plunge herself into the infinity of her bathtub. She looked at her reflection in the window. “You still look cute, even after a nine-hour workday,” she thought. She was wearing a dark green dress, black stockings, and black heels. The dress stopped inches from her knees. It was short but not slutty. It was business attire; no cleavage, and it covered her arms and shoulders. Still, she felt sexy as she looked at her own long legs: perhaps her best feature. She turned and caught a glimpse of the curve of her butt before she made her way back to her desk.
She sat down in her chair to log off her computer. Suddenly, she heard a voice. It surprised her and she hit the shutdown button accidentally.
“How are the trolls today, Mina?” Marcus asked. He leaned over the edge of her desk, less than a meter away. The tip of his terribly chosen, blue and green argyle tie brushed the top of her desk.
“What do you want, Marcus?” Mina asked annoyedly. “You know how the trolls are.”
Marcus stood up, circled Mina’s desk and sat on the edge of it. He crossed his arms across his white shirt. His arm muscles made the material grow taut. He was a large man, not particularly ugly or handsome. He had dark brown hair and an unkempt beard. He liked to wear suspenders. They never matched the color of his shoes. Today he wore light brown suspenders and black shoes.
“A little feisty today I see. So sorry to bother you,” he said. The second sentence held an inflection of sarcasm. “I just noticed we were both at the office late.”
“So what?” Mina replied. “It’s not unusual to be at the office late. Especially during the pandemic. It’s not like you’re saying the same thing to Nick over there.”
Mina slid her laptop into her bag and stood up. Even when she was standing next to Marcus, as he sat on the edge of her desk, he towered over her. Mina felt a power dynamic between them. She felt small next to him and something inside of her stirred. She grabbed her coat and slid past him.
“You’re cold. I’m just trying to be nice,” Marcus said as Mina walked down the row of desks towards the elevator, leaving him behind. Mina wondered if he could see the curve of her butt under her dress as she walked away. She wondered if he watched her. She knew his game. She knew what he really wanted.
She exited the tenth floor of her apartment building and dug in her purse for her keys. She entered her apartment, hung up her coat and unpacked a tray of take-away sushi she had picked up the day before from the grocery store. She brought the sushi, her phone, and The Idiot by Elif Batuman into the bathroom. She turned on the bathtub faucet. As she drew a bath, she slipped out of her dress and stockings. She loved the feeling of the sheer of her stockings sliding off of the skin of her legs. She imagined it was someone’s fingers. But that would have been too smooth for pleasure. She liked it a little rough.
She climbed into the steamy bath and ate her tray of sushi. Then she lay back and closed her eyes. The sound of Marcus’ voice suddenly returned to her ears.
“A little feisty today I see,” he had said. She wondered why she was remembering this now. But there was something about the gruffness and tease in the way he said it, mixed with the steam of the bath, and the tiredness of the day that brought images an…