Pax, Natalie, Aplomb

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Pax knocked before going into the cabin, found Natalie writing something. “What are you writing? I haven’t brought you my list of things I want you to write yet.”

Natalie looked at him in that way that suggested she was rolling her eyes without actually rolling her eyes. “Writing a letter of reference for Ginger.”

“Oh,” Pax said, nodding. Then he stopped nodding, because he didn’t like that. “Ginger’s leaving?”

“Yeah. Wants a career that’s a little safer.”

Pax was…Pax was many things all at once, most of them things he didn’t like to be. Sad, because Ginger was his friend and his crewmate and he was going to miss him. Angry, because they were in the middle of several very important things, including but not limited to saving Nate’s life. Disappointed in himself, because he shouldn’t be thinking negative things about his friend. Sad again, because Ginger was still his friend and he was sufficiently unhappy in an environment Pax was partially responsible for that he was leaving.

None of those feelings were productive, though. Pax swallowed, sitting down next to Natalie. “Can I see what you’ve written?”

“Are you going to re-write it?” Natalie asked.

Pax rolled his eyes in that way that suggested he was looking at her without actually looking at her. “No, of course not. Your reference letter is your own and should be in your own words.”

Natalie appeared unconvinced, but Pax was very convincing, so she handed the letter.

Pax nodded, looking it over. His finger twitched. “Have you thought about mentioning Ginger’s capacity for carpentry?”

“It’s there in the second paragraph.”

“Yes, but only in one very short sentence,” Pax agreed. “All the sentences are very short, really. You’ve heard of adjectives, haven’t you?”

Now Natalie did roll her eyes. “Yes, Pax. I don’t think they’re necessary in a letter saying someone is a qualified sailor.”

“I can see why you’d think that, given that you are a qualified sailor,” Pax told her with a nod. “You are, of course, incorrect. This sentence, for example. ‘Ginger always remains calm under pressure.’ It could say ‘Ginger’s easygoing attitude in normal circumstances is exceeded only by his overwhelming calm in a crisis, such that nobody else can even begin to consider panicking before they are awash with the calm that radiates off him like heat radiating from a calming hearthfire at the end of a long journey.’ Or something like that.”

“You added a bit more than adjectives in there,” Natalie pointed out.

“Yes, I just put in the words that you meant to write and forgot. And here, in the next sentence…”

“Do you want a pen, Pax?”

“No, I always carry one just in case of a lexigraphical emergency,” Pax said, pulling his out. It had more aplomb than Natalie’s, because it was red. “I think in the section describing his years of experience, you should really have sentences if not paragraphs equal to those years, to really give weight to just how experienced he really is…”

The negative feelings would come back, Pax knew. But for now, they were in the background, because Pax had a task. If one of his friends was going to go and pursue new employment somewhere, he’d be doing it with the very best possible references.



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