She sighed. No avoiding the issue anymore. It was time to get it over with. She felt weak and totally unequal to the task but knew there was no-one else to do it. She opened the door.
"Tina, could you come here for a moment?"
Tina came in and sat down. It was likely she knew at least some of what was coming - the office had been tense for days as rumors flew right and left. How to start - how to phrase the end?
"Thanks." She sighed again. Tina just waited, a small tense bundle of humanity, hoping but not confident.
"You know how the company has been struggling this last year. We've tried everything we could do, short of actually closing the door."
"You've been a big help there - you've done a lot and I've really appreciated your support."
Just a tense nod in return.
"But, unfortunately, it hasn't worked." There, I've said it. The final word. The company is going down. "We'll be closing down as of the end of next month. We'll all have that long at least."
"Is a new company being set up?" Tina asked, likely again knowing the answer, but needing to ask.
"Yes. But it will be much, much, smaller." Now the really hard part: "There's no room for office staff beyond one person."
"Will you be going to the new company?"
"Yes. They'll need my skills." and, unspoken, "and I need the job."
Silence. A look of betrayal that matched her own guilt. She could hear the unspoken dialogue in her head - "but you said you would try to keep me" "Yes, but this is a job you can't do, even if I could afford to give it up to you." Who knew guilt was this painful?
She didn't sigh again. She just handed Tina the tissues and said "If you want to take the rest of the day off, I understand."
One down. More to go.