“A bomb threat was called into a school early this morning, causing a lockdown that concerned the surrounding community. But it turns out, the suspect behind the bomb threat was an incredibly intelligent bird.” I pause and the scrolling text on the prompter positioned a few feet away from the news anchor desk where I’m standing also comes to an abrupt halt. Clearing my throat, I think, ‘Don’t laugh, Lola. You’re a seasoned anchor. You’ve done this for half a decade now. You know how to get through a read without laughing like a hyena.’ I can fell my co-anchor Amy Kurt staring at me. Probably hoping I’ll screw this up. She’d love that. Because she hates me. I take a breath and continue, “It turns out the bird was an African Grey who’s owner taught it to speak and how to use Alexa. Police say the bird told Alexa to call the school that it’s owners children attended and when someone answered the phone, the bird said, ‘I will blow you up, your brains will go Ka-boom.’ The threat was taken seriously, until authorities realized it was the work of a bird. All charges have since been dropped and neither the bird nor its owner will face any citations.” I take a breath, turn to camera two and smile. “We’ll be right back with more news.” Our 5 p.m. news production assistant, Bianca, bursts into giggles and this is all it takes. Before I know it, I’m laughing so hard tears have formed in my eyes. “A bird!” I shout while laughing. “It was a bird!” Bianca says, “I know,” in between giggles. Beside me, Amy huffs and mutters, “Birds talk all the time.” “But do they call in threats to schools? Have you ever heard that before, Amy?” I ask, turning to her. She blushes and shrugs. Amy can’t stand me, a fact that she broadcasts on a regular basis. But I’m pretty sure I dislike her even more. She’s the type of person who talks in a bored voice all the time, but is never really bored and is always low-key nosey, controlling, bossy, and all-over-the-place, trying to be Queen of Everything. Yet, she puts on this fake wanna-be Kardashian persona, talking in a bored voice and acting like she doesn’t care about anything other than the state of her hair, her nails, and her make up. I don’t like fake people. I like reliable people who say something and mean it. “I’m just trying to be professional,” Amy says with a sniff. “We’re allowed to laugh when we’re not on air,” I say, hearing the condescension in my tone. But I don’t even care. She deserves it. “We can even laugh when we’re on air, it lets people know we’re human, which is a good thing.” “That’s not what I was taught.” Amy lifts her chin and sticks her nose in the air like the little snob that she is. “Maybe things have changed since you first got into the business.” “You’re acting like I’m ancient and we’re only five years apart,” I hiss. “Five years is a long time,” she retorts. “Amy, I’m not going to argue with you.” “Who’s arguing?” Amy laughs dryly. I place one of my hands over my heart and gasp dramatically. “You laughed! How dare you? That’s so unprofessional.” Before Amy can reply, our production assistant lets us know the commercial break is nearly over. “We’re back in five,” Bianca shouts. We both prepare our smiles for the camera. “Five,” Bianca shouts. While she’s smiling and looking at camera one, Amy quietly says, “You’re making fun of me. But I’m not the one who’s about to be dumped by the hottest news anchor in the city because I’m cold, frigid, anorexic, hag who’s losing fans even faster than she’s losing her hair.” “Four,” Bianca calls. Momentarily speechless, I turn to Amy. She glances at me only briefly, flashing her blasé smile my way before returning it to the camera. “Three,” Bianca yells. “What did you just say?” I finally ask. The words ‘about to be dumped’ and ‘anorexic hag’ keep jumping out at me, biting me like angry dogs. But she couldn’t have possibly said those words. She isn’t cruel enough… and it isn’t true anyway. Well, part of it isn’t. Anthony would never break up with me. He loves me. We’re solid. I know that for sure. “You heard me,” Amy smugly replies. “Two,” Bianca shouts. “Anthony and I have been getting very close,” Amy quietly says. Her tone is serene but her every word is a punch to my gut. “And he tells me everything. So, I know everything, Lola. You’re a mess. And you’re going to lose the only good thing in your pathetic life.” “One,” Bianca calls. “You’re on.” In my earpiece, I can hear Channel 57’s theme music begins to play. But my thoughts go dark, and I mean that, it’s like they’re bulldozed by a powerful, dark storm cloud that’s rolling through my mind with the destructive force of a tornado. I don’t even look at the prompter. With a quick turn to camera one, I say, “Welcome back to Channel 57. Excuse me, for just a moment,” and returning my attention to Amy, I take a step towards her. Her eyes widen in shock. I ball my right hand into a fist, pull it back, and before I know what’s happening, my fist is plunging itself- knuckles first- into Amy’s nose. She screams and backs away from me, holding her nose. I hear both my director and my producer yelling at me via my tiny earpiece. Yanking the device from my left ear, I start towards Amy without even really seeing her. All I know is I’m pulling her hair and get a fistful of weave in my hand. In seconds, my wig is wrenched off from head and Amy is shoving me. I trip backwards and fall, landing hard on my butt. Bianca stoops beside me, quietly saying, “Please stay down, Ms. Lola. Don’t do anything. Just stay down here.” The director, producer, and several other crew members whose names I can’t recall, rush into the room and grab Amy just as she lunges for me. “Stop, Amy!” Our producer yells. “But she started it!” Amy points to me, aghast and looking ridiculous with her bleeding nose and lopsided weave. But as I realize that Amy’s disheveled and bleeding because of me, the humor in seeing her look so awful isn’t quite as humorous. In fact, the mental storm cloud that temporarily took over my thoughts is beginning to fade and I’m starting to realize what I’ve done. “Here, let’s get you up,” Bianca gently says. She hands me my wig and then helps me to my feet. I situate the wig over my thin locks of dark hair, embarrassed as everyone glances at me before quickly looking away. Kevin Morale, our news director, bursts into the studio. “What just happened?” he shouts. “She punched me in the nose,” Amy shouts pointing to me, “while we were on air!” I hang my head in shame. “Lola,” Kevin barks, “you’re fired. Don’t even unpack your desk. Just leave. We’ll mail you your things. Amy, my office. Now.” With this, my boss… well, my former boss, leaves the room with Amy flouncing off behind him. Her nosebleed leaves a trail of blood stains on the studio floor. The producer, director, and other crew members step in the blood, smearing it on the dirty tiled floor. “Are you alright, Lola?” Bianca asks. No. Definitely not. “Yeah, I’m fine,” I say, looking around the studio that I’ve spent countless hours in for the last five years. It’s been like a second home. Now, it’s my past. I take a deep breath, ashamed and yet… relieved. Why am I relieved? “If you want, you can wait in your car and I’ll get your things from your desk and bring them to you,” Bianca quietly says. She’s always been so kind, and I’ve always taken her for granted. “Thank you,” I say. “That’s very nice of you.” She smiles and gives my shoulder a quick pat. “No problem. I’ll see you outside.” She walks away, leaving me alone in the studio. I turn around, giving the place one last look. “Good riddance,” I whisper, offer the place a salute, and then walk to the exit, careful to avoid the bloodstains. The last thing I want is Amy Kurt’s DNA on the bottoms of my Louis Vuitton heels.