Coffee and rose incense drifted through the small meeting room, breaking through the lingering Lysol scent. A ring of cushioned chairs sat positioned in the middle of the room, waiting for today’s participants. Sam stood off to the side, coffee mug tightly in hand as he observed the rest of the room. He wasn’t sure what he was looking for, but he couldn’t help but scan the room several times, shooting glances at the clock. The meeting was to start at five o’clock, and it was ten to.
Glancing at the other attendees once more, Sam slid into a seat, cupping his mug between both hands. A few others followed suit as an older woman entered the room, beaming at everyone there.
“Welcome! I’m glad you could all make it today!” She stopped before the room, hands clasped before her. Long dark hair hung in thick curls around her shoulders, and an amiable smile graced her face. “My name’s Marianne Watson, I’m looking forward to making your acquaintances shortly! But first, I would like to introduce you all to your mentors.”
Tucking hair behind her ear, Marianne gestured to seven people as they rose as one. “Please join me in welcoming the Seven Sins: Pride, Greed, Wrath, Envy, Lust, Gluttony, and Sloth.”
Sam scrutinized the seven before the room. They didn’t look like the deadly sins of history; they were just…people. Ordinary, normal-looking humans. No horns, no swarm of flies, no notched tails. Each of them waved to the crowd as their names were mentioned, and then they reseated themselves, Marianne beaming at them.
“Now, let’s go around the circle and introduce yourselves. Let’s start with you, sir!”
Marianne turned to Sam, who blanched, his throat suddenly parched. Taking a drink of his coffee, he coughed and glanced around the room nervously, before speaking to his shoes.
“My name’s Sam, Sam Barnes. I, uh, ahem, I’ve been at my job for about six or seven years. Not married, no kids, uh…” he glanced up at Marianne, who was still smiling at him. “That’s…that’s about it.”
She moved on to the next person, while Sam tried to keep track of everyone there. When the intros came back around to the Sins, Marianne stood once more, a clipboard in hand.
“I will pass this around. I want all of you to think of one thing you could learn from each Sin, and your availability. We will set up one-on-one meetings with the Sins to help analyze your needs. Don’t worry,” she added, seeing Sam and a few others blank, “this will be entirely at your pace.”
The board came to Sam first, and he hurriedly scribbled down what he thought would be useful. Don’t know until you try, he thought to himself. The room seemed to relax further once the board made its way back to Marianne, who handed it to Pride.
“When will we hear back…?”
“A day or two, at most.”
It was Pride who spoke up. They raised the clipboard slightly, a smile on their face. “Don’t worry, we don’t bite.” They glance at Marianne. “We’re good if you are.”
She nodded, checking the clock on the wall for the time. “We have a few minutes before the next group arrives, so right on time. All right, everyone!” The smile grew on Marianne’s face again. “Thank you for all coming today. Each Sin will be in contact with you as soon as possible! Have a wonderful rest of your day.”
And with that, the Sins rose as one, smiling at the group, before leaving single file, Marianne close behind. The attendees watched one another nervously for a moment before the scrapes of chairs and footsteps rose as one and followed the path of the Sins. Sam lingered, the last one in the room before the next group arrived. Intrigue and anxiety rolled through him as he eyed the seats the Sins had sat in. Just like that. Nothing magical or extraordinary. He felt off, somehow.
Shaking his head, Sam threw his backpack over his shoulder once more and headed home. All he had to do was wait for a phone call, that’s what Marianne said. So, that’s what he would do.