"I told you I was closed!" Cassandra yelled, irritated by the persistent knocking at her door.
For indeed, Cassandra was not conducting business that night. For several hours, she had been fighting against a headache and a fever. Honestly, she was thankful for the reprieve. Sick days were welcome, because they meant she would be unable to serve any customers until she felt well again.
The doorknob rattled, evidence that someone was trying to open Cassandra's locked door. Normally, the customers went away after realizing that Cassandra was unwilling to let them in, but this person in particular seemed more determined than usual.
Sighing, Cassandra threw open the door. "I told you - " she said, then stopped short when she saw Lizzie's Morris standing in the doorway. Running a feverish hand through her hair, she leaned against the doorway. "What are you doing here?" she asked, completely perplexed. "You know Lizzie's apartment is just a few doors down."
"I came to see you," Morris said, eyes pleading.
"You know I can't let you in," Cassandra said slowly. "I'm sick - and furthermore, Lizzie would be devastated."
Glancing nervously down the hallway, Morris shook his head. "I just want to talk," he whispered, voice breaking.
Heart twisting in concern, Cassandra stepped out to stand beside Morris, closing the door behind her. "People would gossip if they saw you in my apartment," she said. "I can't be out long - I feel rather miserable - but we can talk in the hallway, if you want."
"I can't say it in the hallway."
Slightly annoyed, Cassandra tried to shove aside the throbbing in her head. "Well, what do you want me to do, then?" she huffed.
Morris' eyes then filled with tears, something that brought no small degree of surprise to Cassandra. Shaking, he leaned against the wall and buried his face in his hands. It was several moments before Cassandra realized that the man was weeping - weeping, of all things!
"Morris, what's wrong?" Cassandra asked, suddenly less annoyed and more sympathetic.
"I have to talk to you, Cassandra," Morris said. "You're the only one who will understand."
"What is it?"