She arrived for work a half hour before the bank closed, as usual, but she was nervous. Friday they had told her that she might have to leave. She didn't want to. Cleaning the bank was easy, and it was air-conditioned, and the people there dressed nice and smiled. And after they locked the doors, the tellers relaxed and talked and laughed while they counted the money. She liked that. It was nicer here than where she lived, even. All weekend she had worried about having to leave the bank: Had she done something wrong? If she did better could she stay? Thinking like that made her nervous.

But she knew how to act normal. They'd put her in the nuthouse because she was so nervous—only they called it "psychiatric hospital." Then she'd learned how to act normal: Not-nervous. So they let her out of the nuthouse and gave her a room in a regular house, where some other not-nervous women were living too. They also gave her a job cleaning the bank. There she was glad she could act normal, because it was a nice place.

The bank was called Sovereign Bank. She didn't know what that meant so she'd asked someone, and was told that sovereign meant king. The bank sign had lots of gold on it. One big, gold eye with gold lines coming from it like sun beams, and "Sovereign Bank" in gold too. Gold like a king.

That had made her curious. If this was a king's bank, she wondered who the king was. Probably not a real king—this was America—but it had to be someone very important, to be in charge of a big bank like this. The tellers were the easiest to talk to, but she already knew they weren't in charge. Their boss was Mr. Murphy. He had an office for himself, with a shiny sign that said his name and "Branch Operations." She picked up the trash from his office every day. There were more offices too, upstairs, but she didn't work up there. So she'd decided to ask Mr. Murphy.

"Well, there's the president of this branch—Ms. Kennedy—but then there's lots of branches, with regional administration over them. Overall, the highest position is the CEO, who's also the chairman of the board of directors. The board runs the bank. But of course they routinely have to answer to the Audit Committee, which acts on behalf of the bank shareholders. Ultimately, the board has to make the shareholders happy—and the customers, of course. The bank's here to serve the customers. It's their money, after all. Without customers there wouldn't be much of a bank, now, would there?" Mr. Murphy laughed. "So who's in charge? Good question! With an institution this big, it's hard to say. Sometimes it's like it has a life of its own, and we're all just trying to hold on." He laughed again, grabbing his briefcase on the way out the door.

She had a hard time making sense of all that. The CEO seemed most like a king, but Mr. Murphy had made it sound like the customers were in charge, since it was their money after all. But she had seen the customers and it didn't seem like they were in charge. Sometimes they looked sad or angry and no one seemed to pay much attention to that. And some looked nervous. Usually those were asking where the loan office was. But mostly they were just normal, not-nervous, working people like her—she had even thought of getting a bank account herself. Then she would be a customer. But she didn't think that would mean she was in charge.

Most of the tellers and office workers were gone now. Only a few cleaning people left. And the security guards, who stayed all night. She got out the vacuum cleaner.

What had Mr. Murphy said about "a life of its own"? The bank had a life of its own? What did he mean by that? She wasn't sure. But it made her think of something she'd seen her first day here.

It was a video for new employees. The last part of the video was called "Team Spirit." Everyone in the video was smiling during that part, she'd noticed, but seeing "team spirit" again made her feel a little nervous. She remembered the "team spirit" rallies they used to have in her high school, every Friday afternoon. Those had made her very nervous. She hadn't known what the team spirit was—except that it caused the kids to go crazy on Fridays. She'd wondered if it could be what made some of the athletes and cheerleaders so mean. Now she wondered if "the life of its own" was the team spirit. Here.

This stopped her in the middle of the long carpet, her skin crawling. She glanced nervously around the large, empty lobby. All by herself. Alone. Then she saw a security guard and he smiled and she felt a little better.

She finished the vacuuming, trying not to think about a spirit in the bank, trying to act normal. Now most of all she needed to act normal, if she wanted to keep working here. But did she? Of course she did. She didn't know if there was a spirit at all. Probably there wasn't. Even though it said that in the video and Mr. Murphy said "life of its own." No—this was a nice place. She liked working here. Especially the last part of her job, going around turning off all the lights. It was so cool and quiet and dark then. It always made her think of the church she went to as a child. Yes, nice. She didn't want to have to leave the bank. But what could she do to stay?

She switched off the lobby lights and it felt like church. She gazed at the carved pillars and polished stone floor. And the open, high-ceilinged lobby, where people gathered not just on Sunday but every day, and spoke softly and were polite. Respectful. Then suddenly she understood why.

The spirit. Who protected all their money. Who could give them what they needed. The spirit was the one in charge. The thought made the back of her neck tingle.

Then she turned around and there it was. Huge. The golden eye. Lit so it gleamed at her, with its beams shooting out in every direction. She stared at it from the shadows and couldn't move. Then, bathed in the golden glow, she knelt. And slowly her hands came up, palms pressed together, fingertips almost touching her chin. Her eyes on the eye.

Silence. Cool stillness. Then her whisper. "Sovereign?"

"Are you there?"

She waited, listening, her knees growing cold on the polished stone.

Then she heard a small creak. The golden eye seemed to tremble. Her breath stopped, her eyes growing wide.

Suddenly the light behind the eye flickered and went out, the eye itself tilted, and dropped. It hit the floor with a hollow crunch, sending little pieces of broken plastic into her lap.

For a moment she didn't move. Then she stumbled to her feet, glanced nervously towards the security guard to see if he had heard, and went to find a broom and dustpan.

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