"YOU MUST REMEMBER," she said, "that I know your inmost thoughts. They don't bother me at all, so there's no need to be embarrassed."
Fred nodded, embarrassed.
"Do you think you can handle this persona? We can go back if you choose, but I would prefer to be more myself with you."
Fred very much wanted to go back to the man in the business suit, but he was deeply afraid to offend her.
"No," he smiled, "This is fine."
She gave him an appraising look.
"Are you sure?"
She frowned, then nodded.
"Very well. So—to the business at hand."
She glanced at her laptop, tapped on the keyboard, and made a little "tsk-tsk" sound under her breath.
"I'm afraid it's as I suspected. I have to say, Fred, I am a bit disappointed."
Fred leaned forward, alarmed.
"I meant to donate more, you know. But there was my family to consider..."
"I'm not talking about that."
"I was a Presbyterian, I know, but..."
"Nothing wrong with that. I'm a Presbyterian myself."
"I was a deacon, and an elder..."
"It's not anything you did, Fred, it's what you didn't do."
"I can't imagine... I did everything that was expected of me... I sacrificed. I spent endless hours on committees—do you know what it's like to sit on a Presbyterian committee?"
"Actually, no. I've never been allowed on one."
"I always tried my best to meet everyone's expectations..."
"I did everything anyone ever expected me to do, followed every single rule..."
"Except what I expected you to do, Fred. What I sent you there to do."
"But I don't understand. What more could you expect?"
"I sent you to Earth with just one job, Fred. All those other things are fine, but anyone could have done them."
She smiled, a little sadly.
"There was only one thing that I wanted you to do during your lifetime, Fred. One thing that no one else in the world could do. And your whole life long, you never did it."
"I sent you there to be Fred."
She shook her head, sadly.
"And you never were. You never were."