Signs

fiction about work

Short Story

 

What is that incessant tapping? I look down at my shaky hand and identify the culprit. Ugh. Do something else. I pick up my pen and begin to move it across my paper in symmetrical circles. At least it looks like I’m taking notes.

“Do you mind taking the lead on that, Karen?” My head jerks up as my face automatically plasters on a perma-grin. “Of course.”

“Great, thanks.” I can’t tell if the sound of Phillip’s voice is more grating than the fluorescent lights glaring in the conference room. Philip barely nods before he moves on to the next topic. Damn it. Not even a context clue as to what I just agreed to.

Keep pretending to write. Maybe I can ask Marcy later. She always seems nice. I look around the room. And definitely least likely to judge me. My swirls are now forming into a sleepy cat. Sigh. Even my subconscious knows my cat-lady fate is predetermined. A flash blinks in my peripheral vision.

Is that a text? That looks like a text. I strain my eyes to try and make out the sender’s name. Is that a J?! That’s definitely a J! I muffle a gasp as I uncross my legs to try and casually maneuver over another inch. The message notification disappears just as I make out an ET. Ugh. Just Janet.

17:20. This meeting can’t go any slower. I should really be using this time to visualize a better future. Put it out in the universe. I wish I could just get a sign. Is that too much to ask universe? Just a little nod that I matter? That it’s going to be ok?

I sense a pause in the conversation. Oh god. Did they ask me something again? I purse my eyebrows to show my intense concentration. No one is even looking. It’s just Denny popping into the conference room to offer us left over birthday cake.

Cake. Jake and I talked about cake. He likes it. I think vanilla. Jake and cake even rhyme. Thank you universe! I eye the cake with everyone else around the table pretending not to want any. If Jake and I are going to be an item, I should really try and diet.

I sadly watch as someone takes away the corner piece. Sweet Jane. That’s so nice they made her a cake. They even took the time to write her name in icing. My stomach drops and fills with butterflies. Sweet Jane. Sweet single Jane. Sweet 65 year old single lonely Jane that’s probably never been in love and this is the best part of her day! I look down at my doodles, which now look increasingly menacing. I should have bought Jane a present.

I slump back when I realize the meeting is over. Finally. I skip the chitchat and speed pack my belongings. I take in the fresh air. 17:58. Yes. It’s always a good night when I’m out by six. I should be more positive.

I watch as Debenhams’s puts its final touches on its Christmas window. Yes. More positive. I just need to enjoy the present. Mindfulness. The poster unrolls into a glittering message, “Believe.” I shake my head knowingly as I look up into the clouds. “Ok, ok I get it. Sorry for the doubt.”

I take my next step with a renewed confidence not realizing I’m already in the lane. The bright red of the bus sparkles magically as it thrashes into my body.

 

more by ANNA KOWALCZUK

photograph by lifeofpix.com

 

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  • LM

    Excellent piece from start to finish. This is a short story at its best!

  • Fully agree with what LM said. Beautiful!