Could Have Been

In the morning, when she first peaked out of her eyelids, she thought it would be a good day. When her eyes would only open a tiny bit wider, the heavy weight on her chest grew heavier and heavier and she remembered. Oh, yes. I’m in hell.

Without looking, without getting up, without trying to move at all, she recalled what had happened. Why she was here. Her wrists were sore from hours in restraints. Her veins felt tingly from the new medications coursing through her body. Her brain felt fuzzy and completely sharp at the same time. She felt like she could fight her way out of the room and the building. She didn’t move.

She closed her eyes. A car wreck. Broken ribs. Fractured jaw. Smashed knee. Swollen face. Everything hurt. She remembered the turn. The slick road. Checking her speed. The split decision to use the rain to slide off into the trees and creek. She thought she had been going fast enough. She thought she had been high enough. She thought she would hit a tree with enough force. But, she hadn’t. Being busted up from head to toe was bad enough, but the fact that she was still alive burned like fire.

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Look at Me

I love him. Totally one hundred and ten percent love him.

I watch him place his laptop on his desk and stare at how his hair in front swooshes down and half covers his face. He pushes it back with his left hand, then brings his arm back to the desk in a continuous and smooth movement. His medium blue with tiny, slightly darker blue pin stripes, button-up dress shirt is a little tight across his chest, but in a really good way. Just look at the way the collar brushes against his neck. His neck is tone and tan.

Oh, crap. He just looked at me. Did he know I was staring? Can he tell how much I love him? He probably can. No, he can’t. He was probably looking at the wall behind me with the whiteboard on it. He was just checking everyone’s stats. It wasn’t me at all. I hope. How embarrassing.

But, I hope he really was looking at me because that would mean he knows I exist. We sit here everyday about 20 feet away from each other and he’s never said more than an offhand hello to me. I bet he doesn’t even know my name.

What a stuck up jerk. I can’t believe I thought I liked him. He doesn’t even have the courtesy to say a real hello in five months? He must think he’s all that, all right. He practically parades himself around the office. Oh, look at me! Look at me! I’m so handsome! My shirt is so nice! Look at my perfect hair!

Whatever. Like I don’t have enough work around here to keep me busy for ages. Like I have time to just look at him. And notice how long his eyelashes are. Or wish I could run my fingers through his wavy hair. Or see how nicely round his bum is whenever he gets up to fill his coffee mug.

Oh, god, he’s so handsome. I wonder what he thinks about me. Or if he does think about me at all. I’ve been here for months. He’s had to have formed some opinion of me.

Arrrrrrrrrg. Back to work. Back to work. Concentrate. These data sheets aren’t going to fill themselves out.

Wait, did he just look at me? He looked at me. That was definitely not the board. It was me. I saw his eyes hit mine for at least two whole seconds, which is practically a lifetime in eye contact.

Oh man oh man. What do I do now? Do I go over there? Introduce myself? Wouldn’t that seem awfully weird after having been around each other so long? Maybe I can just act like we’ve already met. I know his name.

Oh. Back to his work. I see how it is. Can’t even acknowledge me. Won’t even give me a smile or a wave. Just back to his work like we didn’t even look at each other for ages and ages. He was practically making love to me with his eyes and now he’s just going to go back and pretend like it never happened.

What a jerk. A real jerk, that guy. I can’t believe I wore this skirt hoping he’d notice it. Or these earrings. Like I care what he thinks. He’d never appreciate the tiny and tasteful glitter I used with my eyeshadow just for him. Whatever. Like I care. Back to work. Wait. Did he just look at me?

Coffee #8

Parts #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6 and #7.

Paul felt Margot’s boot rub his leg under the table. He was sitting forward in his chair a bit so she could reach it easily from the other side. He smiled at her behind his beer when no one was watching. Margot smiled back. She had decided to stick with coffee so Paul could really celebrate if he wanted to.

Paul and Margot were sitting across from each other because when Margot had come back with some beers, the seats around Paul had been filled. The one on his left was taken by Monica, who was uncharacteristically quiet. Margot watched her glance up furtively to see Paul time and time again, every once in awhile looking up and fake-smiling at Margot.

After a few moments of trying to figure out what Monica was up to, Margot suddenly got it. And when she realized that Monica had the hugest of crushes on Paul, she actually snorted out loud. The thought that Paul would ever be with Monica was ludicrous. He could hardly stand her. At the sound of the snort, Monica quickly looked up and under Margot’s gaze, her face immediately turned red and she decided to concentrate on the rim of her martini instead of Margot. Continue reading Coffee #8

Coffee #7

Parts #1, #2, #3, #4, #5 and #6.

When the game ended, Margot cheered as loud as everyone else. They had won and it seemed like a perfect way to end the night. She couldn’t wait to give Paul a congratulatory kiss. She picked up her purse and pulled the top of her boots straight. They almost hit her knees and Margot wore them only when she wanted to look particularly sexy. Paul’s sweater looked pretty nice on her, if she did say so herself. The buttons were a little big for current fashion, but she hadn’t ever cared about that stuff. It felt great to be wearing it and for Margot, that’s all that mattered.

As Margot picked her way carefully down the risers, she felt someone grab her elbow.

“Margot!” said Monica, “It’s so nice to see you! You haven’t been to any of this year’s games, have you?” Monica had a way of dragging out the vowels in most of her words, making everything she said sound sarcastic to Margot.

Margot forced a smile. “Nope, I haven’t.”

“Well, you picked a great night to come. Of course, the season’s almost over, so….,” Monica let her voice trail off but looked pointedly at Margot. Continue reading Coffee #7

Coffee #6

Parts #1, #2, #3, #4 and #5.

The first thing Paul noticed when he got to the game was that Margot was there. He was almost afraid to blink his eyes in case he was imagining it, but No! there she was in the stands and smiling at him. The second thing he noticed is that she was wearing his old sweater.

He had just seen that sweater the other day in the crawl space when he went searching for his box. It took him a little time to find the box under some college text books. He knew it was there. He just couldn’t remember exactly where he’d stashed it. When he saw his sweater under Foundations of Dogmatics from his second year of Theology, he suddenly remembered he had wrapped the box inside it about five years ago when they moved out of the city.

For some reason, he had never shown his box to Margot. He wasn’t hiding it exactly, he just wasn’t bringing it out in the open. Until last week, when he wrapped the box back up in the sweater and stashed them on the top shelf of the bedroom closet. Maybe a step closer to sharing it with her? Maybe. But obviously, she must have seen it because she was wearing the sweater. Maybe her finding it that way was for the best. Continue reading Coffee #6

Coffee #5

Parts #1, #2, #3 and #4.

Paul had spent the past few hours in his chair with his feet propped up on the desk, arms folded and staring at the ceiling. Mark had come in once to use the copier and the shredder and another time to bring Paul a fresh cup of coffee.

Mark knew something was up. Paul could tell by how often he asked, How are things going, P? and What’s up buttercup?, but he just didn’t have the energy to try and play act everything as fine. Instead he grunted a fine and a good whenever one was needed.

The phone rang and Paul jumped, his foot knocking the mug of coffee to the floor. Cursing, he wiped what he could with a few tissues and answered the phone. It was one of his clients canceling a walk-through in the morning. He hardly cared. Continue reading Coffee #5

Coffee #4

Parts #1, #2 and #3.

Margot struggled a little with the lid. A dent along one side seemed to hold it in place. She jiggled it a little and used her fingernail to finally get it off. Inside was a jumble of papers, awards and old photos. Margot glanced through them quickly, then decided to take everything out and have a better look.

There were a few worn and faded award certificates for things like Most Improved and Great Attitude with smiley stickers along the sides from elementary school. There was a folded single sheet of paper which seemed to be a debate rebuttal against no off-campus lunches.

The corner of yellow paper stuck out near the bottom of the pile and Margot pulled it out and unfolded it. She recognized it. It was a flirty note she had written to Paul when they first started dating. It was a candy-gram and the missing masking tape where the candy had been pulled off left the paper super thin in spots. Continue reading Coffee #4

Coffee #3

Parts #1 and #2.

Paul sat down and pulled the lever on his chair to make it shorter. He hated it when Mark came in to use his office and messed with it. His scowl became a bit deeper. Yes, Mark didn’t have his own office and as a friend, Paul really didn’t mind if he used it, but couldn’t he put things back how they were before he left?

Paul pulled papers from the basket on his desk. He’d been gone no more than 40 minutes and the stack was already ten-plus high. The bottom had fallen out of the real estate market but the paperwork had doubled. Paul skimmed over them quickly and put them all in the outbox for his loan officer to deal with.

Paul had been in real estate for ten years and never had a bad year. Until this one. He was glad they’d saved so much of their income over the years. It helped him sleep better at night knowing that even if he had a month or two of no income, they’d be alright. Mark hadn’t been so lucky. He didn’t have as many years under his belt and he was never a good saver. He liked to have fun and spent his money accordingly. Paul was sure that was what had attracted his wife to him in the first place. He spoiled her from the moment they started dating two years ago. And now, Mark had no office and just a handful of clients, most of whom were lookers and not buyers. Mark didn’t have the security he had and Paul felt sorry for him. He let Mark use his office whenever he wasn’t there. That’s what friends did. Continue reading Coffee #3