I planned on skipping today’s prompt, but changed my mind. The prompt said to use these words in a story: ink, previously, work, breeze, seven, run, delicious, example, spontaneous, barb. I managed to work in all ten words! It will probably come across as forced, but at least it’s written.
Thanks for reading.
Barbara Squire bolted out of the elevator and ran straight into her boss, Jerry McGabe. They both stumbled sideways, but Jerry stumbled right over into Pam Heathcote, head of HR, who was carrying a tray of both ham and veggie sandwiches.
The sandwiches flew. A piece of ham landed on Jerry’s shoe. Mayonnaise speckled the wall.
“How many times, Ms. Squire,” Jerry said, shaking his foot until the ham flipped off onto the carpet, “have I told you not to run in the office? A hundred?”
She winced. “Seven, sir. The first time was that right after the incident with the printer ink. The second time was when the Japanese delegation came for that tour…you remember that, don’t you Pam? The third time was—”
“Barb!” Pam hissed and shook her head.
Barb snapped her mouth closed and warily glanced at her boss. “Sorry.”
“You are at work, Ms. Squire, not the playground,” he said. “I believe I have said this to you previously, have I not?”
Barb nodded. Then after a weak smile in Pam’s direction, she knelt down to pick up the sandwich remains. Pam knelt beside her and turned over the tray, which revealed a dozen sandwiches smashed into the carpet. Pam sighed. “I made every one of these myself.”
Barb dropped mayonnaise-coated cheese slices onto the tray along with eagles slices of tomatoes. “I bet they were delicious, Pam. I bet they were the most delicious sandwiches ever,” Barb said, looking around for something to wipe her fingers with. She settled on her slacks.
“Please stand up, Ms. Squire.” Jerry McGabe was rocking back and forth on his heals. Mayonnaise streaked the shiny black of his shoe.
Barb almost argued. She almost insisted on how she needed to clean up her own mess. But she thought the better of it and stood. “I am sorry, sir.”
“I’d fire you if I could, but I can’t. What I can do is send you to your office. Don’t come to the meeting. Don’t run. And don’t cross paths with me again for at least a week. Understood?”
“Yes, sir! As soon as I clean up this mess, I’ll—”
“No! Straight to your office! Pam will call housekeeping and they’ll take care of it. I want you in your office now. Out of my sight.”
“I’ll just feel bad if someone else has to clean this up, sir.” Barb turned to Pam for support, but Pam was now standing and staring off down the hall. Tyrone Fellerson was leaning out into the hallway from the conference room door. When they looked down at him, he pulled himself back and disappeared from view.
“Let me show an example of how I feel.” Jerry pointed to a parsley garnish that clung to the hem of Pam’s skirt. “I’m barely holding on to where God knows I shouldn’t even have to be. No. Don’t say anything. You know, at first, I thought your…um, spontaneous personality would be good for this office. However…” He grumbled and threw his hands up in the air. “It doesn’t matter. Just go!”
And with a lingering look at the devastated sandwiches, Barb said nothing else. She forced herself to keep her mouth shut and she headed to her office.
In her office, Barb sat quietly, contemplating her job and her life. She needed a change. Offices didn’t agree with her. She needed open spaces. She needed to work with people who were fun. Her phone rang. She ignored it.
Stupid offices. She got up and went over to the window. In her six months working at her parents company, she’d never tried to open the window. She’d brought a plant, and small terra cotta pot with purple violets and placed it on the windowsill in hopes of bringing more life into the place. But no blooms showed themselves. Were the leaves supposed to look like that? “You,” she said to the washed out African violet, “like me, need real air.”
Barbara undid the window latch, surprised at how easily it opened. She smiled for the first time in days, maybe even weeks, she realized. A warm breeze came in immediately, rattling a few papers on her desk. Joy! She took a deep breath. She leaned out to feel the sun on her face, and her arm knocked against the terra cotta pot. It spun, tilted, and plunged over the side. There was a crash and a shout.
She slammed the window shut and turned off her office light. She sat in her office chair, her legs pulled up and her arms wrapped around her knees. She stayed like that for a long time, silent and hungry. “Sorry, little violet,” she whispered up at the ceiling of her dim, empty office. “I really am.”