Grimace Exposure

Knotted stomach. Silence. She sits there behind her laptop staring. He sits across from her long white table at a 4-person laminate but is facing the adjacent wall. A kind of crossfire.

Knotted stomach. He’s sitting on his chair but it doesn’t feel as though there’s any weight on it. Sitting but not really on the chair. Every press of the keyboard feels as though it’s being monitored, thought through; deliberate.

She’s now chatting to the people next to her. Laughing. They’re all laughing. He concentrates harder. Mousepad, click, mousepad, click.

“What’s funny? Would they be laughing if I got up and yelled it out? What would they say then? When should I get up and go to the coffee machine? That’s what I should do, I should get up. Maybe they’ll notice I stood. Maybe she’ll notice.

Damn. Didn’t really want this.”

Arms now tense. Only real movement from body is fingers tapping. Put one hand over mouth as to avoid grimace exposure. Stare at screen eyes slightly squinted. Silence from the other table. He smiles to himself. He glances over. Lightning. Her eyes are looking down at her screen. Mousepad, click, mousepad, click.

Suddenly she gets up and moves toward the door, mobile phone resting on her shoulder and held in place by her neck and cheek. Door opens. Closes.

“Now I can get up. Get the print.”

Alone. Sounds of paper and some kind of mechanical noise that only a printer makes. Safe? “What if she comes in?”

Knotted stomach. Back into room with trepidation. Sitting there again chatting and laughing.

“How can she not see? Seriously. How can someone’s certitude be that impervious? I mean, Christ!”

Move toward table. Left leg, right leg. Sit-but-not. Listen to chatter. Idle gossip and bad jokes. Her laughter sounds exaggerated. Good. Human after all? Silence again. One leaves another enters but goes across the room and out through another door. Long white table now only has one person sitting at it. The high wooden windows behind him cast a long shadow.

Knotted stomach.

Now or never. Laptop, bag, printouts, exit.

Breathe.

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