Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Attenuation or Separation

She gave me about an hour to think about that earring, worn first day in what I assumed was a new job, then Fate shoved her chair back and rolled into my line of sight. "I'm already bored of the clicking over there. Do they have a coffee bar on the floor?"

"One floor down. It's a good walk when you need to think." I ignored her, but she rolled into the cubicle anyway. I had to scoot over while she looked at my photos and the art and glib comments taped under the shelves. I had scavenged in my roommate's cube before she left and some of those things were hers. Fate picked up one photo and looked at it for some time.

"You're leaving them in the light to fade." She showed me a photo, where a small oval in the corner was white. A faded aureole crept outward from it, a permanent sun fuzz across my friends and I. She moved it back into the corner, bringing forward a photo that I didn't recognize.

"Let this one pick up some of the light. He won't notice much difference." It was picture of a blonde friend of mine from college. I'd never taken or seen this picture, so I assumed I'd swept it in the box along with the rest of the desk stuff I'd been planning to send back. Why would I have kept this? His white-blonde hair and white shirt against a white wall, the droop of his head and his smirk...it was a New Wave picture that must have been taken in high school. Before we ever knew of him, among friends we'd never shared him with. Had we taken as good care of him as they had? Was he back among them now or among yet another set of friends, camped in a cube and being dilligent...not smart, no longer cool? She was right, better this fade before he had a chance to compare then and now.

I shuddered against the chill of the vent above me. Working at this angle could be like running a low grade fever for days on end. Fate stood and shoved her chair out of the narrow space beside me. "Did I say something? Would you prefer that I not touch your things? Some people are funny that way. Let's go get coffee and forget about it. You can tell me how looking at the flowers downstairs gets you in so deep that you get saddled with me."

Friday, May 9, 2008


I work with my back to a clear glass wall while another window looms over the edge of the felt wall to my left. Up above the garden, as if heaven itself were just an empty attic over the sky. Despite the back of beyond location, I was scarcely an invisible denizen of the divine beauracracy. Since I'd lingered earlier in front of the garden, a rumor had slipped from lip to ear that I was in a contravening mood. They knew, because my former roommate had warned them, that I was quiet and shy. Did I follow the rules or eventually ignore them? My boss stopped by to check on me as I logged in, and glanced at her own watch. The screen loads slowly and the few allowed icons (and the company logo background) are designed to be all the flashier for being the only ones given to us.

What I wanted was to think about first loves, the ones Mom used to talk about. The way that you could fall in love whenver and wherever, provided you were either entirely present or looking over the boundary into fairyland. She claimed it had happened to her at 5, although not with my dad. Dad called fairyland a warzone of competitive reproduction, when he deigned to participate in tale telling. He was gone more and more as I grew up, and I assume that he and Uncle Silver are gone right now. My boss, on the other hand, stands behind me and watches the screen load.

She doesn't know that I am afraid of the empty ends of buildings for no reason that I can name and that while I find spiders fascinating, roses fill me with dread. Nor does she know about the pub. "We're moving another admin into the next cube over. She'll be here after the paperwork is done. Will you have time to show her around?" The admin arrives before my boss finishes speaking.

As she greets my boss, I notice that her left earing catches the light as if catching fire. Hanging from her ear is a devil in red and orange glitter. My boss greets her and then suffers a correction.

"It's Fate, not Faith. Most people make that mistake, it's an unusual name. Nice to meet you." She swings her hand over to me and we shake.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Each Blooms Your Name

Although she left some time ago, my roommate, through whom I found this job, remains a green and growing memory, particularly on mornings such as this. She was white-blonde when I met her and morning light slanting down picked up those flat, bright highlights in her hair. She would take her coffee to the transparent wall by the flower beds and linger, drinking the small cup. It looked five seconds of coffee, but she took it in tiny, bitter sips. She seemed to greet everyone and they gave her leave to remain by the glass because it made work feel like something lingering from the weekend rather than the full stop to Sunday night. She faced outward, unlike me.

Why I think of her, facing this fabulous garden stuck between walls of glass, swirls around me like the dust. She was brave, she left for love, and she left me here, trying to carve a career in her wake, like a clumsy skier behind a motorboat. Before she left, one of the gardners gave her one of these tender perennials at the change of the season and she,seeing my avid interest, passed it on to me. She would have killed it, the way she did the rest. The live plants on the sill were all generously attributed to me back in the dorm.

That plant still leans against my window. Dreaming, perhaps, of its days as a model of its species behind the big glass panes. It has spread across the sill and gone to seed in the window, which I leave open as often as I can to let the bugs flit around. My mother would be happy to see it. She told me once that I would know my path because each flower that lined it would bloom my name.

Suddenly, I was resolved to bring a boquet to the dinner tonight of things that could be gathered from the yards and sidewalks around my apartment. The first flowers that I ever gathered, the ones at the back of the schoolyard during recess while I dreamed of being woken up from glass coffins. One of the managers walked by and frowned at my shoulder, stepping up close to make sure that I wasn't examing a problem. "Perfect view for the clients," he murmured, "Provided they can see the entire sweep, like the architect intended."

Back to the glass walls I go, to think on nothing.