Quote of the Day, Love: Oscar Wilde

To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.

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Monday, May 9, 2011

Disaster from a Distance Part III


In the last chapter, the narrator suspected something odd was going on between her two co-workers Matt and Theresa. Was she right? Read Disaster From a Distance Part III to find out . . .

            That winter, the flu made its hacking viscous way through the office and entire departments were decimated for a few weeks. Theresa never missed a work day and the day after their department came back, she and Matt were conspicuously absent. When they returned to work the next day, they both looked rosy and giddy.
After Christmas break, I noticed a change in the way Theresa addressed him. Instead of just being friendly, (if a bit flirty,) she looked at him as if she could devour every muscle. It wasn't just her, when they spoke to each other during the ten minute coffee break, they would both glance around the room, conspirators in some scheme .  During lunch, she leaned over him, her ample bosom nearly in his face as she giggled. How she was able to lean, twirl her hair, bite her lip, giggle and keep her balance was a mystery.. As he got up to empty his tray, he picked up a napkin and looked at it for a few seconds before turning around to grin at her. I noticed that her gaze followed him, (well, his behind really.) Not a woman to succumb to flighty emotions, I had never seen her blush. That changed.
               In January, departments volunteered to make presentations. The prep work for the presentations was tedious and time consuming. Most of us just wanted the whole thing to be over with. Even if a work partner was a friend, there was an unspoken rule that work was not to be taken home and neither was a work partner. As I filled in my name, I noticed that the sign-up sheet was still fairly blank. As I signed my name and hoped that I would be paired with someone of reasonable intelligence and character, I noticed one slot already filled. There, in her  bubbly rounded script were both of their names.  She had not left the pairing to chance then.They would have to spend time together now.As they walked in together, Theresa talked to Matt about his lawn care problems and exchanged recipes.
"that chicken curry was good. I bet your boys liked it too."
He responded, "Good thing I didn't tell Patty that you made it right? " and then laughed.
 Working late one evening that week, I walked out to my car, relieved to breathe fresh air instead of the stale and microwave popcorn-scented atmosphere of the office.  Except for the security van and one station wagon, my car was the only one in the lot. I pushed the unlock button and my car made a brief beep. Across the lot, I saw the station wagon’s lights suddenly flicker on and two figures bolted upright. One was sturdy, dark haired and tall, the other slender and blond, with his hair sticking out at crazy angles. I willed myself to become invisible out of embarrassment, and I still don’t know if they saw me.
Later that week, the presentations commenced and the office staff sat back and watched as others gave their endless Power Points.Everyone tried to avoid being dull, but it was unavoidable.  Matt walked in the conference room polished with a perfectly pressed white shirt, gold watchband suit. This was a departure from his usual khaki pants and joke ties. Theresa followed suit and wore pink lip-gloss, and a low cut sheath dress and fitted jacket. Her high heels clicked as she walked in and her usually lank hair bounced with hot roller curls.Gone were  her trademark glasses, cross jewelry, and disdainful expression. She looked pretty.  As she walked in, Matt’s face changed visibly. It was as though he suddenly noticed that she was a woman rather than just a co-worker. Still, I had never seen any two people as engrossed in the perplexities of data filing as Matt and Theresa seemed to be. The enthusiasm was rare for her, and as she spoke, she seemed almost giddy. She beamed at him and  twiredl her hair around her forefinger.
Theresa started the presentation by saying, “This project is our baby. We’ve put so much work into this I hope you all like it.” This attitude presented a real departure from her usual presentations which were professional if a bit dry and she usually didn’t care what anyone except the boss thought about her work.
     What followed can only be described as PG foreplay. As Theresa clicked the Power Point slides, Matt, usually a quiet man, gave the lecture. Occasionally, they would interrupt each other followed by,
“You go,” she said brushing his shoulder with her finger.
“No you go,” as he looked at her bust.
“No you,” followed by a playful tap on the arm and giggle.
When they finally finished, they looked about ready to jump each other  Instead, they asked for questions. Jenn, a petite blond, mother of three from accounting raised her hand,
“Matt, what do you think the projected risk will be for this idea?”
Before Matt could respond, Theresa shot Jenn a look of pure vitriol,
“There is no risk here. It is a perfectly safe and well-thought out plan. What do you mean by risk?” She hissed, her usual wall of control broken down  like a thin cardboard box.
“Umm,” Jenn replied, utterly perplexed.
“What Theresa is saying is that it is not any more risky than anything else,” Matt replied as he walked over to Theresa and lightly set his hand on your shoulder.     
Theresa melted under his touch. The room was warm and stuffy the  sleepy crowd was simultaneously alert and confused. The air was warm and filled with unfulfilled longing and people began to squirm like kindergartners before recess.
I glanced at Denise, the only other person with whom I had aired my suspicions. She raised her eyebrows subtly. It was not just my imagination then; something illicit was happening. Whether or not Matt and Theresa admitted it to themselves at that point was up for debate.                                                                   
         Later that week, the perennial ice and snow storm hit the Seattle area. The snow came down heavily and people left work early to avoid getting stuck or stranded in the office. I could see people hurrying out the door, each in a mild state of panic.They talked about getting their kids home safely and snow tires. Theresa and Matt, however were both at their respective desks. As I had no kids and lived fairly close to the office, I volunteered to stay for an extra hour. As I filed, I heard someone walk up behind me; it was Theresa and a few feet behind her, I saw Matt looking nervously around.
"Why don't you head on home Maryanne," she saidi with an oddly friendly tone. She had spoken to me exactly two times in four years and honestly, I didn't think she even knew my name.
"That's ok, " I answered, "I can walk home if I need to."
Her mouth tensed for a second into a grimace and went back to work.I heard the two of them whispering and a few minutes later Matt approached me."Hey, it's getting pretty late and I wouldn't feel right keeping you here."
I decided to test a theory I was contemplating and responded,"Matt, why don't you head home, I'm sure your  boys and wife want to see you."
He sighed and I noticed a palpable tension building in the room. I wondered just how far they were willing to stretch the limits of propriety in order to be alone together. The radio announced power outages and I finally pulled on my snow boots and wrapped a scarf around my neck.
I heard them both sigh in relief as they responded in a forced casualness.
"Ok then, thanks, seeyou later, be safe."
When I got to the parking lot, I looked up at the office window.  All I could see were a tangle of legs and arms.The next day, I am pretty sure they both were still wearing the same clothes from the day before and a guilty look of satisfaction. Theresa traipsed around the office, humming  to herself, pausing only to smile. Matt left during lunch and came back wearing another shirt.
After that, I noticed Theresa returned to her usual gray trousers and white button up shirt. Her hair was still lank and her glasses were back They ate lunch apart and I never saw them talk at work. It seemed that the whole thing was either my imagination or that it had come to an abrupt halt. 
 I was wrong, on both counts.


Anonymous said...

Oh oh! Thanks for finally writing more on this story. It is funny and again, really sad at the same time. How many more chapters do you have?

Anonymous said...

Work place romances don't ever work out well. Especially if one of the parties is married. Bad news bears all the way K.
Keep writing more, I'm intriuged now.

Katie said...

Hi anon,
I haven't written the rest of the chpaters yet, but I think there will be at least 5 more. It depends on what plot turns I want to make. How do you like the new graphic?