Thursday, November 18, 2010

Resignation

It is during Deborah's going away party that she realizes the young office attendant knows. She thought her 45 years of life gave her the advantage in effectively hiding her lascivious thoughts from him - Nathan being barely 23 - but it is clear that they did not. She's suddenly worried that the glass of champagne in her hand is one too many. Then again, he's the one who brought it to her.

Nathan's been Deborah's receptionist and assistant for the past 18 months, fresh from college and eager to start a corporate career. Her last assistant, Samantha, left to take a middle-management position at a competing firm. She had Samantha for nearly six years and, admittedly, was afraid to even look for new assistant. Hell, her retirement from the company was only a year-and-a-half away, and consideration was given to finishing out her time without an assistant at all. Her boss, Wayne, an over-eager divorcee who flirts a little too heavily with her, would hear none of it. In fact, Wayne's the one who hired Nathan as some weird gesture of eye candy that Wayne was hoping would result in some office sex.

He was wrong about the office sex. Deborah couldn't imagine sleeping with Wayne were he the last man on Earth. But he was right about the eye candy. Nathan was gorgeous, and not just in that youthful way. Everything from his cheekbones to his skin tone, his hair style to his lean musculature. Everything was just the way she likes it. The way she's liked it since she was a teenager.

And now he's sitting on an office table decorated with "Congrats, Debbie!" Handing her champagne. Leaning into her.  Whispering rumors of other employees. Casting surreptitious glances down her cleavage. He's a little drunk, she knows - Hell, so is she - but seems to be genuinely enjoying himself. She should be grateful for the attention, but it's scaring her. Why can't he go mingle with the young admin girls?

She must have asked aloud.

"Because, Deborah," he states, his voice not absent a slur, "it's your fucking party."

He notices her champagne glass, not-quite-but-almost empty, and runs off to fetch another. Out of reflex she stares at his ass walking away. She's going to miss that ass. He's smiling as he returns with two full bottles. She's going to miss that smile.

"Your eyes give you away, you know." He moves in a little too close when he refills her glass.

"Pardon?" She holds still as he pours.

"They're very wanting." His free hand brushes her between her thighs, thumb to mons pubis and fingers between cheek. She spills champagne. But that's not what he felt was wet.

She gets up, pushing him aside. "Nathan..." She rushes to the restroom

"Shit, I'm sorry. Kinda clumsy." It's as rehearsed a statement as there's ever been.

***

Deborah was always one to get to know her co-workers. She once worked at a firm where no one spent any time together outside of the office - or even seemed to want to - and it drove her crazy. She could certainly understand any reluctance to go out on weekends or enjoy private dinners - they all had lives to live, after all - but none even bothered to share lunch. It was an alien concept to her and one she actively avoided when she acquired her job here. She wasn't sure anyone at her previous employer even knew she previously married - or even had three daughters - but everyone at her current employer certainly did. She could barely remember the last time she had lunch without at least one co-worker present.

Their relationship started innocuously enough.

"Nathan, would you like to join us for lunch?" Deborah was already on her way out, two ladies from the marketing department standing behind her. She was, admittedly, hoping that he would decline.

"No, thanks. I'm just gonna grab something from the kitchen."

She's not sure why, since she was happy with the response, but something about him - probably the smile - elicited a push. "I'm buying. And I'll probably never offer that again." She can't quite remember, but she has the feeling that she winked at him.

"In that case. Sold."

The two chatted at work and quite often. But in the open air of an alfresco cafe, he was in a different element. Not only did he charm her two marketing friends, she found herself completely taken in by the stories he regaled. He wasn't even 22 years old and she felt envious of his life. A traveler by whim and whimsy, finishing his degree primarily via exchange programs and semesters-at-sea, even a two-year stint in the Coast Guard that began four days after his 17th birthday and ended only due to a sudden onset of asthma that mysteriously disappeared upon his discharge. An awareness that the world was his in that subjective, liberating way that the world could be anybody's. Though she took little, if any, credit for it, she had seen that attitude blossom in one of her daughters. It instilled in her an overwhelming sense of pride. Here, it instilled in her an overwhelming sense of something else.

Within weeks she found herself inviting only Nathan out to lunch. She was remarkably diplomatic and conniving, and none of her previous lunch mates paid too much heed to their exclusion. Occasional gossip quickly dispelled by an incredulous expression or a purposefully-designed joke. She loved hearing about his trials and tribulations on the social front. He took everything to heart but nothing too seriously and this demeanor elicited her openness in return. Within months she was convinced he knew more about her than anyone else. Even her children.

One day, while watching him file paperwork and flirt with an admin girl, he caught her staring at him and smiled at her. She barely noticed, lost in daydream as she was. It wasn't until he started waving slowly that she snapped out of it.

***

She's splashed her face with water. Peed. Splashed her face with more water. Washed her hands. Twice. Three times. Peed again. It's only a matter of time before someone starts wondering where she's gone to. Or what she's doing in the bathroom. There's a temptation to do something else, but she's a lady and will not consider it. Still...

She's terrified of leaving this room.

It's a fear that keeps her there until long after her party is over. And long after everyone's gone home.

***

Almost everyone.

***

She opens the door slowly, unsure of when the custodians show up. Satisfied that she's alone in the building, she makes her way in the relative darkness to her office. It's unlocked, thankfully, since her keys are in her purse, which is in its usual place in her desk. Her cellphone has nearly three dozen missed calls and over a dozen new voicemails, a dozen text messages. She finds it sweet that everyone was looking for her. Or pretending to, at least.

The light knocking startles her.

"Where were you hiding?" Nathan's smiling his usual smile. He seems to have sobered up, but his collared shirt is half-way unbuttoned, his hair's a mess, and he seems to have misplaced his shoes.

"Oh, you know. Parties bore me a little, especially when they're mine." Deborah tries very hard to force a natural smile. A friendly gesture that she hopes will very quickly lead to a gratuitous goodbye.

He approaches her slowly and she suddenly regrets making eye contact. He'd mentioned her eyes earlier. Were they really that obvious? He doesn't even ask a question and she finds herself confessing.

"Okay, Nathan, okay. I admit I've ogled you a bit. Fantasized about you some. I'm a single woman who hasn't had sex in 20 years. It's what I do. I'm sorry."

"Don't say you're sorry. I'm not stupid. I've noticed," he says, removing his shirt. "You're fabulous. I want to do this."

Ordinarily, such a statement would render her speechless, but it has the opposite effect. Particularly as he finishes removing the rest of his clothing. "You don't. You're going to regret it. I have daughters your age, for fuck's sake. Let's go home. Oh... you don't want to do this."

"Shut up." His tone is commandingly stern, yet, somehow, pleadingly gentle. "Take your pants off."

She's shaking uncontrollably, but manages to obey. In the dark he hears her belt jingle to the floor and he fumbles for her. He slips himself into her and her inhibitions disappear.

13 comments:

  1. Um ... okay ... all seems so ... simple ...

    Nice pacing ... or something! Something nice in this one ...

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  2. Took me a few seconds to find this ... but SO worth the search. It's 3am, I can't sleep and this is just what I needed!

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  3. Oh really? I just came home from an office party . . .

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  4. The politics of the office world, ....That's your take on the 'shaft' 10thdom? I'll wait there's probably more, yes? -J

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  5. I really like how in a few short lines I really know the character of Deborah. If you write more I wonder if we'll hear more about Nathan or is he just a catalyst for pushing Deborah into the next phase...

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  6. I'm not sure how to response to this one? Reminds me in reverse,the movie "The Graduate" Which by-the-way in 1996, The Graduate was selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". It ranked as the seventh greatest film of all time on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies.

    So Jeff, you can develop this one into something more? or less? depending on how much effort you want to put into developing a story line.

    joanny

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  7. well fat lot of good this did me sitting at home alone...smiles.

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  8. Had to *smile* at Brian's use of the word 'fat' ...

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  9. you know writers are prone to a bit of exaggeration right julie...smiles.

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