I’m the god of my office, King of my Cubicle, Knight of the Internet. I brush a cracker crumb off my tie.
Ramona enters my kingdom, and I melt as she strolls toward my philodendron. “Shall I water that?” she asks. “Poor thing looks thirsty.”
I shrug and she turns toward the door to traverse the length of the hallway to the Women’s Restroom to fetch a chalice of water. I watch her sublime retreating back. She flirted with me, and it was my turn to flirt back, but I froze. I should tell her a joke, stand up straight, impress her, push out my chest, clear my throat, and sing out her name–Ramona of the Fair Hair and Crystal Eyes. R-a-m-o-n-a.
But all I can get out is r-r-r, so I sound like a dog. A feeble, frantic dog, one of those kick-me dogs.
Mr. Bailey sees her with her coffee cup watering my plant. “Ms. Smith, you should do that on your own time. The customer service lines await you.”
“Ramona was just watering my plant.”
“I can see that.” Mr. Bailey folds his beefy arms over his chest in front of her pure delicacy.
“Our lines are quiet.” I point to the silent phones.
“It’s all right,” she says to me. “I’m sorry, Mr. Bailey. It won’t happen again.” She drops her eyes meekly and walks to her cubicle, where the phone suddenly rings. She has such magic.
This was not the job I supposed I would have while going to college, but Bailey’s Office Supply was what I found.
She does not look at me until her fifteen-minute break, and then she saunters over to my cubicle and pats the leaf of my philodendron. “May I break off the dry leaves?” Overhead, the fluorescent lights hum and sizzle.
My heart needs a rivet or it will fly away. I tighten my tie. I swallow hard. This woman I could gaze at forever. I nod vigorously and let out a strangled “Yes.”
She gives me a sideways glance and turns my philodendron around as she examines the plant, and with her long graceful fingers, grooms it. At the far end of the room, the sun streams through the tall window, but her smile, focused on the plant, gleams more brightly.
“It’s beautiful,” I say, “what you’ve done.”
“Easy,” she says. The light from her eyes could power the city.
I pick up the trash can and lift it toward her shining hand, which holds the wilted leaves. I wish the trash can were a weighty gold casque. Exquisitely she brushes her fingers clean of the detritus and smiles up at me, expectant. I am inspired and I respond, “Let’s have a soda after work.”
“I’m thirsty too,” she says. She brushes a piece of lint off my jacket sleeve. She shakes her head and smiles as if she were a wise old sorceress.
published 6 February 2013