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Something That Makes You Smile

12 May, 2012

I have been busy for the last few days, and the thoughts I have had for the daily subjects in the May Fiction Challenge have not been good enough to expand and publish. Does this mean I am failing and the challenge is beating me? I said on April 30th that I would not manage every day. Anyway, here is today’s entry. It’s not my best work, I don’t really do happy writing that makes you smile – even this has a large spoonful of pathos – but I’ve given it a go.

The door opens, she walks in, five minutes late. She strolls slowly across the open plan office, exchanging a greeting and a weather observation with each person she passes. Eventually, after stopping to remove the two coats she is wearing, she sits at her desk, the desk opposite his, and switches her computer on. “Wet out there again,” she says, her elbows on the desk and her chin on her palms as she waits for the PC to complete its start-up routine, “they say it will stay the same all week.” He hums a reply, trying his best to sound interested, to be polite. She taps at her keyboard, logging on, tutting and “oh no”-ing as she mistypes and re-enters her password.

“Do you think we’ll be busy today?” she asks him, the same daily question. “Too early to tell,” he replies routinely, “but yes. I expect so.” “I don’t know if I can stay on tonight,” she says with a sigh, “in fact I might have to rush off five minutes early.” He looks up from his desk to offer a raised eyebrow, a withering glare, but she is looking noisily in her desk drawer for a low-calorie instant chocolate drink. She finds one and stands.

“Will you join me in a drink?” she smiles, lifting her Take That mug aloft. “No,” he says, adding “because we’re busy, remember?” in his mind. She turns, heads off to the kitchen area to make her chocolate, offering drinks to those she passes, stopping to gossip with those she missed first time.

He clicks Save, takes a breath, stretches his aching shoulders. He looks to the framed picture of his family, him, his wife, their son. The three of them smiling as they squint into the sun behind the photographer.  The reason he suffers this daily routine, suppresses the urge to tell his colleagues what he thinks of them. His computer alerts him to a new mail, and he sees it is from his wife. It says simply ‘Missing you’ and there is a photo attachment. A picture of their son, smiling, holding a sign written with the red crayon still in his hand. An adult hand has guided him, but the message “Love you Daddy” comes from the three-year-old. He smiles, he emails back “missing you too” and returns to his work.

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