Microfiction Monday – 3/20/23

Break Room

The desk phone trilled, waking Janie out of her reverie. She’d been staring at the baby pictures pinned to the wall of her cubicle, wondering how Avery was doing at daycare. It was Janie’s first week back to work from her maternity leave and she was miserable.

The caller ID told her the call was coming from her boss, Mark Trevor. Mark was ten years younger than Janie, and completely clueless. She had no idea how he’d landed a Director position at twenty-nine.

“Fucking capitalism,” she grumbled, before picking up the receiver.

“Hey!” said Mark’s annoyingly cheerful voice on the other end of the line. “Got a sec?” He wanted urgent help with some data analysis.

“I guess so,” Janie answered without enthusiasm. “Let me go grab a cup of tea and I’ll head to your office.”

“Great!” Mark said brightly, “Bring me a cup of coffee?”

She hung up the phone and glowered at it for a minute before collecting her mug and her laptop.

In the break room, Janie found Bill Peterson, the oldest employee at the company. No matter what day it was, Bill wore the same thing: a short-sleeve button down shirt and a hopelessly unfashionable necktie. Still, he was a nice guy and always friendly to Janie.

The coffee machine was brewing a fresh pot and Bill was standing in front of it, observing it with the focus of a scientist in a laboratory.

“Hey Bill!” Janie greeted him.

“Oh hi Janie!” Bill smiled. “I didn’t realize you were back! How’s the little one?”

“Oh she’s so precious, Bill. Come by my cube so I can so you the photos we had done.”

Janie moved next to him so she could fill her teacup with hot water. She watched him pour himself a cup of fresh coffee at the same time. 

Once Bill moved over, Janie reached up in the cupboard and got a new mug out to pour a cup of coffee for Mark.

“Who’s that for?” Bill asked.

“Oh, Mark.” Janie said rolling her eyes. “I have a meeting with him now and he said to bring him a cup of coffee.”

Bill looked from the cup in her hand to her face. Wordlessly he reached out his hand, took the cup, and deftly brought it up to his mouth. He let a small wad of saliva escape his lips and land in the steaming cup. The spit disappeared into the depths as Bill handed it back to her.

“There you go,” he said evenly. “That’s just the way he likes it.”

He turned, grabbed his laptop off the table and left without another word.

Janie stood motionless staring at the cup. She looked to the door, then around the break room. It was empty. Silent but for the hum of the refrigerator.

She grabbed her laptop, her teacup and Mark’s adulterated coffee and walked down the hall toward his office with her short heels clip-clopping merrily as she went.

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