A few of weeks ago, I submitted a short-story for a contest. My story did not get selected. Don’t worry, I will continue trying.
Anyway, I thought I would post it here:
I hop out of bed. I head down stairs. I enter the kitchen.
I press the button on the coffee maker, which grinds and churns for a few minutes. It begins to brew. Coffee aroma fills the room. I begin to perk up from my slumber state. Once brewed, I take the coffee and sip it.
I took the day off. It was well deserved. “To say it has been stressful few months,” would be an understatement.
I head toward the living room where I place the coffee mug upon the end table and I flop onto the couch, I grab the remote. I flick on the television. Before I realize it, over two hours have passed.
I freak, “Darn look at the time! I was going to surprise Jill for lunch. I’d better get ready.”
I jump from the sofa. I rush upstairs to wash and to change.
A half-hour later, I step down the flight of stairs wearing my Sunday best. I exit the house, locking the door behind me.
An hour later, I turn into Jill’s office parking lot.
Just in time, Jill should be ready for lunch soon.
I enter the building lobby. I reach the elevator. The elevator arrives, I enter the open doors, I press the seventh floor button and I wait for the elevator ride to end. Once it arrives, the doors open and I step out into the lobby.
Jean spots me. I note her surprise when she sees me.
“Hello Jean, is Jill still around? I would like to take her for lunch.”
“Hum, oh, hi Bill,” replies a hesitant Jean, “Did Jill not tell you? Of course not, obviously, silly me. You would not be here otherwise. Step over here a minute.”
Somewhat taken aback, Jean pulls me aside and she whispers that Jill was dismissed from the company three weeks ago.
I stumble back. I lean against the wall to steady myself.
The two of us talk softly for a little while, before I leave the building.
Once safely seated in the car, I briefly consider the current situation.
I wonder, “Why didn’t she tell me? Where could she be? Is she alright?”
I grab my cell. I dial Jill’s number. No answer, I get her voice mail and leave a message to call me.
Desperate, I decide to call Jill’s friend Carol.
“Hello, C-Carol? Have you heard from Jill? I am parked outside her work. She isn’t there,” I pause. “She hasn’t been at work for three weeks.”
Carol looks over to Jill, as she mouths the words: “The gigue is up.”
Jill momentarily panics. She quickly recomposes herself. Jill simply states, “Tell him we can talk at home.”
Carol relays the message to Bill and then hangs up.
An hour later, I storm into the kitchen letting the screen door slam behind me.
A startled Jill turns suddenly around, I am irate.
Jill begins to cry while awkwardly attempting to apologize. I moved toward her. I embrace her. Jill sobs uncontrollably. She trembles and she struggles to catch her breath. I gently pat and rub her back. Jill’s sobs begin to diminish. I released her, I looked down upon her, and I smiled reassuringly.
“You must think I’m being silly.”
“No, it’s a bit of a shock that’s all — what happened? Why didn’t you say anything? How could you not tell me?”
“The company is down-sizing. Our department was let go. I tried to bring myself to tell you many times. There just didn’t seem to be an ideal time. You were busy with your project; you seemed exhausted by the time you got home. After a while, I felt like a failure. I just couldn’t tell you,” Carol sighs, “I will never find work, not at the age of fifty-seven.”
“I wish you would have come to me sooner. I could have helped you.”
“I am sorry.”
“There is nothing to be sorry about.” We hug and I continue, “Change of plans… you take an earlier retirement. You can attend those painting classes you always wanted to. We can manage on my salary until I retire in a few years.”
Jill relaxed in my arms.
—Robert Confiant 4 October, 2016