This needs an ending. I’ll come back to it.
I only ever met one woman I’d call truly outgoing. Her name was Rachel. She was one of the better lawyers at the firm I worked for. Unlike anyone’s mental image of a lawyer, Rachel had a wild mane of strawberry-blonde hair, wore jeans to the office as often as she could get away with it, and had a laugh that was as boisterous and infectious as it was perpetual.
I was the receptionist for a law firm. As the first thing a potential client saw when they walked in, my desk was huge and wooden and imposing. It was designed to look like a judge’s bench. I was eating my lunch under my desk, as usual, when Rachel came by to pick up some files she’d asked me to find for her.
I’d messaged her that they were on my desk, and as I heard her approach, I mentally kicked myself. I would generally pull my chair in to make sure that I couldn’t be seen but I had forgotten to. If she stayed on the visitor side of the desk, or even the side, I’d be safe. I held my breath. No luck.
She’d paired a black-and-gray pinstriped skirt with red Keds, which meant that she had to be at the courthouse later. I’d gone with her often enough to know that she kept a pairs of heels in her car.
She laughed when she saw me.
I’d had few close calls over the year-and-a-half since I started eating my lunch there, but nobody had ever spotted me. I couldn’t believe I’d left my chair pushed back so far. I was never that careless!
“Did you drop something?” she asked. Then she spotted the empty yogurt container next to my crossed legs and the half of a sandwich in my hand. The other half of my sandwich was on a folded paper towel on my floral-skirted thigh.
I pictured her shouting everyone in the office over to laugh at me. My face flamed with humiliation. I mentally drafted my resignation letter.
But her ever-present half-dimple disappeared as she regarded me seriously. Her body made jerky little movements as she decided what to do. Then, she looked around quickly, before ducking down.
“Shove over,” she whispered.
I reluctantly moved over so that she could sit next to me. Even with our legs straight out, the desk was big enough to completely shield us from most angles.
“This is a genius idea!” Rachel whispered, drawing my chair in the way that I should have. “I wish my desk was big enough to do this! You could take a nap under here!”
“I do, sometimes,” I admitted in a much softer whisper than hers. The carpet was plush and I kept a small pillow in my bottom desk drawer, behind some files. With her around, that wasn’t going to happen and I couldn’t help but resent her a bit.
“Damn, I should have brought my lunch,” Rachel said, her half-dimple returning. “I didn’t know we’d be doing this.”
I gestured to my thigh.
“Oh, I couldn’t,” she whispered, as she reached over and picked up the sandwich half. I always cut my sandwiches on a diagonal because I’m not a barbarian. I never saw anyone outside of a Wonder Bread commercial take their first bite from the center of the triangle, before, or since.
I suppressed an urge to laugh.