Work In Progress about a man on my desk.
I have a photo of a man whose name I don't know. He sits on my desk, watching me type, type, type away at my computer for ten hours everyday, Monday through Friday. He watches me guzzle down my fourth Redbull by lunchtime. The flavor is Peach Nectarine. That's the flavor I've been craving for the month, even though there isn't much flavor to it. The peach isn't really there; I taste more of the nectarine but I don't think nectarines have much flavor to begin with. But it gets the job done.
I typically have about four drinks before lunchtime and then four more before I go home. I don't think the man on my desk would approve of my drink choices, definitely not my eating habits. For breakfast, I have two boiled eggs and three pieces of toast, all with honey and butter. As the day goes on, I have snacks, like chips and candies. My lunch is usually whatever is in the department breakroom: raisins, old donuts, someone's soup from last week, John's Chinese food he left in the fridge yesterday afternoon (he isn't going to eat it anyway). It isn't much but I have too much work to do to waste trying to figure out what to eat. I eat all my meals and snacks at my desk and he watches me shove it all down in record time. While eating, I respond to and send out emails that I didn't get to before eating. I have to stay on top of my work or I'll fall too far behind. I get scolded for so much already, no need to add something else to the list.
The photo of the man on my desk whose name I do not know watches all of this, for ten hours a day, Monday through Friday. His smile never wavering; that big, bright grin staying place no matter what I do or say. Even when I have my weekly breakdowns. He sees me crying and shaking, when no one else is in the office, when the world is still asleep and no one can hear me shout out my fears and frustrations. He sees the panic on my face when a deadline has been moved up. The tremble of my hands I type when the higher ups walk through my floor, their eyes darting through the cubicle, lips pursed tight as if they're stopping themselves from saying something unfavorable. He's even heard when my boss has personally come to my desk to yell at me about a missing file, only for it to be found under his chicken caprese salad, balsamic dressing gracing the front of the dark blue folder. He is always there, his shining storm gray eyes and those straight, pearly white teeth staring back at me.
Today was a breakdown, two in one week. That's a new record. I look at the screen of my powered down computer. It's completely black, the overhead office lights poking at the top, their white lights blurs in the screens, and my eyes. I stare at my reflection for some time, analyzing my puffy eyes, red nose, and wet face. My hair is sticking out in all directions, some stuck to my face from tears and sweat, other parts bunched up from where I grabbed it. I am a mess. I learned to stop putting on my makeup before work. It was harder to fix it after crying.
I grab my purse and hurry to the bathroom. I have to fix myself before everyone comes in. I splash the ice cold water on my face, the shock perking me up. I feel like hot iron being dipped into water. I dab at my eyes and neck. Quickly brush out my hair, gathering it back into its neat perfect bun, using my fingers to brush out my bangs. Concealer, bronzer, and a bit of blush to make me look more lively and hide how puffy my eyes have gotten. I finish my look off by adding mascara and nude sparkle gloss. I get back to my desk and power my computer on right before my boss walks into the office.
Good mornings are shared. He tells me how happy he is to see me take the initiative and come into work early to be a productive member of the company. Asshole. He is going to use me as an example this week but will deny my raise request for the third time this year. It gets denied because we're struggling right now and why should I be paid more when I will be doing the same things still? Bitch.
I sit down at my desk and look at the photo of a man whose name I do not know. I tell everyone that this is my boyfriend, Scott. He works security at the chemical plant outside the city. He's everything a woman could ask in a man: nice, attentive and loves to pamper me. Always there to lend a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on. No overbearing mother to worry about, no friends who think he's being held back. For $8.19, he brings me peace of mind every time I look at him. He's absolutely perfect.