I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Cheerios (A Short Story)
May 12, 2013Posted by on
Over at We Drink Because We’re Poets, it’s the second of their Weekly Writing Prompts. I’ll reveal what the exact prompt is at the end of the short story that follows below:
You are a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day
A blooming rose in a weed filled garden
The sight of you takes my breath away
And sends shivers again and again
Love me like no other
And I will too … forever
“Ugh. Oh my f’in’ ugh! Not again.” Gwen sighed and let the page fall to her desk as she dropped in her chair. It was even scented with a perfume or something. And the x’s and o’s at the bottom. In red. She crumpled the paper up and motioned to throw it away before having second thoughts, flattening it out and sliding it into her desk drawer. On top of the others. Every Monday now for almost two months.
“Joseph. Get in here.”
Gwen’s assistant scurried in from his desk outside her door. “Yeah.”
“I got another one.”
“Again? Thtill anonymouth, I gueth.”
“Yes and yes.” Gwen stopped and looked at him. “Are you ever going to get that fixed?”
“Oh. Of courthe. I justh wisth I could find the cap. It wath gold, you know.”
“Umm, yeah. I’m kind of hoping you’ll go more basic this time. You know, white with just a hint of caffeine stain providing just the right amount of yellowing to match the rest of your teeth.”
“Damn, Gwen, that hurths.”
“Just being real. Just being real.” Gwen pulled the latest love note out of her desk and passed it over to him. “It’s not you, is it?”
Joseph glanced up at her and smiled. “It takths more than a drunken blow job after the Chrithmaths party for me to fall into obthethsive, weird love.” He tossed the note back to her. “I mean, come on, Gwen.”
She stuck her breasts out a little more and winked at him. “You sure?”
“Cut it out.”
“Fine.” Gwen settled back into her chair. “If it’s not you, who else could it be?”
“Maybe itth the night janitor.”
“Yeah. The night janitor is a 66-year-old Hispanic woman.”
Gwen put the note back in her desk while Joseph retreated back to his desk. She watched his ass and sighed, “Wish it was.”
At 9:00 Gwen rose from her chair and left her office. Pulled by the Monday morning ritual. The weekly planning meeting with the boss. George Shanahan. Fifty-two years of balding, paunchy middle management white male. An hour to dread. While George prattled on in his office filled with the stale cheerio smell. Not because of the dry bowl of cheerios he ate for breakfast every morning, but what typically came after. Silent, but deadly, and laden with cheerio aroma.
“You’re meeting with the new clients tomorrow, right?”
“Uh-uh.” Gwen twirled her finger in strand of hair.
“What’s their name again?” Before she could answer, Gwen noticed his eyes lose focus. She knew what was coming. A few seconds later, the air in the office got a little staler. It was all she could do not to pinch her nose or ask him to open his window.
“Bravo Farms. They want to work on a social media campaign.”
George regained his focus. “Of course. Bravo Farms. Social media.”
In the remaining time George rambled. Gwen wandered, nodding her head and murmuring replies where appropriate. She watched the clock, praying for the second hand to move faster while George lost focus two more times before the hour was up.
“It’s almost 10:00, George. I’ve got a meeting dowtown I need to get to. We about done here?” She smiled in a feeble attempt to hide her impatience.
George leaned forward in his chair and glanced briefly at his watch. “Yeah. Didn’t realize where the time went.” As he always did. “Go on. Get outta here.”
Gwen stood and turned towards the door. “Hey, listen, before you leave, could you do me a favor?”
“Of course,” Gwen sighed.
“Could you check the thermostat? I’m shivering in here.”
“Really? You’re cold.” Gwen turned back to him.
“Yeah, believe me.” George paused. “I’m shivering.”
In one of those rare moments when everything becomes clear, Gwen realized what George was saying.
“Oh my God!” left her lips before she could stop herself.
She ignored him, even when he said her voice one more time – loudly and authoritatively. Gwen fled his office, uttering “no, no, no.” Brushing past Joseph, Gwen entered her office and slammed the door behind her. She stood there, breathing heavy, running her hands through her hair. Seconds later, there was a light tapping on the door. “Please, no,” she whispered.
“Gwen.” Joseph’s quiet voice. “You alright?”
Opening the door in a rush, Gwen pulled Joseph into her office and slammed the door shut again. “It’s him!”
“Oh, god, don’t be dense now. It’s George.” Gwen scurried to her desk, pulled open the drawer and pulled out the stack of love notes. “George,” she said, shaking the pages at Joseph.
“No fuckin’ way.” Joseph took the notes from her and began reading them. “No way he wrote theeth.”
“How do you know?”
Gwen took a shuddering breath. “He just told me to check the thermostat because he was shivering. And then he said it again.”
Joseph finished reading one of the love notes and looked up at Gwen which a malevolent grin. “It ith kinda cold in here today.”
“Fuck you, Joseph. He winked at me when he said it. I think.” Gwen sat down in her chair with a groan. “Never mind. You weren’t there. It was how he said it.” She rubbed her nose furiously. “I wish I could get rid of that damn Cheerio smell.”
“Nothing. What do I do?”
“Go back in there and warm him up a little bit.”
“Thorry. I couldn’t rethithst.”
“What do I …”
Gwen was interrupted by the far off sound of George calling her name. “Gwen?” Her eyes went wide.
“Shit, he’s coming down here,” she whispered to Joseph and her eyes went even wider. “Wait, I have an idea.”
“What’th your idea?” Joseph asked.
“Just play along with me.”
Gwen came around from behind her desk and straddled Joseph’s lap. “Kiss me.”
George opened the door and found them. “Interesting,” he said.
Gwen pulled herself off Joseph. “Damn, George, couldn’t you knock?”
“Never have before.” George leaned against the door frame. “The thing I want to know is this.” He looked at Joseph. “I thought you were gay.”
So the prompt was to write a short story with the following three concepts included in it: annoying boss, love note, and a lost tooth.
Problem I have with this story is that it feels like other stories I’ve written.