Posted by: patti | February 20, 2009

Love Letters, Part 1 (Fiction Friday)

The office door opened and Robert struggled in, balancing coffee and a muffin with an open book and a large Politics & Prose shopping bag.   Annie didn’t look up from the letter she was writing at the reception desk, even though she knew it was another letter she wouldn’t finish.   Annie almost never finished what she started.

Robert tucked a slender finger into his book and set the coffee and muffin on glass shelf on the reception desk.  He leaned over, looking for his messages, and Annie covered the letter with her hand.   She could smell the cold on his coat.  He could smell her lavender shampoo.  She kept her eyes down.

Annie had started having dreams about Robert.  These weren’t her usual dreams about coworkers, the quirky dreams set in parks and in circuses and in trees, odd, harmless dreams that could be explained away by the amount of time she spent at work each day.  These new dreams with Robert were sensual, sexual, vivid dreams that effectively ended her routine, friendly lunch dates with him.

Robert wanted to lift her hand from her small neat handwriting.  He wanted to make her look at him.  He wanted more hours in the day,  so that he could read whatever books he wanted to read and still do all the work necessary to become partner and still have all the time he needed to figure out how to make Annie look at him.

“Howard’s been looking for you,” Annie said, glancing up at him, keeping her voice low.  She saw his pale face grow even paler behind his dark beard as he quickly gathered his stuff and hurried off to make himself found.

Annie picked up her scissors, ready to make confetti of the letter she’d started, but the blades stuck open.  She wiggled her fingers and pulled on the handles, but the blades would not budge.  Deciding this was a sign she should keep the letter, she placed the yawning scissors into her pencil cup and pulled her battered marble notebook out of her canvas backpack.

She kept all of her letters in this notebook.   The book was thick with extra paper: ticket stubs, cartoons, news clippings, pictures, bar napkins with phone numbers or ideas.  She hated it when anyone called her notebook a journal or a diary.  She almost never wrote in it, preferring to chronicle her life with words and pictures printed elsewhere.  Scattered throughout the earlier notebooks were outbursts of anger and frustration riddled with capital letters and careless spelling, rants that made her cringe with embarrassment now.  One day, she’d have to get rid of this and the other notebooks she’d made, one a year since she was a freshman in high school.  All ten were stacked, as neatly as possible, on the shelf in her bedroom closet in New York; she only took them down when she went home for Christmas.

Robert came out of Howard’s office, watching his shoes as he shambled past Annie’s desk and entered his own office.  She heard the dejected plop of pad and pen on the desktop and the sighing of the leather as he sank into his chair.   There was the rustling of a plastic bag.  Annie imagined him looking at his new book with confusion and longing, and decided to ask him if he was free for lunch today.

She stood up and smoothed her jumper, tugged her shirt into place, and felt the dream from last night.  They had been decorating the office, catching brown and green hummingbirds and setting them gently in place on the ficus trees and ferns, lamps and sculpture of the reception area.  A green one thrummed in her hand, and as she reached to set it on the ficus, Robert slipped behind her, pressed his nose into her neck, spread his slender fingers on her ribs, and slid his hands down inside her skirt.

Annie sat back down.



  1. hmm.. now I think I know why this blog is suddenly blocked by my company’s web censoring software.

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