About Real People
A Short Story by Alice Clark
Written using the suggestion "Partner"
Originally featured on 03-02-2010
As part of our series "The Things We Change When We Want To Make That Big Change"

I wear my sad shoes to work when I feel like jumping off cliffs. They are brown, and flat, with boxy toes. What they mean is that I am a liar and they are like tiny cages, somehow keeping me from being me, who I really am, which is a four year old wielding an axe.

I stood before my boss. I wore a navy suit that reminds me of Barbara Walters, whom I pretend to be sometimes, because she’s a nice business woman. But it feels like I’m a self-controlled marionette of sorts, with a slack jaw. When I submitted the report, for the fourth time, my boss said it was wrong, that maybe, “could you make a few changes? I just want it to be as finished as possible for the proposal tomorrow.” Then I turned into a real person and wanted to say things, like, “This isn’t a fucking TPS report, shut the hell up bitch, I don’t give a fuck,” but I told her I’d have the report done by two, and  that would mean that I wouldn’t get a lunch, but that wasn’t to be mentioned.  What I wanted to do was rip open the vending machine and sit on the floor, my hands smashed in Ho-Hos and Doritos, gorging myself and smiling at passersby. To run swearing and naked into the woods, in search of some kind of cocoon lined with multiple down comforters.

I took my laptop to the lunch room, in hopes that Sharon may have an extra Lean Cuisine that she may offer me, because nobody likes to see somebody skip lunch. People like to make sure other people are getting fat too. They say things like, “Aren’t you eating?”, and then I’ll say, I don’t have time, or that I somehow forgot my purse, and before you know it, people are trying to give you as many calories as possible. It’s glorious.

I started typing the report and immediately went to facebook instead. Not because I like facebook, or even enjoy reading about Farmville and reading about people who hate Farmville, but because I hate myself and like to do things I’m ashamed of. Things that aren’t productive and things that make me a worse person.

My boss actually walked by while I was checking out Farmville. But I wasn’t even ashamed that she saw, not even that it’s a facebook cliché, not even that it’s not an original procrastination tool. What I felt like was lecturing her about how there are so many lonely cows there and a complete lack of fertilizer. It felt important because it was bothering so many people. There was a hope that if I said it, that it would break something and that she wouldn’t want to work with me anymore. Would label me as odd and side step me in the hall. Wait for me to put the reports in her mailbox. Because I say weird things and care about them.

Then I was done. Done for the day, at 1:43 pm. I fantasized about vomiting spontaneously in the lunch room, but know that I lack that ability. The drama though. And no one will ever question that you should immediately go home if there is obvious vomit on the floor. But I was done anyway, thought I would ruin everything if I stayed today, ruin things for when I’m more compliant. I simply ran out of “give a fuck” today, even though it wasn’t really that bad or even that busy. I just wanted to burn it all up so it couldn’t repeat itself. So I got on the elevator. My boss waved as the doors closed, probably thinking I was headed to a business lunch. I talked to my cubicle neighbor about the new copier on the way down. Sprinted to my car. Making my legs younger, but mostly because I couldn’t help it. I did feel their eyes, watching me.

Read More By Alice Clark

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