“Wow, you look like shit. What happened last night?” Barbara said casually. Having known Barbara for quite some time now, Lauren had no trouble mistaking recognizing this as her way of saying good morning.
“Good morning to you too, and nothing.” Lauren replied as they both stepped into the elevator.
“Well it’s definitely something according to those bags on your face. I hope whatever gave you those panda eyes knows that you have a very important presentation this morning.” Barbara said as she pressed the close button.
Naturally conditioned to check her blackberry every 5 seconds, Barbara had now returned to her phone and started frantically typing. Laura wasn’t even paying attention to what Barbara was talking about. She wanted to use the next few minutes to gather her thoughts and mentally prepare for her upcoming presentation. This could be the make-it-or-break-it.
She had been dreaming for this moment to come – the day when she finally became a partner. Today, she would finally get her promotion after being in the same law firm for five years. All those over-time, hard work, sweat and tears would finally pay off. To an outsider, this could very well just be any business presentation, but everybody who worked at the firm knew it was everything but that.
She thought about the first day she started this job, the day she met Barbara, the day she lost her first case at this firm, the day she got yelled at by an angry client… all those memories now came flooding back to her. She remembered how happy her family was when she accepted the job.
And then she thought of him.
All of a sudden, she felt like as if somebody had just kicked her in the stomach. She was temporarily out of breath. She had to open her mouth and gasp for air.
DING. THE ELEVATOR DOOR SPRANG OPEN.
As the people in the elevator start piling out. So did Barbara and Lauren.
“Good luck then. See you at lunch.” Barbara said. Her eyes still attached to the screen on her phone, and took a left.
“Thanks, see ya.” Lauren turned to her right, took a deep breath, and started striding into the office which she had worked for five years but was entering as a new person with a new identity.
“How do you feel now? Any better?” she asked.
“I don’t know.” Lauren replied, turning her head towards the window at the same time. She thought that the clouds looked different today. A bit grayer than the last time she visited this office. She wondered if it would rain later during the day.
“Tea?” the lady gently asked. “It might rain today. It’s been a hot stuffy few days.”
There was something the lady said that pulled a string. Lauren felt a flush of heat rushing through her face, to her ears and to the top of her head. She felt like she was suffocating. She couldn’t breathe.
The lady spoke as if she was talking to herself. She gazed out the window, eyes fixated on the moving clouds. “Sometimes, it’s alright to let it out, even though it doesn’t make any sense. Because, it doesn’t have to.” the lady said as she poured tea out of her pot and made two cups of tea.
THE CLANKING OF SILVER SPOON AGAINST THE PORCELAIN CUP. THE DARK RED COLOR OF ENGLISH BREAKFAST TEA TWIRLS INSIDE THE DELICATE CHINA.
CLANK CLANK. THE LADY TAPPED THE SPOON ON THE EDGE OF THE CUP. AND TOOK A SIP.
IN THE BACKGROUND, LAUREN LET HER TEARS FALL DOWN HER CHEEKS.
IN THE WINDOW REFLECTION, THE LADY KEPT ON GAZING AT THE SKY WHICH HAD ALSO STARTED TO GATHER AND BREAK INTO A TORRENTIAL DOWNPOUR.