Blue Coffee

From 642 Things to Write About:

What a character holding a blue object is thinking right now

She cradles the pill in her right hand, as if it’s a newborn and her fingers are the blankets between which it is gently nestled. It isn’t that she doesn’t have any other option. This is just the one she likes–needs–most.

The man she met on East 20th last week told her that all it would take is one of these tiny cerulean capsules to end everything. She hopes she’s getting her money’s worth, though she supposes she won’t really be able to figure out whether or not she has until it’s too late.

“Until it’s too late.” She almost laughs as she makes her way along the corridor. Her life, somehow, has become a picturesque movie trailer, the ending of a sad story. It isn’t a movie she ever would have been interested in seeing. Movies never capture her attention for long, anyway. She likes reality television a lot better. It is much easier to become invested in people who cried over losing an earring for thirty minutes, than to let a fictional character resonate emotionally with her all too well for two whole hours. Perhaps that is because she throws herself into everything, including her feelings. Her therapist told her she “feels too much.” Is that even possible? she wonders. She’ll never know.

Someone–Fred? Frank? whatever his name is from Accounting–shoots her a grin as she moves past him. She smiles back. She doesn’t know this guy very well, but she figures she may as well give him a positive last impression. The blue pill is clutched in the folds of her fist.

And then she makes coffee.

One of the other secretaries has just click-clacked away from the table in the corner of the front office, and the lingering scent of coffee beans fills her senses. She inhales slowly, exhales even slower. She will cherish every moment within these white walls now. She watches each drop of coffee enter the pot, and thinks of things that are hot, too hot, against her skin, and voices that are sharp, too sharp in her ear, and teeth that drag along her abdomen like those of a wolf. Suddenly she doesn’t like the smell of the coffee any longer.

She precariously carries the usual chipped #1 BOSS mug around the corner and through the first door on the left. She knocks twice first. Otherwise he gets snappy.

“Hello, hello, Miss Cherry Coke,” says Dan, standing as she enters the room. He calls her Cherry Coke because he said when they met that her hair, jet black with a tint of red, reminded him of the soft drink. She hates it. “Finally brought me my morning coffee, have you? Took you long enough. Jesus. If I told your dad what a shit secretary you are, he’d ship you out of here in seconds. But I don’t wanna embarrass the guy. Thank God for college roommates, huh?” He starts chortling, the kind where he has to grab his belly and lean over the desk. “And thank God you’re hot.”

She smiles sweetly. “Yes, sir. Thank God.” Last impressions are important. In her free hand, she squeezes the pill tightly. Placing the mug on his desk, she stands back and asks the usual question over the usual coffee trip. “How are sales looking so far this week, sir?” She is enthusiastic. She really is. She throws herself into everything.

And then she waits. She waits, patiently, hands clasped in front of her, for her big moment.

Dan’s eyes light up at the question, as they always do. “Well, if you’re wondering whether or not we’ve got those bastards on 5th Avenue beat in Facebook page visits this week, the answer is fuck yeah.”

She nods. She hasn’t followed the goings-on within the company for ages. He wouldn’t know, though, because she asks the same question every day and acts like she understands, or frankly cares about, the answer.

Then he does it. He turns around, spreading his arms wide as he overlooks his view of the city. “Let me tell you something, Cherry Coke,” he says, which is how he starts all his speeches.

She stops listening then, because now is the Moment. In a shaking right hand is the blue pill. In one fluid motion, she leans forward and drops it into the coffee mug. It hits the liquid with a soft plop. Dan is still talking.

She waits some more with a smile. Dan keeps talking. Turns around. Turns again. Gesticulates with wild hands that have too-long fingernails. Takes a sip of coffee. Repeat.

And then suddenly, the broken record stops.

Dan clears his throat once. Twice. Coughs. Starts to say, “Cherry, get me a drink of water,” but only makes it past the first four words or so, because then he’s wheezing. Wheezing, stumbling backward into his leather swivel chair, the force causing him to spin back and forth in it slightly.

She stands and smiles. Spittle sprinkles his fine mahogany desk. And then his face is blue like the pill, and she can stop waiting.

She turns around and walks out of his office, and keeps walking and walking until she is out of the building, and out of the street, and out of the city, and out of a world to which she no longer belongs.

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