She had a choice, that I was sure of. She’d come in that day, a day ten weeks after her hiring, extremely late, hazel eyes crusted with salt from tears, neck covered by blotches, and lips sewn
shut. I watched her as she reluctantly pushed herself inside and shuffled like a sick pig to her gray cubicle. I wondered what was on her mind as she dropped herself into the seat and cradled her
face in her pale hands, drooping over the plastic gray desk. Greasy blonde hair tumbled down her shoulders and spilled out on the surface of the desk, covering the papers she had been hired to
edit, file, repeat. An endless cycle everyone in this dull office had been hired to do. I heard a loud sigh escape from her lips, barely a whisper, for this day would be the first of many silent
ones to come.
The second day she looked feverish and when I walked by her I could sense heat waves emanating off of her body. I had no idea what was wrong. I glanced at her from the copying room and saw her head drop to the table as if a sudden rush of gravity had grabbed a hold of it. The loud thump reverberated around the room, but everyone remained oblivious either typing away at the keyboard or marking up papers.
The third day, she was late again, she looked green and salty crust still covered her eyes. Running through the lobby she made her way to the bathroom. I didn’t understand why, I just thought it was a girl problem. She had many after all. It was an hour before she stumbled to her cubicle. This time she just sat in her chair with a glaze veiling her eyes. Hands were folded together on her lap, thumbs twiddling, the few papers on her desk had turned into a meager stack of one inch. It was a few minutes before the boss came to talk to her. I heard his deep rumbling voice like the purr of a conniving cat, but hers was lost and I could not see her face. He left a few minutes later and she slowly rolled her chair up against the edge of the desk, careful not to put her stomach right against it, and picked up a pen and a paper from the stack. She rolled the pen between her fingers flipped the paper this way and that, and kept glancing around her; needless to say she never got through half of the stack.
From that day she began coming on time, well as on time as you possibly could in her state. After six weeks, the crust was gone to be replaced with black bags and blood red eyes. her blonde hair was a greasy mess that was held loosely in messy buns and ponytails. She began to wear looser clothes and more casual pants. The black skirts she used to wear had disappeared and so did the tight blouses that complimented her well-sized breasts. I must admit, I had liked her body. Every so often she would run to the bathroom her flats, no longer heels, softly padding at the tile floor. I heard talk from the other workers, they spoke of a man that she had loved. He had fooled around with her, took things too far, left, and now she had a choice, to decide the course of two lives. I tried not to listen; the water cooler could be a hostile judgemental place. The boss never came to speak to her again and I think she was relieved. She liked to be left alone; even I no longer talked to her, just watched her from my cubicle three feet away from hers. I watched as the one inch stack grow into a five inch pile.
In the next four weeks I had begun to notice a waddle in her walk. She wouldn’t rush inside or rush to the bathroom as she had before. A few times she didn’t even make it and vomited in the waste bin eight feet away from the bathroom door. Another woman, a new brunette petite girl, fainted and hit her head. She had to be taken to the hospital. By then, I knew something was wrong. Her loose clothes now looked tight as if she had gotten fatter. I wondered if she went through a divorce or a tough break up, but I dared not ask her. Maybe it was true that the man had left her for bearing his child. A few times when I watched her, she rubbed her tummy and the red eyes glistened like a fire truck's lights. I don’t know why she forced herself to be this way. If she was fat why not work out? If she went through a destructive break up why not find another man or play with a few? If she was pregnant why not seek help? I was dumbfounded.
Then, one day, exactly five months and two days since the first day she came in and converted to silence, agony, vomiting, and hidden tears, she came in, like any other day; a little earlier than normal and wearing, what I must imagine, the most casual clothes she could possibly find in her closet. Her aura was off. She gave off the feeling of melancholy, depression, and defeat. She slowly shuffled to her cubicle, each step looked too painful to take; even each breath seemed to cause her pain. As she walked past my cubicle, I could hear every inhalation of air rasp and rattle in her throat. She cast her eyes downward, and soon slumped in her chair. There was no rushing to the bathroom or missing of the bathroom and only making it to the waste bin. There was no stomach rub or shadow of a painful smile on her face. She seemed to want to avoid her stomach altogether. She, like the first day of silence, covered her face with her hands, and gradually sunk down until her front half was lying on the desk, her head hidden in the crook of her elbow and in the tangles of her greasy blonde hair. The almost one foot stack of papers on her desk shielded her from my view. I think I heard her sobbing, or maybe she just couldn’t breathe in her ‘cave’. I thought I should do something, offer a hand, a service of help. What could she have gone through?
Three months after that day, she began coming in even earlier. Her blonde greasy hair was no longer greasy and shined under the office lights with renewed strength and replenished cleanliness. Her loose and casual clothes disappeared and was replaced with her well-fitted blouses and professional pin skirts. It may be inappropriate to say, but I missed seeing her well sized breasts. Three inch black heels covered her feet with straps that wrapped around her ankles. Her once rotund stomach had deflated like a balloon, no longer filled with that betrayer’s child. I can not even begin to fathom how difficult destroying her own child was. I can not imagine how difficult it was to be abandoned at such a fragile stage in her life. I began to hear her voice again, and at first it was rusty from the misuse and sorrowful screams shed in her empty home, but soon grew strong and wise; as if her voice had learned something from being dormant for such a difficult period of time. She spoke as if she knew something about life even though she had given up one. I watched her as she confidently walked down to her cubicle, smoothed the back of her skirt, and then lowered herself down with a comfortable thud. She began to work on the few papers on her desk. In just three months, her one foot pile of papers disappeared, along with her stomach.
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