Her work clothes were neither stylish, nor flattering. They had come off the sale rack at JC Penney's last year, casually grabbed off the hanger and piled into a scanty cart to be hauled away to a closet predominately stocked with sweat pants and oversize t-shirts.
Regina was not cut out to be an office worker. She tended to do foolhardy things, like daydream while editing an expense record, or make friends with a particularly savage representative of the competition. Or scream and throw things at her coworkers.
"I am not a pie chart. If anything, I'm a bar graph."
"You're a soulless piece of corporate garbage."
"That's rather harsh."
"No. I won't let you do this to yourself."
Regina brandished a stapler. "Let me out of this cubicle or your life is forfeit."
Joshua pinched the stapler between two slender fingers and slipped it neatly from her hand. He was a tall fellow in a tailored black suit, which failed to hide the fact that he was still a dweeb. "You're not going to assassinate our boss."
"I can do whatever I pretty well like. Oh, how I'd like to smash her head into the photocopier just to see her face!"
He frowned. "She's having an affair with her secretary. What's wrong with that? You're not married to her. Are you?"
"Good grief, no."
"Well, you never...."
"Consider yourself informed. Now the fact is that I am sick and tired of this place. Everything I ever enjoyed about it is gone, presto, disappeared. One by one they're sucking it all into some kind of horrible black hole."
"What's your problem, Cee?"
She looked at him with the harshest expression she could muster, which ended up looking something like a lost puppy. "I just want things to be like they were. Why did that stupid woman have to go and...and...."
Joshua's face cleared and he looked his boyish self again. "Oh, so that's it. It's not Wilkinson, it's Robert."
Regina colored and dropped into her swiveling computer chair. "Well...yes. If you have to know."
Joshua placed the stapler back down on the desk, careful to keep it out of Regina's reach, then sat down on the edge in a fatherly, understanding posture. "How long have you loved him?"
"Oh," she twiddled with a pink bow on her blouse that contrasted terrifically with her red hair, "a long time, I guess. Since I came here, maybe."
"And you haven't told him?"
"Of course not! And if you dare say a word...."
"I know, I know. You'll throw me headfirst into the dumpster."
"After I've stapled your eyes open."
Joshua winced. "Come on. If you love Robert you should have told him a long time ago. Before she-who-must-not-be-named started toying with him."
"As if he'd care for me."
Joshua coughed. "Actually, um, we're pretty good friends, Rob and I. And he tells me things. Sometimes."
Her mouth dropped open. "What, what did he tell you?"
"Well...maybe a few months back he dropped a few hints that, well," he tugged unnecessarily at his collar, "he found you rather attractive."
Regina laughed. "Really? You're kidding me. How is that possible?"
"Well, you're young, vibrant, enthusiastic. You're counter-culture and...interesting. Rob likes that."
"So, you mean he likes me?" She looked hopeful for a moment, then kicked the paper shredder with her stiletto heel. "But not now. He's after her."
"It might be possible to change his mind, you know. Even now."
"And how would I manage that?"
"Just a little inside knowledge."
You will give me a promotion!!!, a photo by rich hinton on Flickr.