dcadenas via Creative Commons
I need to quit this job, Charlie thought again, checking another day off her mental calendar where this concept had risen to consciousness. Two years of thinking the same thing each day still had not spurred her into any concrete action, such as rewriting her resume or opening a job search website. She smiled sweetly at the plump woman on the other side of the counter, protective hand rested on her inflated belly, the trademark of pregnancy everywhere. “Please have a seat, Dr. Kline will be with you shortly,” Charlie told her.
Receptioning for an Obstetrician/Gynecologist was a terrible job for someone recovering from a hysterectomy, especially for someone whose biological alarm clock had been blaring for three years prior to the diagnosis. She bit her tongue to keep the lump in her throat from swelling and tapped a few lines of data entry into her desk computer, trying to stop herself from hating Mrs. Gouli for nothing more than possessing a uterus that could hold a gestating child. Mrs. Gouli hadn’t given her cancer.
Charlie was cancer-free, now. In private, she darkly joked that she was baby-cancer-free. None of her friends thought the joke was funny. They tried to be supportive; in many ways they had been her salvation through the last five years. First, the breakup with Patrick—she mentally filled in the spit that her circle of friends had decided the name required as punctuation: Patrick-ptah!, every time—then the diagnosis. Endless nights of weeping into telephones and onto reassuring shoulders had proven those of her close circle who were in it with her for the long haul: Jan, Darla, Tim, and Vivy.
Dave Crosby via Creative Commons
“‘Information Superhighway’ is a pointless term. It was never going to catch on; it’s clunky and awkward and too many syllables.” The male leaned back in his seat, feeling his point made. He had a sharp head poking through a half-ring of greasy hair that fell to his shoulders, dusting the faded greenish polo shirt with off-putting dandruff. His face was contorted by a pair of ridiculous glasses that pinched his bulky face together in the middle, suspended over a bulbous nose and perched atop large and flappy ears. The expanse of his girth was situated in his midsection, rounding him heavily at the bottom. His total appearance amounted to that of a cartoon pear. When he spoke, he waved his hands about as if they were prosthetic, belonging to someone else. “Plus,” he added, “it doesn’t even work as an analogy. It’s pointless.”
A lean, jaundiced woman with a stooped shoulder and a face that drew into a point somewhere between the narrow eyes twisted her scarcely separated eyebrows in an expression of disbelief. Her legs didn’t bend quite right, the knees arthritic despite her relative youth, so she stretched them out in front of her as she sat on the very edge of the institutional plastic chair. Between the awkward bend of her body, the general yellowness of her complexion and wardrobe, and the short spikes of her hair, she may have been costumed as a banana. Her posture was precarious and liable to slip off the seat at any moment to land on a bony posterior that had only known the caress of a lover’s hand upon it twice in her life. When the subject came up, she exaggerated and said it had been eight times. “So, what instead?”
They sat in the lunchroom, a human pear and a human banana, locked in conversation, oblivious to anything around them.