Writing

Reading Sundays: THE NON-AFFAIR (Part 7) a short story by Cynthia Sally Haggard

“Ifyoutakemetoyourfavoritecafe,” I remarked to the desk, “I’llorderthemostexpensivethingthere.”

His silence was deadening.

Unable to hold back any more, I lifted my face to his as a flood of giggles washed over me.

He studied me for a moment, a dull redness creeping along his cheeks. His laugh, when it came, was a series of short, sharp barks.

On the other side of that desk, out of sight, I clenched my fingers together until the bones cracked. On my lap sat my law-school application. What had I done?

***

I argued with myself for a couple of weeks, before manhandling myself back to his office to see about the law school application I’d placed oh-so-carefully into his mailbox the week before, just out of sight of his pregnant secretary, who glowered at me. The door was half-open, but he was not there. I stood still for many moments, inhaling the silence, before I crept to the other side of his sullen desk, and sank slowly, oh-so-slowly into his seat. I exhaled as I leaned back in his high-backed chair,

running the tips of my fingers over the fake veneer of the desk, closing my eyes as if by doing so I could imbue myself with his power. The back and the arms of the chair cradled me, as if he were holding me in his arms. As I relaxed, the muscles in my back thawed, my body hummed, purring. If only we could be closer—A light step made me start up.

He leaned against the door jamb watching, a smile on his face, a predatory smile. My body snapped back into its usual jammedness as my cheeks heated up. I rose and attempted to come around the desk, but a sharp corner dug into my hip, causing me to cry out in pain. Blindly I clutched at the fake veneer, but my hands slid away. I set my jaw and somehow heaved my way around the short side of the desk that wasn’t against the wall. Finally, I was by those two prim plastic chairs, on my usual side of the desk, on my way out. But he was there, blocking the doorway.

“That was quite something.” He grinned.

I searched his face, looking for—a morsel of kindness?

“Want my job?” [To be continued.]