Filed Under: Short Stories
Date Created:12 Mar 2016
Last Modified:09 Feb 2017
Number of Views: 1025
There was a girl, a young girl, who sat next to me at the office. I didn’t like her much. I doubt if anyone liked her much. She was a renegade. I could tell from her disheveled hairstyle and her outrageous dressing. But more from what she said.
“Can we go out sometime?” my colleague, Jonas, asked her one day. Jonas fancied her, for reasons best known to himself. We totally found it odd because no one in their right mind could fancy a person like Nancy. I guess Jonas was not in his right mind.
“You want to go out?” She asked, her lips twisted into a frown.
“Yes, I want to take you out.”
“Not if I take you out first.”
“What do you mean?” He raised his brows.
“Go figure.” She slammed her laptop, avoiding eye contact with him. “I need some air. This room is stuffy; must be because of all the men in here.”
She grabbed her coat and put it on. It was a white coat with a wooly collar. It made her look like an Eskimo. She walked out and slammed the door shut after her. Jonas started. He scratched his head. I laughed, and so did Matt. Matt sat on the opposite end of the room, facing me. He winked at me. I simply chuckled.
“She is so rude,” Jonas said, clearly disappointed. He slogged back to his desk and slumped in his seat.
“And why do you keep on trying?” Matt asked. “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”
“I am in love,” Jonas said, staring at the empty space in front of him. “And so I will keep on trying till she buckles.”
“While Nancy keeps refusing to go out, keep asking her,” Matt laughed, shaking his head.
“Ah yes, a loop.” Trevor, who sat next to Jonas, mattered behind his computer screen. Unlike me and Matt, Trevor was a typical nerd. He had large headsets over his ears. He had a round head and a face that made him look like a large naughty baby. His hair was longer than any hair I had ever seen on a head of a man. Sometimes we stuck pens and pencils in it just for the fun of it and he did not even notice. “A loop which is destined to run forever because the condition for it to stop is impossible.”
“Nay,” Jonas said rousing himself from an apparent day dream. “Everything and everyone has a breaking point. Eventually, some day, she is going to agree to go out with me.”
“Not if she takes you out first.” Matt rocketed to his feet and laughed out loud. That made him look like the emoji on the instant messaging app I used.
“What does that even mean?” Jonas asked. I actually thought he was pretending not to know.
“Kill you bro,” Trevor grunted. “She is going to kill you if you keep pushing.”
“Spot on!” Matt exclaimed whipping a finger at Trevor with a large grin. Now he looked like the grinning emoji. Matt was always fast. He talked fast. He walked fast. His movements were fast. I bet he even breathed fast. So we nicknamed him Fast Matt.
“Ha!” Jonas scoffed in disbelief. “No way. She meant take me out, as it, on a date.”
“Dream on bro,” Trevor said. “He he he.”
Trevor had a funny laugh. He laughed slowly and deliberately; and it was always three ‘he’s. I found that totally odd. And annoying. Thank God he hardly laughed at me. I would smack him right in the face.
“Dreams do come true,” Jonas said, drifting into a daydream again.
The door suddenly opened and there, in the door way, stood Nancy, in all her splendor. There was a large frown on her face. Had it not been for her terribly disheveled hair dyed yellowish-brown; her large lips smeared with too much pink lipstick(which made her look like a clown); and her hideous earrings that seemed to pull down her earlobes making them look longer; I would probably have fancied her.
I glanced at Jonas and noticed him nearly swooning.
“It’s stuffy outside too!” she declared in an angry tone. “There is no bloody breeze. Everything is as still as death. This is deadly boring!”
We did not respond. Jonas was now drooling as he stared at her in adoration.
“Why don’t you just get back to your code,” Trevor said listlessly. “Tomorrow is the deadline.”
“Fuck the damn code,” she said. “I need a life. I can’t spend eight hours a day stooped over a laptop talking to dumb machines.”
She catwalked towards her desk. She wore a shiny, tight pair of trousers that appeared to be made of plastic. She slumped into her seat and stared at me, her hand under her chin.
“Mwansa,” she said staring straight into my face. “Don’t you find this wretchedly boring?”
I was a bit taken aback. She hardly did talk to me, or at least not so directly. All I could do was nod.
“Then let’s quit, you and I.”
“Eh?” I felt my heart leap.
“ I mean it,” her eyes were shinning now; glowing with excitement.
“For real?” Something in her voice and her eyes was pulling me in—into her wretched idea. I slowly began to get excited.
“I am damn serious.”
“Hold up!” Matt blurted, lifting his hand. “You just can’t quit. Where are you going to go? This is Zambia. Not bloody America. You just can’t quit and survive.”
I stared at him and wrinkled my brow. He did have a point.
“That’s the fun of it,” she said, her voice soothing my ears. “I don’t know. We are going to figure out something—together.”
She held out her hand. I stared at it and I felt a warmth in my chest.
“Think about it. Our lives are too structured. We are stuck in a crazy routine. Every day, we come here, sit down the whole day cracking our heads over senseless, meaningless things which no one appreciates. How long will we keep up with this Mwansa? One day, we are going to break down, and they will toss us away. We would have wasted our lives. We would have never lived.
“But imagine if you could wake up and you don’t know what the day will hold. You do not know where you will find your next meal, or your next bed. That—that would be exciting.”
“But why… why me?” I asked, staring at Jonas. He looked terrified, and confused.
“Because you hate me.”
“Eh?” We all said it at once; me, Trevor and Matt. Trevor, for what seemed like the first time in his life, looked up from the computer. I could see one or two pencils sticking out of his hair. It must have been Fast Matt.
“Yes,” she smiled. “Because it would be exciting to see you eventually learn to love me. It would be one hell of an exciting life.”
I couldn’t believe my ears. It sounded so wrong. And so exciting.
“Well? What do you say?”
I paused for a while. I closed my eyes and my life flashed before my eyes: me seated at a desk staring at the computer. That was the only image that flashed before my eyes. It was then that I realized that I did not have a life at all.
I shot to my feet and slammed the computer shut. I stared at her and smiled.
“Well, what the hell,” I said. “What do I have to lose?”
She shrilled from delight and jumped up and down like a little girl. I grabbed her hand and we walked out of the room. Matt and Trevor were speechless, their eyes popping out of their sockets. Jonas had passed out and was sprawled over his desk.
We stood outside and stared at each other. A slow breeze suddenly began to blow.
“Well? What next?” I asked, my heart was thudding. I could not believe I had just done the thing that scared me the most: quit my job.
“You got where to go?” she asked.
“You got what to do?”
“Nope. The only thing I have ever really known to do is code. Out here, in the world, I am like a little, helpless boy.”
“Oh goody! This is going to be so much fun!”
I frowned at her. She laughed. “You hate me so bloody much!”
“Yes.” I did not disagree. “I do. I feel like beating the shit out of you right now.”
“Then why aren’t you?”
I froze; the way a computer freezes when it encounters an uncaught exception. I did not actually know the answer to that question.
“You are hopeless.” She laughed.
“I do agree.”
She suddenly threw her arms around me, and planted her lips on mine. At first, I tried to resist, but then I got lost in the moment. It felt so wrong. And so right.
“Mwansa! Mwansa!” a voice said, sounding so far away. “What the fuck are you doing?”
I opened my eyes and then staggered back in shock. I nearly fell to the ground.
“What the hell are you doing? Are you out of your mind?”
I stared at the man in front of me—at the man who I had just been kissing. He was my boss, and he was pissed. He wiped his lips in disgust.
“I—I am so sorry, sir,” I said in confusion. “I do not know what is going on.”
“Clearly,” he bellowed. “Now get back to work!”
I walked back into the office confused.
There was no girl. It was just the guys. They stared at me in with smiles of amusement. I frowned at them.
“It happened again, didn’t it?” I asked.
Matt nodded, trying his best to stifle a laugh.
“Why the hell didn’t you stop me?”
“Because it was so so… funny!” He couldn’t help it and he burst into raucous laughter. Jonas and Trevor followed suit, Trevor’s laughter lasting only three ‘he’s.
I walked to my desk and slumped down. I looked at the empty desk beside me and sighed. I know I lived in two different words. The other version was definitely better.
“I am beginning to think Mwansa is a mental hospital case,” I heard my boss saying from outside.
I sighed heavily again and opened my laptop, amidst giggling from my colleagues.
Suddenly, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I quickly span around and found myself starting into the face of Nancy, my dead work mate.
“Do you want to quit work?” She asked.
My life was on a loop. I kept going back to the same moment in time—to the period I was happiest.
“I think I know how to break this loop.” I said holding her hand tightly. “This time, when we walk out of the office, and the bus comes hurtling towards us, don’t push me out of the way. Take me with you.”
She smiled. “Finally.”
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