I frowned at my dinosaur of a computer, unfocused and lost in thought. I rubbed my aching lower back as i stretched my feet out under the desk. How much longer do I have to deal with this pain, I wondered. It’s been almost a week already. I huffed. My blonde bangs fluttered from my breath. I leaned forward to continue working on the newsletter project for work. It was due by the end of the week, but I was exhausted, mentally, emotionally, and physically. As much as I tried to push through and ignore what happened, it kept creeping into the back of my mind like a nightmare. As I forced it from my mind, I pounded the keys on the dirty cream-colored keyboard, chipping a nail in the process. Damn it! I really need to get out of here. I can’t do this today. But this has to get done. I sighed, frustrated. All I needed was a faster computer and things would be better. I was almost done with the newsletter, but had to wait an eternity for the program to do its thing. It was like watching the sand through an hourglass, speck by speck – literally as the hourglass appeared on my computer as it whirred and chugged. I hung my head in my hands, bracing my elbows on the desk. My back and pelvis still ached, although I was glad it was mostly bearable now.
“OW! Ouch! Crap!” I shouted as I bashed my knee on the corner of the desk, startled by the voice.
“Oh my gosh! I’m so sorry, Kat! I didn’t mean to startle you,” apologized Greta. She stood in the doorway, concern clear on her face. I rubbed my knee and smiled half-heartedly.
“It’s okay, Greta. I didn’t’ know you were there. I was in lost in thought, I guess. What’s up?” I spun in my chair to face Greta. We didn’t know each other well beyond being co-workers for the same Christian non-profit agency. I tended to avoid the people in our office as much as possible, which proved difficult since there were only four of us that worked full-time and it was a small office. Not that I didn’t like them, but I kept to myself, unsure and shy when faced with people I didn’t know well. Most days, I met my husband, Alex, for lunch instead of hanging around the office and left for the day as soon as it was time. I didn’t linger, as Alex would question where I was and who I was with. It was easier just to do what I needed to do to avoid the somewhat “polite interrogation” from Alex.
“I just wanted to check on you and make sure you’re okay. How are you feeling?” asked Greta.
“I’m fine,” I curtly replied. “Just tired and have a lot to do. I think I’m going to leave early today.” I avoided looking at Greta and began gathering my things. I didn’t want to face her inquisitive gaze. I couldn’t stand the pity. It was the last thing I wanted now. I already saw myself as a failure and didn’t need someone reminding me of it.
“Kat, do you think we could have dinner together one night? Just you and I? I need to talk to you about something.” Greta cleared her throat and stepped aside as I headed for the door. I paused, unsure of how to reply. Normally, I would say no since Alex didn’t like me to go out much without him, but I figured this probably has something to do with work. We had a stressful fundraising banquet coming up and I knew Greta was responsible for a large part of it. I tucked a curl behind my ear thoughtfully and cocked my head, looking at Greta.
“I suppose we could,” I replied hesitantly. “I would have to check with Alex, but I think it would be okay. When?”
“How about tomorrow night at Applebee’s? We can go right after work.”
“Okay. That sounds good. I’ll let you know tomorrow.” I slowly walked out the door, letting it bang shut behind me, as I headed to the car. I was meeting Alex at my parents’ house for dinner and then home. We often went to my parents’ house for dinner as they lived nearby and enjoyed spending time with them. Plus it saved us money as we didn’t have to pay for the food. I wasn’t sure how Alex would respond to me going to dinner with Greta, but I guessed it would be okay. It depended on what kind of mood he was in at the time. Hoping for a good one, I got in my black Saturn and went on my way.
Dinner was good – melt-in-your-mouth roast beef, creamy mashed potatoes, and tangy homemade applesauce, my favorite. My mouth still waters remembering it. That night, I hopped in the shower to get ready for bed. Normally, Alex showered with me at night, but he was too busy playing his new X-Box game. Sometimes, he was like a big kid. We had only been married for four years, but it felt like I had known him forever. Sure, there were problems, but what marriage didn’t have them? I hummed to myself as I scrubbed, letting the warm water pour over me. Alex had agreed to me have dinner with Greta tomorrow night.
I was pretty pleased that I got to have a “night out,” even if it was only dinner most likely about work. I gently washed my stomach and my hand stilled, remembering what could have been. I closed my eyes and leaned back against the shower wall, cradling my stomach. My forehead creased as a tear meandered down my soft cheek. I tried so hard to hold the sorrow in, willing it to stay buried underneath my fragile façade. Stop it, Kat! There’s no point in dwelling on it. Get over it! Alex did and you can, too – I would often mentally berate myself. I dried off, and crawled into my bed, letting the blankets envelop me like a warm hug.