Claire gnawed on her pencil. As one of the many creative heads for Hansen’s Greetings, America’s second-largest greeting card company, she had to roll out the new Revenge and Congratulations line in a strategy meeting. Despite her penchant for selecting bad bets as investments and having terrible business sense, her keen appreciation for irony made her a fantastic fit for the division, but Luther’s absence made her task all the more difficult because she had no one to project her work onto, no muse, no… catalyst for revenge.
Editorial interruption: This is sixth in a series; please go here for the first “chapter”:https://mollyfielddotcom.wordpress.com/2013/04/19/friday-fiction-friends-2-0-familiarity-breeds-fonder-over-greener-ponds/
She stood up from her desk and looked around the office-scape for a moment before venturing out. No one was looking around, no heads could be seen, so she casually wandered over to Luther’s cube and started to inspect his space. It was oddly clean and organized; something she had never managed to notice while it was occupied. He had small photos of himself and his family at the beach, on the boat, at the club, on the docks, all in tennis whites, at the track, on the links. No picture of him with a girlfriend. Just family. Who would have him? He’s an ass, she thought to herself, scoffing at the idea.
Revenge and Congratulations. How challenging! How do you connote happiness for someone at the same time be glad they’re getting what’s theirs? This is like schadenfreude on laxatives. Why am I the one who’s heading up this division? What does that say about me?
Claire’s eyes rolled in their semi-automatic way as she forced out a sigh. She had recently become aware of the opinion, thanks to her best friend, that she did it more than she thought.
Snap back to the now, Claire, she said to herself. Looking around one last time… Hmm, he left his Dr. Dre’s here. But he loves those obnoxious things. Why would he? They’re like his asshole crest. This quiet moment was helping her creative juices flow, she saw a copy of What Color is Your Parachute? Which took her as a complete surprise and made her wonder if he were thinking about leaving his job. For a moment, she felt protective, wanting to conceal the book because even though the guy was an ass, she didn’t like the idea of his being let go sooner than he’d expect just because he’s trying to get a better job… But she stopped herself. She recalled his many jabs, his penchant for being The Jerk at Work and she started to imagine…
The Jerk at Work! What a great title that would be for my best seller! Write that down…
What would it be like if he were forced into retirement?
The thoughts started like a flood:
Too bad your career never took off …open the card… Now instead of complaining about the work you had to do, you can complain about the work you used to do.
Too bad your career took off without you …open the card… I hear they have openings at New Coke.
Claire jumped at her own creativity. She tipped up on her toes, pivoted to her left, skipped a step and dashed back to her desk. Her taupe palazzo pants caught wind and their hems swished gently after her, doing their best to catch up; they were always a half-second behind her movements. Completely forgetting the pencil in her mouth, she pulled the pencil in her hair’s bun; when the pencil released, her sable brown locks softly draped her shoulders, immediately warming her neck and she quickly wrote down the lines she’d come up with as she bent over the top of her desk.
She sat down, woke up her computer and began to type. The pencil in her mouth was a dented, chewed and masticated mess. Tiny glistening chips of periwinkle paint dotted over her forearms as her hands flew across her keyboard.
Your stratospheric rise was too much for your career ...open the card… All your hot air has melted the ice cap.
Your career called, it wants its ambition back …open the card… Now you really can talk about the good old days.
She paused, that last one was nasty. But he’s nasty.
Ok, that’s a good start… let’s move on to relationships, something he clearly has no experience with or evidence of manifesting. What would it be like if he got dumped by his girlfriend? What would be the circumstances? Did he even have a girlfriend? What would he say about it? How would he handle it? Well, I know how he’d handle it… he’d be a dick, that’s how he’d be…
She turned to her purse and felt for her iPod. Maroon 5 was on the cue and and the first song to come up was “Misery” and she laughed at her luck. She sat at her desk, put on her ear buds, hit restart and her body began to chair-dance at her desk. First her neck started dipping left and then right, her shoulders got in on the action and her waist began to twist and groove…
Oh yeeee-ah… So scared of breakin it that you won’t let it bend…
and I wrote 200 letters that I will never send…
So let me be… Now set you free… I am in mis-er-y…”
Congratulations on your weight loss! …open the card… You managed to lose 130# (or #190# depending on the gender) of ugly body fat with a single text…
Sorry about your recent break-up …open the card… it is all for the bitter now…
Giggles emanated from her cubicle, she simply could not contain herself any longer and her enthusiasm was jetting her through the next drafts and ideas…
Now I’m gonna get you back…gonna get you back… yeah…
I heard you got dumped …open the card… Good news: we are going out for beers. Bad news: you’re buying, you owe me $20 on that bet.
Happy Valentine’s Day …open the card… Go find someone else to love and don’t come back.
She thought of the video for the song; how poor delicious Adam Levine got beat up and abused by his hot girlfriend. His expressions in the video were her favorite part. The methods that the girl employed were her second-favorite part. Too bad the whole band got beat up along the way…
Bad break-up sex is better than great make-up sex …open the card… When it’s with you. Here’s your key back (with a little space for glue to tack on a key).
I’ve got news. …open the card… The good news is no one’s thinking about you as much as you feared; The bad news is no one’s thinking about you as much as you wished. Get off my couch. Your crap’s in boxes by the curb.
“Don’t touch the printer! It’s mine!” Claire yelled through the office as she pressed Command / P on her computer. With a flourish, she shoved her seat out from under herself and took off for the printer hub. “My creative! MIIIINE!” She almost tripped on a pair sneakers that Marjorie left outside her cube.
As she gathered her sheets from the printer, she examined them for typos, and other errors that could’ve appeared. Everything looked good, she was ready to get with design and images to work on collaborating the pictures and illustrations to punch the card’s delivery. Claire knew her strengths, she knew she could do cartoonish sketches and help with concept, but when it came to the real artistry, she left it to the team down the hall and next to the atrium.
She went to the mounting room and grabbed some pieces of black board for tacking on the content. She knew she was skipping a few steps, that she should wait and not mount any of the drafts until people saw them, but she felt good about these concepts and she knew she’d hit at least half of them out of the park. She began to slice the papers using the giant cutter and used spray fixer to mount the sheets to the boards.
If I’ve got this concept down, we are on our way. The bottom line is that if people paid attention to how jerky and arrogant they were, there’d be no fodder for me to put this together, so in some weird way, I owe Luther some gratitude.
Not seeing the irony of her own penchant for paying mind to too many conflicted people and situations, Claire whisked her work off the tables and headed for the “artrium” as she liked to call it.
© 2013 Molly Field :: All Rights Reserved.
That’s it for today. I’m late, as you can see!
Here is the prompt: You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” –Anne Lamott
Jump on the other great writers’ entries:
Here’s the Maroon 5 video (it’s very clever and funny, actually, and i LOVE Adam’s eyebrow raise, especially at 1:29ish):