by Natalie McNabb
Judd hands me file after
file, a white label with eleven-point Times New
Roman, all caps, on each.
I smile and point my toe
upward, stretch my heel. Straightening the
folders, I say, Ill get on these,
and walk away toward my desk near the forever-leaf-dropping
Ficus. Hes ogling, and I know it. But, it
no longer bothers me.
Were set for
tomorrow? he asks. Its not a question.
You fly out at 6:36 p.m.
First class was fifty dollars more with points. I
confirmed late arrival with The Bellagio and
lunch with your niece. Niece, my ass. She
didnt sound eighteen. More like my age,
thirty. This weeks correspondence is
in your briefcase. I smile at the next bit.
And no colored paper clips, just like you
like. I feel, though, as if I have read him
my grocery list:
Its 5:45, Judds
just standing there, and I need to stop at the
store before my sons football practice at 6:30.
Finally, Judd walks across
the room, lifts his black overcoat and scarf from
the rack, takes his hat from another hook and
says, You made the reservations?
Again, not a question.
For two at 6:30 p.m.
Another niece, but this ones the ginger-haired
thing slinking around the first floor.
Tell Jan Ive
got a meeting.
I nod. I sent her
some anniversary flowers. Roses.
Oh. Thank you. Yes.
Jan will have the house,
cars, sailboat and twins eventually.
Judd leaves, pulling the
door shut behind him.
There has to be something
better than copying, stapling and paperclipping
my way through divorce, custody and legal
separation files while Judd gets his rocks off. I
swore Id find another job, but that became one
day and one day became someday.
Six years later, here I sit. I lift the handset
and dial Jan.
If not now, when?
Hi, Jan. Happy
Fine. Thank you. Judd
asked me to call and see if you could meet him at
6:30 at Daniels for an anniversary dinner.
How nice, Jan
But, 7:00 would give
Judd and the ginger-hair time to get settled
though. My mistake. Reservations are at
7:00. He knows its last minute,
No. Thats great.
Ill be there.
Thank you, Nancy.
The guilt. But, its
going to happen anyway, and Jans beautiful,
has family money. She wont have to
paperclip, staple and copy her way through her
twins upbringing. I remove my office key
from my key ring, place it on my desk and email
Judd: I QUIT in eleven-point Times
New Roman, all caps.
Judd exits the elevator and
pulls the keys from his coat pocket. He whispers,
Too bad that ones the help.
Jan retrieves the long-stemmed
roses, still in their box, from the yard waste
bin while dialing the neighbor girl, Madeleine,
who sat for them last year.