The air conditioning turned off hours ago.
It’s Friday evening and the only employees still in the office are currently sitting on this two-seater lobby couch.
The maintenance guy needs you to lift your feet so he can vacuum under them. You both laugh as you do it, your legs up in the air like you’re on an invisible amusement park ride or like you’re both fucking a ghost. The man pushing the vacuum runs it back and forth eight times, making you keep your legs up in the air long enough that he hopes your abs will give in and you’ll go home to your respective spouses.
“You have anything lined up?” you ask him.
“I might take some time off for a bit,” he says. “But I’m bad at time off.”
You nod, staring at his fucking wedding ring.
“If I hear my consulting firm has any spots to fill, I’ll let you know.”
“Thanks,” he says, staring at your fucking wedding ring.
It was six months ago that you got assigned to work alongside him on a data migration, and for the last four you’ve been unable to think of anything but him. You’re pretty sure he feels the same but you’ve never said a word, choosing only to hang on every one of his.
“It’s not fair,” you say.
He looks at you, very interested in what you’ll say next.
“It’s not fair that full time staff gets cut to save money. Soon the workforce will be nothing but us consultants.”
His shoulders fall. He looks away.
“We should stay in touch,” you say, your voice reduced to a whisper. You’re having trouble speaking at an audible pitch, like you know you’re going to say goodbye soon and your voicebox is powering down to prevent you from saying it.
“We should,” he says.
All you’d have to do is say “Let’s go” and you’d be in a hotel room within the half hour but you won’t. This isn’t someone you can be casual about. This is someone you would destroy everything for if you let yourself but you won’t.
The maintenance man is buffing the floors now.
He says something that you can’t hear. He leans closer to you on the couch and says it again but you still can’t hear.
He yells, “Maybe we should get going.”
You scream, “No!” You scream it loud enough that the maintenance man turns off the buffer to find out what’s wrong. He shoots you an irritated look.
“I’m not fucking leaving this couch,” you tell the maintenance man.
The maintenance man drops the handle of his floor buffer and stomps away.
It’s quiet now. He’s staring at your face from his end of the couch but you look straight ahead. If you turn and look him in the eye, even for a second, you’ll burn your whole life to the ground. So you just sit there next to him and look straight ahead, and you stay there, keeping one eye on the clock to make sure you don’t miss the last MetroNorth train home.
Happy They’re Vacuuming Around You Now Day!