One of my friends was in Boston with family. Four were at Echo Bridge admiring the hemlock. One was on a field trip to a theatre and one working in town. The other two were around but busy practicing piano and, I assume, sleeping.
So I was stuck in the office. I don’t mind offices, but being alone in one can be a horrid bore. Our paychecks had come, and we discussed the discrepancies in amounts before taking our separate leaves of one another. And so I got to sit and, true to relate, began twiddling my thumbs for want of something to do.
My only job was to answer the phone, which had a ring rate of about once an hour, and keep my sanity with the help of my robot friends. I wish I had robot friends to keep me company, but sadly the only thing close to a robot was the stereo which I had no interest in listening to.
‘Spend a week in the desert and you’ll start talking to the lizards. Spend another and the lizards will start talking back.’ Though the office is void of lizards the temptation to talk to oneself grows as time passes, and for me the time doesn’t have to be very long at all before I strike up conversations with appliances:
‘Man she’s been gone forever. How long does it take to go to the corner store? It’s been, like, twenty minutes Mr. Toaster!’
The temptation to call people and bother them to hear their voice gets to you. But when your job is to answer incoming calls you can’t be on the phone chatting to bore your friends. And I had already eaten my back-up donut.
And then I realized the person I was office-sitting for wasn’t coming back. She said she’d gone for a routine doctor’s appointment, but that was patently a lie. Or even if it wasn’t a lie to escape to Chicago and start a new life with a dashing young man, the possibilities at the doctor’s office of something going wrong? Immense. She’d be in Urgent Care until next Tuesday. No way could she have left me here, and my friends left me here, without some nefarious reason.
It was the classic horror-story plot, and I’d been the fool to open the basement door after breaking from the group.
Of course she came back. Or at least I hope she does, for I’m writing this still waiting for her to return. But she’ll come back. She’s got to. Otherwise: nice knowing you.