Flan always arrived so not to be noticed. Being first in by at least thirty minutes guaranteed her this, for at least thirty minutes. She worked in an open floor plan with low rise cubicles “to bring collaboration and community back into the office.” It was a new initiative from yet another new boss. Idiot.
Insurance wasn’t difficult, and behind a phone Flan lived at ease. Though, the majority of her work seemed to get done in the twenty minutes between her computer turning on and the arrival of her coworkers. The rest of the day was spent trying to avoid conversation with the men who surrounded her, and eye contact with Tom in the cubicle opposite.
Suzanne was the only colleague she got on with, and once even went for drinks after work. She was around the same age, plus or minus ten years, she can never tell ages, and was the only person Flan felt comfortable around.
Flan went to the workroom to heat up the remainder of last night’s lasagna. She cooked with the window cracked in an effort to Garfield Darcy back to her, to no avail. She hadn’t seen the cat for weeks. He’s probably on vacation with the “Champ family.” She dreamed of him until the ding of the microwave brought her back into the room.
Suzanne walked in laughing with a small group and made her way towards Flan, or at least the fridge next to her. ‘How have you been Flan? We must do drinks again soon!’
Suzanne had a way of flattering everyone in a room, bringing a world of difference together without ever a desire to disagree.
‘I would love that. Tuesday?’ Flan said nonchalant with a rare sighting of a smirk.
‘Perfect. Why don’t you join us for lunch?’ Suzanne said as she grabbed her salad and joined the others at a nearby table.
Flan froze, I can’t! I can’t! I can’t! She looked up at Suzanne and politely accepted and went in the free space next to Suzanne and a man who went by Don.
If I can make it through this, I can make it through anything she thought, trying to isolate herself in silence.
‘Flan, that sounds just like your mother?’ Suzanne said drawing Flan in. ‘When you said she raised you alone and it made her all the more protective…’
‘And all the more crazy,’ Flan blurted, not fully aware if it were appropriate. They all laughed.
‘I understand that completely,’ Ryan said looking at Flan in solidarity. ‘Once I went to a friend’s house after school without telling her, thinking I’d still be home before her. Eventually, I saw the time and had to rush, but as I ran outside, I see my ma running from one building to the next yelling my name as she beat on the door. I was too embarrassed to walk up to her, so I walked up the street and began waving, saying, “Hey ma!” I couldn’t sit properly for a week after the smack she gave me.’
Everyone laughed, as Flan for once felt a part of something, knowing it wouldn’t likely last. Alas, now it’s time to go back to my desk and do more ignoring, she thought as her face met the expression.
‘Something wrong?’ Suzanne asked.
‘Oh, no. Just lost in thought. Back to work!’ Flan said faking a smirk.
Flan finished the day not thinking of Tom or the men next to her, or even the complaints on the phone, but the fact she could fit in somewhere at some point in time.