TW: Implied/Discussed Sexual Assault (Mild), Car Accident, Amputation/Major Injury, Bullying/Blackmail, Abusive Power Dynamic (Work Environment)
Jonathan told me we hired someone new today. We haven’t hired any new people in months, not since the last guy got caught stealing from the company. I asked what their name was and he told me: Azalea. I haven’t met anyone with that name before, and just by name association, they sound beautiful. I know the flowers are, and I like to believe that names are often a reflection of a person. My name doesn’t feel like it can compare. Heather. What images come to mind with the name Heather? A field? Dried grass? Definitely not flowers.
I met Azalea today. I was right, sort’ve, but I think her name should be different. Thistle, maybe, or Venus Fly Trap. She’s irritatingly beautiful, but her personality… I can’t believe I have to sit next to her. She acts so arrogant! I saw her smirk at me! Her lip curled like in a fantasy book! I half expected her to growl at me, too. Was it because I’d spilled coffee on my shirt this morning? Did I look bad today and not know it?
She acts better than the rest of us like she’s God’s gift to the office. I wish I could move desks, but Jon doesn’t listen to me, not when he’s the one that hired her in the first place. Maybe her looks had something to do with it…
I’ve decided. I tried to give Azalea the benefit of the doubt, but now, I’ve made up my mind. She’s a bitch and two-faced, and she makes me feel stupid and I hate her. She doesn’t do anything but scrutinize me and mock me, and whenever Jonathan comes to talk to me, she scoffs! Who scoffs at someone when they’re sitting right next to them!?
It was Saint Patrick’s Day today at work. Two of the guys almost got into a fistfight in the lunch room because Andrew pinched Eric a little too roughly. That’s why I always make sure my green is very obvious for anyone to notice, so I don’t have to deal with the stupidity. Jon was in a good mood, too. I was glad to see him happy for once; it’s been a long couple of months. We’ve had so many deadlines that I feel like I still missed one or two along the way.
Azalea came to the Saint Patrick's party, too. She had on this dark green dress and black heels. Her hair was done up, and she wore these super expensive-looking gold earrings. It was weird. She was almost… nice tonight. She didn’t sneer down at me like she usually does, and she actually spoke to me like an equal. I was shocked that she was treating me like a human. Maybe she’s not so bad after all?
She is absolutely fucking awful. I hate her. I worked so hard to snag this client, to make the deal, to get everything put together and in order, and she stole it from me! She blackmailed me! Everything was fine, then Jonathan comes to my desk and suddenly he was sitting in front of me like a disappointed parent and I’m wondering what I did wrong! And of course, Azalea had to be the one to come to the rescue and “fix it” when I’ve had nothing but a perfect record for months.
I cried at my desk. I think out of anger and shame, really, cause it didn’t register until later that I hadn’t done anything wrong. I scanned back my emails and there wasn’t anything. I was fine. The deal was fine. But, I was made to look like the bad guy and I don’t even know how she did it! I looked incompetent in the office. It was something about the client thinking I was rude and incompetent. Jon hugged me for a long time while I cried.
The office feels weird lately. It’s been… kinda tense. There was the whole incident with Azalea and me, and her stealing my client away, but this feels… a lot bigger than just that. It feels like a cloud has settled in the office. Jonathan’s been in a bad mood for weeks and Azalea hasn’t been herself either. They are both quieter. I’ve just been watching them lately, and the tension gets stronger when they’re close together. I don’t think they’ve had a full conversation in weeks… I wonder what happened.
It’s been a long time since I last wrote. Where do I even begin?
So, I quit. I guess that’s a good start. So did Azalea. Apparently, Jonathan was… propositioning her for sex. She had so many screenshots to show me when it finally came to light. I was dropping something off in his office, a few weeks ago, back in June, and he asked me to stay. I don’t really remember much of what happened after, but I remember him leaning down to my face, and I remember his hand on my cheek.
Azalea was the one who stepped into whatever was happening. She’d pushed herself into the room and grabbed my arm. I remember being yanked away as she yelled something. I think my shirt was unbuttoned, too. Azalea pulled me into the women’s bathroom, and she was fussing over me, checking my face, and fixing my shirt. I still don’t really remember what happened even when I try to think about it, but both of them reached out afterward. Jonathan sent me a long text, detailing how he felt about me, and how he’d been trying to change our dynamic or something like that. I think he was trying to get me to look at him differently?
Azalea called me, too, and explained everything from her side. She and Jonathan were friends before working together, and despite him acting a little weird sometimes, they’d never had any trouble. At least until she started working there and she caught on to how he acted around me. So, she interjected herself into the situation and dragged the spotlight to her, even if she had to be rude to me. But, when he finally got around to his main goal, she rejected him. I guess, he’d been acting that way with her to make me jealous?
I didn’t realize he felt that way about me. I guess he didn’t know that I don’t like men that way. I hope he doesn’t bother me or Azalea anymore. He wasn’t… a bad guy, and he was a fair boss. I still remember the face he made at me in his office, though. It’s sort’ve haunting in a way.
I filed for a restraining order against Jonathan. I think I had too much faith in him. I’d convinced myself that he would’ve got the message but he didn’t. He kept harassing me and Azalea, trying to get in contact with us both. He ended up going to Azalea’s house one night when she was home and wouldn’t leave until she threatened to call the cops. She’s been with me ever since.
She’s sitting over at the dining table right now, drinking a cup of that extra sugary coffee she likes. We were both spooked after what happened a couple months ago. She filed for a restraining order first. I filed mine this morning after he somehow found my house. Part of me thinks he drove around town until he found Azalea’s car and then put two and two together.
I guess in a way it isn’t all bad. I don’t mind having her here. She’s changed a lot, especially since she saved me from his office. She’s not as mean and we actually have a lot in common. She reads a lot, which I didn’t expect, and cooks pretty well, too. It’s been nice having decent meals instead of microwaveable frozen meals. She’s still beautiful, but that doesn’t really mean anything. I’d like to think that maybe we can be friends beyond tolerant roommates.
I think I have a crush on Azalea. Every time she cooks, I want to be in the kitchen too, and help her. I think I just end up being more of a pest since she usually shoos me away.
I miss her when she leaves the apartment. She found a new job pretty close to the apartment which is good. I’ve been freelancing mostly, editing essays for college students, and doing copywriting for any quick contract positions I can snag. It seems to work, but whenever it’s just me, I almost get sort’ve lonely? We’ve been watching some rom-com shows that she likes when she gets home from work. I think I’m starting to like them.
I try to stay busy though. I clean a lot. I clean probably more than I need to, but I want her to see that I’m pulling my weight. She cooks, I do the dishes. Whenever she does something, I want to do it over and do it better to show her that I’m useful. It’s my apartment but I feel like I’m going out of my way for her. It’s a weird feeling. I don’t really know how to handle it.
It’s Halloween or was. We had a party here at the apartment. Azalea and I invited old work friends over to get drunk and watch scary movies. I made cocktails. They were orange and purple colored for Halloween and Azalea made food and snacks for everyone. A few people brought extra filler snacks or their own alcohol. Andrew brought Bud Light since he insisted that he didn’t like “the fruity drinks” that I made but, when I finally convinced him to just try a little bit, I think he ended up drinking most of them.
We watched Hocus Pocus and Halloweentown since I’m such a big wuss. I finally caved afterward and we put on Insidious and the Shining and a few other scary movies. Azalea sat next to me on the couch. I was just a witch since it was the best I could come up with. She dressed up as Catwoman and did a really great job with her makeup and outfit. I wrinkled my dress when I was sitting on the couch, but we ended up cuddling close together whenever a jumpscare came on screen. Most of the guys yelled and then laughed, while the girls screamed and clung to one another.
It was a good time. I had fun. It was nice to see people from my old job again, especially after the ordeal with Jonathan. I haven’t heard from him and neither has Azalea so the restraining order must’ve worked. I think the best part of the night, though, was after everyone was passed out. We’d put out a few blankets and sleeping bags for people to stay in if they were too drunk to drive home, and while everyone slept, Azalea and I cleaned up the kitchen a little. Quietly, of course.
At one point, we were whispering about the movies and talking about our favorite parts. I was sitting on the kitchen counter, drinking some water when Azalea came over. She surprised me since she stood between my legs. I didn’t know what to do, but I felt my face heat up and I know I looked ridiculous. She was talking to me, saying something I can’t really remember, but she kissed me. I kissed her, too. I asked her if she was still drunk, and she told me ‘maybe.’ I felt a little hurt by that, weirdly enough. I told her to kiss me again when she was sober. She told me okay.
It’s almost Thanksgiving. Ever since the Halloween party, Azalea and I haven’t been as close to one another. She leaves earlier in the morning and comes home later. It drove me crazy the first few days, but now I think I’m used to it, sadly. It still surprises me how I went from hating her to having a full-blown crush on her. I think I made things awkward by asking her to kiss me when she was sober. I think she feels guilty and so do I. She hasn’t been cooking so I’ve been eating frozen meals again. The apartment isn’t as clean as it should be. I really need to vacuum.
I think this just goes to show that I need to leave things alone. I never tried to make deeper connections with people because of situations like this. I either read too far into them or other people expect more from me than I am able to give. It feels sort’ve like the Jonathan situation but without the sexual assault. She didn’t force me to kiss her because I already wanted to, but she was still drunk, and I was too. Does that make me the assaulter? Did I take advantage of her even though she came to me first? Am I the bad guy?
I wouldn’t exactly be surprised if I was. I’ve been called one before. A bad guy. I’ve been called a liar and a cheat before when someone assumed I was all for them when I just thought they were a friend. I want to be all for Azalea but maybe I jumped the gun. I don’t think reaching out would be a good idea either. Whenever I have, I get one-word replies and she hasn’t sent me any memes in a while. I think our last text today was six hours ago. Usually, she’s home by now. I hope she comes home soon.
I’m at the hospital. Turns out, Azalea was in a wreck. The cops called me around midnight and told me what happened. They said I was listed as one of her emergency contacts. They told me she was driving on some back roads outside of town and missed a stop sign since there weren’t any lights on the road. A truck t-boned her. Both vehicles were totaled, but luckily she’s alive. Right now, she’s in surgery. The crash was bad and it shattered one of her knees. Her face and arms are cut up, and she has a bunch of bandages on. She was asleep when I got here, but I think the doctors called it a medically induced coma. Her injuries must’ve been worse than what I was told.
I asked about the guy that hit her. He’s okay, banged up, and has a broken arm. Doctors think he’ll be released in the next day or two, but Azalea will be here for a while. She’s going to have to relearn how to walk once her knee is fixed. I planned on staying here as long as I could. A couple of the nurses pulled out a cot for me to sleep on in her room once she comes out of surgery. I hope they’re not in there too long.
They took Azalea’s leg. Apparently, the damage was way worse than they anticipated and the surgeons mutually agreed that it was better for her to lose the leg. The bottom part, anyways. Her knee wasn’t salvageable so now we’re going to have to look into options for prosthetics.
She cried when she woke up. I was sitting next to her bed, reading, and when she saw me, she cried. I didn’t really know what to do, but I hugged her. I’d never been hugged so tightly in return before. Not even my own mom and dad ever hugged me as tight as she did. I ended up crying, too. I’m glad she’s alive. I’m really glad she’s alive. She’s scared though. She has to relearn how to walk and function with crutches, and who knows how long it will be until we can find a prosthetic for her. I think the waitlists are long and insurance is so finicky. Her boss has been great, though. I talked to him this morning so he knew what was going on and didn’t think she was no-showing to work.
She’s going to be bedridden for a while to make sure her leg heals up. Plus, she’s got to do all the physical therapy and healing stuff, too. I want to tell her how I feel before something else like this happens.
It’s Christmas. Azalea’s doing a lot better. She found a rhythm with her crutches and she’s on a waitlist for a prosthetic which is great! I’ve been with her every day, helping her get stronger and adjust to everything. She’s strong. Really strong. I really admire her and how determined she’s been to recover.
I got her some comfy sweatshirts and a bracelet. I also figured out how to make her favorite gingerbread cookies. It’s been a good day. She got me a lot of books I’d had on my TBR list and a dainty silver ring. She called it a promise ring, but wouldn’t tell me what she was promising. She grinned when she gave it to me, though. She’s been smiling a lot more.
A little while ago, Azalea told me that she liked my name. I was really surprised and I asked her why. She told me it reminded her of a flower field. I think that was the moment I realized that I was stupidly in love with her. That I am stupidly in love with her. I think, maybe, if I’m lucky, really lucky, just maybe, she loves me, too.