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Fiction

My day is going to be great. The first day of my new promotion, the one I had worked toward for six months, and I was ready to tackle it. True, the day had not started great when the alarm on my phone did not go off. I guess I left the phone on silent somehow. But that’s ok because the outfit I spent forty-five minutes picking last night still seemed like the perfect choice so I did not have to go through my whole closet again. Just like that I was back on track!

I grab a granola bar and a banana to eat later, place my mobile coffee order from the corner café, toss my purse over my shoulder and stuff my feet into my shoes by the door. No alarm this morning meant I did not have time to make coffee at home today, but that is alright because the new promotion meant I could afford a high-priced treat now and again. As long as my mobile order is ready when I get there I should still be on time. Ok, I might have to walk the eight blocks to work  a little bit faster than usual but I know I can walk pretty quickly, even in my heels, so I am not too worried. Nothing is going to take away from my happiness today!

I walk into Daisy’s Delights just as Daisy herself is calling my name and placing my Salted Caramel Cream on the counter. Perfect. There isn’t even a line for me to stand in. I take this as another sign that my day is going to be awesome. I worked so hard for this promotion, I know I will do a magnificent job, and I can’t wait to show my new boss that he made the right choice.

“Thanks Daisy,” I say, beaming. Daisy has been my best friend since high school and she played a huge part in encouraging me to apply for this promotion.

“Hey there Anne! Well, aren’t you glowing? Are you ready for your big day at work?” Daisy peppers me with her questions.

“Sure am,” I answer with a smile and take a sip of my coffee. “Ouch!” I yelp as the hot liquid burns my tongue.

“Oh gosh, are you ok? Sorry about that,” Daisy says in her usual pedal-to-the-metal way.

“I’ll be fine. I should have realized hot coffee was going to be hot, right?” I say, blushing with a bit of embarrassment. 

“Have a great day, Anne! Call me tonight. I want to hear all about it,” Daisy, always my biggest cheerleader, says and shoos me out the door.  

The door shuts behind me and the beautiful morning sun hits my face. What a perfect morning! It is like something out of a fairytale book with the sun warming me, the birds chirping happily and just a slight breeze blowing so I can smell the sweet jasmine in the planters.  I think, for just a second, that it is too good to be true as I turn left and head downtown with my heels clip-clopping an interesting rhythm on the sidewalk.  

As I walk I daydream about how my first day in my new office will go.  Rumor has it that my new boss Jay can be a tough task-master and has very little patience for mistakes but he also is happy to give credit for a job well done. Seems fair to me, I think as I walk. My goals for today, then, are to take lots of notes and not screw up! Simple, right?  I have a knack for trying to be funny in tense situations and saying things that come out wrong. It is an embarrassing quirk, really, so I make a deal with myself to avoid the temptation to joke for at least the first week.  

I am making great time on my walk and quickly find myself at the corner of 12th and Main where I need to turn right. My coffee has cooled just a bit so I am delighting in my first sip while I wait for the light. Sweet, creamy, rich. Superb! The light changes, walk sign flashing, and I am just about to step off the curb when a sporty red coupe zips through a right turn, making me jump back. My life-saving evasive maneuver makes my purse swing wildly into my coffee cup, knocking it out of my hand to splash on the sidewalk.

 “Damn it! Jerk!”  I yell at the speeding car. Four dollars and thirty cents wasted on a coffee I will not even get to drink. And it was delicious! But, I am not about to let this dampen my mood. Nope, not going to let a little thing like coffee ruin my epic day, I decide and force the smile back onto my face. The walk sign has changed to the flashing do not walk sign, and I know I will not make it across the wide street in time now, so I step back to wait with a sigh. The gentle breeze has picked up, a bit gusty now in fact, and I shiver standing there in the shadow of the building. Suddenly I feel a drop of water on my nose. Then one on my cheek and another on my forehead. What? I look up, confusion clearly stamped on my face, to see that, while across the street the sky is still a dazzling blue, above me there is a dark cloud. An actual, literal, dark cloud above me. 

The walk sign reappears and I head across the street. Yep, you guessed it, the cloud follows me. Of course it does! I am starting to think that maybe this day is not going to be as fantastic as I thought it would be. I feel raindrops pelting my hair and know the beautiful curls I spent nearly twenty minutes crafting this morning are now nothing more than limp strands dangling down my back.  I fumble in my purse, looking for a hair tie. I am in luck, there are actually two! I manage to pull my hair into a braid hanging over my left shoulder.  It is a very messy braid but at least I do not feel like a drowned cat anymore. 

I have just half a block to go to reach my building and as I cross the last street the shadow from my dark cloud vanishes and I walk back into the wonderful sunshine. The change is so stark that I can't resist a glance back to the last block. The rain has stopped and the dark cloud is breaking up. If I was one to believe in conspiracies or omens I might think it really had been targeting me. But I am not the superstitious type so I just give a little shake of my head, albeit a bit nervously, and turn back toward my office building.  As I reach out to open the door I remind myself to smile. This is going to be a great day, remember?

My new office is on the eighth floor, just one below the CEO and the VPs, but as I turn toward the elevator bank I see an out-of-order sign blocking the nook. “You have got to be kidding me,” I mumble to myself as I turn for the stairs instead. Eight floors. In heels! I feel the smile on my face has become a frown and I offer myself a pep-talk. “It’s ok. Think of this as an early morning workout. It will get your blood pumping and wake up your brain.” I almost believe it, too. Except my blood is already pumping from walking eight blocks, a near death experience with an idiot driver, a monsoon downpour for two blocks and hurrying to not be late. And, my brain would be awake if I had been able to drink my damn coffee! I recognize that I am sounding, even to myself, like I might be losing my grip here, and that will surely ruin my great day. “Nope. Not going to let that happen!” I mutter under my breath and reach down to slip my heels off for the walk up the stairs. 

That’s when I see it. One black shoe and one dark navy blue shoe. Not two black shoes or two dark navy blue shoes but one of each.  How could I have walked out of the house wearing two different shoes on the best, most important, day of my career? Because I was too busy putting my coffee order into my phone while I slipped my feet into my shoes by the door to notice. 

So I take a moment, standing at the bottom of the stairs with eight flights to climb, with my mismatched shoes in my hand, my messy braid still dripping a bit of rainwater down onto my blouse, feeling altogether defeated. The universe is against me and it is not fair at all. I just wanted my perfect day. I worked for it and I deserve it! I am hungry and cold. I have no coffee to get me going but I do have a blister on my tongue from that first sip that taunts me, reminding me of the delicious full cup I dropped.

 I feel a childlike, full blown pity party coming until I remember my mother’s advice from my teen years. “You are having a bad moment, not a bad day. Don’t let the moment ruin the day,” she told me when life seemed too much to handle. I run my hands over my hair one more time, using the rainwater mixed with my hairspray to hopefully tame the wildness. I shake off my blouse to loosen any drops that have not already penetrated. There is nothing I can do about the shoes, but once I am sitting down nobody will see them anyway. And as I climb the stairs I feel my smile returning. Someday, I know, I will look back on this, my great day starting my new fantastic job, and laugh. I hope.

March 07, 2023 17:40

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