My brows were furrowed and my leg was shaking up and down furiously. I was hunched in front of the computer, trying to find the source of the error. Work was always important to me, therefore I often overlooked little details such as how I seemed to my co-workers.
That is the reason as to why, to this day, I still don’t know why she choose to come to me. I remember her radiant aura, her big smile and her golden hair catching my attention. Everyone knew Emily and, somehow, Emily knew everyone too. Despite her working at this company for only a few days, it was safe to say that her positive attitude brightened up everyone’s day.
When Emily came up to my desk, I didn’t spare her a glance, nor did I say anything. She stood in front of my desk for a minute or two, and I felt her stare burning into my head.
At last, she cleared her throat loudly, making me look up. My thoughts were still surrounding the error when she started talking.
“Hi! You’re John, right?” She asked in one of the sweetest voices I have ever heard.
“Nice to finally meet you! I was wondering if you’d like to come to my birthday hang-out. Most of our co-workers are also coming and it would be amazing if you’d also come!” She said, her eyes never leaving mine.
Her question left me speechless, but I quickly regained my composure.
My eyes darted to a small box on my desk. The corner of my lips turned upward, as I realized my opportunity.
“I will be there.”
Her smile grew even bigger as she told me the time and place.
I still remember the relief I felt for the rest of the day, as things were finally going my way. After all, Emily was so bright and she had the attitude like nothing would bring her down. She was… perfect.
The party itself is a hazy memory, I simply know that I gave her the small dark box and left after about 10 minutes. I didn’t get to see her reaction, but I remember seeing the dark green necklace around her neck the following day at work.
That day she came up to me and this time I looked up without hesitation.
“Hi, John! I wanted to thank you for the necklace! It is really pretty!” Her eyes were gleaming as she held the necklace. “Is this jade?”
“I’m glad you like it and uh… yes! Yes, it is jade.” I quickly answered.
Her smile got bigger and her eyes got bigger. That’s when she did something I had not expected, she… hugged me. It was quick and a bit awkward since I was sitting down, but she didn’t seem to mind.
“Thank you…” She whispered before hurrying back to her desk.
After that day everything seemed to change. She would come daily to my desk and we’d have small chats and whatnot. But… there was something else changing too.
I think it was about the 10th day after the party when I first noticed. Emily’s energy had changed dramatically. She had dark circles under her eyes and after sitting at her desk she immediately fell asleep.
I watched her be like that for a few days, but whenever someone tried talking to her about it she would either yell or ignore them completely. It was hard for her to keep up with her work, and therefore she stopped talking to any of our co-workers completely. The dark circles under her eyes only got darker, her hair messier and her nights seemed to be more sleepless as days passed.
I think she got scolded during the 7th day from the party for being behind with her work and sleeping during work hours. That’s when she tried her hardest to stay awake and would drink cup after cup of coffee.
I often looked at her with pity, but I knew there was little I could do to help. Regardless of that, I started arriving a bit earlier at work so I could leave a cup of coffee at her desk. The first morning she came and found the cup, she looked around with confused eyes but decided to say nothing and accepted it.
Two weeks after the party, everyone stopped paying attention to her. They would sometimes whisper about her obvious state, but there was little to no pity in their voices. Some of them openly expressed their dissatisfaction with her change in attitude towards them, and how she ‘should be nicer if people are trying to help’.
Their sudden change in attitude towards her took me by surprise, but I can’t say I was any better. My ignorance caused this, and all I did was hope she’ll manage to push through.
After leaving her a cup of coffee every morning, I started leaving her some food too. It wasn’t much but I knew she wasn’t eating properly as her already thin body was beginning to get even thinner. Her face turned a pale colour and her cheekbones were almost skeleton-like.
This time she didn’t even bother looking around, realizing it was from the same person as the coffee cups. She would dig in and finish the food in a few bites; eager to continue working again as she was still behind with her work.
17 days after the party, right before leaving my office, I saw a little note on the back of my computer. I took it and it read: “Thank you for the food and coffee – Emily”
A tear slipped down my cheek, but I wiped it away with my sleeve. I crumbled the note in my hands and threw it in the trashcan before getting up and going home.
The following day we were informed that our co-worker, Emily Rogers, has killed herself and that the funeral will be held the following days.
I don’t regret not going, but now as I stand above your grave I feel my heavy heart beating in my chest at the sight of your tombstone.
“I am sorry, but I had to give that cursed necklace to someone… I thought you could push through, but it appears I was wrong.” Were my last words as I placed a bouquet of roses down and walked away on the cold and rainy night.