I show up for work finally and tell my boss I have to go.
He nods. “Is that why you’re in your robe?”
I look down and he’s right. I’m no monk but I like the comfortable fit.
A friend once wrote that bathrobes are for sick people. Maybe she was right although I’ve never felt better. The boss hands me a clear Hefty bag of candy about one third full. It’s from a client.
I really don’t need the candy since I haven’t left the house in a year, but he holds the bag out towards me with silent insistence.
Once it starts, it’s easy to retreat. I’m a big believer in momentum.
What was once a job I liked is also easy to say goodbye to. People, too.
Even candy, which should have been a red flag but felt more like a checkered one at the end of a race. Cleaning out my desk is easy-peasy. On the wall, I notice a framed photo of the sales team without me—the four Bs in a diagonal line wearing Star Trek pants, arms crossed, no shirts. Just as well. I haven’t been working out. Never took to Star Trek. Never got the big deal.
I am, however, a fan of cooking shows. And cutlery demonstrations at county fairs. Waterless cookware, too. I don’t buy anything, but those guys are good. And the food they cook smells delicious, though they never offer tastes.
There’s a part of sales I like but it’s not the selling. I grab my Hefty bag and look around the office. Phones are ringing, everyone looks busy. I give half a wave, but no one sees it. Smell of commissions in the air.
I won’t miss it, and it won’t miss me and there’s a beautiful lesson in that. Maybe I am enlightened in this robe, a terrycloth monk. Won’t shave my head, though. All those years I battled to wear long hair. Astonishing now, remembering the fights over a ponytail. Over miniskirts my sister wore, the Dean of Girls with her ruler and scissors dropping down hems at school.
My friend who said robes were for sick people in that story she wrote has been gone 20 years now. Still, I respectfully disagree.
A good line at the time is not always true later.
I slip out of the office with the bag of candy over my shoulder and discover a paperclip in my pocket. I may have just stolen an office supply. But I’m not going back. Call it severance pay. I give the candy to an accordion player on the corner with two kids. Press my finger into the paperclip, feeling the skin trying to squeeze through, but there are no shortcuts. Just a nifty design that serves a purpose and fits in a pocket. Unlike me.
is the author of five collections of poetry and short prose, including Nova
Nights (Nomadic Press, 2021) and
Grace (KYSO Flash Press, 2019). His stories have appeared in many journals such
as Bull, Carve, Flashback Fiction, great weather for Media, KYSO Flash, Riddled
with Arrows, and Exposition Review, where he was twice a Flash 405
winner. His work has recently received a Publisher’s Choice Award and an
Editor’s Choice Award, and has been nominated for Best of The Net. His next
collection, Translated From The Original: one-inch punch fiction, will be
published by Nomadic Press in 2022. Guy lives on a houseboat with his wife and salty
cat, drinks black coffee in the afternoon, and walks the planks daily.
Author’s website: https://www.guybiederman.com/
Author’s blog: This Day Afloat: Reflections of Life on the Water