Contributor: E.K. Smith

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“So, I’ve called you in here today to let you know that… well, there’s really no easy way to say this, so I guess I’ll just say it--- we’re going to have to let you go. I wish we had another option, but we don’t.”

Clinton sat across from his boss of ten years in a stuffy, cramped office on the twelfth floor of a high rise built in the 1970s. As soon as he heard the voice stop emanating from his boss’s gingivitis-ridden mouth, he closed his eyes to allow each word to sink in--- one by one--- into the utter chaos that constituted his fatigued, painfully mediocre brain. Just as he was starting to process the meaning behind the string of words, a brisk banging sound shoved its way into his ears. It came from behind him.

A morbidly obese, blonde man in a skin-tight button up shirt turned the doorknob and stuffed himself into the tiny room. “Uhh… Sorry to interrupt, Mr. Jonsen, but I just wanted to know if you and your staff might be interested in joining this ‘water club’ I just started down on the eleventh floor.” He gasped for air and continued without any concern for the fact that Mr. Jonsen was staring at him as if he were an old whore standing in the middle of the street wearing nothing but Christmas lights and Clinton’s eyes were still firmly shut. “Basically, the way it works is that each person contributes $1 per month and then we get water delivered for one of those big dispensers that everyone can share.”

Clinton opened his eyes when he heard the word “share,” precisely on time to see a large, grey pigeon fly into the window above Mr. Jonsen’s head.

“What in God’s name…” Jonsen started, but his voice trailed off as he saw Clinton rise abruptly from his seat. For an awkward twenty-three seconds, Clinton stared at a $55 fountain pen that was collecting dust on Jonsen’s desk. Then he pushed his way past the doughy mounds of the water club guy’s belly and ran down the hallway. He flung the stairwell door open and bounded down twelve flights of stairs at his top speed, almost tripping a couple times. As soon as he was outside the building, he looked up, fighting the urge to close his eyes against the stinging sun. It was easy to assess where the window was. As he walked anxiously toward the bird that was laying on the blazing hot concrete, he saw its ratty wing twitch slightly. A wave of pure joy flushed over him. He knelt slowly, scooping up the bird in both palms and lifting it to his face. With his cheeks starting to burn in the heat, he whispered gently, “It’s just you and me.”

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E.K. Smith's work has appeared in Misfit's Miscellany. She is a new writer.
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