5.12 / December 2010


Sam left her apartment early in the morning despite being ill-prepared. She had brought her bag, but forgotten her phone on the charger and wore some shoes that she probably shouldn’t have. They were comfortable but not well suited to the rain. Sam walked past the corner store, past the bus stop where she waited sometimes, and down a lane full of houses nicer than hers. She had never been in this part of town before, but she picked out a bench alongside a park and sat down.

Sam waited on an unfamiliar bench for something to happen for hours and nothing happened. She thought about how it seemed like the blunt force of boredom had knocked her out of everything else, striking her from her bed that morning. She thought about how even the sadness wasn’t aching anymore, it seemed like it had been shaken to death by this feeling that her life was nothing. Sam was nothing. She got up and walked more.

Sam passed by an antiques shop that looked closed but wasn’t. She supposed that the store was just always dark inside and since the things were so old and no one wanted to go in there anyways it just probably always looked closed. She walked in and didn’t know why. Sam walked through aisles of antique things she did not know the names of, waiting for something to happen. She thought of that expression about the bull in the china store, and imagined going insane with some kind of rage in the store and tried to figure out how much in damages she could cause. There was a selection of iron sconces on the far wall that Sam looked at for a while. She had nothing to place on a sconce. She wondered whether her life would be worth more if she did. She wondered if people with sconces were sad. Sam was waiting for something to happen but nothing happened.

Sam nodded to the old woman behind the counter who looked sad too. She walked out of the store and down the street and ended up standing in front of a large office park. There was a parking lot with nice cars towards the front and less nice but still ok cars towards the back and it was facing a four-story building with clean windows. Sam stood at the door for a while and watched people look at her uneasily as they came and went. She walked inside for a drink of water in the lobby and no one looked at her in there, so she got on the elevator. Sam thought for a while after the doors had closed and then placed her finger on the button labeled 3.

Sam exited the elevator on the third floor and ran her fingers along a potted plant. She nodded at a busy looking man who raised his eyebrows at her shoes. Sam was not following dress code. She walked past the man as he turned and entered one of the doors to her right and continued down the hallway until it opened up into a large room full of cubicles. She wondered if the people in the cubicles all knew everyone else or if they were all strangers. She wondered if the people in the cubicles would mind if she was here. At the end of a row of cubicles, a boy rushed up to her. There was sweat in his hair and on his forehead and he wasn’t following dress code either. He had a package and it was extended out towards her. He paused for breath and then nodded at the package and shook his hand out at her. He smiled and told her he was running late and asked if she could give the fat envelope to Russell for him. Sam nodded. She didn’t know why.

Sam watched as the boy quickly left back down the hall and got on the elevator. He flashed her another smile as the doors closed. Sam looked at the envelope and then looked around the cubicles. She thought that now the cubicle people had no reason to not want her here. She had to deliver this to Russell. The package said “Russell Gray” on it in sharpie, and was heavier than it looked when the courier was carrying it. A well dressed girl walked past her and stopped. She asked her why Sam was just standing there and if she was ok. Sam said she was ok. Sam asked if the girl knew where Russell Gray sat and the girl said yes. She said under F1 and walked away.

Sam got onto the tips of her toes and looked over the walls of cubicles and saw that each row had a pillar at the end of it, running all the way through the building. She was standing under A1 at the end of the room. Sam turned back the way she had come and then took a left near where the hallway to the elevator was and walked down until she was at F5. She took another left and walked down to the end, holding the package carefully. At the end of the row, Sam looked around at the two cubicles to her sides and tried to peek in without bothering the people under F1. On her left was a large woman’s cubicle. A Van Halen poster was hanging in there. The woman looked over and Sam paused. She asked if Russell Gray was around.

Sam looked at her shoes. The woman looked at Sam’s shoes. She laughed and her eyes got soft and she said turn around and then the woman swiveled her chair back around and continued playing Solitaire. She was about to win. Sam turned to her right and there was a bright eyed excitable looking man peering out at her from the other cubicle. She pushed the envelope out to him and then didn’t know what else to do. He said thank you and put it on his desk and then kept typing. He swung his chair around after a few moments because Sam had not left yet and asked her if there was anything he could do for her.

She didn’t know what to say. He pointed up and over the wall of the cubicle in front of him and asked if she was Eric’s new assistant. She said yes, and nodded. She didn’t know why. He stood up, then and gave her a key. Then she followed him into the next cubicle and put the key into a filing cabinet. It opened and she began flicking through the folders. Sam dropped the key into her pocket. Russell told her that if she needed anything, all she had to do was ask. He stepped back out and went back to his desk.

Sam stared at the folders for a while. She saw a stack of paperwork on the desk, organized into a few piles. She noted that there were names in alphabetical order stretching back into the filing cabinet. The files that were already sorted looked Xerox’d and had the same signature at the bottom. She had to strain to read it but eventually made out “Alex Williams.” The files on the desk were not signed. She flicked through all the papers to make sure that there were exactly 12 pages for each person’s name, like there were in the cabinet. She smiled at knowing that all the papers were there. Sam looked around in the boxes underneath the desk and found some fresh folders and began placing the papers into them, then wrote their names neatly on the tabs. The person who had written the names on the files in the cabinet had written in all block letters, so Sam did too. She wondered if Eric would notice.

Sam made sure her bag was placed neatly behind the filing cabinet and then picked up her stack of folders. She felt the urge to check her phone but remembered she did not bring it. She frowned. She exited Eric’s assistant’s old cubicle and then turned the corner to ask Russell where Alex Williams sat. He nodded and told her that Alex sits under B3 and pointed towards the center of the room. He returned to his typing and Sam said thank you as she walked back down the hallway and over to B5 and then took a right. She stopped at B3 and looked to her left and right and there was no one sitting on the left so she gently tapped on the wall at the right and asked the young woman sitting there if she was Alex Williams. The girl said she was and Sam said that she needed some signatures. Alex looked at Sam like she didn’t know who she was, but saw the folders and just nodded. She signed the first and last page of each of the seven folders and then smiled and handed them back. Sam said thank you.

Before she left, Sam asked Alex where the copier was. Alex smiled and told her that it was in the door to the right just in front of the elevator. Alex asked Sam if she was Eric’s new assistant. She nodded and thanked her for the directions. Sam looked down at her shoes. She was upset with herself for not following dress code. She wondered if Eric would be upset with her if he saw. Sam walked back down the hallway to the end and found the door to the right just before the elevator. She turned the handle pensively and peered inside. No one was inside the copier room. She learned how to make copies quickly once inside. Sam smiled at how well she was doing. After making copies of all the files, she headed back to Eric’s old assistant’s desk and placed the new copies into their corresponding folders, and laid the originals neatly on the desk. She filed the folders alphabetically and realized she was getting hungry. She tidied up Eric’s old assistant’s desk and grabbed her bag from behind the cabinet. Sam remembered to fish the key out of her pocket and lock the filing cabinet up while she was gone.

Sam took her lunch break at just after noon. She waved to Russell and the Van Halen lady and asked them if they knew where she could find some lunch nearby as she did not have a car. Russell suggested a place and Sam found herself there for the better part of an hour enjoying a tuna fish sandwich. It began raining while she was eating and Sam frowned, wishing that she had worn different shoes that morning.

Sam returned to the office park at a quarter to one. She returned to Eric’s old assistant’s desk and sat down. She wished she had remembered her cell phone that morning. She frowned and wondered where exactly she was. Someone coughed from behind her. Sam turned and found an older man with a quizzical look on his face. A well dressed girl stood slightly behind him, peeking over his shoulder. Sam looked at her shoes. They were very nice. The man asked Sam who she was. Russell walked over and stood next to him. He asked Eric what was going on.

Sam decided to head home for the day. She wasn’t feeling well.