Sometimes having a fictional mind* is not a good thing, especially not in a cubical world. I think I understand now why they had me working in a closet for such a long time.
I'm afraid they might put be back there.
When I moved upstairs into the cubical jungle, they put me in the furthest corner, up against the wall. There is a window, and I shoved my desk around to afford the best view of the asphalt driveway and cement building across the parking lot. Once in a while a bird flies by and in the outside corner a spider lays in wait for a hapless fly. I like the back corner. My computer hums while I punch in purchase orders, blast out emails and make phone calls to ascertain the whereabouts of a missing shipment. But no one has to walk by my little grey cell, and sometimes it feels like I'm not really part of the cube city.
Yesterday, at the east end of the building, one company was moving out and another was moving in. The four parking spaces in front of the office area were filled with three vehicles and a large wooden crate. At lunch, the cars were gone, but the tan, grained, plywood crate waited in the warm sun. Apparently it was still there at closing time.
It was nearly five and there were still three purchase orders I needed to enter, but I could hear the others, chatting, powering down their computers, and rolling chairs across the tiled floor. The voice of my new boss could be heard down at the other end of the big room.
"So, you getting ready to leave?" he asked my co-workers.
"Yes," they all said. "It's nearly five."
"Oh, I see that crate is still down there in the parking lot," he said, obviously looking out of the window.
"Yes," Sandra said. "I've been watching it all day. No one has been near it."
"What do you suppose is in it?" Grey asked.
"Could be some sort of equipment for the people moving in," my boss said.
"Could be all the office things from the people moving out," Sandra said.
"Could be some sort of equipment for the warehouse," another offered.
I wanted to be part of this conversation, participate in the camaraderie. This was one of those moments where everyone laughs and slaps each other on the back, and then they walk out to the parking lot and smile and wave and wish each other a happy evening. I wanted that too, like I was really part of the cube village. This was my chance. To fit in, to be accepted. To belong. I raised my head and took a deep breath. "Could be a zebra," I called out.
My fingers stilled on my keyboard and I gazed at the gray divider.
"What?" a voice floated back to my corner.
"The crate is the right size," I said. "It could be a zebra."
A cough. A whisper. "Um...yes," my boss said, and coughed again. "It could be a zebra."
And then I heard the door to the stairs open and several pairs of feet rush into the stairwell. The door whooshed closed and I was alone.
Luckily writing is a solitary occupation.
*Yes, I know what a fictional mind implies