As soon as Charlotte got to her cube at work, she began planning her future. She shopped for apartments, browsed furniture stores, and even looked for a few new homey decorations.
“Hmm?” She looked up right into her supervisor’s concerned face.
“Is everything okay? The meeting started ten minutes ago. Are you coming?”
Charlotte gasped! The meeting! She had completely forgotten about it and then lost track of time. She grabbed various files and documents from her desk, chastising herself for forgetting. How could she have forgotten?
Of course. Ryan. Leaving. Ryan! Leaving!
Charlotte gasped again. What time was it? She frantically searched to see the time.
“Charlotte. Are you ready?” Ugh! Her supervisor!
“Oh gosh, yes. Sorry. I just, um, was working on something and lost track of time.”
Charlotte hurried to follow her supervisor into the meeting. She finally glimpsed a clock. 10:40. She had plenty of time. She wasn’t supposed to meet Ryan at home until two.
The meeting room was dead silent as Charlotte walked in. She was trying to gather her thoughts for her presentation. She had worked so hard on it for the past few weeks and was really looking forward to delivering her results. Now she was so distracted she couldn’t even remember what she was supposed to talk about!
“I’m sorry.” Charlotte mumbled to the crowd. “So many projects, so little time.”
One person gave her a half smile. Twenty pairs of eyes stared at her as she fumbled to get her presentation loaded to the projector including her supervisor, her supervisor’s boss, and his boss above him.
“I need a drink” Charlotte thought to herself. She took a big breath and smiled at everyone, welcoming them. Everything went downhill from there. She fumbled through her data, didn’t have enough handouts, and got confused sharing her conclusions. She struggled to answer questions from the attendees. At long last, the meeting was over and she could leave.
Charlotte headed straight for the bathroom and burst into tears. She was so frustrated! The day had started out so well and now it was a complete disaster. She knew her stuff! She had worked so hard and stupid Ryan had ruined it all! She started seething, furious at Ryan for cheating, furious that he was making her leave, furious that he had put her in this situation in the first place. Tears of frustration turned to tears of anger. She looked in the mirror at her mascara streaked face. Washing up, Charlotte calmed down enough to be seen in public again.
When Charlotte got back to her cube, she found her phone under a sheet of paper. A new message!
Good luck on your presentation today, babe! I know you’ll nail it! I can’t wait to hear about it. Love you!
Charlotte slumped in her chair and closed her eyes. She was so confused. First he loves her, then he cheats, and now he loves her again. Even HE remembered she had a presentation. She imagined her life as a scene from a movie, trying to decide what would happen next. Would the girl decide to stay? Would the boy finally come to his senses? Would she confront him?
Charlotte desperately wanted to call Melanie and ask her advice, but she knew what Mel would say already. Charlotte’s mom thought everything was going well with Ryan and that they were going to get married. That’s all Charlotte could say to her before her mom drowned the conversation with her latest boyfriend troubles.
Looking around her cube walls, Charlotte had never felt so alone. She desperately loved Ryan, but couldn’t stay with him now that she told Melanie she was leaving. He did take such good care of her, paid attention to her, and was fantastic in bed. What to do? What to do?
“Hey Char! Want to grab some lunch with us?”
Stephanie from down the row poked her head over the top of the wall. She took one look at Charlotte’s face.
“Is everything okay?” Stephanie seemed truly concerned. Or maybe she was just looking for gossip fodder. Charlotte didn’t know what to think about anybody right now. She just looked at Stephanie, searching for words to say.
Finally, Charlotte found her voice. “Everything’s okay, really. I’d love to get some lunch.” Anything to distract her from what was going on in her own life.
The group of women headed for the salad place just down the street. Another coworker, Sheneille, was regaling everyone with a story about her husband trying to give their two-year-old son a bath.. Charlotte was so jealous – Sheneille always had a way of making everyday life seem like grand adventures. For the moment, however, she allowed herself to get lost in storytelling and, in spite of herself, even had a good time at lunch.