Fresh as a Daisy (Weekly Writing Challenge)

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told.  Some will be fun, some will not.  Some will be great, some will be less so.  Some stories are true, some are merely possible.  This is one of them.

(This post is once again made possible by The Daily Post.  Much thanks for the idea.  I like painting pictures with metaphors.)

Fresh as a Daisy

The path of a good woman is indeed strewn with flowers; but they rise behind her steps, not before them.” -John Ruskin

It had started off with the older males.  The retired fellows in the coffee shop would see her in line and call her “sweetheart” or “darling”.  They didn’t bother to ask her name.  They never introduced themselves.  The elderly fellows thought that their old-fashioned attitudes would somehow win a soft spot in her heart.

At first, Daisy did her best to brush it off.  The older gentlemen had their way of expressing their affection and she wanted to accept the compliment.  Yet, there was a limit to how many coffees these grandfathers could buy her.  In truth, the drinks (supposedly meeting every definition of a complimentary beverage) came at a cost.  “Give us a smile”, they’d goad.  “Hey Doll, how about giving us a peck on the cheek?”  Eventually, Daisy ended up buying a coffee maker and avoiding the affronts on her person.

Yet, it was the men that she worked with that created the most difficulty for Daisy.  She was raised to be kind and courteous to all.  With her pleasing curves and ready smile, many men interpreted her attempts at politeness as flirting.  Daisy tried to temper her natural tendencies towards being outgoing, but it was a delicate balance.  If she was too cheery, the men took it as an invitation to hit on her.  When she tried to be strictly business oriented, whispers circled around about her being “frigid” or “a tease”.  It didn’t matter what she wore or what environment she was in.  There always seemed to be one or two guys that took the whole thing too far.  Daisy was done with all of it.

On a Thursday afternoon, Daisy was putting together a series of reports that her boss had asked for.  Having previously requested a three-day weekend, the pressure was on to deliver all the work before the end of her work day.  The sooner Daisy finished, the more time she could spend in Hawaii celebrating her friend’s wedding.  She had tickets for an eight thirty flight, but she had hopes of making a six o’clock one.  All she had to do was complete the tasks that had been placed on her plate.  Of course, that was the time that Bradley showed up.

Bradley had been following Daisy for months.  Ever since she had been introduced to the staff, Bradley had gone out of his way to take Daisy under his wing.  In the beginning, his advice had been helpful and Daisy had appreciated how he went out of his way to guide her through the office floor plan, policies, and even the politics.  However, as time passed, Bradley kept talking less about work and more about his designs on her.  Daisy felt the muscles in her jaw tighten and her teeth clenched together.

“Hey there, Dearie.  How’s your wonderful self today?”

“I’m actually quite busy, Bradley.”

“Too busy for me?  I don’t believe it.”

“Well”, Daisy said without looking up from the papers, “it’s still the truth.”

“Look, Daisy.  We’ve been dancing this little routine for far too long.  Why don’t you just give in to me?  I’ll show you a real good time.”

“Three reasons, Bradley.  One, I like my boyfriend just fine.  Two, you started off using charming phrasing; now you’re crude.  Third, I’m busy.  So off you go.  Please.”

“Daisy, Honey, it’s dangerous to deny that which you clearly need so desperately.”

With that, Daisy snapped.  That little switch in her mind that she’d tried to keep her itchy trigger-finger away from for so long finally flipped on.  Her limit had been breached.  Throwing down a pile of papers with a slam, Daisy fixed her eyes on Bradley and stared him down with a determination that added a foot to her perceived stature.

Photo from Wikipedia

“Bradley, have you ever had a mole?”

“What?”  The formerly charming fellow was easily confused.

“A mole.  Not a little garden pest that can be turned into a cute creature in children’s books.  I’m referencing a growth or discoloration on the skin.  Got any moles, Bradley?”

“Uh, no.  I don’t think so.”

“See Bradley, moles sound all kinds of fun.  At first I thought that a mole would be a nice little addition.  You know, it would add a touch of character.  If my face was lovely before, wouldn’t the mole make things a little more interesting?  I could dress up the mole.  Take it out on the town.  People would notice my tiny tagalong.  When if first comes onto the scene, the mole is something to celebrate.  Ya with me so far here, Bradley?”

“I guess…”

“Great”, she continued.  “Next is the second stage of coming across this new mole.  It starts to become irritating.  One has to wonder if they should cover up the mole when they go out in public.  The mole thinks it has control of what the rest of you wants to do.  You go to wash up at the end of the day, and you wish you could just rub that silly mole right off.  The allure is gone.  The mole has started to grow hair.”

“What does that have to do with me?”

“Maybe it will become clearer in phase three.  See, that’s when the mole has worn out its welcome.  The mole is now a worry-inducing pest.  Moles can show signs of cancer.  The bigger the mole is, the easier it is to see on your face, and the less you like it.  Even your coworkers start to mention things.  ‘I think that mole is diseased’, one gal says.  ‘I once had a mole like that.  I got rid of it and my life’s only been better.’  See, it turns out that moles are more trouble than they’re worth.  In the end, it’s really just best to excise them, forget them, and go find better things to occupy your time with.  Moles are nothing but an annoyance.”

Daisy looked back at her files and saw that she had nearly completed her work.  She only needed a little clarification from her boss and then she could finish quickly.  A glance at the clock confirmed what she dared to hope; that early flight was possible.  She’d have to call Joel and see if he was packed yet.  A charming boyfriend, Hawaii, and three entire days without work; it sounded like paradise indeed.  Daisy gathered the final piles of papers and made her way to the glass door with its ornate lettering.

“Wait”, Bradley called out as Daisy put her hand on her supervisor’s door knob.  “I don’t get it.”

“Neither does the mole, Bradley.  That’s the whole point.”

Feeling Emp-T (Daily Post Challenge)

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

(Yes, I already answered the call of The Daily Post’s challenge this week.  However there was the suggestion that we write a story without using a certain letter.  And I just couldn’t pass that up.)

Feeling Emp-T

A woman is like a hot tea bag, you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

Sue was in dire need.  Her morning had been cruel.  Her work day showed no signs of being any kinder.  One drink would make her capable of being sociable.  One beverage could refill her sleepy soul.  However she had a feeling of doom; for her drink of choice was simply gone from her cupboard.

Sue dressed for work in a grouchy manner.  She picked a blouse and dress slacks, hoping her fashion-sense remained serviceable.  Her choice of dress was reasonably pleasing and so she made her way from her bedroom and approached her car.

Radio was normally relaxing for Sue.  She enjoyed hearing over-bearing people converse while never agreeing on any issue.  On such a morning as Sue was undergoing, she only desired silence.  She imagined a world where everyone disallowed speaking.  A cheery lack of dialog would rule over all.  Considering her highly congenial office pals, Sue knew such an idea was impossible.

Her coworkers were exceedingly chipper when Sue walked in.  Liz explained how well her children had performed in a church play on Sunday.  Brad was obsessed, finding any gap in discussion and seizing on said span of seconds.  He believed everyone would enjoy hearing a prolonged saga regarding his sea-faring vessel.  Caroline, as always, bemoaned a degree of loneliness in her life and asked for her friends’ indulgence.  She was a single woman, always on a grand search for a hunky and compassion-filled single fellow.

Sue lacked any degree of concern for her workplace chums.  She yearned for caffeine.  She had files beckoning her which she knew would be dull.  Sue’s chores which lay ahead of her called loudly and obnoxiously.  Several phone calls needed answering, none of which would be cheerful.  Sue pined for her fluffy pillow and a bed which required zilch from her.

Of course, her dreary morning was due for a sudden surprise.  She walked by her minion’s desk, discovering a memo had been placed haphazardly above his screen.  Sue read in Sharpie scribbling, “I’m gone.  See you never.”  Sue could hardly comprehend Brad resigning.  She always assured of her kindness concerning him.  Only now did she see signs of a vexed employee who had seemingly escaped a promising job eagerly and angrily.  Sue lacked a response, choosing her pile of work as her mind’s focus.

Door closed, her screen glowing in her face, window shades drawn, Sue had a workspace conducive for success.  Work could be accomplished.  Calls would be made.  All her problems would be addressed.  If only she were more awake.  Coffee was overly harsh on her inner workings.  She was considering an errand.  A purveyor of drinks was only four blocks away.  Surely she could finish her chores more readily if she were fully conscious.

Sue pushed herself away from her desk, removed her eyes from her e-mails, and pulled securely on her purse.  She had cash, she had many goals she should accomplish, and she had a plan.  Walking away from her office, her self-assuredness rose.  Sue had no need for a lackey.  She could make do and face her unwieldy missions all by herself.  However she did feel her morning was lacking one crucial piece.  Sue walked across her office’s lobby unyielding in her goal of acquiring some caffeine.

Really, all Sue desired on such a morning was a splash of help from her friend, tea.

The Role of a Proper Princess

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

The Role of a Proper Princess

Nobody objects to a woman being a good writer or sculptor or geneticist if at the same time she manages to be a good wife, good mother, good looking, good tempered, well groomed and unaggressive.” -Leslie M. Mclntyre

Once upon a time, in another land, there lived a young princess.  She was born into a royal family and every member of the kingdom took a shining to her.  The young princess was named Rebecca and raised with all the finery that the king and queen could bestow upon her.

The young princess found that her curiosity only grew as she aged.  The little girl who had once watched birds flapping their wings above the land’s pond became a child who wondered what it took for a single seed to grow into a massive tree.  That same child matured into a young woman who looked around her castle and didn’t quite understand the way that things were.  The young princess decided that she would go and investigate the world that lay outside the ancient stone walls.

The next morning, Rebecca revealed her plans to her attendant, Marion.  Marion had suspected that her precocious loved one might concoct such a plan, but she still did her best to talk the young princess out of the adventure.  Marion knew it wasn’t her place to challenge one of noble birth; yet she had to try.  Enemies might kidnap the unescorted princess.  Anything could happen outside of the castle that might let the beloved woman get hurt.  Rebecca listened to Marion’s caring advice.  She told her attendant how much she respected Marion’s concerns, but Rebecca’s mind was set and would not be moved.

As a last attempt for protection, Marion pleaded that Rebecca take some guard or knight with her.  The young princess refused, saying that she wanted to explore the world on her own.  Finally, the two agreed on a compromise.  Rebecca would have no human escort, but Matthias, Rebecca’s loyal dog, would come along.  Matthias couldn’t argue too effectively with the young princess’s plans, but his teeth and growl were fierce enough to protect her against robbers or scoundrels.

Marion borrowed some shabby clothes from a younger peasant and bestowed them on the young princess.  In the dark of the night, a shabbily dressed woman slinked out of the castle with a canine companion following in her steps.

The night was dark and silent.  Stars shone through the trees and the moon aided in Rebecca’s journey by lighting up the cloudless sky.  More than once Matthias stopped and growled at the slightest noise.  As far as Rebecca could see, there was nothing to be afraid of.  Yet the dog’s back would arch and a slow rumble built up in his throat all the same.  Matthias had been charged from birth as Rebecca’s companion, and his instincts were honed to be a protective one.

The sun rose after a long night.  Rebecca should have been weary from a night of roaming around the woods.  However the elation of being out among the people of her kingdom invigorated her.  She hadn’t known it when she set out, but it was market day.  Colorful flags were flapping in the summer breeze and street callers were attracting the townsfolk to their crafts.  Blankets with one-toned colors could be bought.  Baskets that had been hand-woven were plentiful.  Rebecca found herself admiring a silversmith’s work.  A bracelet drew her attention and she couldn’t help but admire it.

“That would be a nice addition to a maiden as lovely as yourself”, the man in the tent said.  “To be honest, there is a small defect on the back.  Why don’t you take it as a gift?”

“What a horrible notion”, a voice beside Rebecca said.  She turned to find an old man leaning heavily on a wooden staff.  “Accepting such favors from strangers in unacceptable.”

“Oh come now”, the first man replied.  “It’s just a harmless gift.  I have a wife, I have daughters; I’m only being friendly.”

“Bah”, the old man replied.  “You’re being too forward.  This woman couldn’t possibly allow such a brazen affront to continue.  Would you?”  The man looked to Rebecca and then interrupted whatever response she might have offered.  “Of course she couldn’t.  The matter is settled.”

Rebecca found herself conflicted.  On the one hand her parents had taught her that even though they had no need for offerings; people became offended when the rulers turned a tribute down.  At the same time, she didn’t want to have trinkets thrust upon her because someone thought she was attractive, or worse, pitied her.  She walked away, leaving the two men to argue excitedly with each other.

At a large fruit stand Rebecca came across a man and wife busily selling food to the crowds that gathered near.  The vendors clearly had a reputation, for it was the most popular area in the market.  The man and wife greeted each customer by name, took their coins, and thanked each person for coming.

“It’s a nice day for shopping, isn’t it?”

Rebecca hadn’t noticed that the man was talking to her.  She looked to Matthias who looked back with expectant eyes.

“I say, the weather is quite pleasant”, the husband offered again.

“Oh yes”, Rebecca replied.  “Very nice.”

“Have you found any wares worth purchasing today?”

“Leave her be”, the wife replied.  “She’s far too busy to be stopped by the likes of you and your intrusions.”

“What’s wrong with talking?  The lady seems as though she’s out for a relaxing stroll.  She has no cart or baskets with her.”

“Aaah”, the wife replied.  “That’s just like a young person.  They’re always loafing about when there’s plenty of work to be done.”

“Come now Mary”, the husband rebutted.  “With all the troubles and toils that us folk have to put up with, shouldn’t we take the time to enjoy the wonderful creations around us?”

“Aaaah”, the wife replied.  The look on the husband’s face indicated to Rebecca that the woman made that response quite often.  “While you two are running around ‘enjoying’ things, the rest of us have to do all the work.  The crops don’t tend to themselves and the children don’t get raised all alone.  Hard labor should be sought out each and every day.  There’s plenty of it to be done, I promise you.”

“Surely we must find time to relax every now and then”, the husband offered.

“That’s what you say every time that I find you napping on a pile of hay.  Work, Lucas.  Work is all that keeps us alive.”

A new crowd of customers was surging towards the couple.  Rebecca allowed herself to be pushed off to the side.  Life out here was more complicated than she had experienced at home.  In the castle, whenever she asked for something it was given to her.  Her whims because edicts.  Even her father and mother had been quick to grant her what she wanted.  She was starting to see that there were many ways to look at things.

Suddenly, a small boy bumped into Rebecca.  Matthias barked as the ragged youth ran away from them, pushing through the small crowd.  Cries and shouts echoed from the fruit sellers that she had just left.  Soon two guards were running past everyone.  Matthias began to growl at all the confusion.  Rebecca kneeled to comfort her friend.  The dog continued to be on the defensive.  Rebecca whispered, “All’s well, Matthias.  All’s well.”

A moment later, the two guards returned with the small boy suspended in the air between their arms.  Their dented and damaged armor had barely enough sheen to let the bright sun reflect dimly off their metal shells.

“Is this the one?”  The first guard gestured to the small boy and the husband nodded.  “Right then”, the guard said as he looked back at the boy.  You are to be taken to the town square and placed in the stockyards for a week.”

“Let me go!  My family’s starving.”

“Well then they’ll have one less stomach to feed for a week”, the second guard joked.

“If I don’t steal, my little brother will die.”

“And if we let you steal, then the whole town will fall apart.”

“Mercy, Sir.  I won’t tell”, the young child begged.

The first guard grabbed the boy by the neck and pinned him against the trunk of a large tree.  He tore of his heavy helmet, threw it to the second guard, and glared at the boy.

“Now see here”, he began.  “You’re a thief.  You’ve got your excuses just like every other thief.  What would happen if I didn’t teach you a lesson?  You’d keep on thieving, that’s what.  Then what food would I feed my family?  How’m I going to keep from losing my station so that I don’t become poor too?  There’s got to be laws.  It’s as simple as that.”

Rebecca was too horrified at the display to speak.  She watched as the second guard grabbed the boy by one arm.  Then the two guards marched off, roughly carrying the thief away.

“Not a pretty picture, is it?”

Rebecca’s shock was interrupted by a minstrel that had strolled up beside her.  He stood in dusty clothes with a lute and a faded leather hat.

“I still find it hard to see others suffering.  But I suppose the guard does have a point.”

Rebecca gave the minstrel a questioning look.  She could tell that he still had many buckets of opinion to add to the lake of discussion.

“What do you think?  Or perhaps I’m being too forward”, the minstrel said apologetically.

“Don’t you have more to say?”

“Excuse me?”

“All these people are quite happy to throw their opinions at me.  I assumed you would be too”, Rebecca explained.

“Ha”, the minstrel laughed.  “I do believe you are correct, good woman.  However I thought it kind to let you have your say.”

“Even if I’m a woman?”

“I admit it isn’t always custom”, the minstrel said as he looked back at Rebecca.  “Yet it always seemed that everyone with a mind was worth listening too.  Wise words can come from anywhere.”

Matthias barked and leapt about excitedly.  He trotted over to the minstrel, stood up on his hind legs, and put his front paws on the man’s legs while he barked excitedly.

“See?”  He beamed as he scratched behind Matthias’s ears.  “Wisdom’s everywhere.  Isn’t that right you scruffy hound?”

“You’re actually asking my thoughts?”

“Sure”, the minstrel said.  “You had a concerned look on your face.  You obviously had something to say.  Why wouldn’t I listen?”

“What is your name, good minstrel?”

“Henry”, he replied.  “And yours?”

“Rebecca”, she answered.

“Ah ha, like the princess”, Henry commented.

“Exactly like the princess”, Rebecca said with a cheery expression.  She laughed merrily, surprising even herself.

“Why the sudden laughter?”

“Perhaps I’ll tell you one day”, Rebecca teased.  “Tell me, are you here often?”

“Oh, I should say so”, Henry replied.  “I’m always about town, but I tend to take advantage of the shade offered by this particular tree at least once a week.  ‘tis such a pleasant tree.  What do you think of it?”

“I believe I should like to climb up its branches one day”, Rebecca replied.

“Ha!  Well perhaps one day you’ll climb while I’ll play and we’ll both make merry with the help of this tree.”

“I should like that very much”, Rebecca replied.

“What if today was that day?”

“I think that is a fine idea” Rebecca said.  “However I must be getting home.  I’d like to discuss that boy’s fortune with my parents.  Yet, I find myself very much enjoying your ideas.  I shall seek you out again, good Henry.”

“And fair Rebecca, I should look forward to hearing what your mind has been up to.  You are a complex woman indeed.”

Rebecca motioned for Matthias to join her and started walking back to the castle.  She looked over her shoulder and called back to Henry, “Perhaps one day you’ll find out how right you are”.

(If you’ve never read the Aesop’s Fable that establishes this sort of theme, I’d suggest you check it out.  It’s a quick read, honest.)

The Un-Presentable Boss

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

(This story is in response to a post that appeared over on The Living Notebook.  You should check it out; it’s rather interesting.  Regardless, you shall not see “he” or “him” in this entire story.  Honest.)

The Un-Presentable Boss

The conversation of friends is the nearest approach we can make to heaven while we live in these tabernacles of clay; so it is in a temporal sense also, the most pleasant and the most profitable improvement we can make of the time we are to spend on earth.” -Rachel Russell

“Please kill my boss for me.”

“No.”

“Please kidnap my boss for me and take her far away from our office?”

“No”, Janet repeated as she sipped from her coffee.  She had requested a few ice cubes to cool the beverage down, but if they had been added, the cooling assistance they offered was ineffectual.

“Fine”, Lisa said as she took a deep breath and let her shoulders droop in desperation.  “Will you please talk me out of injuring my boss so that I don’t get fired and we all live in a tranquil land filled with sunshine and happy clients?”

Janet put down her coffee cup and looked at her friend across the table.  Lisa had often told her how much she enjoyed her job.  However in the last few months, things had turned sour.  The problems inconveniently coincided with Lisa’s coworker being promoted to her boss.  What little Janet knew of this “Myra” didn’t impress her.

“Is this the same gal you caught photocopying her butt?”

Lisa choked on her cinnamon scone.  She tried to calmly set the pastry back on its little plate with her right hand while she reached for her cappuccino with her left.  The pairing of Lisa’s not being a southpaw and her coughing for air made for some shaky cup-handling.  After a few moments, the caffeinated treat did the trick and she glanced around to make sure that no one was staring at her.

“You know”, Lisa said as she cleared her throat.  “It’s funny that you mention that.”

“Okay, so what happened?  I could use another tale of amusement”, Janet prompted.

“Well we’re all supposed to be working on this new client.  The Big Cheese is tired of being thought of as a family’s pre-sliced choice for lunch sandwiches.  They want to have flair and elegance at the same time.  The Big Cheese wants to be thought of as, and this is a direct quote, ‘The Lexus of Cheeses’.”

“Really”, Janet said as she swallowed her attitude with a gulp of her now room-temperature coffee.  “Well isn’t that precious.”

“Oh so precious”, Lisa agreed.  “Anyways, Myra was put in charge of this account.”

“Myra who used to share a cubicle with you.”

“Yes.”

“Myra who is now your boss.”

“Supervisor”, Lisa quickly corrected.

Janet paused.  “Is there a difference?”

“I like to tell myself there is”, Lisa sighed.  “I just can’t bring myself to call her my boss.  The thought rather horrifies me.”

“She’s still that bad?  She hasn’t stepped up her game in the spirit of meeting her occupational challenge head-on?”

“Oh, I’m getting to that part”, Lisa hinted.  “So Myra’s in charge of the account.  She, of course, selects me to be on her team.  The woman is borderline nutso, but she’s not stupid.”

“Okay.  And you were supposed to prepare some sort of presentation?”

“No, not at first.”  Lisa paused for a moment.  She picked at the scone on her plate until a small pile of crumbs accumulated.  “To be fair, she was making progress.  We formed a group, we brainstormed together; she was being competent.  I started to believe that Myra could actually pull it off.”

“But”, Janet prompted.

“But then we had to submit our presentation to the client yesterday.  Myra had insisted on doing all of it herself.  She said she wanted to prove to everyone that she was a team player and that she had it all under control.  I thought to myself, ‘Great.  I get the night off.  That works just dandy for me.’  It all was going to be just fine.”

“Until it wasn’t”, Janet interjected.

“Exactly”, Lisa replied.  “Yesterday was the meeting.  The Big Cheese folks were hearing from several different companies so they had asked for an early time slot.  We aren’t really morning people, but naturally we wanted this account.”

“Of course.”

“I wake up at six a.m. to a text message from Myra.  ‘Call me.  9 1 1.  Emergency.’  I freaked out that something had happened.  Nope, she simply wanted to see me before the presentation.  You know how irresponsible I can be and how I wasn’t planning to come in early to check in with her.”

Janet laughed at Lisa’s sarcasm.  She had no doubt of her friend’s dedication.  Drinking the last of her coffee, Janet waited for the good part that she knew was coming.

“So we meet up.  She spends half an hour talking about how she was up all night.  She’s bouncing off the wall from all the espresso that is overloading her system.  I caught something about PowerPoint and pictures, but it was all pretty jumbled.  The woman could not stand still.  Eventually, she came out with it and asked if I would be the one to give the pitch.  I wasn’t thrilled that I didn’t have time to go through her slides.  Whether I liked it or not, I figured it was better for me to fumble my way through than for this ball of psychotic jitters to try to form a coherent sentence.  We were supposed to meet the cheese-ians in four minutes and I wasn’t about to show up late.  I decided I would do my best and that’s all there was to it.”

“She forgot the presentation?  The memory stick got erased?  Nobody remembered to reserve a room?”  Janet’s curiosity had gotten the better of her.  “I can feel little waves of trouble rocking the ground of your story here.  What’d she do?”

“I was about two-thirds through and they were actually responding quite positively.  They were nodding their heads and they seemed to agree with us.  I didn’t have every single bullet point down; though it didn’t seem to matter.  They liked our work.”

“And?”

“And then I advanced the slide to an image of a butt.  Picture, if you will, a six-by-six foot screen completely covered with a woman’s naked butt.  In a font that was probably as big as my head, the caption read, ‘Grade-A, 4-Star, Quality Goods!’”

“Wow.”  Janet’s eyes conveyed the shock better than her vocabulary did.  She didn’t know how to respond.  Lisa saw the lack of response and continued.

“From what she told me later, it was a college joke.  I didn’t care enough after the meeting to listen to her explanation.”

“Wait”, Janet interrupted.  “You’re sure it was her butt in the picture?”

“Oh yes”, Lisa replied.  “Myra got a tattoo when she graduated from high school.  It’s a very recognizable tattoo.  She made a point of showing it to me in the lady’s restroom one time.”

“You didn’t tell me that”, Janet laughed.  “Freeeak.”

“Pretty much”, Lisa shrugged.  “This is who I work with.”

“Hold on, what happened in the meeting?  They must have walked out.”

“Not so fast there, Missy.  That is where my brilliance saved the day.”

“How?”

“I gulped.  I cursed to myself.  Then I looked at the room.  They were, needless to say, less than impressed.  Something clicked in my brain and I spat out, ‘That’s our Super Bowl spot.  The follow up picture will feature your product.’  I made up something about, ‘The Big Cheese- Everything else is just crass.’  They chuckled nervously.  They obviously didn’t love it because it was a picture of Myra’s butt.  Still, they loved enough about the rest of our presentation to give us the contract.”

“Really?”

“They asked that we not pursue the butt-shot angle.  I guess they don’t feel like it suited the luxury/ high-class vibe they’re going for.”

“How non-innovative of them”, Janet joked.

“Indeed”, Lisa replied.  “And now I would once again ask you to kill my boss.”

“How’d that picture get in there?”

“She tosses all of her photos into one folder on her computer.  She picked the wrong one and was too blurry-eyed from her lack of sleep to tell the difference.”

“Dang”, Janet replied.

“Yes”, Lisa answered.  “My boss is truly an expert.  An expert at what, I don’t know.  Yet she assures me that she is paid well for her expertise.”

“The company’s fortunate to have you around”, Janet commented.

“They’re fortunate I still have my calm demeanor”, Lisa sighed as she ate the last of her scone.  “It’ll all work out one day.  Right?  Maybe?”

Janet only raised her hands in the classic, “what can ya do” gesture.

“Ugh”, Lisa replied.

Early Dawn

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

Early Dawn

There is nothing comparable to the endurance of a woman. In military life she would tire out an army of men, either in camp or on the march.” -Mark Twain

The alarm clock roused Dawn from her peaceful sleep.  She lifted her head from the warm flannel-clad pillow to confirm the time.  To her disbelief, it was time to get up.  She let her face collide with her pillow and let out a slow moan of frustration that was muted by the fabric.  Dawn’s cat, Chaos; laid by her waist, unmoving.  The cat was used to it all and was undisturbed by his bedmate’s protests.

After she had allowed herself an extra minute or two of pretend sleep, Dawn slowly counted to five.  She had learned the old trick in a drama class and it worked well.  She told herself that she was becoming more awake as she counted to four.  She told her arms and legs to start getting blood flowing through them as she reached three.  She adjusted her neck and fingers ever so slightly as she counted to two.  When she reached one, she sat up and opened her eyes.  It had mostly done the job, but she still felt sleepy.  She rolled out of bed, doing her best not to disturb Chaos, and let her legs hit the floor.  The rest of her body followed suit and she found herself standing on the carpet.  She stood at full height and reached her fingers to the ceiling.  Chaos lifted his eyes just enough to survey the terrain.  No food was in sight, so he stayed on the warm comforter.  Dawn looked at the cat enviously and then plodded into the bathroom.

Flipping on the light switch, Dawn was met by the blinding lights above her mirror.  She had never wanted three bulbs above her mirror; she had even unscrewed one of them, but the two remaining lights filled her sleepy eyes with splotches.  Dawn blinked away the intrusion and let her eyes adjust to the light.  She took a comb in her hands and began her brief routine.

Dawn was an attractive woman.  Most people seemed to think so at least, and several fellows had been forward enough to express that opinion in myriad ways.  Dawn thought she was all right and liked to keep it that way.  When she had brushed all of her long brown hair back, she pulled it into a loose ponytail behind her.  It was hardly a fashion statement, but it would do for the morning’s routine.  She took her glasses from their nightly perch by the sink and placed them on her small nose.  Her brown oval-shaped eyes still had tired lines and a hint of redness.  Dawn sighed in annoyance but reminded herself that it was four in the morning; what did she expect?  The dimple on her chin agreed, but felt it wasn’t its place to speak without being spoken to first.

Dawn returned to the bedroom and went towards her dresser.  Chaos hadn’t moved an inch.  His tail had been bothering him, so Dawn wasn’t surprised that he lacked any vim or vigor.  She was confident that he would remain the sentinel of the mattress until he heard the can opener leap into action, then he would do the same.  Dawn opened the second drawer, pulled out a pair of black yoga pants, and put those on in place of her plaid shorts.  Her U2 t-shirt was regrettably abandoned as she pulled on her snug green tank-top.  She threw the shorts at the laundry basket, missed, and threw the shirt in.  She felt that one out of two wasn’t so bad and headed towards the living room.  She decided on her way that the shorts added contrast to the brown carpet and therefore it was a fashion choice, not her laziness; that allowed them to remain where they had landed.

Dawn found her yoga mat just where it always was.  The corner of her living room was quiet.  There were no decorations here, simply her mat and the window.  A serene view of the lake was visible and Dawn was once again pleased that she had picked this apartment.

Before her workout, she looked down at her belly.  She had a few more pounds on her than she liked.  Most of it was due to her pool schedule.  She used to like to go in at six a.m. and avoid any of the crowds.  The water buoyed her, calmed her, and drowned out the outside racket that life often brought.  Recently though, her gym had added a morning class.  She wasn’t sure exactly what they were doing, but it seemed like some sort aquatic jazzercise.  Dawn had considered joining in so that she could be in the water, but she wanted calm and quiet while the group preferred bouncing and flailing to boy bands from the nineties.  Dawn hadn’t swum in months and she missed it.

Also, Dawn liked carbs.  Most of all, she enjoyed doughnuts.  People would bring them to work, they would sit there and look inviting while she shopped for bagels; it was as if they were calling to her.  If she didn’t eat a few maple bars, then clearly she was depriving them of their purpose.  She couldn’t sleep knowing that she hadn’t done her part to help out the hard-working doughnut population.  Also, the pizza shop that had opened in the lobby of her office was not helping matters.

Dawn was still in fine shape.  Her years of yoga had honed her arms and legs into slender shape, even if her lack of exercise had caused to her lose some of her tone.  She could feel the muscles in her stomach waiting to come forth; she just needed to help them along.  Dawn liked to be in shape.  She was always happier when her body was ready for anything.  She had to admit that winter had slowed her down.  It was hard to go jogging when the thermometer wouldn’t reach above the thirties and without her pool she had found herself rather couch bound.  She still did some yoga, she still went hiking, but her routine was lazy.  Winter had come and gone, spring was in full force, and Dawn felt summer rapidly approaching.  One extra bit of motivation to get back to her former physique was Louis.

Louis and Dawn worked together and they had just clicked.  They were from two different states, two different backgrounds; two different upbringings. Somehow the two had fallen into synch almost immediately.  She liked how casual he could be in an office of stodgy coworkers while he liked the insights that she offered that no one had ever recognized before.  They had spent lunch together, gone on a few hikes together, and even been to see a play together.  He was just tall enough for her to put her head on his shoulder and he always made an effort to open doors for her.  She liked his style and had been expressing herself in frisky ways recently.  Louis was often telling her how nice she looked or how beautiful she was, so Dawn wasn’t afraid of him being too reserved in his displays of affection.  Still, if she could regain the stomach she had at this time last year…  Dawn smiled to herself.  It would be fun to see Louis’ jaw drop; the poor guy.

Dawn pulled her exercise ball close to her and pretended she was going to do a push-up on it.  She placed her legs shoulder-length apart and lifted one knee up to her chest.  She repeated this several times and then switched legs.  Then she lay on her mat, let her arms go loose at her side, tucked her stomach in while she breathed through her chest and let her knees fold.  She tightened the muscles in her core as she lifted her waist up into the air, lowered it, and repeated the motion as much as she could.  She then laid on her side, her out-stretched body taking up the length of the mat.  She told herself that she was looking pretty good, and turned onto her side.  Each leg got its time to be lifted into the air in a long, graceful line.  As Dawn wrapped up, she started thinking she should probably cut back on the doughnuts.  If nothing else, they were getting expensive.  She decided that she would limit herself to two of them a day.  Or maybe three…, she considered.  There was no need to make rash decisions, after all.

Dawn felt a few beads of sweat drift down her face and welcomed the cooling trickles of moisture.  She reached for the water bottle that she hadn’t finished yesterday and took long, refreshing sips.  She needed to remember to drink more water too.  She added that to the running to-do list that was constantly asking for her attention.  If there was one thing Louis brought to her life, it was that he distracted Dawn from her list of endless tasks.  She appreciated that about him.

Dawn sat on the mat, her legs crossed and intertwined.  She put the water bottle aside and put her hands on her knees.  As she took deep breaths she tried to block the world from her mind.  She pushed away her work day in front of her.  She discarded the car repairs she needed to have done.  She fought to remove any thoughts of her pregnant sister who was far too young to be having a kid.  Finally, and with a bit of regret, she stopped thinking about Louis and how he looked when he wore that blue shirt and hadn’t shaved for a day.  It took her a minute or two, but soon it was just Dawn and the quiet.  Chaos would bother her soon enough.  Her pet would demand to be fed soon enough.  For now, she simply breathed in and out, focused on nothing, and enjoyed this tranquil moment as the sun started to shine through her window.

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