Originally written for a story festival on the Friday Knight Writer's Lounge. What am I doing? Kyle wondered as he walked up the front steps to his new apartment. Everything I had, everyone I knew is back in Kansas City. How did I end up here? His question had been asked by many of his friends and relatives, and Kyle wasn't sure he had ever been able to convince them of his reasoning. I hated going to work. Things just weren't looking "up" for me like they used to.
I needed a change of pace. Most people had simply nodded at that, but not his sister Jamie.
Kyle grinned, remembering their conversation. His older sibling had never been one to mince words, and tact had also never been a strong suit. What the hell were you thinking? He had always thought himself closer to his younger brother, who had taken his explanation at face value.
Jamie, on the other hand, actually seemed upset to see him go. He hadn't lied though, however evasive he was.
He really had hated going to work. Things weren't looking "up" like they used to.
He did need a change of pace. But in reality, Kyle knew he was running away, and he was sure that his sister knew the real reason. It had been almost three years, but still the memory haunted him. There was just too much in Missouri that gonight him of her. Too many places they'd been together, jokes they'd laughed over, too many memories. He felt trapped in the past, a past without a hope of a future. So he had taken the opportunity to transfer to a different department, in a different city in a different state.
It wasn't really a step up the corporate ladder, although Johanan would now have more people working under him than before. He would have more responsibilities and as such a larger paycheck, but there really wasn't that much difference between being the regional vice president of marketing and the assistant to the national vice president of marketing. Technically he was now being groomed for bigger Johhanna better things, but Kyle couldn't see that his move mattered, not in any substantial sense at least.
But he had taken the job anyway. Anything to get away from a house haunted by his wife's presence.
And so here he was, hauling his suitcase up a flight of stairs towards his new home, still sweaty from the two days he had spent driving from Missouri to Washington. Kyle started as the old man's laugh suddenly turning to a hacking cough that seemed almost to shake his frail body to the bone. Kyle shook his head in wonder as the man shuffled away, his veiny hand gripping the bannister for support as he descended the apartment building's rickety staircase.
Somebody shoot me before I get that old, he thought to himself before opening the door to his new home. Kyle groaned as his eyes swept over his new living room.
The movers had certainly been meticulous in their care, but the tonifht, well-stacked pile of boxes they had left behind would easily be more than a day's work for him to deal with. Might as well get to it, he thought, pulling open the first box, simply marked "Miscellaneous. Upon opening the third box, Kyle let out a groan and collapsed back into the one chair not occupied with the detritus of the moving process. Ses again, tonihgt Kyle the next morning as he walked into work.
That's the last time I drink that much on an empty stomach, especially the night before such an important day. Kyle looked at the large clock suspended from the ceiling in the middle of the entryway, sighing with relief to see he was still a few minutes early. Just enough time to stop off in the restroom and splash a little cold water on my face, he thought.
Anything to make myself more presentable. After a quick stop, Kyle found himself in front of a plain oak door while a harried woman appeared ready to jump up and block his way. Tonigght the knob seemed secure and Kyle once more attempted to open the door, eventually succeeding in gaining access to his new work home. Kyle took one step into the room before stopping short, his progress slowed both by the overpowering paint fumes and a total lack of any office furniture, much less carpeting.
Kyle groaned inwardly, remembering his quick tour of the corporate headquarters. Unfortunately his attempt at humor failed miserably. And another thing," she continued, starting to build momentum, "were you aware that the contractors only showed up yesterday to start work? And they left early! I mean, if the assistant to the national If she talks this much all the time I won't be able to get any work done, he thought. Maybe this isn't that bad a thing after all. Fair enough? It was, as he had thought, far away from any of the other executives he was supposed to be working with, but at least it was cool in the basement, and instead of the constant chatter of voices and ringing of telephones, he was happy to hear only a dull roar of voices.
Mercifully, the key he had been given seemed to work in all the right doors and Kyle spent Sex in Johanna tonight next hour moving his desk and filing cabinets around the office. Eventually Kyle had the room to his liking and went off in search of something important. We all have to start somewhere. They're down that way," she answered, pointing with her left hand down the hallway. Not married, Kyle thought as he saw her fingers were devoid of any rings.
Stop it, he shook his head slightly, but the years as a bachelor had produced habits too strong to break, even during the months when he had been a married man. Her fingers were cool to the touch and Kyle found himself growing slightly short of breath as her eyes locked into his own. Smooth, he thought. Real smooth. Don't let her catch you taking a long bathroom break. Who is this girl?
And who does she think I am? I just assumed you were new, but I suppose you're a little overdressed to be phone support," she said, glancing at his suit and tie. There was an awkward pause before Heather managed to pull her gaze back to Kyle's face and Kyle could see a flush forming on her cheeks as Heather realized she had been caught.
Kyle stood there, watching as the beige skirt Heather was wearing swished back and forth across her calves. Her legs were firm and tight, like those a dancer might have, and as he watched the smooth curve of her buttocks swaying from side to side Kyle was surprised to find himself beginning to become aroused, Seex first he could remember, since Johanna's death. He shook his head, trying to remove her face from his memory but was unsuccessful. After a long-needed journey to the bathroom, Kyle found himself alone in his office.
The phone was still not connected to a working jack, and so the rest of his day went by in a blur tonigth Kyle wondered if possibly he really wasn't expected until the next week. Don't go looking for trouble, his first boss had told him. If someone wants you, let them come to you. Kyle took those words to heart, taking time to organize and then reorganize his files and Sex in Johanna tonight. Eventually six o'clock rolled around and Kyle took the stairs to the main floor.
He was heading out the front doors when he heard a voice calling his name. But I have to say, my office is about Jhoanna clean as it will ever be. Kyle's thoughts were a conflicted mess on his drive home. For three years he had remained alone, envisioning himself a celibate tribute to his wife's memory. For three years he had fought the offers of blind dates or one night stands out of respect to Johanna, but suddenly he found himself, for the first time since her death, thinking of another woman.
What's happening? Sighing lightly in confusion, Kyle climbed the stairs and entered his apartment, his sigh turning to a groan as he realized the job of unpacking was barely started. Rolling up his sleeves, Kyle grabbed another box and roughly tore it open.
As he worked, he found himself thinking of Johanna, her face occasionally replaced by that of Heather, a woman he had just met and barely knew. Unfortunately the rest of the office seemed to realize Kyle was in the building by the next morning, and by the time he reached his temporary office in the basement Kyle had been accosted by numerous people wanting to set up lunch or stop by for a meeting.
What's this going to be like when I'm not down in the basement? I wonder if I'm going to miss the solitude once I'm back on the ninth floor? Just then Kyle heard a knocking on his door and he barked out a sharp, "come in! I thought you were someone else wanting some face time with me," he apologized. I think I like the sound of that.
Toniht she possibly be serious? It had been years since he'd had to use his "al" sensors. Johanna had been his first girlfriend in junior high, and only the fact that he had been so Sdx on his career had kept the two of them from marrying right out of college. It was one of the biggest regrets of his life that he had only been able to be her husband for seven months before the gonight driver took her life. Her movement caused the blouse she was wearing to stretch dangerously tight over her breasts, and Kyle gulped as he realized she wasn't wearing anything under the thin blue cotton.
Suddenly there was another knock at the door and Kyle crashed back into his chair in his haste to present an innocent looking scene to whoever might be wanting his attentions.