Word Count 497
Inundated by the Day
by G. Ackman
She sat at her desk and stared at the stacks of papers littering its top, each representing a task on her ever-growing “to do” list. She didn’t have enough time to finish any one stack, yet all were clamoring for her attention. Head in hands, she picked up one paper but her eyes blurred and she could not focus on what it was saying. Before she could try again, a rustle of fabric at her side let her know that someone was standing beside her desk. She turned her head slightly, pasting a façade of pleasantness on her face as she did so. Just as she feared. A colleague wanting to “chat,” as if she had nothing to do but spend time with this person who she only knew between 8 am and 4:30 pm Monday through Friday. She listened to the inane prattle for a few minutes, nodding in the proper places and making noncommittal noises until finally, blessedly, the intruder gave a little waggle of her fingers and wandered off to bother someone else. A deep sigh and she once again tried to attack the endless, repetitive, and fruitless tasks in front of her. Throughout the course of the day, she accomplished nothing, being interrupted at least four other times by people wanting to know how she was, how her weekend had been, what her plans were for summer, and did she want to see the picture of their new kitten? No, she did not. And she didn’t for one second believe that they really cared how her weekend was. Part of her wanted to explode with the truth – it was a crappy weekend, followed by an even crappier return to work this morning, and now I’m listening to your crappy stories. Are you happy you asked? But of course, she didn’t say that. She said all the proper things, the shallow responses that everyone expects. It was a good weekend. I feel quite well, thank you. What a cute kitten.
The alarm on her phone interrupted her absolute lack of productivity to remind her of the meeting at 2:00. Great. Another wasted hour of everyone having ideas that no one will implement. She sat unmoving until the second reminder sounded with a distinctly chiding tone. She pushed back her chair, squared her shoulders and headed towards the conference room. At the door, she hesitated for an imperceptible moment and then, without thought or intent, kept walking. Down the hall, into the elevator, out the door, and into her car. She drove home with neither thought nor remembrance of the drive. At home, the washer and stove called out her name, identifying more repetitive, senseless tasks. Her newly-retired husband snored loudly in the chair, his dirty socks on the floor. The sink, overflowing with dirty dishes, mocked her. She looked around, inundated with things that destroyed her selfness and, suddenly unfamiliar with any of it, turned, got back in her car, and drove far away.