Word:Friction Friction at Work
Word count: 499 B.A. Sarvey
The friction of his hand sweeping crumbs from the counter whispered a rebuke. Wishing he could as easily brush the episode from his thoughts, he sloshed some coffee into his mug, grabbed the toast, and headed for the terrace. Maybe he could write her out of his head.
Focusing on a point in the distance, he inhaled the salty sea-spray, held it for a moment before expelling it, as though by forcing air from his lungs he could cleanse himself of this boss, this nemesis. It wasn’t that she was a woman—he’d worked for women before without problem. Had she been a man, it would have made no difference. They were like two sticks rubbing together, their friction combusting, causing a firestorm, destroying everything and everyone within proximity.
Today, he had slammed out of her office, oblivious of the horrified stares of his colleagues. Nervous silence followed him from his desk, where he snatched his folio and coat, to the exit door. What did he care? These paeans didn’t know anything. If they wanted to put up with her ridiculous demands, that was their choice. He was done trying to please her. ‘Jump!’ How high? ‘I said green!’ It is green. ‘Not the right green!’ Not good enough!
Okay, he wasn’t proud of his behavior.
“She was like the surf,” he wrote, “slapping the shore.” No. Delete that.
“Like waves crashing on the rocks, the force of her personality inundated him, bashed him, battered his psyche against her determination.” Not bad.
Tapping at his laptop, he watched the magic of letters appearing across the screen. The very act of typing relaxed him. The thought processes of forming words and sentences took him to a different level of consciousness. The more intently he considered her, and the more devoutly he broke her down into emotions, sounds, metaphors, consonance, the calmer he became. An hour ago, he was on the verge of tendering his resignation—without a clue what his next job might be. The steady roar of the water below, the fortifying cup of caffeine, the sea gulls’ lonesome songs—these things helped, sure. But the new oblivion—not the obfuscation caused by anger, but the blanketing caused by peace—this came from words on the page, a place where he felt safe, where he had sought solitude and refuge before. This woman, this boss, became a character in a story. The story had a plot, as well as a moral. Rereading his words, he learned something, because the best writing teaches, even if it only teaches us humility.
Maybe he wouldn’t quit, after all. If he still had a job.
“Bruised and nearly lifeless, he washed up onto the sand. But like a broken wine bottle, he was no longer just jagged pieces. The friction of sand and water had polished the rough edges, created a satin finish. Now, here he was, a handful of weathered gems deposited at the cliff base. Not destroyed. Just changed. Maybe better.”