It was a dreary October afternoon when I stumbled into that office, drenched in sweat. I remember the dull hum of ceiling fans, circulating the same rancid air and not really being of very much use to anyone. I remember the sound of my heart, beating fast and loud, drowning out all coherent thought. I remember the look on her face, twisted with worry. She opened her mouth to speak, but I heard nothing. I’m not exactly sure as to whether she said anything at all; but that day – that day – everything was different.
“Anjalie?” I finally heard her say. “Anj, what’s wrong?”
Still unable to respond, I flopped onto her desk, paying no heed to the paperclips that dug into my flesh. I may have bled, but who knows?
“Anj,” she repeated. “Anj, talk to me. What happened?”
I sat there for what seemed to be an eternity, staring blankly into the depths of her eyes, gaping like a fish out of water. My life had turned to clay. Everything was stagnant. It was almost as if time had stopped. I could no longer hear the ticking of her broken clock, the one that looked like Mickey Mouse but was actually Bruce Springsteen. The clacking of fingers on keyboards seemed to have ceased, and I could see no evidence of life on the street below. I could feel little rivers of perspiration running down my back and pooling in my underwear.
I finally found the strength to speak.
With that worried expression still etched onto her features, she dashed towards the filter and returned with a plastic cup filled with icy-cold H2O. At that point I paused to appreciate the nature of the cup. Closing my eyes, I observed that it had an exceptionally positive natural energy, very much unlike that of my boss. Running my fingers over the rim, I noticed that this positive energy was being nulled by the presence of an uncharacteristic chip – that is to say, a stumbling block in that little cup’s walk of life. Its weathered exterior, once displaying a bold motif of Tweety Bird, was now-
“Anj, you’re drooling.”
Aah, my saviour. She was always doing this; rescuing me from the forces of ignorance.
“Tammy,” I cried, clasping her hand.
“WHAT?! Ew, Anj! What did you just wipe on me-?”
“TAMMY!” I screamed. I was getting desperate. If Tammy didn’t pay attention to the fact that I was crying hysteria into her bosom, then no one would. Granted, she was the only one who tolerated my melodramatic outbursts.
“Uhm…are those eggshells in your hair?”
“Never you mind the eggshells,” I said, and, gazing determinedly at her skeptical expression, pulled a couple of slimy pieces from my head. “We’ve got a crisis on our hands.”
A pregnant pause followed in which we heard nothing but Thareef giggling excitedly as he raced past our cubicle towards the ladies toilets with his camera in his hands.
She slapped her forehead. “Oh, God. What have you done this time?”
“I was innocent!” I cried, and beat my breast.
This defensive mechanism failed to work, however, and Tammy threw the Tweety Bird cup at my head. It missed and hit the accountant, a pink velvet hippo named Rupert. In this way the object lost a lot of its positive energy, and having gained much of Tammy’s negative, became a destructive force, one that was particularly harmful towards pink velvet-
“I KNEW it! I knew something would happen. Why, Anj, WHY!? It hasn’t even been a week since that last escapade of yours!”
“Look, it’s like I keep telling you – I never aimed that giant wad of putty at the Spanish Ambassador, okay?”
“Yes, but while that’s true, you can’t overlook the fact that you were actually aiming at the Orphanage!”
“HEY! They were getting on my nerves!”
“Just because little Billy didn’t lend you his crayons!?”
“They need to learn how to share, al’ite?!”
“He’s six years old, Anj!”
“So?! When I was six I lived in a cardboard box with sixteen other little siblings. We had only one crayon between us all, and we still managed to share!”
“That’s bullshit. You have two sisters.”
“Yes, well, a little putty never hurt anyone.”
“Whatever,” I said, and returned to the topic at hand. “Like I said, we’re in the midst of a crisis.”
“I don’t care. I’m not going to help you this time.”
“But you must!” I exclaimed. “The fate of the world as we know it rests upon your weary shoulders!”
Tammy ignored me and continued to ramble to herself. “How was I to know that she was trying to demolish the orphanage? Why does this sort of thing happen to me? Why am I cursed with a friend like her? Did I remember to hang the washing out to dry? When did I-”
I grabbed her hand again and gave her what I hoped was a pained expression. She snorted. Chortling inside, I knew she had given in.
“Alright, you’ve got me,” she said. “What’s the big emergency this time?”
“You might want to sit down – this may come as a bit of a shock.”
“I gathered as much from your emotional display,” she replied, amused.
Taking a deep breath, I counted to ten. Then I let her have it.
“There’s no more Marmite™.”
Her scream resounded like a tidal wave crashing against the shore.
To be continued...