Under the Air

There is life outside of the office. I act as if I never knew. In some ways, I guess I didn’t until this moment, walking into the local coffee house, past the metal café tables filled with smokers hunched over chess games, pushing open the heavy glass door.

What revives me? The smell of mediocre coffee. The people crowded up by the counter. The sound of NPR on the radio. Did you know? There is life outside the office.

There are faces here, instead of blank walls, familiar ones: my favorite hippie Adonis, who to my spiked bracelets says “Namaste.” No, he says it to me, not my clothes, not the shell. And the man in line, a comedian, a cancerian, who used to have his septum pierced when he worked at Burger King, but they didn’t like that very much, he’s talking to me, not my job.

“Hello, this is the Office of Campus Space Scheduling, this is… this is… this is…” They always hear “Dory.” There is no “d” in my name. There is a girl on the couch here with a shock of red-gold hair, and she’s talking to a boy with a guitar. He’s playing slide as I wait for my cup.

They are out of paper cups, so my coffee is held in the blue roundness of a bowl-like mug. I abandon the handle and hold its curve in the cup of my calloused hands.

The woman outside is smoking in a red pleather jacket, leaning over a Scrabble board, and we make eye contact as I ease into a metal chair. We smile at each other and I realize with ferocity that there is life outside the office… and that I am alive.

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