First Draft

Page 13

“Ben,” a woman’s voice from the neighboring room called out. He hurried forward, hastening his last few paces through the open doorway. Once through, he was met by three disheveled-looking individuals, all scurrying about the room. He glanced around at the three tables, each of which, he knew, did have computers hidden somewhere beneath the gigantic, sprawling sheets of paper that had been laid on top of them – some of which had been printed from top to bottom with walls of text, and others with the compacted, neatly arranged architectural drawings of a residential building. Ben recognized the structure, and the project name that was typed in bold lettering in the right-hand margin of the sheets. A few lines below that, he caught a glimpse of his own initials, preceded with the words “DRAWN BY”.

He pulled his attention back towards his own desk, which was in the corner of the cramped room, immediately adjacent to the doorway. When the door panel was swung in the open position, as it usually was, it provided him with a small dividing wall that separated him from the rest of the room, like a partial cubicle. He preferred this, as it offered him a small sense of seclusion. Though today, as he turned towards the desk, he saw that his secluded cubby had, prior to his arrival, been infracted upon with stacks of printed papers, which themselves had been displaced from their places on the table in the center of the room by the vast architectural sheets. All that could be seen of the computer on his own desk was the black, reflective monolith that stood before the sea of matte white documents.

Ben scurried over to his desk, slung his bag onto the floor, removed a massive architectural code book from his swivel chair, and sat down. “Sorry I’m late,” he muttered to nobody in particular. He glanced over his shoulder and up at his boss, as he reached behind his computer monitor and felt around for the power button.

She was flitting around the room with authority, as though she knew precisely what each piece of paper contained, and exactly where each and every one was located. Snatching a sheet of printed copy paper from one pile on the corner of the middle table, she added it to the bottom of the heap that she was already carrying, and then roughly smacked the pile of papers on edge against the nearest bare surface that she could find – a window sill, as it were – aligning it into a neat and tidy stack, which she then clipped together in the stapler on her desk with one crisp CLICK.

Maria then stopped to glance around the room with tired eyes, mindlessly tapping her fingers on the document that she clutched in her hands, while plotting out the next several hours of her day. Finally, Benjamin’s words registered. “Oh,” she said, moving to her desk to set down the stack of papers, “I wouldn’t have noticed. I was here at four.” One of the two other employees, who both stood at the end of the table on the other side of the room, let out a sigh in response. They, too, were both scanning through papers and compiling them into neat stacks – though they clearly possessed much less confidence as to the whereabouts of the pages for which they were hunting.

“E1.2?” the other employee, a girl in her twenties, muttered to herself, as she lifted and peeked under the corner of one of the large sheets of paper that covered her desk.

Maria made her way over to Ben’s desk. “Other room, somewhere around the printer.”

Ben was also peering under the stack of papers on his desk, in search of his keyboard, so that he could type in his log-in password.

“Those aren’t all for you,” said Maria, as she scooped up the lion’s share of papers on his desk into her arms and marched them into the other room, dropping them to the floor with a shudder.

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