First Draft

Page 15

BENJAMIN felt such an agonizing disdain for the work that was laid out before him. Mind you, it was only in the quiet moments in which Mara would emerge from her hidden spaces, to gnaw at his hands, his feet, so that he would simply have to get away from his desk. She would claw at his eyes, get in the way of his screen, move his mouse into the search bar, and then type any number of things that popped into her mind, “How to build a beehive,” or, “Flights from PIT to KEF.” When BEN was with his boss, then Mara would seem to behave, and things would be alright. He would be productive, and excited for the work that he was doing. But aside for two or three virtual meetings a month, he was almost totally independent, what with his having moved a state away. But of course, there was another method of suppressing Mara’s antics: alcohol. However, there was such a thin line that divided productively tipsy and drunk that alcohol was hardly a viable solution to his dilemma. And thus, throughout most of his moments of quiet reflection at his desk, he could simply not deny himself the truth: he hated what he did for work.

By the time that Benjamin had stopped writing to rub his cramping hand, he had already filled the front and back of the sticky note with tasks for his day ahead. Drawings to update, measurements of existing homes to convert into floor plans and elevations, and full construction sets to complete – the sticky note on his disheveled desk had to represent a week’s worth of work, at least.

Maria took a drag of air, smiled down at Ben and patted his shoulder, “That’s not too much, right? You’re not going to run away, right?” Ben returned a genuine smile. “Not yet. No, I can do this.” A muffled growl emanated from somewhere in the room. Maria chuckled, still smiling, “Good, we’ve got a lot going on. Lot’s of work coming in. Pretty soon I’m going to have you training people! Ready to be a boss?” She was walking back to the table where the other two employees were still standing, and began rifling through the sheets of paper that the man had stacked neatly, checking their numbers in the lower-right corner. “This one’s ready to go,” she said to the staff, as she began rolling the papers into a two-foot-long roll. She turned her head back towards Ben, “We’re gonna head out in a little bit. Lydia’s going to submit these sets for permitting and then head to Cranberry, and Bryan and I are going to go measure 231 River Trail. We’ll probably be there for the rest of the day, so you’ll be on your own for lunch. Are you gonna be good?” She returned to Ben’s side, looking down at him as he began clicking through the files on his screen. “Just you an’ me today, buddy!” Marci hollered from the other room. “I thought you were leaving early?” Maria hollered back. “As soon as I can,” Marci muttered, causing Maria to roll her eyes. Maria wandered back to her desk and sat. She quickly found a new task to work on while her other two employees finished up sorting through the piles of paper. With a sudden furor, she began typing away. Benjamin glanced over his shoulder toward her. She was still smiling. He turned back to his own computer and double-clicked on a project file, opening his drafting software. He felt warmth.

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