“If you could rearrange three things about your life what would they be?”
Dee tugged off her glasses and placed them next to her mouse pad. She reached up to lightly rub the indentations on the bridge of her nose before turning to look at her co-worker in the next cubicle. She smiled. Lacy’s hair was tied up into a messy knot on the top of her head, curly tendrils clung to her lipstick-smeared bronzed lips.
“Nice hair,” Dee said with a chuckle.
Lacy waved her aside and impatiently removed the hair clinging to the corner of her mouth. “I’m growing it out and it’s driving me crazy. Now answer the question.”
“Don’t you have a deadline?”
“This is part of my article. I didn’t have enough time to go out and do a poll thing, so I’m asking you, If you could rearrange three things about your life what would they be?”
“Because I represent the vast majority of single women,” Dee responded with a smirk.
“So you’re not single,” Lacy said with a roll of her eyes. “You’re a woman and that’s all I need at this point.”
Dee reached for her diet coke and took a quiet sip.
“Sometime before I reach my next birthday would be groovy,” said Lacy.
“Well think faster. I have to present this to dragon lady, er, Rachel, in the next 30 minutes.”
“Why did you wait until the last minute to do this? That’s not like you.”
Lacy released an exasperated sigh and wheeled herself more fully into Dee’s cramped square of space. “I had a date last night and –”
Dee interrupted while scanning over Lacy’s wrinkled clothes. “Didn’t you wear that yesterday?”
Lacy remained silent and gave her a pointed stare.
When the realization that Lacy hadn’t gone home last night hit her, she raised her eyebrows in mock shock. “Ah, the date went well, then.”
“You could say that,” Lacy responded while lifting an arm to smell under her pit. “I need to use your deodorant.”
Dee blushed and huffed a reply, “What makes you think I have deodorant on me?”
“Oh please, the Queen of Clean? Everyone knows you not only have backup toiletries in your bottom drawer, but that you keep a bag of fresh clothes stuffed into a corner in the breakroom.”
Dee’s blush deepened. “How do people know that?”
“We’re not as clueless as you think we are, Lacy.”
“I never –”
“Can you just answer the freaking question, please? Time is ticking and I’m starting to sweat.”
Dee grinned and gestured to her own upper lip. “You are, actually. I can see a sweat mustache right here …”
It was Lacy’s turn to blush and she hurriedly brought up a finger to swipe at the moisture. “You’re killing me. Are you doing this on purpose?”
Dee blinked and tried to maintain an innocent face.
“Tick tock, Murphy,” Lacy growled.
Dee’s amusement dried up as she glanced at the clock. “Actually, I really don’t have time for this, Lacy. I have my own deadline to meet.”
“All the more reason to answer the damn question,” Lacy replied with a deadpan expression.
Dee sighed and twirled her messy ponytail around her finger. “Geez … I don’t know. My life is pretty cool as is.”
Lacy continued to stare at her.
Dee stared back.
Lacy’s stare was bold and unblinking.
Dee finally blinked and broke the spell.
“Fine. Number one – my cubicle. That way, I wouldn’t have to sit next to you and answer these stupid questions before I’ve had my third cup of coffee.”
Lacy snorted and just continued to stare.
“I hate you, you know this, right?”
“I have a fan club of people who hate me. I consider it every journalist’s compliment.”
Dee continued to meet her unwavering stare.
“Tick tock,” Lacy said, barely moving her lips.
Dee threw up her hands in surrender. “One, my work schedule. If I had my way, I wouldn’t come in until 10:00 a.m. every morning and then leave around 3ish.”
“Ooh, good one,” Lacy said and abruptly disappeared behind the cubicle wall.
Dee released a long, relieved sigh and thought perhaps that was enough to start the ball rolling in Lacy’s head.
She was wrong.
Lacy reappeared with a notepad and began scrawling in her hurried, messy handwriting. “Two?”
Dee squirmed and then looked down at her chair. “Comfortable seats. My butt is killing me.”
Lacy lifted her pen and saluted her without looking up or missing a beat in her writing. “Better butt. Check.”
“I said better seats, not butt.”
“Same thing,” said Lacy. She finally looked up and her eyes sparkled with mischief.
“Do you normally misquote your sources?”
“I never misquote,” she responded with a toss of her head “I just tweak them a bit, that’s all.”
Dee rolled her eyes and turned toward her monitor when the sound of her email program caught her attention. “It’s from Micheal,” she said while clicking on the icon to open the message.
“Hellllo, I need number three here.”
Dee was silent for long moments as she read the short, but brutal, message.
Lacy began to impatiently tap her pencil against the page of her notebook. “Sometime before my hair turns gray, Dee.”
Dee’s eyes began to water and she swallowed the hard, bitter lump in her throat. “How about this one,” she began, her voice wavering slightly. “A husband who doesn’t consistently put his career ahead of you.” She whirled around in her chair and glared at Lacy, daring her to say a word.
Lacy’s eyes ran over her friend’s face with sympathy. Micheal’s message was clear, and though both women were thinking the same thing, neither was ready to say it out loud.
“Never mind,” Lacy said softly, “I’ll come up with the last one.” She wheeled herself back to her cubicle.
Dee reached for a tissue. “No, use it,” she said and blew her nose. “What woman can’t relate to this one?”
This was written in response to Mama’s Losin’ It’s weekly writing exercise.