1) Muse’s directive: “A character arrives at work to find her chair missing. What happened to it?”
A grimace contorted the girl’s face as she navigated through the village of cubicles. Running late, insufficiently caffeinated, and chagrined, she endured the banter that was repeated ad nauseum each and every morning, Monday through Friday. She could count on hearing “another day in paradise” sarcastically volleyed at least 3 times before taking sanctuary in her little cubicle. There, she would don her head phones and thus ensconce herself in the sanctity of music for the remainder of the day.
It seemed to her that, what might have otherwise been a group of witty and genuine individuals, had been obliged to pantomime simple pack animals in exchange for a steady mortgage payment and decent dental coverage. She hated that she could feel herself adapting her sense of humor to maximize corporate America appeal–which is to say, anything for a sarcastic chuckle from a coworker. She had recently found herself exhibiting strong opinions about fluorescents lighting, tacky carpet, and the ergonomics of office chairs. The funniest thing all week was blaming the penny pinching site manager for frigid toilet seats–clearly the expenditure of heating the ladies’ lavatory was too extravagant for his sensibilities.
She acknowledged Kyle as he hurried by, coffee cup clutched to his chest, likely his 3rd dose of caffeine since his arrival at the office at 6am. She almost mimed him as he said, “Workin hard or hardly workin, Alex?” as he had every morning for the past 2 years. His subtle joke about her work day beginning hours later than his had lost its appeal within the first week. Why hadn’t she found a polite way to cease this awkward ritual ages ago? Did he lose an equal measure of self respect for dolling it out as she did for accepting it?
Come to think of it, hadn’t she been losing the spirit for the adventures supposedly lined up for a young moderately-well educated American girl? What was she trading her joie de vivre for? Certainly not the lively interactions. She winced at her pejorative assessment of her daily conversations. She enjoyed many of them, despite herself. “From whence the bitterness, Al?” she demanded silently as she steered into her cube.
She stopped dead and nearly dropped her mug of Organic Fair Trade Guatemalan on the brand new God-awful carpet that still stank of glue, or bonder, or whatever the technical term was.
Her desk, usually a hazardous amalgam of textbooks, drawings, and spare parts–the guts of some project or other, long amputated from its primary assembly–was nearly bare. A family of dust bunnies, recently evicted from their hiding places, gamboled nervously about in the wake of her arrival. Her textbooks were filed neatly in a cardboard box that lay afloat in the middle of the floor, marking the space where her austere chair used to stand guard.
“Alex? I need to speak with you in my office,” announced a stern, though not unsympathetic voice behind her.
2) My current word count for my novel is: 25,621 / 40,000.
3) Muse’s next directive: “Place Lot’s wife at a school board meeting in Kansas.”