What they said was nothing that had not been said before: You looked around the room at faces blank as if groaning, as singing is to a hum, with mouth closed. You heard the words: "You are not good enough" as the man at the top spoke to you from his black leather chair. Pools of light splashed onto the long table marking the journey of his voice from him to you.
It's funny because those words left his mouth but they reverberated around your head as the faces conformed the judgement you were being asked:
"Do you measure up?"
"Are you one of us?"
The answer to each was "No."
The meeting told you that were accepted as part of the team but perhaps this was not the best place for you. You could spread your wings elsewhere and had you ever thought about acting? Because you have great ideas but difficulty on keeping them focused on the business message (defined last week in hot debate at the management team meeting, they ate a Chinese afterwards and told the news to us by email).
You are careless stubborn and confused and we'll find you funny beause it's easier than taking you seriously . Your words might stick and cause discomfort and that is not what we are about.
We are about you ignoring yourself.
~ o ~
Leaving the office that evening and negotiating glass doors, wooden floors and the forgotten concrete staircase down to the floor, he had never felt more free. Snow that had fallen for five weeks in Amsterdam had solidified as comfort in his mind. On the staircase he had passed a colleague on his way up heading back for some overtime, his face as white as your that morning. Steps echo and out in the car park/forecourt/luxury space for a city it's short steps to the cigar cocoon of a train and passengers reading identical newspapers. The new place will be good, he thinks, relieved he's been let go, it's all he can think of now. A woman across from him glances attractively and down at a book which you frustrate to see th cover of; she'll unsettle you for the journey and you won;t have the courage to ask.
~ o ~
Hers was a hip that ran like sand between your fingers. The train conversation had gone better (!) than expected and bubbling confident woman -Cindy - had felt it was the kind of night when innocent men on trains dined out on their luck. You were led and didn't push and she eased you into bars and Utrecht and pushed you with words about aspiration and high tec calibre if world understanding and you intrigued because you could match her on Beirut, on Haiti and even outscore her on Addis Ababa although the light in her eyes (green) suggested she knew more about these things by looking at you than you did yourself. Feminine mystique pouring all over you and lamps spewed yellow cotton tufts and forced its way into comfortable spaces and leather seats and the cement mortar gaps between layers of slate on the one wall. The entire other was a mirror.
~ o ~
Lady you shocked me with a lipas I passed you for the bathroom and now I am stumbling backwards with one hand to hold myself up on the table, hoping that too won't tilt and the bladder will have to wait and you have a hold of me on the leather seat next to you.
Turned, I can't can't resist and do not wish to as we pull back and giggle and pay and leave and now your hand rests on her hips and gently she's awake and it's 4am and the two of you slept contentedly in folds but then a stir and a half street light on your faces you're reaching for eachother and cascading morning soaks the two of you in sheets cast aside as you search for the other in a cacophony of whisper-coated glances an grins subside to moans and kindness and resting again in folds: the hope and tragic parting you're encountering, even while together, becuase it cannot be like this again. The sweet pain of a sunrise of holding and Oh God, please don't let it be like this again. And all the rest can only be a memory - a reliving of the sweetness of this night.
Did I mention her hair? It was brown and long, eyes like the green of summer and you told her in shadows that if she felt like another she could take his number and call at any time.
She did and bought you icecream and politely told you no.
It wouldn't happen because like waves rolling into a beach and reflected off a cliff face you had met, crested and rolled on your way.
Funny how the boss had not put it that way and rolling on you're contented down a different set of stairs, a more tragically paved street. You're free again and all the wishing brings you down.
And besides. Kristy said she would marry you and her appartment is a block and a half away. You'll pop in after a coffee by the river.