I’m quite tired. I suppose this is the kind of thing that happens when I’m tired. Or maybe I’ve just quacked up… heh.
Anyhow, here you go, without further ado:
There are many different flavors of silence, and most of them are unpleasant. A contemptible silence leaves a bitter taste in your mouth, like the aftermath of drinking bad coffee, when the flavor has coated your tongue and no amount of water seems to flush it away.
However, a contemptible silence is preferable to an empty one. An empty silence, completely devoid of emotion, feels like disappointment. It tastes like loss. Like the memory of the most delicious thing you could have had. The thing that you missed out on and will always regret.
And this, the silence that filled the office, broken only by the insistent shushing of the air conditioner and the occasional clickety-clack of typing, was an empty silence. It was the sound of a group of people, as one, typing without thought, moving without emotion or purpose, getting up to retrieve a piece of paper from the printer only to return to their seats, weighed down with the heaviness of the day, every passing minute a pebble dropped onto the growing pile they carried.
She sat at her computer, eyes staring at the large monitor before her, and watched the blinking cursor dumbly.
She’d been checking the same boxes, typing the same numbers over and over, until they blurred together in her mind like a reel of newsprint, black-and-white digits floating behind her eyes. She typed the address one more time and allowed herself to sit for a few moments, face propped against her palm, glaring at the dreaded screen.
One more file.
Just get through one more file.
She’d been pushing herself through them all day, like a swimmer doing laps. Well, more like a swimmer who hates swimming. She forced her body through the water, and pushed herself each time her head bobbed up into the chlorine-saturated air for a gasping breath.
Just like that.
She reached for the next one. The last one in the stack. The folder was such a bright yellow that it almost hurt to look at. The files were wrapped in brightly colored folders, as if to make up for the blandness of everything else surrounding them.
She reached for it, and she put it back. Just for a moment. She’d get to it in a minute. She would. She just… wanted a minute. She sat with her cheek pressed into her palm and watched the never-ending, blinking cursor again. And just for that moment, she let her already half-closed eyes slide completely shut.
“You’re still working on these?”
Her boss’s loud voice broke through her little break. It wasn’t quite yelling, but… Oh, let’s just be honest. It was yelling.
“I thought you’d have these done hours ago! What on earth is taking so damn long?”
He was a short, portly man with yellowy-gray hair that he ran his fingers through whenever he was nervous, inadvertently puffing it up like a crown of feathers around his balding head. It looked like that now, as he reached for her last remaining file, holding it in front of her nose menacingly.
“This is an important job,” he half-shouted. “And if you’re not going to be responsible and committed to your tasks then – ”
Quaaaack! Quaaaack! Qua-Quaaack!
She blinked rapid-fire, as the papers he’d held went flying, drifting through the air. A moment later, they were followed by feathers.
The man was a duck.
It was not some sort of new insult.
The man had suddenly morphed into a giant, yellow duck.
And his white, downy under-feathers swiftly followed the paperwork, filling the air with a floating whiteness that covered the previously clean floor like snow, as he quacked and flapped his huge wings. The breeze created by the flapping only added to the disarray, sending little tornadoes of feathers whirling around the room and –
She jumped, eyes springing open and refocusing, as she tried to discreetly wipe a bit of drool off of her lower lip.
She looked at the huge new stack of files on her desk, which her boss had clearly just plopped there, while she sat half-snoozing, and then looked back up at him, wide-eyed.
He grinned and shrugged, only slightly apologetic for adding to her workload.
“It looked like you were down to your last few files,” he said. “So I thought I’d bring you some more to keep you busy.”
He turned to walk out, then thought better of it, as he popped his head back into her office, his yellowish corona glowing slightly in the fluorescent office light.
“By the way,” he said. “I meant to tell you good job. No one’s ever gotten through files that quickly.”
He gave her a quick smile.
“I appreciate your effort,” he said. “Keep up the good work.”
She sighed, picked up the formerly-last file, and began again, cocooned once again in the silence, which now felt a little less empty.