"Shrinked" Up

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I looked at the lighted-up text on my screen.

“You’re not coming home again this night right?”

I hissed long and loud in the large office space and was about to collect myself and apologize when I remembered and tapped my head with a sigh. It was 11pm in the night. The office had cleared out hours ago and except for the security guard, who I had pleaded with not to disclose to anyone that I’d made the office my bedroom for the past two days now, the rest of my colleagues thought I went home the usual time.

The Regional Manager was coming in a week and this wasn’t like his usual visits. It was rumoured that he would be coming in with the actual CEO and that there could be some juicy promotions to be handed to two deserving members of the staff. And everything in my head was that I finally had my chance. My chance to prove that I wasn’t some mediocre worker. So I decided to finish off the projects that I was hoping to wow the CEO when he came.

I told my husband about it and he agreed. That’s a lie though, I just wrote a half-ass note saying I was doing work stuff and wouldn’t be back anytime soon, on the counter.

So as I stared at his text, I was more than a little irritated. He knew how important this promotion would mean to us. To our financial lives. Yes, maybe I was a little too career-minded for his liking but he knew that before we tied the knot didn’t he?

Absentmindedly, I picked up my coffee cup and brought it to my lips, while typing one-handed on the keyboard.

“Shit.” It was empty. I mentally calculated how much time I’d take to go to the percolator and get myself some coffee, and decided I could just about make it. So sprinting my mentally drained self to the percolator, I quickly made a steaming cup for myself. I took thirty seconds more to just inhale its redolent scent. Coffee did something to me that reminded me of those early years of marriage with Damon. A hint of a smile ghosted my lips but I squelched it immediately. There wasn’t time for that.

As I neared my desk, I made to take a hasty sip when I heard a clear voice from nowhere.

“Hold it right there, woman!”

I was immediately on alert. Had one of my colleagues caught me? But that voice didn’t belong to anyone from the office. Tapping my head, I smiled bitterly as I made to sip my coffee again. Hallucinations, delusions or not, I was going to finish this project.


“I promise, if you attempt to take one sip without hearing me out, I’ll ensure you don’t have use for your tongue for the better part of a year.”

I looked at the cup of coffee in my hands, quizzically. Waiting.

“Now that I have your attention, I have some thoughts –”

I shrieked the heavens down and made to drop the cup but for some reason, I couldn’t. I shrieked again and closed my eyes, shaking my head.

“I’ve officially gone loco. My coffee is talking. I’m talking to a talking coffee. Where did I go wrong Lord?” I wailed, sinking to the ground with the cup still in my hand.

“One would think with those high-pitched wails and even more dramatic speeches you would have pursued theatre instead of this wacky-ass job.” I didn’t dare breathe or close my eyes either, even though I was sure I was in a really weird dream. But the talking coffee was clearly not finished with me.

“You had dreams, not so big, but happy ones. Why have you thrown them away?”

“Great. Not only am I talking to a coffee, but apparently it’s a shrink too - Ow!” I winced as I felt the stinging sensation of hot coffee on my skin. “Did you just spill yourself on me?”

“You needn’t put it that grossly but yeah, that’s for that smart-ass mouth of yours. Look I don’t have much time so you have to listen carefully to what I’m going to say.”

I paused. Better to let this whole farce be over, I mused.

“Killing yourself over this project would definitely not get you that promotion you want. Ignoring the man that has been by your side from the beginning won’t help you either.” The coffee knew it had gotten my attention so it continued. “You’re being too hard on yourself and you’re going about it the wrong way too. And if you keep on with this, you’ll lose everything.”

“Okay, wise one. What would you have me do?” And I wasn’t being sarcastic. I wanted to know.

“First things first, you’ll send a text to that man that’s worried sick for you that you’ll be home tonight. And then you’ll go home and take your first decent bath in two days. You’ll return to work with a clear mind and you would put down your thoughts into that project. Not what you think they want but what you feel in your heart.”

I grinned. “Is that all, sensei?”

“Yeah, that’s about it. No, wait. Don’t drink me. Just pour me down the sink. That breath of yours could send me to coffee hell.”

I shook my head, laughing and feeling a lightness in my heart that had been absent for so long. I poured the coffee down the sink and walking to my phone, replied his text.

“I’ll be home tonight. Love you.” And whistling a tune, I picked up my bag, casting a grateful look to the now lifeless cup on my desk and walked out of the office.

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