Melanie perched at the lookout point above her cubicle, studying the man at the water cooler. Over the past few weeks, her occasional glimpses progressed. Now, he had become her purpose, the reason she bothered to wake up in the morning.
She wished she had the nerve to strike up a conversation with Jorge, the handsome new spectacle at the firm. He had bright, refreshing eyes like that of a visionary—a young Picasso, perhaps—and his flowing hair was movie-star quality. Maybe not Antonio Banderas in-his-prime level, but it was close.
Janice, one of Melanie’s coworkers, approached Jorge with a fluff of her hair.
“That bitch,” Melanie whispered, as the ever-so fit and fun Janice adjusted her top. Even from this vantage point, halfway across the office, Melanie could see her cleavage.
“Seriously?” Melanie burst out. She clenched the top of the thin wall until her knuckles turned white. Her face reddened.
“You okay, Mel?” Tom asked, lifting the glasses from his nose. Tom was stout, middle-aged, and married. He was normally so glued to his work that he didn’t notice Melanie gazing above his station.
Tom raised his eyebrows. “Better to stay out of it. Trust me,” he said before turning back to his work, almost suggesting that Melanie do the same.
Melanie glared as her beloved Jorge continued to fall for devious Janice: her straight, white teeth, fake laugh, and perky breasts. But in time, gravity would take its toll, her spinach and kale smoothies would be replaced with Cokes, and her flat stomach would morph into a wasteland of pudge. Jorge’s eyes would undoubtedly wander.
Melanie knew what to do. Her nemesis may have won Jorge, but she wouldn’t leave the office unblemished. Melanie trusted that the embarrassment of what she had planned would linger with Janice for years.
She dropped on all fours and snatched her lunch box, digging through it like a woman possessed. She tossed aside tea packets, a peach, and a small baggie of sliced cucumbers.
The half-eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwich seemed to glow when Melanie found it, calling to her.
Melanie strolled out of her station, weapon in hand. She swept around the corner. As she neared the water cooler, where the two were practically making out, she sped up to a three-quarters jog.
Jorge’s head tilted ever so slightly toward Melanie, and for an instant, she thought she had saved him.
If only it was that easy to distract a man from a goddess.
Janice lured him back into her evil clutches with a perfectly timed, “Aw, really?”
The fire inside Melanie erupted. She banked hard left past them, back on the offensive.
She slowed her pace to a casual, easy stride. Hopefully she hadn’t raised any suspicion. It was unlikely: everyone was in their post-lunch, food-coma state.
With a quick glance over her shoulder, she slipped into Janice’s cubicle, honing in on her target.
Melanie tore apart the sandwich and went to work, smearing it all over Janice’s brown leather chair. The peanut butter blended in perfectly. Even the jelly cooperated as it trickled down into the creases, hiding.
Before she departed, Melanie plucked a tissue from Janice’s desk and lumped the remains of the sandwich inside of it. She tiptoed out, unnoticed.
When she walked past the newlyweds—who were probably about to pack their luggage and board their plane to Fiji—Melanie couldn’t help but grin.
Janice caught her eye. “Hey,” she said, as if they were bubbly best friends.
“Hey,” Melanie replied, smile stretching wider. Her blood cooled to a simmer in an instant, and all was right in the world again.
Melanie turned away from them and almost exploded in a fit of laughter. When Tom’s head popped up like a mole from his office space, single eyebrow raised, she lost it.
Though she would never have Jorge, the thought of Janice’s peanut butter-coated skirt—and streams of mascara on her face— made it a little more bearable.
She entered her cubicle—which seemed a little brighter than before—threw out the balled-up sandwich, and went back to work, sticky fingers and all.