This chair is stiff, despite the soft mesh that barely hides the ergonomic structure of the back and the padded chair. I pull a hand away from its constant tap-tapping on the keyboard to rub the bridge of my nose. My fingers gently kneed the space between my eyes before brushing over my eyelids, pushing firmly as they reach my eyebrows. There’s a headache starting there. I can feel it. Pulsing in the space behind my eyes.
I need a break.
This computer screen strewn with number sequences is doing my head in. I can no longer tell the difference between a 6 and an 8. It all looks the same.
I brace my hands against the hard white desk and push myself away. The wheeled chair carries me to the opening between the pop-up walls that serves as a door to this tiny bland cubical. It’s a relief to stand again. The blood rushes back to my legs and I’m reminded that I spent some time yesterday with weights on my back, squatting and lunging. The relief of standing is short lived.
The kitchen is down the hall to my right. I can hear her siren’s call.
I begin down the hall. This place is white and grey. Everything looks the same, smells the same. Clinical, sterile, designed to turn any sucker into a mindless work drone. Tap tap tapping on the keys. That is the music that surrounds me. Tap tap tapping.
I pass cubicle after cubicle, one stoic face after another. Tap tap tap. A door looms ahead of me and I grasp the cold metal handle. Like everything else the super-charged air conditioner has all but frozen it. I lean, pushing the heavy door forward with my momentum.
The room I enter is so unlike outside. The walls are splashed with orange, a pattern resembling the circuits of a motherboard racing along the edges. They lead me to my destination.
Ah, the kettle. It’s hot to my touch. Perfect. I don’t need to suspend the moment. I pull a mug from the cupboard, the biggest I can find. A tea bag goes in next. I disregard the sugar. I go without when there is no raw. I hold the mug in my hand as I fill it with the boiling water. The very act of putting it on the counter top, even for a moment, seems sacrilegious. I squeeze the tea bag, coaxing all the flavour into my cup before adding just a touch of milk.
I sip. I am revived.