©

On the weekdays she is immovably professional, but cold. The only real place where her gossiping coworkers could point the word scandal is to the red-rimmed glasses she wears, despite the otherwise modest pencil skirts and blouses. Even with no lipstick and only the barest black lining her lashes though, she still draws gazes.

With high cheekbones and hazelnut eyes, she makes her fellow women spit cold words. The men sweat under their collars and hide in the bathroom when she walks by their department. She doesn’t seem to much more than blink, work harder, spend her breaks at her cubicle desk looking out the window. Lunch alone; three mints afterwards.

She never offers to share them and is never asked.

Her voice is monotone, her passion nonexistent. Not that any of them are content with being one of thousands in a sea of desks, but she is the worst. They gripe over how she doesn’t join them at the end of the day, doesn’t even look once at the clock they so anxiously watch creep to five. While they wait for the last ten minutes separating them from husbands, wives, children, all she does is carry on. Like nothing.

Their floor’s supervisor, he is a caring man. When a car has a flat tire or two young children need to be brought to an extra early doctor’s appointment, he understands. At forty plus two, the office women wonder why he laughs and holds up barren hands when asked if he’s ever been married.

No, and no children either.

Yet for all his open heart, all his kind words, he never speaks to her. She doesn’t seem to even register him. In her red plastic-framed world, he barely exists.

Not on the weekdays, anyway.

Every weekend, she tucks away her red plastic glasses and wanders the world squinting when she has to read from far away. A little more black is added to her eyes, a swish of lipstick when she doesn’t forget. She wears shorter skirts and curls her hair before she leaves home.

It’s in seedy small bars that she can be found, just as silent as ever.

It is here that the supervisor encounters her. Always, always, a seat is left open for him by her side. They never talk about which bars they like, but he knows she likes the one with veridian green walls the best. He greets her with friendliness and doesn’t seem too dejected by the nod he gets in return. If he sits at the right angles, he can see the lace of her bra peeking through her blouse. She never says anything until late at night, when she buries her rosy face into his arm. He waits until the drunkards around them are distracted to kiss her on the forehead.

The sex is passionate. Sometimes at his lonely home, sometimes in the cramped flat she calls her own. Once, twice, in the back of his car under the stars and in the seclusion of some rural road or another . She is loud in his ear, against his skin. Her neighbors must know her declarations of love by heart.

To call her tender would be a mistake. With wildcat claws she digs into his shoulders, not hard enough to draw blood but hard enough to make his heart race. Into her hair he whispers back. I love you, I love you.

On Sundays, when he has no afterhours office meetings, and she no appointments to redo her nails, they stay together in bed late into the afternoon. What breath he breathes is recycled into her. They exchange words about anything, everything. He holds her like a chemist would hold the strongest vat of acid, like a jewelcutter would hold the world’s most precious diamond.

By Monday, they are strangers again. He tugs his collars high and she pulls concealer out of her blazer’s pocket.

Sometimes they forget. He’ll pause at the faint scent of her perfume. She’ll hesitate to pick up a manila folder with his handwriting on the edges.

They get the job done, though. They get it done just fine.

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