Comfortable Silences

 

I tried to write some smut.  It got away from me and turned into social commentary.  Now I don’t know what to call it.


They sat in the board room, two dixie cups from the water cooler and an open bottle of champagne between them. The merger had been a success – one six months in the making. The sun had gone down and the last of the staff had long logged off and gone home, probably to celebrate with their loved ones.

This deal meant everybody got a pay day, even the clerks in the mail room.

“Did we already toast to us?” he asked, picking up the paper cup with his pinky out.

“We did a few times, I think,” she smirked. “But what the hell? Let’s do it again.” She lifted her cup in similar fashion and tapped it against his before bringing it back up to her lips to smother a girlish giggle.

He caught his stare lingering on her lips. She was older than him by a good fifteen years and she still looked great. The merger made her rich enough to retire, and as of midnight, he was the new CEO.

“It’s getting late,” he said. Again.

“Yes, it is.”

“I keep saying that, don’t I?”

“Every time there’s an uncomfortable silence,” she said, peering up at him through her lashes.

“Aren’t all silences uncomfortable?” he asked her.

“No, some are heavenly,” she sighed.

Now he smirked. “Heavenly silences? Explain how those work.”

She smiled with a hint of mischief. Taking a slow, deep breath she set her cup down and uncrossed her legs so as to face him. Without a word, she reached out to unbutton the top two buttons of her blouse.

“Woah, what are you….?” he began, but she interrupted him.

“Shhhh,” she shushed him as she unbuttoned the third, this time revealing the blue lace of her bra and enough cleavage to file an HR report.

He sat and realized again that his gaze remained on her lips as though they held the key to deciphering her intention.

“I think maybe the bubbly is getting to us,” he stammered.

“You wanted to know what a comfortable silence felt like,” she reminded him.

“Yeah. I’m not so sure how comfortable I’m feeling about all of this,” he said.

“Do you object?” she asked, those damned lips pouting slightly.

“Uh…no, I wouldn’t say that, I just……”

“Shhhhh. Don’t answer me with your words. Let your silence tell me what you really want,” she whispered.

“That…..that doesn’t make sense,” he stammered.

She broke into peals of laughter and leaned back, crossing her legs again. “No, it doesn’t, does it?” She took another drink.

Confused, but relieved that her body language had stopped being so aggressive, he laughed nervously along. “No…not really.”

She leaned against the backrest of the chair, smiling as if lost in a memory. He sat and watched her for a few minutes.

“There,” her voice broke the silence.

“What?” he asked, surprised.

“That silence just now,” she continued. “Was that uncomfortable?”

“No,” he responded honestly. Once she’d stopped trying to seduce him, he felt as though the silence was a welcome reprieve from having to face the discomfort of the situation.

She stood and buttoned her blouse. “I’m tipsy. I better call a car to take me home,” she said.

Just before exiting the board room she turned and looked back at him. “That silence is gonna feel pretty comfortable for a day or two. Maybe even a couple weeks. It’ll be a relief for a little while. But one day, it’s gonna be a knot in your stomach, wondering if you should have said something. Done something. One day you’re gonna wonder what would have happened if….”

He stared at her curiously.

“You’re the boss now, buddy,” she continued. “This deal means I’m retired and you’re on your own in charge of all of this,” she waved her arm around the board room.

“For years, I put up with those silences. Those comfortable silences that meant I could move up and get ahead. And now, I sit here tipsy from the champagne I drank with you because I never trusted anybody enough to let them in, and thinking about all the silences I kept all in the name of keeping things comfortable….”

He stared at her as she continued.

“I tell you what. I’ll be plenty comfortable now for the rest of my life and I’d give it all away in a heartbeat if…-.” her sentence trailed off.

“If what?” he asked softly.

Her smile was sad now. “I can’t go back and fix it all now. It’s too late for me.”

She left the room.

He sat in silence, questioning everything that had just transpired. Just as she’d hoped he would.

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