No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

This one will speak to anyone who has ever tried to make friends with another human being as an adult. Especially if your personality is on the abrasive side, poor John isn’t sure why he was invited to lunch, but he doesn’t trust it, not at first at least.


I waited for the punch line, and it didn’t come. So, I tentatively, trying not to hope, went back to work. I put it all to the back of my mind until an alarm went off at 11:55, 5 minutes to lunch time. 5 minutes to truth time.

I saved my documents, put away what I was working on, and headed to the cafeteria, hesitant, but hopeful. There he was, sitting at the table with a few others and my stomach dropped. Was it a joke after all, or maybe I was just that forgettable?

I was about to turn, walk out, maybe send a message saying I was working through lunch today, when he turned and caught my eye. He smiled, and I froze.

“Hey, John, you made it, come join, saved you a seat.” He patted the empty spot beside him, and I smiled, which was probably way more awkward looking than happy, cause thats how I roll. So, I walked over, in way that was probably a way too eager, and stated. “Uh just gonna grab some food first” and then went and joined the line.

I usually did the hot lunch, but I was nervous enough without adding the complication of trying to wind spaghetti to the mix, or keep a soup spoon level, so I grabbed a sandwich, an apple, and some pudding. Might have to come back and grab a snack later, but better than getting fries and flipping my lid if someone else touched them. Got coffee though, needed coffee to make it through whatever this is.

When I got back, Chris was alone, and he gestured to the seat across from him. “Guys were on early lunch, had to head back. Just you and me now. On that note, I am going to go grab something myself.” He explained and was up and heading towards the line before I had even figured out where he wanted me to sit.

I sat down, and tried to figure out if I was supposed to start eating,or wait. It had been a long time since someone had wanted to eat lunch with me. I wasn’t exactly what people would call friend material. I was loud, and abrasive, and if my sister was to be believed, pretty fucking obnoxious.

I focused on adding the milk and sugar to my coffee, stirring, tasting, adjusting. I was saved the trouble of what to do about the rest of my food by Chris returning just as I was double checking I got the lid on right. Nothing is worse that taking that first sip, and then wearing your perfect cup of coffee instead of drinking it.

“And I’m back.” He slid back onto his bench seat and grinned again.

“And my coffee is perfect.” I joked, holding it up and taking a small sip. God it really was perfect. I looked across the table, and saw that he had the spaghetti. I couldn’t imagine having the confidence to do this and eat spaghetti of all things, but then again if I looked like Chris, maybe I would.

The standard small talk followed, and then I blew it with an inappropriate comment, only instead of getting offended or chastising me, he did the unexpected, and laughed.

“Really, kind of served her right a little. But don’t tell anyone I said that, wouldn’t do for someone in my position to making comments yanno?” And he was grinning, he was entertained, and I realized that he didn’t want anything. The whole lunch was just that, lunch. The other shoe didn’t drop, he actually seemed amused, sent back a few zingers himself, and like me he was a lot more relaxed leaving the cafeteria than he was entering it.

I want to say I accepted the implicit offer of friendship, and went with it, but well, it was three more months before I realized that we were friends. That was all that this was, friendship. There was no ulterior motive, and it was watching him chat with someone else, one of the other “popular” people at work that made me realize it.

If I hadn’t known him better, I would say he was relaxed, cool, confident, and enjoying himself, but I did know him better now. His shoulders were hunched a little forward, his body turned away, and his smooth answers were too smooth, rehearsed, a little boxy even for him, not that his companion seemed to notice. He was like that with most people, playing the cool guy. He wasn’t like that with me though, he was, shit, he really was my friend.

I watched him another few days, between our weekly lunches and I came to a realization. I might be his only actual friend here. Everyone else came, they chatted, wanted something, got it and left, except for me. I literally just wanted his company, we weren’t even close enough in departments for me to see him most days. If it hadn’t been for that stupid supervisor lunch and learn where we ate horrible food and learned nothing, we wouldn’t have even met.

Next lunch, I had the spaghetti, and when the topic of movies rolled around I found myself blurting out. “Ya, I can’t wait for that to come out. We should go!”

He froze for a second, and I thought I fucked it all up, but then he smiled. The real smile, not the impressive one. “Ya, that would be great, I haven’t gone to the movies in ages.” And I went back to my spaghetti trying to keep my face from showing how happy I was. I think I actually had a friend!

A Zealous Missive

This was written for the six-sentence story prompt “express” on girlontheedge’s blog. I got stuck on the concept of expression, as in express one’s feelings, and ended up writing what would be considered epistolary fiction, on someone expressing their deeply hidden feelings for their boss.


Dear Mr. Thomas, I am writing this letter to you to express the true depth of my feelings for you, which I have wished to do for sometime, but did not dare to until now.

I have walked around each day with a smile on my face, pretending everything was normal, that I was just another employee and you my employer, when this cannot be further from the truth.

To state it plainly, I loathe you, every fiber of your being, from your shady business practices, to your your oil slick voice, all the way to your perfectly quaffed hair.

I hate the way you fired the most senior of us to save a buck, then punished us all for not hitting deadlines on projects that were assigned to other people a week ago, and are now our responsibility with no time to catch up.

I despise the way you call yourself an upstanding citizen, when what I really want more than anything is to hit you upside your upstanding head until you realize that your actions have consequences that affect more than just you.

She signed the letter sincerely, Jane Howowitz, and then tossed it in the shredder, taking Mr. Thomas a cup of tea, barely resisting a glare as his eyes lingering too long on her behind.

Katherine the Great

I will be honest here, no memory of writing this, but it seems a wonderful choice to post right at the New Year. I am not a resolution type of girl, and sometimes I think people need to work a little more on being happy with who they are, rather than trying to become someone who will be happy. Controversial opinion, I know. Please note, I do not condone smoking in any way, shape, or form.


“Today’s the day I change” She said to herself, reading the little card. Stupid affirmations, they always seemed so shallow. Though she wasn’t exactly sure what it was that she was expecting. After all they were only small pieces of cardboard.

She skipped ahead to the next day “keep trying”

Bleh, she threw the stack in the garbage, and pulled the package of cigarettes from her purse. She was jittery, and on edge, and smoking was going to kill her one day, but this, the feelings might do it today if she didn’t.

She breathed in and relished the burn, letting the familiar sensation calm her in a way that a thousand stupid affirmations wouldn’t. She looked at the yoga mat in the corner, and felt a simmering of guilt at not even opening the gift. She knew that it would help, but she had been so busy it just seemed like one more task, on an endless list of tasks.

She snuffed out the cigarette, and reached for her second vice, breathing in the bitter smell of the hot coffee. It was bad for her anxiety, or so she had been told, but there were some things that she wouldn’t bend on, and this was one of them.

It seemed the recipe for clean living was being miserable, and she was one of those who was going to die far too young under the banner of living well. For her quality was everything, and while she tried to balance it with quantity of life, most of the time it just fell short.

What was it the song said “good time, not a lot of time” or something of the sort? She was determined from here on out she was going to stop stressing ,and start enjoying, and that meant coffee, cigarettes and fucking cake, not a stupid salad, no dressing, and 45 minute jog. She stepped back in from the balcony, closed the door and got ready for the day

She brushed her teeth twice to make sure to rid herself of the smell, and took a long shower. After, she did her hair, nails, makeup, and layered her clothing just so. She looked in the mirror and the person starting back at her appeared completely unrelated to the person who walked into the bathroom. She nodded at the stranger in the mirror and she knew she was ready to face the day.

The wasn’t Katie, who rather spend her day in her PJ’s eating ice cream than talk to another person. This was Katherine, consummate professional, impeccable, sociable, and good at what she did. She was ready to take on the world, and god forbid anyone stupid enough to get in her way, because Katherine took no prisoners.

She thought back to the nonsensical affirmation card and laughed. Nothing was going to change today, and maybe, just maybe, that was a good thing.

Perfect Match

What you may notice this year is a prevailing theme of murder in my stories. I was watching Prodigal Son, Criminal Minds, and Perception when I was writing a lot of my stuff up and apparently it sunk in. If murder isn’t your thing, look for murder in the tags. This one is a “murder spouses” theme


We were together three years before I found out he was killing people when he said he was out hunting with his buddies. He was hunting all right, but when I dropped by with snacks, it wasn’t a deer he was cutting up at the cabin.

The look on his face was priceless, and almost as good as the look he got when I showed him how I really spent my “spa weekend with girls”. There were girls, but it wasn’t mud that I was bathing in.

It was tough at first, the sense of betrayal we both felt, being lied to. Knowing that we were both capable of lying about something of this magnitude, it was a lot. We even split for a while, I stayed with my Mom, but then slowly, but surely another thought came over me. I got all done up and went out to the hunting cabin and walked in, kicked my boots off, and I quietly entered the bathroom, feet squishing in the blood soaking the mat in front of the tub where she lay bound and bleeding. I picked up a knife and just when she thought I was there to free her, I ran in down her arm lightly, reveling in the way the blood beaded up, and then ran down her arm in small delicate rivulets.

That’s when he walked in, , and when he saw me there, the yell died mid-word and he smiled at me, the way he smiled when we first met, like I was his whole world, and I knew then that we would get past this. That we could do this, together.