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The alarm rang just as usual at the horrific hour of 6 in the morning, but for once i did not moan and groan before turning it off. Instead, i sauntered out of bed, sprightly as a hare in spring. What a miracle a good night's sleep is for a self-confessed insomniac (most nights anyway). I'd been contemplating fixing myself a cream cheese-on-toast breakfast just before i had drifted into a dreamless, uninterrupted sleep that broke only with the alarm. Full 7 hours of shut-eye and i was on a roll.

After a perfect pick-me-up shower and taking my time choosing what to wear to work (i settled for chocolate coudroys, a white open-collared shirt under a salmon-colored sleeveless cashmere sweater), i happily pottered about the kitchen fixing breakfast.

Most days i slept in late, rushed through getting dressed for work, and skipped breakfast to catch my bus in time. Today, i had full 20 minutes to get myself an energy boost before facing yet another tiresome day at the office.Golden brown whole wheat toast,spread thickly with low-fat cream cheese and a glass of Chocolate Soy Milk..what joy these mundane things were bringing in today!

I spritzed my favorite fragrance (a recent impulse purchase on one of those weekends when u just loiter around a mall with just the intention to indulge in mindless retail therapy), scrunched up my nicely washed and blow-dried hair into a perky ponytail and waltzed out the door.

The bus was on time.Another miracle, saving me the usual cursing routine. Isnt it typical for the bus to be more than 10 minutes late on the days you have rushed through everything just to be able to make it to the stop on time? I looked up at the sky, wondering if there really was some angel smiling down at me,gently coaxing the makings of a perfect day into my life, for once.

Nothing can stop me from getting depressed at the sight of my office building.It represents a sum total of all that i hated about my job: monotonous data-entry work for 8 hours a day, no sign of promotions or value-additions for over a year and a half, pittance for salary, a lousy boss who picked his nose shamelessly and worse, stank all the time, a coffee machine that i wished i could throw out the window (so bad was the coffee)...i could pull that thread forever, but today i ignored the sinking feeling in my stomach and walked in feeling more than usually awake and alert.

The first two hours of my day were reserved for meetings, briefs on new assignments and finishing any pending work from the day before, if any.After that warm-up, it was usually 3 hours of straight-through keyboard punching till i took my lunch break with my colleague and fellow-sufferer Shona. We werent sorority sisters types, Shona and I. The fact that we both hated our jobs, liked gourmet lunches and suffered through a painful commute to work was enough to get our bond started.We took lunch breaks together on most days, talked about our latest shopping stints and her latest boyfriend troubles (if and when applicable) and returned to our computers willing the next few hours to zip past till it was time to catch the bus again.

Shona was more high-strunk and nervous than usual today. She babbled on and on about how Ken had walked out on her during dinner the night before over something or the other, but the words glided over me without impact. I was feeling way too cheery for all that today, so i cut her short and suggested we go to our favorite Italian cafe for lunch. My treat. We reserved this place for only those days when we were feeling ultra-depressed or cash-rich. Since i was neither today, i was surprised at my suggestion but i followed it through anyway. Shona was pleased at the idea of a nice free lunch, and nodded enthusiastically. The next 45 minutes passed peacefully, her cribibing reduced to the occasional passing reference to Ken's insensitivity, and how Dan used to treat her a lot better. Boyfriend-less me with currently little to no opinion on couple digresses could not contribute much other than making soothing noises between forkfuls of salad. I realised that despite our lunch dates, Shona and i had little in common. While her life revolved around hair highlights, hanging out with Ken (or whoever she was then dating) and Carrie's antics on Sex and the City, i enjoyed my coffee-house reading,barely made it to a hair salon before my hair declared war on me, and hated television with all my heart.After my rather painful break-up with my childhood boyfriend about a year back, i still had not gotten into head-on dating, prefering to hang out with my limited circle of friends (a mixed breed of random hearts, radical specimens and honest-to-goodness ordinary souls), indulging in occasional roadtrips when the rage caught on, else wasting away at pubs on weekends. Maybe i still nurtured hopes of Eric changing his mind and returning to Portland.Being long distance had essentially been the foundation for the other cracks in our relationship, and even though we had not talked in a year, i still carried a tiny flame for him.

My tolerant spirit allowed me to co-exist comfortably with Shona's relatively edgy one. She always thought it rather odd for me to not be dating, often suggesting hooking me up with "Michael-he works with Bank of America" or "Davis-he's way too intellectual, though". That was sweet of her, Shona had her endearing ways, and looking out for lonely singles was an activity that came naturally to her. I had politely declined enough such offers in the last 6 months, so she had eventually stopped the name-popping game. We stuck to our usual chatter about the latest boots at Nine West, ordered Tiramisu for dessert and reached back refreshed for the remaining torture session.

I had been considering quitting for two months now, and had even gotten to the point of making a resume. But outside the scene looked just as dismal, and even though my resume was sitting pretty on more than one job site, i hadnt yet found anything worthy of initiating an interview. It could wait, i supposed. I made enough to cover my bills, and some of my freelance work gave me the extra to indulge now and then. So i was not particularly expecting the phone call from Mike Hardy, Hiring Manager for a happening software firm, just when i was stirring myself for a coffee break. I had applied to a rather ambitious job posting they had put up on craigslist, but my getting called for an interview was a long shot. Naturally, my heart leapt while i agreed to set up an interview in the following week. There was something about today-a good start, a good middle and what looked like a good end to a weekday. Have i mentioned i was heading straight for a beer-and-steak dinner with the radical components of my social circle. I could barely keep still the remaining time at work, even ignored my boss's nose-tugging interruptions to his end-of-day round-up. By the time i got off work and hailed a cab for Doug Fir in the Pearl District, i was positively glowing with pleasure.



I was just a teeny bit buzzed by the time i got home. It was a little after eleven, and after a full day of happy events, i was looking forward to a good sleep again. I picked up my mail and stumbled inside the hall, groping for the light switch and finding it easily enough. I skimmed through the mail and was about to put it aside as the usual junk when a hand-written 'Gloria Stevens' caught my eye. The handwriting was familiar, and even in my half-drunk state, i knew it was from Eric. I tore open the envelope, my heart unable to contain the happiness i was experiencing, wondering what did i do today to be so blessed.A rice-paper invitation dropped out, the lettering in pretty, burnt gold. It was for a wedding.


------
Sakshi


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