Shereen McKellar
Center City


(Author's Note: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely concidental).



1


Cherish




“We could had it alllllll….rolling in the deeeeeeeeeep…you had my heart insiiiiiiiiiide your haaaand…and you played it to the beeeeat.”

It was early Monday morning. Since everyone didn’t get in until about 8:30 I had the office all to myself which meant I had not only peace and serenity, but I didn’t have to share the printers or the laminating machines with anyone. I could pass gas freely without having to quench my butt cheeks together, pull my underwear out my butt and, most of all, I could blast music from the CD/DVD drive from my computer and sing as off-key as I wanted without my co-workers complaining, laughing or looking at me like I was a looney tune regarding my singing. That is why I was singing to my girl Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” as I stood in front of the laminating machine and slid a reference guide for the EKG machines through it. I didn’t think in a chamillion years I would be working at a clinical trials company as a Logistics Associate gathering reference materials, programming and shipping EKG machines to hospitals and doctors’ offices. I thought after I received my Bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism I would be running around like a chicken with its’ head cut off as a production assistant at a news station, but I guess life doesn’t work out the way you want it. But, hey, it’s better than nothing especially in this jacked up economy where you’re lucky to be putting fries in the deep fry at Wendy’s or ringing up items at Walmart.

I grabbed the last set of reference materials off the table where the laminator rested on and headed back to my cubicle. Plopping back down in my black, swivel chair, I bobbed my head to the beat and continued to sing along with Adele. “We could had it alllllll….rolling in the deeeeeeeeeep…you had my heart insiiiiiiiiiide your haaaand…and you played it to the beeeeat.” This was my song!

“What the hell was that!?” A familiar voice asks out of nowhere followed by a roar of laughter.

I spun around in my swivel chair and found Lance and Peyton strolling past the copy machines. Peyton was doubled over cracking up while Lance peered at me with twinkling ocean blue eyes and an ear-to-ear grin on his handsome face.

“Do you have insurance?” Peyton inquired.

I shot a puzzled look in his direction. “Why you ask me a question like that?”

“Because you broke all the monitors in this jawn!” He answered with a Cheshire grin. Once again, he and Lance howled with laughter.

See what I mean? Now you understand why I enjoy having the office to myself. “Aha ha ha!” I laughed sarcastically and rolled my eyes. “You two want to start with me early in the morning,huh? I got you two.”

Lance strolled over to my cubicle and sat his lean, six foot two-self down on my desk. He had on a long-sleeved navy blue, white and red plaid shirt with deep blue jeans and blue sneakers. This boy loves rocking the plaid shirts, but his shirts were nice, though. I know exactly what to get him for Christmas-a plaid shirt. “You know I have to mess with you, Destiny.” Looking at Lance you would never think he’d be programming and shipping EKG machines right along with me. With the most gorgeous pair of sparkling deep blue eyes I’ve ever seen, wavy, golden blonde hair and smooth slightly tanned skin, Lance looked like a movie star. He was a super-hot white Irish and German guy who could make any female-white, black or yellow have va-jay jay palpitations. I will admit I was crushing hard on him when I first started working here at EResearch, but that dwindled once I saw how flirtatious Lance is with females. He was an equal opportunity flirt. As long as you were pretty he didn’t care about your racial background or nationality he was going to get his flirt on.

“Yeah, especially since you think you too good to hang out with us at The Public House tomorrow after work.” commented Peyton. According to Lance, The Public House was this upscale, but casual restaurant and sports bar that's located a few blocks from our office building that has good food and makes really good drinks.

“Of course I’m too good. Look at me.” I swept my hand down my slim frame. “And look at you two.” I waved my index finger between Peyton and Lance and grimaced.

Lance cleared his throat. “I see someone is getting a little ahead of themselves.”

“So it’s like that?” Peyton stood behind my chair.

“I’m just joking. Y’all know I would love to go because I love food like a dominatrix love whips and chains.” Broad grins crossed Peyton and Lance’s faces.

“Then go! What’s the problem?” Lance urged, hitting me slightly above my elbow. “Have some grub and get some alcohol in your system.” Now, Lance knows I’m not a drinker. The only drinks I had in my twenty four years on this earth were a Strawberry Daiquiri, an Apple Martini and a Coors. I didn’t know anything about Brain Hemorrhages, Blow Jobs, Red Headed Sluts and Zambookies until I worked with the guys.

“But about time I get out of The Public House it’s going to be dark.”

Lance poked his bottom lip out like a sad infant and teased. “What’s the matter? Is the little baby scared of the dark? Waaaa waaaa waaaa!”

“Yes.” I was honest. “There are a lot of nut jobs running around and you know I live in a wooded area where some psycho serial killer can be hiding behind somebody’s bushes. And I’m sure there’s one waiting to put their hands on my small, caramel-skinned body and to take my shoes off and sniff my feet.” Lance and Peyton laughed.

“Just sing like a dying pigeon like you always do. They’ll leave you alone.” Peyton really thought he was funny. I flipped him my forefinger as if to say “Freak you.” which is something I learned from my former brother-in-law. That was a nicer way of flipping someone the bird.

“But seriously I can give you a ride home if you want.” suggested Lance.

“That’s okay, L.” I waved his suggestion off. If there’s one thing I didn’t like is depending on people for rides.

“All I know is you better go.” Peyton strolled away from my cubicle.

“But all joking aside you should come.” Lance hopped off my desk and shot me a half-smile when my phone rang. “It wouldn’t be the same without you, you know.”

Usually I would think someone was full of crap saying that but there was sincerity in Lance’s voice. “Awww thanks, Lance.” I blushed and noticed the number 555-6369 displayed in black digits on the caller ID.

I picked up the phone and answered cheerfully into the phone. “Hey Mom!”

“I got a bone to pick with you, young lady.” Uh-oh. I see my mom was in one of her fussy moods, but does she has to be like this early in the morning? Can she at least wait until I have my breakfast and digest it first before she calls to rip me a new one?

Peering up at the ceiling, I shook my head and said into the phone. “Here you go fussin’ already.”

My mom countered. “I’m not fussin’, but I keep telling you over and over and over again when you wash up in the sink to make sure to wring out your wash cloth tightly before washing yourself. I had to wipe around the sink and toilet because of you splashing water around.”

Maybe our definition of fussing is entirely different because she was fussing to me. “I don’t remember doing that so I didn’t do it.”

“Yeah, you did because these water spots weren’t on the toilet seat and the counter until after you left the bathroom. Now, you keep this up you’re going to be sharing a bathroom with your father.”

She really was trying to punish me for a few freakin’ water spots. I loved my father and I appreciate him from keeping the family from living in the streets and making sure we had food on the table, but that man was a pig.net. One of his mottos was "If it's yellow let it mellow and if it's brown flush it down."

“Unt-unh. I don’t want to share a bathroom with dad.” I pouted and shook my head emphatically. “I’m going to continue using the same bathroom I’ve been using."

“Well, I’m going to giving you some washing lessons, girl.” My mother told me. “Because I can’t stand seeing this toilet seat and this sink looking like this. Plus, this bathroom we have is light so you have to be careful.”

I wanted to say that’s on you for remodeling the bathroom in earth tones. If it was me I’d do it in black, gold and throw some white in it, but I kept my derriere quiet.

“Are you still going out after work?” Her voice dripped with sugar. This woman just gets me how she can gripe and moan one minute and then be all as sweet as a dulce de leche caramel cheesecake the next. I guess that's what happens when you go through the change.

“Yeah, I still want to go to Macy’s and get Farrah a pot and pan set for her birthday.” Farrah was my older sister and my best friend next to my mother. You would think because we were seven years apart we wouldn’t be close, but we were tighter than a pair of drawls two sizes small.

“When you do you make sure not to get her anything expensive.”

“Well, mom I can’t give Farrah just any pot and pan set.” I wanted to get Farrah a really nice one she can have for years. Because she was a single mother of my ten-year-old niece Arielle and my eight-year-old nephew Braylon she had that same one red and white pot and black pan she would use to cook everything in.

“Now you know I’m not saying to get your sister anything cheap, but I wouldn’t get that girl a really nice one because she isn’t going to take care of it.” I hated to admit it, but my mom was keeping it 100. Farrah was many things, but taking care of her stuff definitely wasn’t one of them. I remember buying her a sweater from Lane Bryant for Christmas that she messed up along with a handbag from Ross that never looked the same a few weeks I bought her for Mother’s Day.

“You’re right.” I told her softly.

We talked for a few more minutes until a knock on the wall of my cubicle startled the crap out of me. “It’s meeting time, Chatty Patty, so tell your mommy you’ll talk to her later.” I spun around in my chair and noticed Mike looking at me while chewing some gun. Mike was an older gentleman in his mid-forties and the senior lead of the Maintenance Unit. Out of everyone he has been working in this department for the longest. Lance and I would make fun how Mike would be the only one to retire from this place.

Already. I glared at the time displayed in tiny black numbers on the lower right side of my computer. And sure enough it read 9:00 AM. Dag, time flies.

“Mom, I have to go to for my meeting.” I said quickly.

“Okay. Well, don’t forget to stop by Nestle and get me three oatmeal raisin cookies.” She reminded me in a rushed tone.

“I’ll think about it.” I joked and placed the phone back into the cradle. I made a mental note to stop by Nestle Tollhouse Café’ and treat her to her favorite kind of cookies. I loved my mom. I got up from my chair and speed walked to the conference room.

“Good morning, good people!” I entered the room where all eleven of my co-workers were gathered at the table.

“Hi Cherish!” Everyone harmonized. As I settled in the chair next to the door I noticed Peyton and Lance flashing smiles and introducing themselves to this unfamiliar looking girl seated next to Mike. She was a caramel brown-skinned girl with real long dark hair styled in loose waves that cascaded down to the middle of her D cup looking breasts and rocked large gold hoop earrings which complemented her satin, gold ruffled blouse. She was pretty in that Meagan Goode kind of way. Instantly, I felt some kind of way about this new girl. I loved working in a department where it was predominantly guys and only four ladies including myself. Don’t get it misconstrued. I have no problems with females and got along with them for the most part, but sometimes they could be the worst. If they’re not stirring up the pot, they’re trying to get all in your business. If they're not getting in your business, they would find something to hate on you about whether it's your weight, height, clothes, hair, shoes, et cetera. I had one classmate in high school jealous of me because I had pretty thick eyebrows which til this day I think is absurd. That is why my mother and sister were my only girlfriends.

After everyone quieted down my supervisor Nick introduced the new girl. “Before we start off with the numbers I want everyone to meet Simone. She will be working in the back with Ramia doing the archives. If everything works out she will be joining us permanently.” Good, she won't be programming and shipping machines alongside me. Then he went around to everyone in the room and introduced each person to the new temp.

“… Simone, this is Cherish.” He looked over with me with his coffee brown eyes as he introduced us.

I greeted softly and waved. “Hi.”

“Hi!” She threw a polite smile at me.

After we went over the numbers and discussed the production tasks for the day I got up from my chair and bounded out the room along with everyone else. I could hear the new temp Simone questioning someone in back of me.

“Do you have any vending machines here? I need to get something to drink?” She inquired.

“Yeah, we have a few vending machines inside the break room which is across the hall right next to the supply room.” That was Lance.

Peyton offered. “You know what? I’ll show you where it’s at since I'm going that way anyway.” I just bet you will show her.

“Okay.” Her and Peyton weaved past me and headed into the programming room. I watched them chatting it up and smiling at each other. I could tell some of the guys were going to be in that girl Simone’s face left and right. After being here for little less than a year I have noticed how every time a cute girl waltz into the office they’re on her especially Lance and Peyton. They were the main ones. I remember the first few weeks I started how they were flirting with me. All I know Peyton better stop it or else I was going to tell his girlfriend Melanie.

As I turned to go back to my cubicle I spotted Lance checking out the new temp as her and Peyton left out the office.

“Look at you checking out the new girl!”

“She is hot!” He exclaimed in a murmur. “I can already tell she likes me. She just doesn’t know it yet.”

“You are truly touched.” I told him when I headed back to my cubicle to finish getting my folders of reference materials for my shipments together.

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