Waiting a Lifetime ~ fiction by Marisa Crane

Julie walked into the 5th floor office and delivered a package to the man sitting closest to the door and he signed his name but she couldn’t read it so she said, “It started hailing on my way here,” and he nodded importantly.

Julie walked into the 5th floor office and delivered the man a package and he smiled and said, “Thanks,” and she said, “It’s a better job than you think,” and he caught a fly in his hand and she went home early from work.

The man wasn’t at his desk when Julie got there so she waited and examined his photos and said, “Beautiful,” to no one in particular while he made coffee and poured a little whiskey in it and when he returned to his desk he asked, “Have you been waiting long?” and she said, “Just a lifetime,” and he shrugged and signed for the package.

It was 2 PM when Julie entered the 5th floor office and the man was slouched at his desk. She delivered the package and no one looked at her but the man and she said, “I think I’m invisible,” and he said, “Are you sure?” and she said, “I’d like to make you a sandwich sometime,” but it sounded like “Happy Friday” so he said, “I want to see the flowers bloom in the desert.”

Julie walked into the 5th floor office with an orange in her pocket and the man was brewing coffee and put more whiskey in it than usual and no one looked at her and she pinched her arm but she didn’t feel it. “Do you want some coffee?” he asked when he returned and she said, “Sure,” took a sip and spit it on the office floor and forgot to give him the orange.

Julie entered the 5th floor office and handed the man three small packages shaped like pancakes and he said, “I wonder what’s inside” and she said,”That would be a good tombstone inscription.” He said, “The answer would be nothing,” and she laughed and said, “Your signature turns me on,” and he signed the paper twice and she visited three more offices then went home and Googled what your handwriting says about you and learned that his leaning T meant he needed more sodium so she bought a tub of pretzel sticks and ate all of them but one.

Julie entered the 5th floor office and handed the man a pretzel. “Do I have to sign for this?” he asked and she told him to eat it so he did and she watched him chew and said, “You seem to be evolutionarily fit,” and he said, “I never get sick except when I do,” and she asked for some coffee and didn’t spit it out this time.

Julie entered the office and the man wasn’t at his desk. She waited for two hours and no one looked at her and she dug her heel into her foot and felt everything and took the packages home that night and lit them on fire in the alley and asked a homeless man if he would want to know how he will die and he stared straight through her.

The man was out sick from work and he sat at home eating bananas and Nutella and drinking whiskey in a wine glass and he sent a company-wide email asking who signed for the package that day and his boss replied, “Eat a clove of garlic” and the man Googled UPS then masturbated into a dirty sock.

Julie entered the office and the man had moved his seat to the back and Julie walked by the girl sitting closest to the door and delivered the package to the man. The girl said “Hey, what about me?” and Julie said “What about you?” and the girl knocked a glass off of her desk but it didn’t shatter. Julie said, “She doesn’t understand,” and the man said, “Neither do I,” and she said, “I need your signature.”

The man was at his new desk when Julie entered the office. “Here I made you this,” he said, handing her a coffee and whiskey and she chugged it even though it was hot then said, “My dad has pancreatic cancer,” and the man said, “Praying doesn’t work,” and Julie said, “I’d like another drink,” and while he was gone she put all the photos face down on his desk and he brought her another coffee and asked if she believed in parallel universes and she said, “We are married in one of them,” but he thought she said they were buried in one of them so he frowned and said, “Where’s the package?” and she said, “There isn’t one,” then chugged the drink even though it was hot.

The man put on his nice jeans and an unwrinkled shirt and drank a Bloody Mary then went to work and when Julie walked in he said, “It wasn’t spicy enough,” because he forgot she hadn’t been with him that morning and she said, “It never is,” and he said, “You should smile only when you’re actually happy,” and she smiled and said, “There is a bar that has Foosball and cornhole,” and he said, “Competition makes me vomit,” and she delivered ten more packages before going home. Her roommate was eating cereal on the floor and Julie said, “I need to find something to do that isn’t competitive,” and the roommate said, “Don’t have sex then,” and Julie slammed her bedroom door.

Julie entered the office and walked by the girl closest to the door and the girl huffed but didn’t say anything and the man cracked his knuckles and said, “I am ready to sign,” and she said, “Why don’t people send handwritten letters anymore?” and he said, “Drinking is competitive but I don’t vomit when I drink,” then sipped his coffee and whiskey and she said, “I’ve never received a letter,” and he signed the paper and wrote “Dear Julie, I love you and it feels like swallowing fire,” but she never learned to read cursive so she smiled a close-mouthed smile and ran out the door. She asked the homeless man in her alley to read it to her and he read aloud, “I am moving because I’ve been fired,” and she set it on fire while the homeless man wept.

The man called his mom and asked how to tie a tie and she said, “Don’t,” and hung up and he put extra hot sauce in his Bloody Mary and ate a pretzel then went to work with the tie in his bag. Julie delivered four large packages on a dolly and everyone noticed her and called her “Dolly” and she ignored them and walked past the girl closest to the door who didn’t huff but sat up straighter and crossed her legs. The man said, “Can you help me tie a tie?” and she said, “I don’t know how,” and he said, “It doesn’t have to be good,” and she said, “Where are you moving?” and he said, “I don’t know, where are you moving?” and she said, “I could go for a whiskey,” but he didn’t get up from his desk.

Julie skipped work and smoked a pack of cigarettes on her balcony and watched two teenagers make out in the street. She yelled, “Love is a symptom of loneliness!” at them but they didn’t hear her and she went inside to draw stick figures on her bedroom wall and one looked like the man with a tie on. She drank a warm beer and listened to her roommate have sex with her professor and she thought they sounded like rhinoceroses.

Julie entered the 5th floor office and the man had a tie on. She walked past the girl closest to the door and she didn’t straighten her posture but she cleared her throat and Julie didn’t care. “I like your blueberry tie,” she said and he said, “It’s the only one at the store that didn’t repulse me,” and she said, “Where do we go from here?” and he said, “I dream in black and white,” and she said, “Are you gonna ask me out or what?” and he said, “I’m an introvert until I’ve had a few drinks,” and she said, “I dream in sepia and you look good that way,” and stared at him until he blinked. He said, “Meet me downstairs at 5:07,” and signed for the package and she ran out the door.

Julie stood outside the man’s work at 5:07 PM and the man greeted her and said, “I know a good whiskey place,” and she said, “Do they have the big ice cubes?” and he nodded and she said, “My dad has pancreatic cancer,” and he said, “Blueberries prevent cancer,” and she bit down on his tie and they walked to the bar with his tie in her mouth and she said, “Dibgkkoutefiojgyyiof,” and he said, “I know, Julie. I know.”

Julie and the man were drinking whiskey at the bar and the bartender said, “That’s my favorite bourbon,” and Julie chugged it even though it wasn’t as good as he said and the man ordered her another one and she said, “None of this matters because you’re moving,” and he said, “Where am I going?” and she said, “I think you should be allowed to drink on the job if you’re an introvert,” and he said, “This is a good time,” and she agreed and leaned in to kiss him just as he turned to order another drink and she licked his ear and he said, “I’m still having a good time.”

The man and Julie were walking home from the bar and it was cold outside so he gave her his jacket and she said, “It hurts my bones,” and he said, “That’s the thing,” and she said, “What’s the thing?” and he shook his head and said, “You can keep it,” and they shook hands under a streetlight and parted ways and Julie smoked a joint with the homeless man in the alley and he said, “Don’t look so sad to be in love,” and the man went home and emailed his boss that he was quitting and moving to Sweden.

Marisa Crane is a lesbian writer and editor. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Pigeon Pages, Pidgeonholes, Drunk Monkeys, among others. She currently lives in San Diego with her fiancée. Her twitter handle is @marisabcrane.

Show Marisa some love via PayPal at marisacrane12(at)gmail(dot)com.