I'd had it. Truly in a week of worsts, this was the last thing i needed. Instead of languishing in my office, parsing the events of the argument again and again in my head, i knew i needed to leave the air of that room. I had to place distance between me and that space, that chamber where maddening discord had exploded all over the walls.
The elevator didn't come quickly enough. I looked at the steel double doors with such disappointment.
"How could you let me down?"
Pressing "1", i stepped to the back of the car, and looked down at my interlocking hands. The sudden jolt signaling a stop on a lower floor jerked a grief-heavy sigh from my lungs. I steadied my stare downward as the intruding passenger broke my solitude. The impotent elevator continued on its descent, passing each floor with a whisper to hush away any other potential step-ons.
"You look like someone who needs this weekend."
I heard her words, but i didn't listen to them. What lifted my head into a greeting smile was the song of her voice that carried the verbiage. I squinted my eyes in delight, forgetting for a moment the dystopia i'd just escaped.
"Yes...uh, yes. I'd say so."
She smiled back, tilting her shoulder towards me in a statement of openness and conviviality. Her hair was pulled up into a bun, which made the tortoise-shell frames of her glasses a stereotypical requisite. We shared a few more thoughts between us before the passive elevator delivered us to the lobby. My ears feasted not on the content of her speech, but the note her voice struck. I let her exit before me, and watched as she sauntered towards the revolving doors and then out onto the busy sidewalk.
I stopped short of following her, and turned into the coffee shop in the building's street-level south wing. I queued up behind a magnificent redhead, whose cheek pinned her sleek cellphone to her shoulder.
"I had no idea that dinner would cost that much..."
I eavesdropped a little into her phone conversation. I couldn't help it. The length of the line encouraged me to find distractions, and despite my mood, i didn't mind waiting. She spoke quickly, but with a strawberry tinge to her tone, making every exasperated sentence a pleasure to hear. I loved watching her mouth form the sounds that eventually filled the small air around us with feminine wonderment.
Behind me, another well-dressed girl started chatting with her companion. Suddenly, i was surrounded by a symphony of female wind instruments, holding their discourse in sultry alto registers. When i finally reached the front of the line, the girl behind the counter recognized me and my 3 o'clock coffee sanctuary.
"Hiiiii, want the usual?"
I thought quickly - what could i say to get her to speak some more?
"Hey, what's this new coffee you guys are trying to push on us uninformed customers?"
Bingo. With her customary sing-songiness, she delivered a beautiful monologue on the virtues of the latest South American shade-grown, free-trade roast they'd managed to finagle enough quantities of - the people behind me be damned. The tension in my shoulders began to release its grip. I was very happy, just hearing her voice excitedly spill over words like "aroma", "piquant" and "chocolate". I exited the cafe, onto the street, with a steaming cup of exuberantly poured java. Turning my direction uptown, i ventured on a little constitutional.
I peeled along the concrete, catching excerpts of dialogue from those intersecting my path.
"...needed to finish the course after all..."
"...why'd you leave like that?"
"...can't believe she tried to..."
Every time i came upon a female voice, my ears couldn't help but perk up; so completely satisfying was it to hear the softer, higher timbre. It erased for the moment the strain of the recent episode of job-oriented stress. All i could think of were those instances in my youth when i'd nervously call up one of my pigtailed crushes, and her vocal, butter cream enthusiasm and jubiliance made everything feel like a dream.
But, feasting on sugary treats has a tendency to not fill one's appetite. The wreckage i'd left behind imparted an indelible strain on my body. My psyche needed grosser compensation than just cotton candy and taffy. Without me realizing it, my mental focus took the audio of all of these girls i'd encountered, and remastered each in a very stirring way.
There on the streets of this hustle and bustle metropolis, in my head i heard broadcast these angelic female chants obstructed and cajoled. Sounds of struggle, of a ballgag plugging a girl's mouth, her unsuccessful pleading as i tightened her bounds, a shrill outburst that followed the administration of swats. These aural remedies soothed my fiery temper. I could now, with a calm feeling of tranquility, return to my office.
I re-entered my building. Walking through the lobby, i couldn't help wondering who i might encounter in the elevator ride up.
*this continues on here