Short Story
Inspired By: “Crucify”
Artist: Tori Amos

She hops past me onto the elevator.
I inhale sharply, my eyes tearing up. I have to tell her.

“I’m so glad it’s Friday,” she says gleefully. I look up into her big brown eyes. She wears a wide smile, a knee-length yellow dress, and brown sandals. Her dark mane is pulled high above her head into a sloppy knot.

I smile uneasily. “Tell me about it,” I respond. She laughs loudly. I watch her happy at the moment, knowing that the next few will not be as pleasant as this one.

The elevator doors aggressively shake open. We exit, single file, into a small foyer. The sun pours into the room through large glass windows.

I walk slowly out of the building, her sandals clicking behind me. I exhale loudly. “Hey, um, can I talk to you for a minute?” I say hesitantly. “Yeah, sure,” she replies.

A small group of men in dress shirts and slacks walks past us. “Okay,” I begin. “Please, don’t take this the wrong way.” I pull my eyes from the men and meet her puzzled gaze. Then the words tumble out of my mouth. “Some people in the department have mentioned that they’ve noticed an odor coming from you.”

I swallow hard.

Her eyes are wide. I watch her mouth drop open. “Are you serious?” she asks softly.

I nod quickly.

“An odor? What kind of odor?” she questions. She is barely audible. “A musty odor,” I say reluctantly. “Oh, my gosh. I, um, I –”

I quickly interrupt her, “I know that you have a different kind of diet. I was thinking that maybe that had something to do with it.”

“Maybe… I um,” she stammers. “I don’t know. You say some people have noticed, who’s some people?”

The one question that I was dreading. I stare back at her blankly. The sun now seems too hot against my shoulders. I finally respond, “I really don’t want to say.”

“Okay. It’s just that you and I don’t spend a lot of time together,” she whispers. “There are people that I am around every day, throughout the day, at lunch – and they haven’t said anything.”

“They just didn’t know how you would take it,” I tell her. “They wanted to tell you but they thought you might get angry or take it the wrong way. You know it’s the quiet ones that will go off on you.” I try to ease the tension. My joke doesn’t go over well.

“I would never do that,” she responds flatly. Her eyes become glassy, she looks away. “This is so embarrassing,” she continues. “It could be my diet. I’ve been dealing with some stuff…” Her voice trails off. “I’ll work it out,” she adds quickly refusing to meet my eyes.

Damn, why didn’t they tell her?

“I’m not bringing this up to hurt your feelings. I just wanted you to be aware so maybe you could do something about it,” I mumble. I want to offer some kind of solace. However, I am not exactly sure what to say.

She forces a smile then adds, “I respect you for doing that.”

I did the right thing.

“I don’t want you to get upset or sad or anything. Please don’t run to your car and cry or anything,” I add jokingly.

I know I did the right thing.

She chuckles. “I won’t. Well, I won’t run to my car…”

“Aww, come on,” I offer. “It’s really not that big of a deal.”

“If it wasn’t a big deal you wouldn’t be here now,” she replies. She smiles weakly. “But thank you for telling me.” She steps down off the sidewalk and turns back to me. “Have a good weekend.”

I nod. “You too.”

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