27 February 2014
Cheryl was watching the Equal pellets disappear below the surface of her coffee when Craig said, “Did you know seventy-seven percent of Americans believe in angels?” He said it to Nathan. The two men were leaning against the Foosball table in their way with the angle of their crotches casting a wide gaze over the break room. Cheryl was standing near the sink with her back to them, and she was stirring the Equal into her coffee.
“Un-fucking-believable,” Nathan answered. Their voices filled the room, bounced off the walls and cabinets and windows. Cheryl was pretty sure there was no invitation for her opinion, so she continued to stir and watch the black, but she felt that they should ask her opinion, that they ought to feel a certain obligation to ask, even though, she would have realised had she continued on this line of thinking, such a conversation would not be one she’d want to enter while making her mid-afternoon coffee in the break room. But she mentally scolded herself for wanting to be included when she wasn’t wanted, and tapped the edge of the teaspoon on the edge of the sink so the residual coffee wouldn’t stain before the cleaners got to it. Craig and Nathan looked up at her and without any recognisable effort her usual polite smile was upon her face as she gave them a small nod that was similar to a small bow and left the break room.
“I know right? How do they expect to get decent gun control laws when seven out of ten people believe in magical fairies?”
Fairies are not the same as angels, Cheryl thought as she made her way back to her desk. She could still hear them talking when she sat her mug down next to her mouse pad and sat herself down in front of her PC. She tapped the ctrl key and looked at it. The screen’s black came to life with a password prompt. She tapped the same key again, holding it down for a moment then releasinng it. Then she entered her password:
Nathan said something to Craig about shooting Tinkerbell. Cheryl took a sip of coffee from her mug. Nathan was her supervisor. He was at least fifteen years younger than Cheryl and she had once overheard him making a comment about her weight. He didn’t reference her directly, but anyone in the office would know he meant her. Craig was one of those who had laughed at the time. Cheryl’s mug had a photograph printed on it of Champion, her Labrador-cross, who was dead now and had been for… she counted the years. Six years. She couldn’t keep pets in her new apartment. Maybe a budgie or a mouse if the managers never found out, but they probably would, and she couldn’t bare the thought of losing another pet. It wouldn’t be the same anyway. Cats and dogs have personalities, when you look into their faces there is something looking back, something that understands.
She resumed her work and thought of Champion as an angel. Would he have wings as well as paws? Cheryl had never asked herself if she believed in angels. If Nathan or Craig had asked her opinion she would have smiled in the same polite way and said, “Well I’ve never really thought about it.”