There was a storm a brewin, or at least that’s what it sounded like inside of Sandra’s head. Thoughts flashed back and forth. Her emotions soared and crashed. She was well aware that she was panicking, but she was far past the point of controlling it. She was locked into her seat, and there was no way of breaking free until the ride was over. Sandra just hoped it was over sooner rather than later.
Jimmy watched as Sandra’s hand opened and closed repeatedly under her desk. He had gotten used to her talking herself through various tasks, her hands zipping back and forth as she silently spoke to herself. He had even gotten used to the days when she put her headphones in and turned her music up loud enough to drown out the hum of the office chatter. Occasionally she made it a notch too high, tuning everything out except direct conversation. It had been one of those days the first time he noticed the peculiar movements of her mouth. She had been attempting to mouth the words to a song. Jimmy had only noticed when every few lines or so a soft, whispered squeak escaped her. Her silvery blonde hair moved slightly with the inadvertent bops and sways of her head. Sandra had a love for heavy alternative. At least based on the few lyrics he was able to recognize and look up. They hadn’t been particularly close. No one was particularly close to Sandra. She was great at her job, extremely focused, always fun and reinforcing when the occasion called for it, but she always kept a slight distance from everyone in the office. He figured it had to do with her role. Sandra was something between human resources and office manager.
The office was divided between four floors: the first floor was the welcoming center where people could see and test their products, the second floor was the technical team that designed and built their products, and the third floor had two parts. The first part, the room people walked into right from the elevator, was a shared office comprised the sales and marketing departments. The back portion was the office space she and Jimmy shared. He was the billing department. Sandra had a mixed role. It was part executive assistant, part COO, part human resources, and part office manager. While Jimmy made a good officemate, it was having the sales and marketing on the other side of a thin wall that sometimes grew to be too much for Sandra. Above them was Mr. Corliander’s office. The CEO. The president. The big cheese. Sandra felt comfortable with their working relationship, enough so that he was probably the only person in the office with whom she joked. She didn’t believe you could be friends with someone and also be in charge of their paychecks and citations. It was going to be a headphone day. Sandra reached for her headphones as the marketing and sales department boomed in volume. If only their numbers boomed just as much. Sandra opened an internet browser and went to find her favorite music station. The sounds of angry men, loud drums, and shredding guitars usually drowned everything else out, including the racing thoughts in Sandra’s head.
Exhaling, Jimmy thanked the stars that she had reached for her headphones. He had been contemplating going over to see if she was okay. Now, he wouldn’t have to. Now, he could just enjoy watching the music take Sandra over. His cousin had suffered from a lot, mostly all mental issues. He had a feeling Sandra did as well, but they weren’t close enough for him to ask if she was okay. Let alone if she had any underlying issues she wasn’t to discuss. He wanted to be closer to her. He had started listening to some of the bands whose songs she seemed to enjoy the most. He wanted to thank her for introducing her to something new. Jimmy mostly just wanted to be her friend.
It had taken six songs for Sandra to be able to begin to hear the music over her own thoughts. There was nothing chasing her. In fact, she was chasing numbers, deadlines, beasting through her projects refusing to stop and listen to her own brain telling her uselessness and failures. She had almost tuned them all out – the sales and marketing team, her own insults, the horrible voice of Joanne’s nasty email accusing Sandra of favoriting another employee who Joanne was trying to blame for her own mistakes. She had pushed through and out a solid chunk of work over the past 15 – 20 songs. She had really hit her groove. Then she received a text. An ugly text from an ugly person from an ugly piece of her past. Everything froze to Sandra. She had been working through her issues, working through her feelings, doing the things she learned in therapy. It didn’t really matter though. It all just circled back. As the world unfroze Sandra’s immediate focus went to her headphones. In the same moment that the world had kicked her, it handed her hope. Or at least a good distraction. This was her song.
Jimmy almost fell off his chair and a loud thundering roar blared across the room. Scrambling to settle himself he whipped around. His ears fell into focus. It was a song, a song he had come to love after looking up the lyrics and finding it online. He watched as Sandra finished the first line of the chorus. Their eyes locked as embarrassment spread over her face. Her face appeared frozen as her head and shoulders were still bobbing to the music. Someone from the marketing team had looked over at Jimmy. Even though their door was closed he could see Frank beginning to realize where the sound was coming from. Jimmy watched as a few more people were heading over. Jimmy jumped out of his seat, landing firmly on the floor with the beat. Sandra jilted as he began to sing. Her head was cocked, she was looking at him with a bemused smile. It seemed to him as if she had forgot where she was and why she was there. Before he could think about it he reached out and took her hand, pulling her out to the middle of their office space.
She hadn’t had a chance to pull her hand away before Jimmy could take it. She hadn’t been able to think, overthink, process, or object as he threw the door to their office opened and yelled for Frank to join them. Sandra hadn’t had time for much before she was being spun around by Jimmy, who was still singing the words. She closed her eyes and joined him. Her voice was weak and choppy, but this was her song. A song that meant something to her, and apparently to Jimmy. As the song ended, Jimmy twirled Sandra into her chair and lowered the volume on her computer. The handful of folks from Sales and Marketing who were in their office looked over at Sandra. She was at work. She was somewhere in charge. She heard herself speaking before she realized she was, “if you’re going to continue to make that much noise across the wall. Please have the numbers to match it. Maybe then we can have another flash dance party like today.”
Jimmy laughed. Sandra had managed to keep surprising him with her likes and professionalism. He added, “I also see the numbers you do, the next person to actually reach their goal will get to pick the song.” Sandra shot a look over at Jimmy, this one had the hint of a smile in it. The crowd left their office and the two sat back down to work. Maybe he could be her friend.
“That was, fun. Now, get back to work, Jimmy. I see your numbers too,” Sandra said cooly.
And maybe it would take some time.