Prompt: You come into work one morning and the dry erase board by your desk has a note on it that you didn’t write. You assume it’s a coworker friend so, just to amuse yourself, you respond to the note on the board with your own note. The next morning you come in and there’s…
another Blazing Saddles quote: “Mongo only pawn in game of life.” I smile, erasing it before my 9 o’clock arrives, making a note to message the movie night group about sneaking into my office. As I put the eraser down, Olivia walks in.
“Ready for our brainstorming session?”
“Ready as I’ll be without another cup of coffee. Have a seat.”
She sits down at the small conference table, each of us pulling out or laptops.
“Do you want to project or should I?”
“I can,” she tells me. “Did you create a brainstorming doc?”
“I did! I shared it with you last night, but I don’t think I sent an email notification since it was late.”
“Thanks for that. I always panic when I get work messages after 6 pm.”
She pulls up the document and we begin chatting, capturing all our ideas for creating awareness and communicating the upcoming change to the university’s Google Drive space. The time goes quickly, my calendar notification for lunch startling me.
“Got another meeting?” Olivia asks, leaning back and stretching.
“Sort of. I’m meeting a friend for lunch.”
“That’s way more fun! I’ll send our ideas out to the group and see what they think we can get approved by the sponsor. Have fun at lunch!”
She closes her laptop and heads out, leaving me to rub my temples for a minute. I take off my glasses and scrunch my nose, eyes tired from staring a screen all morning. After a minute of rubbing, I sigh and close my laptop, grabbing my phone and heading out.
It’s a short walk across campus to the cafe. Inside, Amelia is already sitting and frowning at something on her phone.
“Hey, you. What’s that look about?”
She looks up, smiling. “One of the consultants just sent me a question that doesn’t make sense. How are you?”
“Did you tell him he doesn’t make sense? I’m good! Had a long meeting all morning, but it was productive.”
“I haven’t responded. It can wait until after lunch. What was the meeting about?”
“Communication plan for Team Drive. How’s your day going?”
“Blegh. It’s Wednesday. I’ve got that going for me.”
“Ouch. That sucks. Anything I can help with?”
“No, just team drama per usual. Do you know what you want?”
She rolls her eyes and shakes her head. “I’ll take that as a ‘yes, Amelia, I’m ready to order.'”
I laugh and stand up with her, heading to the counter and ordering a sandwich. We wait, leaning against columns while the woman makes our lunches. We pay and sit back down, sipping coffee and chatting.
“Hey, here’s a random question: have you been sneaking into my office the last couple days to write Blazing Saddles quotes on the board?”
“No, why would I do that? I’d just text them to you.”
“Yeah, just wondering. Yesterday someone had written ‘excuse me while I whip this out’ on my board, so I wrote back ‘why do I always get a warped one?’ Anyway, today there was ‘Mongo only pawn in game of life’ on my board and I figured it might be you.”
“That’s weird. Who has access to your office?”
“Well, Cassie has a key, but she was out yesterday. Custodial?”
“Did you already ask Jeff and Colin?”
“Not yet. I meant to, but I got distracted.”
“You should. That sounds like something they’d do.”
“I don’t know, it seems like a lot of work for them. They’re pretty lazy in their trolling.”
“That’s true. Who else could it be?”
“I don’t know. No one else knew we were watching that for movie night.”
“Maybe you have a stalker.”
I cringe. “I really hope not.”
“Omg what if you do?!”
“I’ll probably have to talk to the cops? I don’t know. I haven’t been stalked since like high school and that’s not even real stalking.”
“Who stalked you in high school?”
“This kid from one of my math classes. It was just during school, he didn’t like find my house or anything. It was mostly just annoying.”
“Weird. I’ve never had a stalker.”
“That’s a good thing.”
“I mean, I’ve heard the horror stories. It’s scary, really.”
“Yeah… now you’re creeping me out! What if I have a stalker, Amelia?”
“Get a dog?”
“I don’t have enough room for a dog in my apartment.”
“Hmm. Get a roommate that likes guns?”
I laugh. “I’ll put an ad on Craigslist. ‘Wanted: roommate, preferably former military. Must love guns and protecting oneself from home invasion. Serious replies only.’ That can only end well.”
“Okay maybe don’t do that.”
We laugh and shift our conversation to work, the hour up way too soon. We make plans for lunch next week before heading to our respective offices. The rest of the day passes quickly, leaving me exhausted by 5 pm. I pack up my bag and shutdown my laptop. I turn off the lights and pause, double-checking that nothing is on my whiteboard. I triple check that I’ve locked the door to my office, shaking my head as I walk to my car, resisting the urge to look over my shoulder and make sure no one is following me.
“Damn it, Amelia,” I mutter. “Now you’ve got me all paranoid about stalkers.”
I shake the feeling as best I can as I unlock my car, really hoping there’s nothing written on my board tomorrow…