I was, hmm, just trudging through my last day at work. Two-and-a-half years of loyalty and innovation, and they swept me out in the first round of downsizing. Eight hundred people laid off this week, with rumors of another 300 people to get the ax next week. And conservatives still deny we’re in a recession. Guess these things aren’t real problems until they affect you personally, huh?

Meh. Feeling a little bitter. My boss, Marion, was cool about it and everything, she apologized very sincerely. Actually, I felt a little bad for her, and not just because her department was being scuttled. She had bothered to make some real friendships among her crew, and maybe that was a mistake, because today was a tear-streaming mess of a morning. I figured out what was going on when my key card wouldn’t let me past the entrance area, and when someone finally let me up there were cardboard boxes outside my office. Subtle.

So I packed up dutifully, didn’t raise a fuss or anything. Marion kept checking in on me, making sure I was all right—I just had a headache, was all—asking me what my plans were. Finally I gave her a big hug and let her get all the stress off her chest, because she clearly needed to talk to someone. I just had to swallow down all my snarky responses and bitterness. No sense in burning any bridges just yet.

While I was talking with her, this woman kept daring past my office door. She had springy chestnut hair, large breasts in a bright red sweater (kinda hard to miss, let’s be honest), a long, form-fitting natural fiber skirt that wrapped tightly around large hips, and she always looked like she was laughing about something. Never seen her before. After the third pass I asked Marion about her. She apologized profusely and said that our department was getting rolled over into the other tower, so they were transferring materials over to the other building, and this girl was a new hire without much to do except help carry stuff over.

The next time she breezed by, my boss flagged her down and introduced us. “Nora, this is Alvin,” Marion said, placing a hand on Nora’s shoulder. “Nora’s creating a new position for herself… The whole department’s getting done over, and she’s going to guide a lot of what that looks like, so she would’ve directly overseen your work.” Marion looked miserable. I rose from my chair and shook Nora’s hand. I think my smile was pretty steady.

“How do you do?” I asked. People think this sounds old-fashioned, and it is, but it’s useful. If you say “nice to meet you,” and it turns out it wasn’t nice to meet them at all, then you’re a liar. Much safer to inquire after−

“Nice to meet you,” Nora chirped, shaking my hand. Her palm was cold.

“Alvin was our head of social media and online presence.” Marion screwed up her face at me. “Did I get that right? What exactly did you do here?”

This line, again. I think this is a trick managers use to make sure their employees are paying attention and know what’s going on. My temples throbbed as I recited my responsibilities, a sick feeling rising in my stomach as I thought of all the tasks I would no longer be in charge of, day to day, and all the new things I had to add to my résumé.

Nora finally lost her hearth-warm smile. “I’m so sorry to hear you got laid off, Alvin. I was really looking forward to working with you.” She really sounded disappointed. Was I going to have to cheer her back up, too? “Maybe we’ll run into each other again, soon.” Her smile returned.

I thought this wasn’t likely and said so.

“But if I need anything, would you mind if I… reached out to you?” she asked, showing way too many teeth.

I supposed that would be all right.

She clapped. An adult seriously clapped with happiness, bouncing on her toes a little. Her boobs shook and danced in her sweater. “Great! Then I’ll consider you… in my pocket.” And she positively leered at me.

I looked at Marion, who looked baffled and shrugged. This was becoming a little creepy.

Marion had some other things to attend to and Nora said she did too, so farewells were made, an invitation to coffee was extended, and Marion made me promise to stay in touch. But you know, I’ve been in these situations before and no matter how well you like someone you work with, you never stay in touch. Or I never have, anyway. When they were gone, I went to the kitchenette to avail myself of some free ibuprofen for my mounting headache.

There was a cabinet above the sink. In the cabinet was our first aid kit, but standing next to it was a box of ibuprofen, pairs of pills in little foil packets. I hadn’t seen that before but it was awfully handy. I stuck my hand in to pull one out, and another packet practically leaped out at me, falling into the metal sink basin.

Maybe it’s a sign, I thought playfully. I like these little philosophical games with the universe, though I’d never admit this to anyone. I look for signs, I pay attention to trends and systems. It’s not all bullshit.

So I put my chosen packet away, picked up the one out of the sink, tore it open and stored the pills on my tongue. I got a surplus conference mug from the cabinet, filled it halfway. The pills had begun to dissolve and I noticed how sweet they were, really tasty. I was tempted to suck on them for a while, but I washed them back and rested against the counter.

When Nora came into the kitchenette, I felt the world shift like something was seriously wrong. It was nothing she did and nothing in my body. It’s just like when you’re minding your own business and suddenly there’s a car accident across the street from you, not far at all. All the comfort and illusions you’ve built around yourself are stripped away in one stroke and everything’s starkly real, reaching into you like most things don’t. That’s what I was experiencing. Nora’s sweater seemed especially garish, and I could pick out the individual fibers in the knit cords stretching over her breasts. I tried to look up at her face, but her eyes were blazing with a kind of intensity that… well, I didn’t like it at all.

“Headache?” she asked, musically.

I narrowed my eyes at her, then remembered the open cabinet behind me. I wiped out my glass and put it in the drying rack, then closed the cabinet, grateful for something to do. “Sure. You know how it is, the layoff and all. Everything you were planning suddenly disappearing in front of you. All the things you were involved with, the projects you were working on…” I shrugged and tried to smirk.

She stood in the center of the room, fixed like a pillar. Waiting. “Yes, it must be like… a giant hand has reached down from the heavens and… plucked you right out of your world.” She licked her lips when she said this, and she smiled without smiling.

I had to nail her on this. “All right, that is a really loaded choice of phrases, there. What the hell is your trip, lady?” I took a step toward her except the ground was missing.

“You are so cute, too,” she said, in a quieter tone as though she were responding to a conversation in her head and this fell out.

I stepped forward, and there was nothing to step on, so I fell forward. I’d had one hand on the counter, and I seemed to swing from this as it shot up behind me. Why it should do this, I don’t know, but it shot up and sent my body spinning through space. The cabinets wheeled around me, the walls flew away from me in all directions, and then abruptly I was on the floor. Everything was blurry and still spinning, so I just lay there on the cool linoleum, trying to catch my breath.

Nora was no longer standing in place. She was doing a kind of hopping, shimmying little dance… no, little no longer applied to her. She loomed above me like a skyscraper, she expanded all over. I could almost look up her skirt, that long skirt, the off-white cream-colored skirt that went down to her ankles. Yes, I could see her shins as she danced up to me, step-hip bump-step-step-hip bump. Her toes flexed in her sandals… huge toes. Huge feet. I could look up her long skirt to where her calves disappeared into the darkness. The round pink balls of her toes twitched excitedly right next to me, right up close.

And her hand reached down from the heavens and plucked me right out of the world.

The next thing I knew, she stuffed me inside her sweater. I saw the neckline racing up to me, and then her huge fingers tugged it aside and there was a durable lace bra, and she tugged that aside and then it was a hillside of creamy, smooth flesh and I smacked into it. POW. Knocked the breath out of me, and then her fingers brutally shoved at my shoulders and head and I slid over her skin until my leg bumped against her…

My leg bumped against her nipple. It was huge and tan and hardening. I had no room to move: the bra came up and pressed me against her skin very securely. I was dazed and catching my breath, and I was pinned against a massive tit as though I were lying on a hillside.

Motion. Her breast bounced and I rode along with it, my fingers failing to dig into her skin for security, though it was clear I was pretty well lodged in place. I heard—and felt—Nora’s footsteps thundering down the hall, and I felt Nora singing to herself, humming cheerily as though she were a little girl picking berries in the woods.

I heard Marion’s voice. “Is he gone already?” she asked, incredibly loudly.

Nora’s heartbeat thudded into the front half of my entire body. “Is who gone?” she returned.

“Alvin. His stuff’s still here but… was he in the kitchenette, did you see?”

Nora’s voice became solemn, though I was aware of her increasing heartbeat. “It finally sunk in, I guess,” she said. “He said he was going to go get a couple pints at the Lion’s Tap, wanted to be left alone.”

I heard Marion sob. Should I call out to her? I kinda wanted to see where this was going, crazily enough.

“Would it be possible to have his stuff couriered to him?”

Marion thought this was an elegant solution. “I’m sorry to ask this of you, because you’re new, but would you be able to take care of that?”

Nora laughed. “Oh, don’t worry about that. I’ll take care of Alvin.”

Then I did scream, and I was rewarded with a tremendous slap upon the back half of my entire body. “Excuse me,” Nora said cutely, and then there were lots of footsteps, lots of movement, lots of bouncing, heaving breast.

Everything I knew, everything I had been planning on was wiped away. And I guess a bra cup can be used as a pocket, in times of need.

[Prequel to Human Capital; image by Wendt Commons]

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