Friday, July 13, 2012

Lean and Mean

 
            Suzanne could feel the security guard watching her toned legs as she strutted past. Two months of sweating through Pilates and kickboxing had made her lean and fit.  She smiled at the slight ache of emptiness in her belly. Suzanne had replaced dozens of meals with high protein shakes. She could ignore the hunger until her afternoon snack of celery and a hard-cooked egg.
            “Suzanne, come in here. Dana baked a cake for Rob’s birthday,” Jonathan called from the staff lounge.
            If anyone else had invited her, Suzanne would have kept walking. But Jonathan was the manager so she had to sing Happy Birthday along with everyone else. Suzanne made an effort to not role her eyes at Dana playing the happy homemaker passing out slices of cake, a dollop of chocolate ganache on her frumpy paisley blouse.
            “Are you sure you don’t want a slice Suzanne?” Dana asked.
            “Oh, no. I’m still full from breakfast,” she lied. “I really ought to get back to my desk. Happy birthday Rob.”
            The intern smiled and waved, his mouth too stuffed with chocolate cake to speak.
            “Do you have a moment to talk?” Jonathan asked.
            She nodded and they walked to his office. He weighed his words before he spoke.
            “It’s the new client.”
            “What’s wrong? I thought they loved the campaign.”
            “They did—the artwork, the new slogan, all of it. But they’re a plus-size women’s catalog Suzanne. They feel you can’t relate to their customers.”
            “That’s absurd. Their customers are women who love clothes. I’m a woman who loves clothes. The only difference is a few pounds.”
            “They’ve requested Dana to be their account manager.”
            “Dana? You can’t be serious.”
            “You and she have different styles. They want Dana and that’s who they’ll get. Pass along your files to her today.”
            Suzanne handed off six months of brilliance to Dana’s assistant, before storming into the lounge for her snack. It had gotten pushed to the back of the refrigerator by the remains of Rob’s birthday cake. She brushed her sleeve against the shimmering frosting as she reached inside.
            “Damn,” she said wiping away the offending chocolate with her hand. Without thinking she licked her fingers. She felt a rush of euphoria as the rich flavor filled her mouth.
            “Oh my God,” she whispered, breaking off more cake. Her knees nearly buckled from the sweet tart surprise of the raspberry filling. Suzanne’s self-control shattered. She devoured the cake and licked the plate clean in seconds.
            Mortified, she washed the plate and laid it in the drainer just before the door opened. It was Dana.
            “Thanks for getting those files to me. I hope there are no hard feelings.”
            Suzanne shrugged, hoping to hide her guilty secret.
“It happens. The client is always right.”
            “I just came in to get my cake plate. It looks like someone washed it. How nice.”
            “Well, I should get going. Have a good weekend.”
            “You too. Suzanne?”
            “Yes?”
            “You have a little chocolate on your forehead.”

            This week’s Write on Edge prompt was “To flip freedom upside down and write about the forbidden or the taboo. The word limit was 450.” Speaking of taboos, I went a little over the word limit. Although I did manage to cut over 200 words from the first draft. This story may or may not have been influenced by the fact that I started a diet this week.