American Horrors #1: Office Horror

This is a new series I’ll be writing in which I describe modern, mundane horrors.

A woman stands ticking by the cooler dipping tea in a cup for so long she might as well be a perpetuity, investment property, steep and steeping and charts and accounts and one HR rep who pretends to don the bells of caring with her brash grin. Then, a flood in the basement, a series of rolled nebulae, an orderly shuffle for the doors like, this time it’s just a drill so that when we burn there will be no learning in it, only habit. Office horror is the horror of waking up in a sweat of forgetting to take the test. There’s always a test to forget for the unvested. It’s the horror of mouthing kill yourself just to see if anyone notices but of course they don’t because they’re too busy mouthing kill yourself. It’s the horror of commuting and the cuteness of complaining. It’s the horror of staying hydrated and lumbar support and trees in the parking lot uprooted in the spring to make way for other trees. The horror of packaging. Logistics. The horror of lost staplers and inky fingers.

A woman stands ticking in the kitchen. Her gears have gone feral, clank shuddering shut, a clutter of nails clippings under her keyboard she can’t bear to clean. What’s the next move? How much grease lives on her keyboard? How many deaths in a deadline? The bossman won’t say. Coworkers meet to mourn the dude from three cubes over who perished in a scuba accident but all that’s mustered is passive as a chess pawn, a yawn that’s meant to say we’re next or whatever so might as well learn to love the rotten coffee and the mocking songbird perched upon the pear blossoms currently parked in the parking lot.

Office horror is in the rotting. The Chinese man sequestered in the locker room paper toweling his head dry, rustling like cowbell until his gnash leaves nail clippings on the tile. The horror of bestowing ignorance like a white elephant gift. The existential dread that lives just under a button-up. How close we come to riot when they take our paper plates; how far from hoisting a boulder on our shoulders. The best response is always to save the blossoms we want to bury.

American Horrors #1: Office Horror