The Smile…

The senior manager called her for a meeting in his office. He sat behind his desk. He was a broad-shouldered, stern-looking man with an impassive face.
“Look. You think that I have no idea what’s going on in my team. You’re wrong,” he said bluntly.

She stared back at him, waiting for him to continue. A slight frown creased his forehead. He scratched his forehead, as if to iron out the crease.
“Look, I know you both don’t get along of late. Some sort of fight or something. But this – this is an office. You cannot waste the company’s time with such things. I expect you to keep whatever personal problems you have out of your work. This project is very important. You both will be the head coordinators. Assemble a team, get me results.”
She was reluctant to agree. She did not want to work with the person the manager was teaming her up with. “But, sir-,” she began to protest.
“Please come back to my office at 4 pm today. I expect you both to finalize the team by then. I will have a brief meeting with you both to discuss the strategy. That’s all. You may leave.”
She pursed her lips. There was no point arguing. She must face the awkwardness that was bound to come.
*****************************************************************
Two weeks ago
*****************************************************************
They would bicker like old wives. Not a day went by without him trying (and succeeding) at getting on her nerves, and her silently mouthing obscenities in his general direction. The rest of the team members no longer paid heed to their arguments. Until one Friday, two weeks ago, he said to her, “Come with me for a movie tomorrow.”
“What?!” she asked with an expression of fury that she reserved especially for him.
“I am asking you to come with me for a movie. Tomorrow.”
She was convinced he was mocking her. This was some sort of a set up. There were people waiting for her to say “Yes” so that they could point and laugh at her. She said in a voice, loud enough for the springers and crashers to hear, “Alright, you know what! I have had enough of your mockery. You cannot just keep thinking I am some sort of stupid person at whose expense you can have a laugh at whenever you feel like. Is that clear?!”
She threw one last furious glance at him and walked out of the bay. If she did not know better, she could have sworn she saw a hurt look in his eyes.
*****************************************************************
Today. 4 pm. Manager’s cabin.
*****************************************************************
The manager was at another meeting. The cabin was empty except for the two silent employees waiting for the manager to arrive. They did not look at each other. She had secretly made up her mind to back out of the project. The silence is the cabin was growing stifling each minute.
“Listen,” his voice broke the silence, startling her, “This is ridiculous. It’s childish. We must learn to compartmentalize things; we cannot let our personal differences get in the way of a project as important as this.”
She looked at him. His eyes did not have their characteristic mocking glint. He looked serious, perhaps for the first time in his life. It made her feel foolish. Yes, she was being childish. She nodded. He brought out his laptop. He had already drawn up a list of team-members and had made a chart of roles and responsibilities. He gave her a brief idea of the strategy he planned to propose to the manager. At the end of his briefing, he suddenly asked her, “So… you didn’t answer me?”
“About what?” she questioned.
“About the movie. Will you come with me? Or do you prefer theatre?”
She smiled. “I prefer theatre.”

 

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2 thoughts on “The Smile…

  1. arpitha September 23, 2013 / 7:37 AM

    No names, 3 characters and short. My favorite kind of story. 🙂 🙂
    Very nicely written 🙂

    Like

  2. Sreesha Divakaran September 23, 2013 / 4:27 PM

    Thank you… I rarely have more than 3 characters in the stories that I write. Makes it easier to keep it short and simple…

    Like

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