by Ellis Grayce Faye

He entered the busy office. He tried to make music of the monotone office sounds. The duh-duh-duh steady rhythm of the printer, the soft crinkling of fresh, white paper, the almost silent scratches of a pen against a legal pad, the tap-tap-tap haphazard melody of the computer keys. But it was all a stretch. The phone rang twice in a distant chord and the lights were too bright.

He walked up to the secretary, who didn’t look like how movies made out secretaires to look. She had sunken skin with deep wrinkles. Her blue eyes were heavy as an old dog who has watched over the barn for too long. Her hair looked like it was made of soft straw, which she put up in a ponytail. He noticed as he got closer that the collar of her shirt was wrinkled.

He waved a timid hello with a wide, toothy smile and she gave him a smile back, her glossy pink lips pushing up her sullen cheeks.

He told her his name and she told him his office was on the left, next to the one with the big window. Her voice was scratchy and calm and it came from the back of her throat.

He thanked her and started to walk to his office, his leather shoes against the tile, adding to the office symphony.

His office neighbor gave him a friendly hello, just as the man in the house next to him smiles when he’s out walking his dog.

The office felt like a suburb; Gray houses with cut off lawns all standing next to each other, stacked like blocks set up by a child obsessed with order.

Except in the office there’s no children running in the streets or dogs barking from windows. Only seeming order and artificial hellos from neighbors.

But he focused on the symphony.