Photo by Elene Usdin

Photo by Elene Usdin

Jim woke up next to Eloise like he had for the past thirteen years to an alarm blaring at an alarmingly loud decibel. 7:55am always seemed a bit too early, Eloise thought, as she rubbed sleep from her green eyes. Eloise’s green eyes always reminded Jim he was a fool.

Jim walked straight into a walk-in shower and lathered his salt and pepper hair in organic tea tree oils. Four days until vacation, he thought as he rubbed moisture into his scalp. Eloise hummed show-tunes through the froth of Crest extra-whitening toothpaste. She imagined she was Marilyn Monroe as she combed curls into her blond hair. He was a fool, Jim thought, as lukewarm water squirted from the shower head.

Eloise watched the morning news on an annoyingly loud decibel on the kitchen set, chomping red lipstick stains into a Slim Fast protein bar. Her empty blond curls reminded Jim he was a fool as she passively received the weather report from a portly weatherman. Jim ate soy nut butter on rye bread and read through the local obituaries on an iPad. Neither spoke a word, but Eloise appeared to Jim to be as happy as Fourth of July fireworks. Four days until vacation, he thought.

Jim never quite clocked in at his office at 9:00am. That’s because Eloise would take at least two commercial slots worth of radio time removing her pencil skirt from the leather passenger seat of their hybrid mini-van. The morning sunshine always sizzled orange juice orange on Eloise’s french tips as she rummaged through the center console looking for extra-whitening chewing gum. Her french tips always reminded Jim of his college years sipping macchiatos in Paris. He was such a fool then, he thought, as he clocked in at his office at 9:02am.

Jim trotted to his cubicle on Lacoste dress shoes. Four days until vacation, he thought. Eloise never had a lunch packed for Jim. But she always made sure to have a text message wishing him a “productive work day” waiting on his iPhone. Jim never read it. Her definition of “productive” always reminded Jim he was a fool. Eloise was across town explaining the difference between squares and circles to four-year-olds at the local charter school, while Jim was being “productive” in the constraints of his cubicle.

“You late this morning, boy? The old lady rattlin’ the head board like a cougar again, ‘eyy Jimmy boy?”

Fluorescent light tubes buzzed like bug-zappers over Jim’s boss’s bald spot.

“‘Eyy Jimmy Boy? Between the legs of every great woman is a great man, how ‘bout her? Anyway, you going on vacation soon, ‘eyy Jimmy Boy?”

If Jim stared hard enough through his boss’s bald spot he could make out Eloise’s empty green eyes. Drawing simple geometric shapes on a green chalk board. Making him feel like a fool.

“Four days until vacation, sir.”