Thursday 15th January 2009

by Tina

The first week of work after the holidays is usually a very festive event, regardless of the fact that it means the long, lazy and glorious days of doing nothing is over. As expected, not too many people actually get back to work on the first day, so the “reunions” last for the entire week, until one has finally seen everyone else they missed for the past two weeks.

“Welcome back, boss!” My back-up-slash-right hand man, Luke, greeted as soon as he got in the office Monday morning after the long vacation. I wasn’t surprised to see him back, as he knew how important the first day of work was. He walked around my desk and dropped a cat-shaped beanie baby on my table. “From me and the girlfriend.”

I picked the little orange cat and squeezed it. “Aw, so cute! Thanks Luke. And welcome back,” I gave him a squeeze on the arm as he walked by. I sat back on my chair to continue combing through my two-weeks backlog of emails as he went to his desk.

“How was the vacation?” I asked over the shuffling on his desk.

“It was pleasantly relaxing,” Luke replied. I heard a whirr of fans as he turned his computer on. I heard a set of footsteps arrive on my other side and take a seat on the farther station. “Oh, hi, Grace.”

“Hi!” Grace returned the greeting happily. “It’s so good to be back!” She was our newest team member and a very enthusiastic one at that, so I wasn’t surprised to see her back either.

“Really, it is?” The next arrival was Von, who dropped his bag on his table with a thud. Following him was Sheila, and I gave the two of them a curious look. There’s been something going on with those two since late last year, but I could never really put an actual label. Luke might know, but he hasn’t spilled yet, but I’m pretty sure I’ll find out about it soon.

“Hi guys, welcome back,” Sheila said. She flitted to my workstation, in her usual slightly bohemian garb and gave me a kiss on the cheek. She proceeded to greet Luke and Grace, curiously skipping Von, sort of confirming the idea that they got in together.

“No extended vacation, Von?” Luke asked. I was still looking at my computer but I could imagine Luke wiggling his eyebrows at Von as he asked that.

Von shook his head and there was a squeak as he dropped down on his chair. “Nah. Had some pending stuff I need to finish this week.”

“Are you sure it’s only that?” Luke asked, mischievous tone evident in his voice. I rolled my eyes at Luke’s insistence. Von is usually a peaceful guy, but my instincts told me it’s time to step in so I stood up from my chair to intervene.

“How does it feel to be back, guys?” I asked. I turned to my right where Sheila was now decorating her workstation with new trinkets. “Sheila, how was your family?”

“They’re great,” Sheila replied. “I’m glad to be back though, I missed this place. And you guys. How about you boss? How was your vacation?”

“Quiet,” I replied, shrugging. “But fun. Family and stuff.” I looked at Luke who was no longer looking at Von (thankfully) but is now giving me that grin (unfortunately).

“Did you go on any interesting…” Luke trailed off, and I shot him a look. He looked at Von to supply the right words.

“…coffee with some friends who are not girls?” Von added lamely. Sheila and Grace giggled while I rolled my eyes. Before I could answer, I saw someone walking towards me through my peripheral vision. I turned to my right and saw Ian walking to our area with a big smile.

“Ian!” I blurted without thinking. I wasn’t expecting him to be here yet. The last time I got to talk to him, he told me he was going on a long trip on the second week of the holidays and he told me he’d be back Wednesday, not Monday. What is he doing here so early?

“Welcome back, Creatives!” He said brightly as he got to our area.

“Hey Ian,” Sheila said as he gave her a hug. I watched, slightly dumbfounded, as he continued to go around our area, giving welcome-back greetings to everyone – hugs for the girls and pats on the back for the boys.

“Looking good, dude,” Luke said, shooting me a look, which I ignored. I was too shocked seeing Ian here to pay attention to what the others think.

Ian walked to me and opened his arms for a hug. I turned slightly to the side, trying to send him the message that I’m not really a hug-a-guy person. I only hug my close friends and family. Unfortunately, he chose to be dense at that moment and still gave me a hug even if I wasn’t facing him. His arms held me sideways, and I looked very much like I was resisting the hug.

I turned my face to him slightly so he can get the message that it wasn’t really comfortable for me, but before I could say anything, I felt his lips meet my cheek. He released me just in time as I stepped away from him, cheeks red, shocked.

“Bye guys, nice to see you back,” Ian said, grinning at me like nothing happened. He gave us all a wave and I watched as he walked away.

My teammates’ silly grins were the first thing I saw when I turned to look at them. My cheeks felt hotter as I sank down my chair, feigning innocence.

Holiday’s over all right.

[957 words]

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