Tuesday 3rd February 2009

by Tina


The quiet hum of the Street Team Events office was disturbed by a frustrated cry coming out of my throat and my fist slamming on the table. The mouse clicks coming from the neighboring workstation stopped and I heard some shuffling before Luke, my back up and partner for the particular project we were working on, peeked over the workstation divider to look at me.

“Whoa, Ruth girl, what’s up?” His eyes were tired and his brows were knit in concern.

“I am absolutely dry!” I cried, leaning back on my chair with a groan. “I can’t do this anymore.” I added helplessly, motioning to my computer.

“Aw come on, Ruthie, you can do it,” Luke said, scooting over to my area to look at what I was doing. “Just a little bit more and it’s almost done.”

I reached up and rubbed my tired eyes. I was supposed to be used to these kinds of things: last minute graphic edits for the ads in the events we are a part of, and it wasn’t my first time to stay that late at work to finish deliverables. But it’s been a terribly busy month: everyone in my team had two to three projects lined up and happening in the next few weeks, and we don’t have enough budget for the event to hire freelancers, so I took charge of one of the projects on top of all my director duties.

“It’s just so frustrating,” I said with a sigh. “It’s been a long time since I had to make these many graphics for a series of time. How do you do it, Luke?”

Luke shrugged nonchalantly. “I’m just naturally good.”

“Luke.” I rolled my eyes.

“Kidding,” he said with a chuckle. “I take a break for an hour or so and go back to work on it again. It usually works. Oh, and I find something to inspire me. I often call my wife and talk about things and that usually does it.”

“At least you have someone to get inspiration from.” I muttered under my breath without thinking. I thought it was soft enough for him not to hear, but turns out it wasn’t as Luke let out a very enthusiastic cry that almost made me fall off my seat. “Aha what?”

“That’s what you need,” he said, with the oh-so-familiar mischievous glint in his eyes. “Inspiration!”

Oh no, here we go again
, I thought, covering my eyes. “No, not now Luke.”

“Not what?” A new voice chimed in. I removed my hand from my eyes, looked up and saw Ian, my fellow Director, approach our area. He stopped beside my table and leaned on the divider.

“Hey Mr. Logistics!” Luke greeted cheerfully, giving me a meaningful look which I ignored. He’s been acting all weird whenever he sees Ian and me talking, and I honestly don’t want to figure out why. Knowing Luke, it’s probably something that would drive me up the wall again.

“Hi Ian,” I said. “Why are you still here? No date tonight?” I added in a teasing tone.

“Nah, no date. Still working, like you guys,” Ian said. I noticed that his voice sounded tired, probably from talking to all the suppliers and making arrangements for the upcoming event on the weekend. Just recently, one of Ian’s team members resigned so he had to fill in while they were looking for someone to hire.

“You still okay?” I asked, concerned.

“Yeah, I am, don’t worry about me,” Ian said with a small smile. “I just needed a break. Looks like you need one too, your eyes are red. Did you cry?”

“No, no. It’s just computer strain. I still have two studies to finish tonight to send to the client tomorrow. I had to cancel my dinner plans because of this,” I added sadly.

“Dinner with you? Mitchie and the others?” Ian wanted to know.

“Nah, with Matt,” I said lightly. For some reason, I felt a bit uncomfortable divulging that information to Ian. It’s not that there was something happening to me and Matt, and if there was, Ian would be one of the people who’d know, as he was one of the first people who guessed that I had a crush on that guy.

“That lucky guy,” Ian said. I felt my face heat up. Was he referring to me and our dinner? “Sometimes I wish I was with the Accounts team, especially at times like this. They are like the least busy of all of us.” Oops, false alarm.

“That’s because they are the biggest team,” Luke said, leaning back on his chair. “Everyone wants to be an account manager.”

“Not me,” Ian said. “I’d rather stick to my contacts.”

“And me to my graphics,” I added. “Although I really need an additional hand right now. Luke here is a guru, but he can only do so much.” Luke and Ian laughed.

“Anyway, I’m about to have late dinner. I hope you haven’t eaten yet? Would you like to have dinner with me?” Ian asked, looking at me.

Now it was really just a normal question, but I found myself fumbling for words when my eyes met his. I felt some butterflies pop up in my stomach. His expression reminded me of how he looked at me a couple of weeks ago after the encounter with my date’s crazy ex.

“Nope, Ruth hasn’t eaten yet,” Luke piped up. “She hasn’t been out of her chair since this afternoon.”

“Well come on,” Ian said, reaching for my arm and pulling me up. “You need a break.”

“No, no, it’s okay,” I said, shaking my head, moving to sit down on my chair again. I really did not want to, as I wanted to finish my work first before leaving. “I’m not really that hungry.” However, at that same moment, my stomach decided to betray me by growling loud enough for the two men to hear. I looked at Ian, who gave me an amused by questioning look.

“Oh what the heck,” I said, standing up again. I reached for my wallet and phone from my purse. “I can finish this after. Luke, you coming?” I turned to look at him, but Luke had slid back to his workstation.

“No, don’t worry about me,” Luke said. “I’ve got my creative juices flowing right now and I don’t want to lose my momentum. You guys go ahead.”

“Okay then,” Ian said. “I’ll make sure your boss brings back something for you.”

“That’s my man.”

“See you in a bit,” I said, rolling my eyes at the two of them. I followed Ian as he made his way out of the floor. Before I could leave, though, Luke called me again. I stopped walking and looked back at my teammate.

“Ruth, remember! Break and inspiration.” He winked and ducked back to his workstation. I felt my face flame up and I gave Luke one final glare before continuing to walk again.

“What was that about?” Ian asked as we stepped out to the elevator lobby.

“Nothing, nothing,” I said, my face still hot. “He’s just kidding. Come on now, I need food.” The elevator doors opened and I pulled him inside. As the elevator moved down to the ground floor, I felt an idea for the poster I was working on hit me, and surprised that I did not think of it before. I actually saw how the poster would look like in my mind and I knew I could make another variation of that for the second poster. I suddenly felt like running back to my computer to work on it, but my stomach protested. Nevertheless, I suddenly felt so much better.

“Well you’re looking bright and happy all of a sudden,” Ian noted. I blinked and realized I was staring at him, all spaced out while I processed my thoughts. “Is the prospect of food cheer you up?”

“Yeah…that and something else,” I said, smiling back at Ian, ignoring once again the fluttering in my stomach. I’m just hungry, I thought, as we stepped out of the elevator.

[1356 words]

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One Response to “Burn Out”

  1. raichu says:

    nine in the morning and another good story. perfect way to start the day.

    the girl always has a thing for the guy, right? what if that wasn’t the case? what if the guy asks her out because he likes her but she doesn’t feel the same way? and she knows he likes her.

    i also like the sudden flash of inspiration at the end.

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