Even the best things come to an end. For Aaron, that meant closing down all of the browser windows and reporting to Mr. Jensen for the final time.
Sitting in a cubicle made Aaron’s head want to explode, but it’s almost five and the mood went from a sour atmosphere of murmurs and fidgeting pencils to an illustrious and sweet break for daylight.
The new leather chair under Aaron made some parts of work bearable. A few minutes before five Aaron always sits back and breathes. His eyes hurt, so he rubs them in a childish clockwise motion. Aaron’s suit rustles when his arms go over his head along with his eventual gasp of utter exhaustion.
Martin spoke from the cubicle next to Aaron’s. “Well, you ready for what comes next?”
Aaron looks up with a quirky smile. “Sadly, I am.”
“Liquidation. Not the first thing you think of when you started working here, right?”
“It’s what we signed up for.” Aaron’s phone let out a piercing beep. “Looks like Jensen really wants to see me. See you on the other side, buddy.”
“You too.” Martin vanished behind his cubicle as Aaron got up, fixed his suit, and walked out of his workspace. He peered around and saw the dozens of similar stations lined up like they were drawn on graphing paper. Perfectly symmetrical, Aaron thought, what with all the soul-sucking.
Jensen’s office was by the coffee station and Aaron knew Torres would be there like a bat sleeping in the darkness, waking only to feed. Aaron thought about crouching his way to Jensen, but the view would’ve been embarrassing. No need for a show on the last day of work.
Aaron passed about twenty cubicles before reaching the coffee station and Torres stood there ready to pounce. Human resources have a tendency to act like hunters. Torres was a man of medium-build, about the same as Aaron. Thick spectacles wrapped around Torres’s head like a rubber band clenching his short brown hair. His suit and tie were in better shape than Aaron’s, though nobody bothered to praise him for it.
“Mr. Caldwell! Funny seeing you here.” Torres barked as he sipped a Styrofoam cup of coffee.
Aaron furrowed his brow, puzzled. “Why is that?”
“Liquidation is just around the corner. Usually, people get on with some of their personal responsibilities before the process goes through. They don’t usually see the boss before, you know.”
“Jensen wanted to see me.”
“Really? How come?” Torres was genuinely interested, surprisingly.
“Why do you want to know?
“Just curious. Did you get all your financial info in order?”
“Aren’t you responsible for that?”
“Yes. Just checking.” Torres let out a fake laugh and went back to drinking his coffee. Aaron maneuvered around him and opened the door to Jensen’s office.
A squeaky voice startled Aaron. “Aaron, my friend, how are you?” Jensen reached out his hand and Aaron shook it with diligence.
“Mr. Jensen, I’ve about had it with questions.”
They both laughed with sincerity. “Please sit, I won’t keep you long.” Jensen remarked, gesturing towards his desk.
Aaron sat down as Jensen did, with security and intent. The old and scrawny executive stared at Aaron with a wide, unsettling smile. Aaron tried to reflect it, but could only manage an uncomfortable smirk. “So, why did you want to see me?”
Jensen leaned forward and crossed his arms in a clichéd fashion. “Aaron, my friend, you’ve been here quite a long time.”
“Only three years, sir.”
“Well, I think it’s been a very productive three years and the company appreciates it.”
Aaron tried brushing off the gratitude as if it were dandruff on his shoulder. “Thank you, sir.”
“It’s nice to be thankful for things. But, as you know, we’re being liquidated very soon.”
“It’s tough, but, it must happen. I called you in today because I asked my superiors to extend your liquidation date to about twenty seconds after everyone else.”
Aaron was taken back by his boss’s statement. “Sir, I—I don’t quite un—“
“It doesn’t matter. It’s already been done.”
“Uh, thank you, I guess.”
Jensen stood up and went around the desk to Aaron. He put his hand on Aaron’s shoulder. “I thought you’d like to be the last one to see the place.” The office fell silent before Aaron’s watch went off.
The alarm didn’t startle either of them.
Aaron was relaxed by another human’s touch. The firmness was comforting, but the hold soon dropped.
Aaron heard something like a splash occur behind him, but he wasn’t surprised.
Aaron cocked his head to the spot where Jensen placed his hand. It was damp.
Aaron then turned completely and gazed at where Jensen stood. A large wet circle stained the office carpeting with a grey suit on top of it. Aaron exhaled amid this sight then got up. Twenty seconds, he thought.
Aaron exited the office nod observed the liquidation. The carpet was moist with every step. By the coffee station, a suit underneath glasses on top of a circle of wetness made Aaron break his sulking mood and chuckle a bit. He moved along the path he made originally and looked down along the cubicles.
Puddles were seeping into the carpet while various ties and jewelry flowed outside the workspaces.
Ten seconds. No, five.
Aaron closed his eyes and was alone with his thoughts. It was what we signed up for.
The thoughts came as quick as they did. Aaron was now a puddle, slowly assimilating into the other stains. The office was quiet, as it should’ve been.