The Farewell Party (Short Story)

 I dreaded going to work. It was Friday, but today my best friend was leaving. While I was happy for him I couldn’t help but feel sorry for myself.

I clocked in and grabbed my folder for the staff meeting. Blurry eyed, I somehow managed to get my cup of coffee as well as one for Pete. I flopped down in my usual chair and waited as the chatter of my co-workers swirled around me. It was going to be a long day and Peter’s party was right after work.

“Good morning, Sarafino!” He greeted me like usual and looking better than ever in his dress pants, shirt and tie. His blonde hair was slightly messed up. He grinned at me and leaned over to hug my shoulder as he sat down next to me to start the meeting.

“Hey, Peterfarino.” I lacked my usual enthusiasm and he did a double take.

“Are you okay?” His eyes narrowed as he stared at me.

“I’ve been better. Let’s get this meeting over. I have a lot on my plate today.” I clenched my teeth together. I was not going to start crying.  He frowned and began the meeting.

When it was over he tapped me on the shoulder. “In my office. Now.” I was a bit startled by his stern tone but I followed him. Peter shut the door. “Come on, Sara. What’s wrong? I don’t know when I’ve ever seen you so down.”

I stood and folded my arms in front of me and avoided his gaze. “I don’t really want to talk about it.” I had to stop needing him in my life.

He enfolded me in his arms. I could feel him kiss the top of my head. It was not permitted for staff to date and while Peter wasn’t my direct supervisor this was inappropriate. I stepped back, breaking his hold.

“What are you doing?” One tear escaped.

“I thought I was comforting a friend.” His arms dropped to his side and he grabbed his office chair, spun it around and sat. His eyes looked sad but he waited.

I looked everywhere in the room but at him. “I need to go. I have work to do. If there’s nothing else?”

He nodded and let me leave without saying another word. I knew my lack of communication had hurt him. We had talked about everything in the past and this was the first time in two years I had shut him out. I sat in my office for a few moments trying to pull myself together before clicking on my computer to start on the file that was due today. I cranked up some classical music to help down out the ache in my heart and focus on my report.

The day dragged by. I stayed out of the office that afternoon so I would not have to see Peter packing up his things. A good friend would have helped. But then a good friend would have told his best friend he was looking for another job instead of springing it on her with the rest of the staff.

I showed up at the bar late. I had no appetite and no desire to celebrate. I found our group over by a bunch of tables and sat in an empty chair far from the guest of honor. He was laughing and while he had a glass in his hand, I knew it was only 7-up. The bar thing had not been his idea. I felt a headache coming on strong as I sipped my own soda and watched the chaos around me.

Pete came over to my chair. “Hey, Sarafino. Would you care to dance?” He set his glass down on the table next to mine and offered me his hand. I nodded and stood, refused his hand walked out to the dance floor by his side. He finally clasped my hand and put another arm around me to draw me close to him. This was torture. He felt and smelled good. He leaned down and whispered in my ear,  “I hope you don’t mind but it is a slow song. Kind of requires touching.” He kept his head down by mine as we began to move us together around the floor. His breath tickled my ear. I finally put my arm up around his neck and leaned into his shoulder and the tears came.

He pulled back his head and looked down at me with a smile. “You haven’t figured it out, Sara?”

“Figured what out?”

“I have been in love with you for so long and looking for a way to leave so that I could finally date you. So now that I’m no longer on staff . . . ?”

My eyes searched his. It had never dawned on me that he would have wanted to date me. I smiled. “Really?”

“Really.”

It was the prayer I never dared to pray but the desire of my heart. I smiled. “Yes. I would love to.”

We were all alone in a bubble as the music faded into the background. Pete smiled and leaned in to kiss me. I closed my eyes to savor every moment as I felt my whole body come alive at his touch. I brought my other arm up around his neck. When he broke the kiss and looked at me with love in his eyes I couldn’t help but pull him back down for another. I found myself lost in a swirl of love and desire that was so new and wonderful I did not want it to end.

When the song ended and we walked off the floor hip to hip with arms wrapped around each other. Suddenly, I felt like celebrating.

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