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2006-07-21 - 2:21 p.m.

I've just replaced this ending to my work essay with something a little less grandiose. The new ending's a little softer, more whispered, but I'm hoping it's powerful because it's whispered. Really, though, in the end, if you call it nonfiction you can't really have an ending like this. I do want to keep it around for a while, in some form:

On the days when the sun’s broken through, I climb on top of my filing cabinet and take a look around, at the hands reaching for phones and the fingers fixing hair and tapping keys. Then, planting my feet, I grab the ring on the end of the string. I yank it down and the blinds shoot up with a metallic zhhht. Then I sit at my desk and, with sunshine on my legs, transport myself outside, into a place where there is no centralized air and where I can tail Southwest’s roaring 737s to somewhere else. On days when I can dream a little, I can almost hear what that place sounds like. I’m not a violent person. I don’t start fights. But I want us to make it right. I know, logically, that our company doesn’t deserve it—they pay for most of our health insurance—but still, I want them to get it. It’s nothing personal.

On my signal, I want us to kick down those cubicle walls, sending clouds of dust and whispers into the air we breathe. We’ll look each other in the eyes and we’ll start in on the computers. We’ll take out the terminals next, smashing the glass with pops, the vacuum-tubed glass spraying, dancing on the carpet, settling at our feet. We’ll crunch the glass with our brown leather shoes and our flats bought cheap from Payless. We’ll lift the computers above our heads and we’ll bring them down heavy on our desks, Post-Its shaken loose from every vertical surface, drifting to the floor like leaves. We’ll take our keyboards in our hands and we’ll smack the caller-ID boxes from our high-end phones, whanging them off the filing cabinets. Whang.

The cubicle walls down, the dust ripe in the air like clean fog, we’ll see that everyone in PS&D has flushed cheeks. Our smiles will be contagious. We’ll congregate at the center point—what used to be Marianne’s cubicle—tentatively at first. We’ll gather close.

Because they’ve got shining cores just like mine, I will meet up with Doreen and Rose and all the rest. Somebody will hold an unlit match in fingers that God meant for snapping and whistling but not for any of this. When we cross the line, when we do it, it won’t be because of anything personal, but because we’ve got to, all of us, let our insides out so that they shoot up like the flames, up into the blue, free sky.

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