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Disclaimer: I realize I've been lax about saying that I don't own any of this, but sadly that doesn't make it any less true. I own nothing except the additional fictional characters, so anyone you recognize from the actual show, is definitely not my property.

eta: I'm changing the chapter titles! They're now from the lyrics to (appropriately) Dreamgirl by Dave Matthews Band.

It started innocently enough.

Marsha came in to the upstairs office to make her usual rounds. She dusted and then started emptying the garbage cans. She always liked to start in the back and work her way forward, finally ending with the reception desk. She picked up that last bag, and heaved it over her shoulder. As she headed to the pile she had made out in the hall, she tripped over something, probably one of those toys that was always on the floor near the boss's office, and dropped the bag. It promptly burst open, scattering papers everywhere. Embarrassed and sprawled on the floor she couldn't help but notice the vivid blue ink and curly script that was inches away from her nose. She rolled over in a pile of paper and picked the page up for a closer look. There were intricate abstract doodles in the margins and it was covered with crossed-out sentences, but the words that remained were riveting. Sitting down on the little couch next to her, she began to read. No one will mind, she thought, after all it was in the trash.

Dear Jim,

It seems strange to be writing to you while I'm looking at the back of your head, but I couldn't figure out any other way to tell you how I'm feeling. I miss you. I miss you so much. I miss being able to talk to you about everything or nothing or whatever. I just miss...you. I guess since I know I'll never actually give you this letter I might as well tell you a few more things while I'm at it.

Jim, I'm so sorry I didn't tell you that I hadn't gone through with the wedding. You have no idea how much I wanted to call you and tell you everything. But, I just couldn't. When you left I didn't know what to do. I didn't know where we stood. I didn't even know if you would have wanted me to call, even if I hadn't been so afraid to. I tried talking to my Mom about everything, but she didn't really get it. I don't think anyone has ever understood me the way you do. Or, I guess the way you did.

The letter ended there. As she began cleaning up the mess she had made Marsha told herself to just stuff that page right back into the garbage bag, but for some reason she didn't. Instead she carefully folded it up and slipped it into her pocket. As she heard the rest of the crew coming in to help with the bathrooms and the vacuuming, she sheepishly rolled her eyes at her own actions. "You're a hopeless romantic" she thought.

The crew only cleaned the Dunder-Mifflin office twice a week. Wednesdays and Saturdays. It had been a Saturday night when Marsha had quite literally stumbled her way onto that first letter. She hadn't really known what to do with it when she got home. It seemed wrong to keep something that was obviously very personal and belonged to someone she'd never met.

She thought about trying to return it to the receptionist, whoever she was. That seemed unwise, though, since she'd probably been trying to get rid of the letter by throwing it in the garbage. Getting it back might only upset her. Logically, the solution was to put it back in the trash. But no matter how many times Marsha had meant to do it, she just couldn't seem to throw the thing away. A couple of days later it was still sitting right where she had left it when she took it out of her pocket: on top of her dresser, neatly folded, right next to a picture of her ex-husband with their children. And a couple of nights after that when she was lying in bed trying to fall asleep and missing all of the people in that picture, she had reread it.

On Wednesday, Marsha made sure she was the first one upstairs. She wasn't sure why she was so eager to be in this office again. After all, she didn't actually know anyone who worked here. But reading that letter had made her feel like she was somehow personally involved. She dutifully dusted, and then emptied each garbage can. When she got to the receptionist's desk she told herself she was being silly. It was probably just a whim that had made the receptionist start writing that first letter. Surely, she wouldn't have done it again.

"Marsha, stop it. You shouldn't even look. You should just throw the whole bag out with the others." she said it out loud. But her voice sounded funny as she stood there all alone under the fluorescent strip lights in the middle of the night.

She tried not looking. She tried it for almost a full 30 seconds. Or maybe even longer. Finally she rationalized, well, it's just the garbage. If there was anything in there that she shouldn't see then whoever threw it out should have just kept it. Or thrown it away at home. With a sigh of resignation, she reached a gloved hand in and dug around.

There it was. A little crumpled maybe, and sure, she'd had to move a couple of other papers off the top first, but it was like the page had been calling to her. She rummaged through the rest of the garbage to make sure she hadn't missed another letter, after all it had been a few days since the can had been emptied, so it was possible there was more than one. But when she was sure that she'd checked every page and only found that one letter, she quickly tied up the bag, and dumped it into the pile in the hall. She was about to start reading when the door opened and Henni walked in to start on the kitchen and bathrooms. Marsha quickly hid the letter in her pocket and got back to work. Guilt kept her from reading the thing until she was at home in bed. It was nearly 3:30 and she was exhausted, but she couldn't fall asleep until she knew what it said.

My Jim,

I know you're not really mine, but I think I'll just pretend you are for a minute because it will make my awful day so much more bearable. I'm sitting here thinking about all the things I would do with you if you were mine, and yes, some of them are making me blush. Luckily, no one has noticed yet. In fact with my head down like this, it's pretty easy to keep my face hidden from the rest of the office. Of course, the downside of that plan is that I don't get to see you this way. Sometimes I wonder: if our desks were reversed would you spend as much time looking at me as I do looking at you? It's actually pretty pathetic how often I sneak glances at you from behind your back.

I know one thing I would definitely do if you were mine. I'd have you sit exactly where you are right now, but I'd have you do it on a Saturday or something when no one else is around and I'd sit at my desk for a minute, so that I could pretend like this was just another normal day at work and then I'd come around from behind and kiss you right on that little line of skin on the back of your neck between where your collar ends and your hair starts to do that flippy thing. I think I'd probably end up kissing you other places too, but I'd start right there.

Of course, you're not mine. So, I guess I won't get the chance to kiss

This letter ended much more abruptly, and Marsha felt even guiltier reading it than she had felt while reading the first one. As she set the letter on her nightstand and switched off the lamp she promised herself she would certainly throw away both letters in the morning.

 

Chapter End Notes:

This was originally conceived as the first chapter in a multi-chapter story, but I recently realized that it could also work well as a oneshot. I have a general plot in my head for where I would go with it, but I honestly can't decide if I should continue or not because I like it both ways. Sorry if that's too much like begging for reviews, but in this case I really would appreciate an outside opinion or two.

ETA: As you can see, I'm cleaning this up based on feedback from readers. So from now on all letters will be italicized.


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