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 “Dunder Mifflin. This is Pam. Let me transfer you.”

It often felt like these were the only words her mouth could say. They had become such a habit. Like muscle memory. She didn’t even have to think about them. Unfortunately, that left plenty of space in her mind to drift on to other things.

It was Valentine’s Day, 2007. Five years of engagement and eight months of marriage, yet Roy still wasn’t great at romance. She had been forced to sign for Valentine’s presents for half of the office. Luckily, Phyllis and Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration were on their honeymoon, so she wouldn’t have to suffer quite as much as she did last year. Even still, her husband was letting her down again. It was 4:00, and she didn’t have anything. Not even a “Happy Valentine’s” in the morning before work. It seemed them getting married didn’t solve any of their problems. Roy still loved to drink with his brother more than talk to her. She still didn’t have a best friend, as Roy was always preoccupied and her work friend… Well, Jim had Karen now and didn’t talk to her much.

At least she still had her art. It was her only way to actively express herself. She felt the paper actually listened to her in a way that Roy didn’t.

“Pamelaaaaa! Pamela Anderson, everybody. Pamela Anderson is in the office!” Michael shouted as he walked out of his office for the millionth time that day. “Tell me Pam… When we go to the beach in a few weeks, will you run in slow motion?”

Pam glanced emotionless to one of the cameras and shook her head. Meanwhile, Michael had started slowly moving his arms and legs up and down.

“Oh, I must save the drowning people!”

“Michael?” Pam spoke up, trying anything to get him to stop. He halted his charade and looked to the receptionist.

“Would you like to come to my art show tomorrow night?” She handed him a flyer for the community center that was hosting the event. “Actually, I’d like to invite all of you to come, if you want,” she added, raising her voice to the whole office. A few people looked toward her and nodded, but none showed a great interest. She felt a little defeated, but it was almost quitting time, so her co-workers were probably just worn out from a long day. “I’ll just leave the flyers on the desk here, so you can get one on your way out.”

“Well, this looks really great, Pam,” Michael stated. “Will there be any nude artists? That’s a thing, right?”

“No, Michael,” Pam replied.

“Oh. Well, I’m sure it will still be great.” There was disappointment in his voice, but he read over the flyer as he went back into his office.

. . .

About thirty minutes later, Roy walked in to meet back up with Pam.

“Hey babe! You ready to go?”

“Umm...yeah. Let me just send this email and I’ll come down,” Pam said.

“Ok, just don’t take too long because I have big plans tonight,” Roy asserted.

“Really? Like what?” That caught her interest.

“Yeah, Kenny has an extra ticket to a hockey game. It starts in an hour, so…” He trailed off as he headed for the door.

Pam closed her eyes, trying to keep her anger from bubbling up. She finally gained enough stability to send her email and grab her coat. Jim looked up from his desk, noticing the pain in her face.

“Hey Beesly…” he offered. Pam met his glance. “Can I have one of those flyers?”

She perked up a little as she handed him the slip of paper. “Have a good night,” she said.

“You too. Happy Valentine’s Day,” Jim added with his signature side smile. It took everything she had not to burst into tears right then. She simply nodded and turned away before her face contorted. With a thousand what ifs racing through her head, Pam slowly moved out of the office door and out to Roy’s car.

. . .

The next day, Pam somehow got through the mundane routine of answering phone calls and emails, pretending to laugh at Michael’s jokes, and trying to deal with her overwhelming heartache. Luckily, a bat did get set loose in the office, sending Dwight into a frenzy and causing Jim to pull off a hilarious prank. That at least cheered her up a little. After work, she went to the community center to set up her artwork for the show.

She had a few expectations but she was trying not to let them get too high. Maybe a few people would be interested in her work. That alone would inspire her to keep going. However, when the event actually started, Pam was disappointed. Aside from Roy’s “your art is the prettiest of all the art,” she hadn’t gotten any compliments. Plus no one from the office had shown up, and Roy only stayed for like ten minutes. Well, actually Oscar and his boyfriend showed up for a little bit. But they just called her work “motel art” and left. But there were still a few minutes left in the event, and Pam was hoping for just a sliver of positivity to come to her night.

As the night wound to a close, Pam sadly and slowly began to untape her paintings from the wall. The whole night had been a disaster. She didn’t feel talented or appreciated at all, even with Roy’s attempt at the husband of the year award. She knew that he only complimented her to win him some points, and that he left in such a rush to spend time with a beer on their couch. Her love for him felt like it was fading each and every day since their first wedding date rain check. Still, she held out because she gave him her word, and like Oscar mentioned, courage was not one of her strong points. And the only other man she could possibly see herself with was happily in a relationship with an attractive Italian woman who wasn’t afraid to speak her mind.

As she began stripping her paintings off the wall, she heard a pair of footsteps walk up behind her.

“Sorry I’m late, Beesly.” Pam turned around to find Jim standing there with his hands in his jean pockets and smiling at her. Her heart did a complete flip as it filled up with gratitude. “Whoa! Why are you taking this beautiful art off of the wall?” Jim asked, jokingly offended. He picked up her flower painting she had placed on the stool next to her and gazed at it admiringly. “Wow. Look at this shading and the dimension and the...texture.” He laughed. “Sorry, I’m not actually sure what any of this means.”

Pam smiled so easily at him, and commented, “No, I’m not sure I do either. I just paint what I think is beautiful.” She took a second look at her piece and suddenly found a new perspective on it. Maybe she wasn’t that bad of an artist after all.

“No, really, Beesly. This is great! But I’m sure you’ve heard that all night, right?” He looked at her with such energetic eyes. She almost wanted to lie to him, but she couldn’t.

“Actually, not so much…” She looked towards her other pieces still up on the wall. “I did get a promising ‘motel art’ comment. I mean, there’s some great art at certain motels, right?” Her eyes started tearing up before she finished her sentence.

“Whoa… Pam… I am so sorry. Whoever said that is an idiot.” He brushed his hand under her defeated chin, pulling her gaze up to his. “You are an amazing artist. A real Claude Money.”

Pam giggled. “It’s Monet. But thank you. Actually, you coming tonight did make me feel a lot better.”

“What, didn’t your husband show up and rain down praise?” Her eyes fell to the floor again. He wasn’t dumb. He saw the way Roy treated her, and he saw the sadness in her eyes every day. “I hope this isn’t crossing any lines, but truly, you deserve so much better, Beesly.” Then Jim’s eyes looked to the ground as well.

Then, as if some unseen force was pulling their eyes together, they both looked up and locked eyes. It was suddenly very apparent that there was so much unsaid between them, and so much that needed to be said. Jim’s eyes glanced down to Pam’s soft pink lips, causing her heart to palpitate. She felt an urge inside of her to lunge forward at him, and she really had to fight it. But then, she noticed the distance between them gradually get smaller and smaller, until their lips were locked in a moment of a new shared passion, without thought of anyone or anything else on the whole planet. Jim wrapped his arms around her waist and Pam draped hers around his neck, running her fingers through his messy hair. Finally, they broke free and looked at each other, smiling wider than either of them had in a very long time.

Keela Dee is the author of 0 other stories.
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This story is part of the series, Valentine's Day 2017. The previous story in the series is Blue Valentine. The next story in the series is Million Miles Away .

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