He is sitting in his apartment when he gets it.
He’s only been in Stamford for five and a half days but it’s felt like that times sixteen. He has a bed, a bathroom, a window he never looks out of, two lamps with navy blue shades, a dresser with his clothing and all the ties she saw him wear, a mid-sized mirror, a desk with a chair that has one leg shorter than the others, a kitchen with three cabinets and a refrigerator, a table with one chair (because who needs another chair when you’re living alone), four copies of Sports Illustrated from prior months, a newspaper, and an empty frame.
The frame wasn’t always empty. He took her picture out while he was packing up his apartment back in Scranton. In order to move on, he decided, he should not allow himself to look at the reason why he left.
It is about half-past seven when he gets it.
He is straightening his tie in the mirror next to his desk when the new-mail chime on his laptop echoes through his musky apartment. He wonders who would send him an email at this hour. He normally leaves around 7:35 to get to work by 8:00, so whoever sent him the email was lucky that he saw it before he left.
He brushes his hair off of his eyebrows and pulls on his jacket before sitting at his desk.
He inhales before opening his inbox and gets a strong whiff of his cologne, which only reminds him of her; one afternoon she told him he smelled good. “What?” he had asked, as if the question was one of absurdity. “You smell good,” she repeated, smiling bashfully. She hadn’t known whether she crossed the line or not, whether or not she revealed too much of herself.
It’s from Phyllis. Phyllis Lapin. Phyllis Lapin from Scranton.
He wonders why she would email him so early in the morning. Maybe it’s because she comes in early with Bob Vance of Vance Refrigeration (he always wondered why Bob was so set on repeating that title). He wonders why she would email him in the first place.
He double clicks No Subject and words spill across his screen. Immediately his eyes find her name.
To: Jim [firstname.lastname@example.org]
From: Phyllis [email@example.com]
Date: May 17, 2006 07:29:34
How are you doing up there in Connecticut? Hopefully the transfer went well! We all miss you here. Michael has been quiet the past few days, but no one’s been complaining about that! Dwight is up to his usual antics, as always, but I think he misses you.
I know this may not be important to you anymore, but since you were such good friends with her, I thought I should just let you know…Pam called off the wedding. She didn’t explain much to me, but I think you and I know the reason.
Let me know how you are doing! We miss you!
He has to read the email four times to understand the words. It is almost unbelievable; days after he leaves, she calls off the wedding. He wonders what she said to Roy, what her excuse was. He wonders when she did it, yesterday, the day before, right after he left. He wonders if it was hard for her, if she struggled to make the decision.
He wonders why she hasn’t told him yet.
He almost doesn’t go to work. He can’t bring himself to go when he knows he will be the complete opposite of productive. Andy could call him Big Tuna every other minute and sing soprano show tunes and it would not so much as pinch a nerve.
He decides to email her back, despite his lack of words.
To: Phyllis [firstname.lastname@example.org]
From: Jim [email@example.com]
Date: May 17, 2006 07:38:15
It’s so good to hear from you! I’m glad to hear that Scranton is doing well!
The transfer went smoothly and I’m meeting some new co-workers. None of them are as interesting as Dwight, which I haven’t decided is a good thing or a bad thing. My boss is the opposite of Michael – if you told Michael that he’d probably take it as a compliment.
Thank you for letting me know about Pam. Though it may not seem like it, she is still important to me.
I’ll talk to you soon – maybe I’ll stop by Scranton someday.
He clicks send and stares at his screen, his mind running circles around the idea that she hasn’t told him. He checks his phone to make sure there are no text messages or voicemails.
A wave of disappointment and uncertainty floods over him as he stands to go to work. He closes his laptop and lifts his messenger bag over his shoulder. The yogurt-lid-medal is tucked in its front pocket and he considers taking it out, maybe putting it by the empty frame.
Should he be happy right now? Should he be giddy and all smiles? Should he be dancing around, celebrating with some bubbly?
He pushed himself out of Scranton and out of the fantasy that he could call her his and moved himself somewhere new and unwelcoming, just to be smacked in the face with the notion that she called off her wedding right after he left. Does she expect him to come running back to her, because he knows he would. But he doesn’t know if that is what she wants. Because that’s what their relationship has been about. What she wants.
She wanted to get married so he left.
Now she is not getting married and he is still gone.
He runs his fingers through his hair and breathes in, breathes out.
Maybe he’ll call her.
Maybe he’ll text her.
Maybe he’ll write her an email when he gets to work.
But maybe he won’t.
He’ll play it by ear. He’ll wait to hear something through the grapevine. He’ll wait a few days and then contact her.
He does know one thing, for sure: when he gets home tonight, he’ll put her picture back into the empty frame.
Maybe more than one chapter? I haven't decided yet.
Author's Chapter Notes:
I was always intrigued with how Jim found out...
Chapter End Notes:
I came up with some ideas on how to continue this, but I'm not sure if I should... I hope you enjoyed it, though!
Dwangie is the author of 25 other stories.