"And oh my God, after we go to the holiday market, we can go foraging for Christmas decorations."
As Pam pushed open the break room door, hoping to enjoy her lunch quietly and more importantly, alone, she walked straight into an apparent double lunch date. Oh no, she sighed to herself, her gaze falling on Jim and Karen sitting opposite Kelly and Ryan. She did her best not to let her face falter, giving the table of four a tight lipped smile as she sat down alone at the table furthest way from them. She opened her Tupperware and began to pick at her salad, half flicking through a magazine she found on the table, half listening to what they were talking about. Ok, mainly listening to what they were talking about. But she was at least trying to hide it.
"And then snuggle up with some hot cocoa and watch a Christmas movie at your place," Kelly continued, one arm and hand snaked around Ryan's, while the other clutched the holiday edition of Pennsylvania Magazine. "You guys have to come with us this weekend," she pleaded to Jim and Karen. "Please, please, please, please. It's going to be so amazing. It's like we'll be in our own Hallmark movie. Oh my god, I hope it's snowing. But like, just snowflakes that land in my hair, not like we need a snow plough or anything. But it would be pretty fun to be snowed in, in like a log cabin with huge windows overlooking the mountains and a 16 foot Christmas tree. Oh my god, Ryan, it's going to be amazing."
"Mhmm," Ryan murmured, trying to pull his arm out of Kelly's claw-like grip.
"Shall we meet you guys there?" Kelly asked expectantly. "Or shall we pick you up on the way?"
"Uh," Jim began.
"Um," Karen said at the same time, glancing at Jim.
"I'm not sure," Jim tried again, but Kelly cut him off.
"No, no, no, no, you HAVE to be there. It's going to make all my Christmas wishes come true. Please, please, please?" she begged, her hands together clasped in front of her.
Jim and Karen looked at each other, both pulling slight grimacing faces. "Sure," Jim finally sighed, "we'll be there."
"Oh my god Jim!" Kelly shrieked, pushing her chair back so that she could run towards Jim. She threw her arms around him from behind and rocked him from side to side. "I'm so excited." She then grabbed Karen's hand and pulled her up out of her seat. "Come on, let's go pick outfits!" she squealed. Karen glared at Jim as she was pulled out of the breakroom, but Jim could only laugh.
"Alright, I'm done," Ryan said simply, looking down at the table, as he stood and crumpled his brown paper bag and the remnants of his lunch into a ball. He walked out of the break room without looking back at Jim or even acknowledging Pam's presence.
Both Jim and Pam's gazes followed Ryan out, and as soon as the door closed behind him, they awkwardly glanced at each other. "I should probably," Jim said, gesturing to the door with his thumb.
"Oh yeah, no, totally," Pam rushed out, aware that her cheeks were tingeing pink. She buried her head down in her magazine, turning to the next page as Jim gathered up his lunch and passed by her to get to the trash can. Despite Jim's eventual acceptance of her Christmas gift, and the small interaction they'd had looking for the bus tickets, things were most definitely not ok between the two of them, and she still wasn't quite sure how to speak to him like before. It was as if she expected him to turn her down or disagree with everything she said; coffee, grape soda, pranks.
"You doing the Christmas bucket list too?" Jim laughed as he caught sight of the page that Pam was looking at in the magazine, recognising that it was the same one that Kelly had been gushing over just minutes before.
"Huh?" Pam asked, looking up at him. He pointed to the page that Pam was pretending to read. "Oh, yeah," she blushed, staring down at the page. "Maybe. I don't know, we'll see," she tried to laugh.
"Well, I gotta get back to the grind. See you out there, Beesly," he grinned, before making his way out of the break room and leaving Pam on her own.
Beesly, Pam thought, feeling like the wind had been knocked out of her. Jim hadn't called her that since he'd come back to Scranton. Beesly, she sighed with an exhale through her nose as she closed her eyes. It had been so long. She felt like the word was wrapping itself around her in a tight embrace. Her heart started beating quicker at the thought of Jim's arms holding her close to him, of him looking down at her as she peered up at him, of lips slowly moving closer together, full of anticipation.
The break room door opening jolted Pam out of her daydream. Angela glared at Pam as she made her way over to the vending machines in silence. Pam ducked her head down and stared at the page below her, feigning interest in the rich red, green, and gold coloured illustrations. With Angela taking her sweet time choosing a candy bar, Pam studied the bucket list, slowly slipping into a world where she was cuddled up to Jim on the couch while wearing Christmas pyjamas, sipping hot cocoa, and watching an old Christmas movie, the Christmas tree illuminating her living room with a soft glow - simultaneously crossing off multiple items from the bucket list.
Again, Angela broke Pam from her thoughts, this time with the closing of the break room door. Pam looked down again at the page and sighed. It would never happen. Jim would be completing the bucket list with Karen. Karen, ugh, she thought. No, stop it, Karen is nice. She's pretty and smart. And Jim's girlfriend. Ugh. Pam dropped her head into her hands in frustration. It had been kind of fun yesterday, planning the party with Karen. But Karen was still with Jim. Her Jim. It wasn't fair. It wasn't fair that they would be doing the Christmas bucket list together. It wasn't fair that Pam would be alone. It wasn't fair that she couldn't have fun doing all these holiday activities.
But why not?
Why did she have to rely on anyone? Why couldn't she do all these things alone? It wasn't called a couple's bucket list, it was a Christmas bucket list. Just because Pam wasn't with Jim didn't mean she couldn't try to make the most of the festive period. She stared down at the page, taking in all the things she could do to take her mind off of Jim. No scratch that, this wasn't about Jim, it was about her. She shook her head. She took in all the things she could do to have the best Christmas ever. A Christmas without having to worry about putting someone else first. A Christmas without having to hide the things she really wanted to do. A Christmas not having to visit people she didn't particularly like or do things that she didn't want to do. Maybe it would be the best Christmas ever.
Pam carefully pressed the spine of the magazine open and slowly tore out the bucket list page. She neatly folded it in half, then half again and once more, before slipping it into the pocket of her cardigan. After closing the magazine and throwing the remnants of her lunch away, Pam calmly walked back to her desk, intent on making her very own Christmas bucket list plan.
By the end of the day, Pam was feeling good. Great, even. She'd never been able to put herself first at Christmas before; it was always whatever Roy wanted, and she had put a smile on her face while doing it. Most of the time however, Roy just didn't want to do anything festive in the slightest, aside from the warehouse's Christmas party. For years, Pam hadn't been able to stroll through Winter Markets, spend a day watching Christmas movies, play cheesy festive songs as she cooked or decorate the house. Roy had always complained that he hated Christmas trees and the way that they dropped pine needles everywhere, and that it was a waste of money to buy ‘piece of crap' decorations as he liked to call them.
So it was just natural at this point for Pam to not think about decorating, even though she now had her own apartment. It just hadn't really occurred to her that she should, or could, decorate however she wanted. Plus, there was no way a Christmas tree would fit in her Yaris. But Pam wasn't going to let that stop her, not now. She'd go to the Christmas tree farm near her apartment after work, stopping on the way at the SteamTown Mall to get herself some Christmas pyjamas.
After watching the clock tick all the way to 5pm, Pam grabbed her bag and purse slightly haphazardly, almost knocking the coat stand over. She let out a small yelp, which no one even acknowledged, other than Jim, who turned around before rushing to help her.
"Woah, Beesly, you ok there?" Jim asked, letting out a small laugh with a concerned look on his face as he helped her to put the coat stand back in its place.
Beesly. There it was again, leaving Pam slightly speechless. "Uh, yeah," she eventually mumbled. "Thanks," she said, tucking a stray hair behind her ear. "Have a good evening," she smiled.
"You too," he replied with a lopsided grin.