Lucas hunched over his desk, and as soon as he did, he arched back, straightening out his spine.

He was now holding his upper body in a completely straight pose, so straight in fact, that it was asking of him a serious effort, just to keep steady. As he struggled with his peculiar pose, he thought about how his back would never be as straight as one's back should be, and how his own was doomed to stay in its unnatural state, having been the truth long before he had ever noticed his so called “deformity”.

The truth was that the curvature of his spine was as curvy as anyone's, yet Lucas was convinced it was more than anyone's and he might as well be taunted for it and called a "hunchback". His pain sure as hell made him feel like one – his assumption had always been that hunchback's hunches caused them considerable pain – so the pain he was feeling could have not been brought by nothing, except a too-curvy spine, he thought. As he thought about the hunchbacks and his new self-imposed moniker, he patiently waited for the dull pain in his lower lumbar region to fade away.

According to the website he had visited, his lower backside in medical lingo was to be termed the "lower lumbar region". The website was packed with information and in its F.A.Q., it stated in one of the answers that sitting for long periods of time was a typical cause for back pain. Lucas had thought that standing up and walking around every once in a while might have been a good idea, but had he given himself such opportunities at work, he would have never been able to catch up with the daily workload.

The whole dreadful morning, the mystery pain kept coming back in flashes.

By mid-afternoon he had made a habit out of moving his torso to and fro every time the

pain resurged. The repeating action helped sooth his pain for a few seconds – granting him more pain-free time than straightening his backside did in the morning.

After having worked on his report for nearly one pain-free hour, the pain rushed back and Lucas twisted his torso once more. The report was due soon, so the pain had been easy to ignore by then – an important task was expected at the end of the day. But the pain had had come back full force, and this time it was hard not to notice. Lucas swerved in his place, moving his torso violently to his left and right, all the while typing out meaningless business jargon on the screen. His chair gave out shrill squeaks, as if it telling the man sitting atop to stop harassing it with his jerky movements. The small black rolling chair he was sitting on stood uneven; one of its legs was missing its rolling ball. There was a compressed ball of paper towels under the handicapped leg, and the weak paper-based support was now stretched and worn out from the week's wear and tear.

Lucas was sure the paper-ball support was a sign of disrespect from the company. It was most certainly reasonable to assume that the paper-ball support was an accumulation of the utter contempt they had for him, yet he had no means of proof for it other than the paper ball. But the ball was enough. It justified his reasoning, and it made perfect sense. What sort of appreciation is the office management showing a talented employee if they offer a broken chair, and a miserable office space as a reward for hard work? He had wanted to point out this logic to his boss ever since he was given the job.

Lucas sighed and stood up.

From afar, had it been possible to have watched him stand up, it would have been easy to liken him to a prairie dog, peering out of his hole, slowly moving its head to investigate its surroundings.

The sounds that his cubicle walls had isolated so well, were now invading his ears. It was the liveliness of it, the scattering of people, the footsteps and busybodies moving around that overwhelmed him with a feeling of being crowded in. There was a mixture of keyboard clicks, printers whirring, a few gravelly toned "uh-huh's" and the most resounding presence was that of a mousy sort of whispering of a few of the women who were in the cubicles to his right.

Then a piercing sound drowned out all others, which prompted him to cock his head.

Then he saw her. She was walking towards him, yet paying no mind to his presence. Only he could see her, not the other way around. From her view, one could only see a head, popping out of a square – but he saw her completely. As she walked by each cubicle, she peered her head in every opening and let out a shrill "hellooo" to which a mutter or a small "hi" was heard in response.

The rows of cubicles lay all around him as his lay smack in the middle of the large room, serving as the midpoint for a large, elaborate maze. The room was divided into 4 areas; the accounting, human resources, marketing and legal departments.

There were four wide, gravelly columns in the middle of the room. Together, they formed the corners of a square, with the space between them measuring roughly a meter

and a half. Besides those columns, on the outside of Lucas’s cubicle, were small water coolers, where each respective department came to take a drink every five minutes. The unspoken rule in the office was that, no one, under no circumstances, would take a drink from a water cooler that did not belong to their department – Lucas had made a habit of writing down who failed to follow the rule.

Lucas' cubicle was smaller than the rest, and this was because he had been placed in between the four columns that lay in the middle of the room. The four columns were a strong presence in the small cubicle. They cut to the inner part, and gave Lucas limited legroom. The computer, which lay atop a rickety wood desk, was yellow around the edges, something that caused Lucas a feeling of slight disgust.

"Are the reports ready, Lucas," said a voice.

Lucas flinched then squinted and looked up. No one was up there. Little spots formed in his eyes as he stared at the white fluorescent light from above.

As he turned his chair around, the third leg lost its grip with the ball of paper, and in a sudden loss of balance, it swerved to its side, projecting Lucas to the floor.

He was quickly lifted up, and the woman’s strong grip hurt Lucas, but Lucas made a point of not showing it. He shook his palms and straightened out his chin.

"Are you all right?" the woman said.

It was her.

Lucas quickly nodded, and was quick to give the woman a fast look. As he did, he chuckled a bit to himself. The woman took this as a sign that everything was all right.

Lucas had always thought that the woman’s face was pressed up against itself. Her nose was like a pug's and her eyes were big, maybe a bit too together, definitely too much – and he knew he was right, because the whole office thought so. The woman was short, and had very thing legs. Her shoulders were broad, and her upper body boasted huge breasts – and a small potbelly. She had a whole crop of curly hair on her head, yet she was balding, it was a strange sight for Lucas. If one looked closely, her head resembled a microphone top. Her whole physical appearance amused Lucas, which had always been a cause for embarrassment ever since he started the temp job. Because he had never been able to hide his laughter, he was always quick to look away when the woman – his boss - spoke to him.

"Yes, I'm fine" Lucas answered. As he did so, he laughed under his breath.

The woman straightened her skirt.

"Lucas, I need the report in a few minutes. The meeting is in half an hour and I want to look over them soon," the man said.

Lucas nodded.

The woman turned and left, then turned back.

"Lucas, I am aware this is your last day, and I wanted to wish you good luck now, I won't be able to later – I'm heading to the airport after the meeting."

The woman stretched out her hand. Lucas grabbed it, but gave her a loose grip. The woman scoffed, and quickly let go of Lucas' hand.

With a quick polite smirk, she left Lucas's small space.

As Lucas straightened out his fallen chair and sat down, he thought of the long days that were soon to be over. The promise of a new work setting had always been a source of excitement for him, yet that Friday morning, the thought of changing jobs was souring Lucas's mood.

It was a personality quirk, his mother used to tell her friends. "Lucas couldn't hold a job if his life depended on it," she would say.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful