Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Fragrance (10/24/05)
TITLE: The Rivers' Edge
By Debbie OConnor
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“Why are you late, O’Brien?”
“Hey, Alex,” he said with his most disarming smile. “How are you?”
He laughed, “Okay, okay…I’m late, but you’re going to forgive me.”
“I present to The Majestic Thursday.”
Alex melted. “You’re forgiven. But, please get here earlier. You’re setting a bad example.”
“Happy to be of service.”
Alex waved him off and started mulling over The Majestic. Landing the casino would double the agency’s income.
John meandered into the kitchen to get some coffee.
Tracy Woods, the beautiful import from Landon Advertising, was fixing her second cup of the morning.
“Just making it in, John?”
Goody Two Shoes would notice. “Ah, keeping tabs on me, Tracy?”
Sam Robards bounded in with his tie askew. He dunked a tissue into the wastebasket.
“Nice shot,” John said.
“You dog! You have Rivers stoked. She has two artists and a writer on The Majestic already. I’m gonna have to work late because of you.”
“I’ll get my violin.”
Sam nudged John as Tracy left the room. “Man, she’s hot.”
“I know, but she bugs me.”
“How? I’d love to have her bug me.”
“She’s thinks she’s the morality police. Like this morning…she knew I was late.”
“John, everyone knew you were late.”
“Yeah, oh…I don’t know. She wears this nauseating perfume…”
“You think it’s nauseating? I think she smells nice—sort of fresh.”
“I’ve smelled that smell before; I can’t put my finger on it.”
“Whatever… I say she’s hot.”
“Sam, you have work to do.” Alex intruded as she entered the kitchen.
“I’m on it—just needed a cup of joe.”
“Get it and get to work.” With little pause she continued, “John, have you accomplished anything today?”
“I poured coffee.”
“Get to work, John.”
John serviced accounts, called prospects and had lunch with a college buddy. They drank beer and talked sports, until John was jarred back to reality. Tracy entered to pick up a late lunch.
“Hey, Trace,” he slurred, approaching her. “What’s your hurry?”
“I don’t want to waste my lunch break.”
“Oh, and talking to me wastes your time?”
“That isn’t what I meant…” her voice trailed off. “How can you drink in the middle of the day and get anything done?”
“That was direct.” Why can’t you just lighten up?
“Sorry. It’s just that I’d be useless for the rest of the day if I drank.”
“I guess I hold my liquor better than you.”
“Oh.” Tracy picked up her lunch. “See you later.”
John returned to the office and attacked his rarely tended paperwork vigorously. He hoped Tracy would keep her mouth shut. It wouldn’t do to push too many of Alex’s buttons in one day.
Fatigue washed over him. Lunch, alcohol and paperwork combined to lull him into a stupor. What is that smell?
Tracy. She breezed by his cubicle carrying gourmet coffee and…What is that?
John gaped in horror as he recognized the book. That’s where I’ve smelled it before!
Mesmerized, he blatantly eavesdropped as Sam approached her. “Tracy, I’ve got some artwork that needs to be sent to the Times.” He hesitated, “Uh, this is kind of personal, but you smell terrific. What perfume do you wear?”
Tracy laughed. “I never wear perfume, Sam. I’m horribly allergic to it. Maybe it’s my shampoo.”
“Maybe…” Sam faltered. “Tracy, would you have coffee with me tomorrow?”
“Great!” Sam’s face flushed.
John followed Sam to his cubicle.
“Hey,” he whispered, as Sam sat down. “Want some coffee?”
“Man, I’d kill for it. Your baby’s giving me a major headache.”
John got the coffee and sat down. “You like her, don’t you?”
“Tracy?” Sam looked sheepish. “Why not? Long, blond hair, great legs, smart...”
“Yeah, well…head’s up. She’s a Christian.”
“How do you know?”
“I saw her carrying a Bible after lunch…and that smell! I haven’t smelled it since I was forced to live at church. It was awful…stuffy, boring…”
“So, Tracy smells like a Christian?”
“I know, it’s crazy, but her smell makes me sick. When I saw the Bible I remembered...”
“John, you’re losing it—look, I have work to do. Thanks for the coffee.”
For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. Cor 2:15-16 (NIV)
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