“Girl, have you seen our new boss?” My friend Maggie half-whispered, half-shouted leaning over my desk holding her coffee. It was nearly eleven-thirty and I was nowhere near done with my morning schedule. I didn’t have time for her office gossip.
“Maggie, I swear to God one day I will chain you to your seat just so I can have a little peace,” I replied, taking off my glasses to rub my aching eyes. As much as I loved my job, I was sure I’d go half-blind if I kept up with the long hours at the computer.
“Eh, babe, relax. You are the single one here. I’m just looking out for you. This one is totally your type.” She continued, ignoring the fact that I was absently nodding my head without really listening. “I think we’ll be having a meeting in a few so he can introduce himself.”
I groaned. Clearly, today was going to be a late night for me. That meeting would probably be long, boring and unnecessary. He wouldn’t even remember our names the next day so what was the point of going around saying our names like it was day one of kindergarten?
“Maggie, I am running late on my deadlines. Literally, every minute counts for me, I don’t want to keep carrying work home.”
“Stop stressing, Aki you behave like we’re in a prison camp. Right now you all you should be worrying about is fixing your lipstick. First impressions count. Why are you wearing that high collar, you look like a nun.” Maggie was kind of the office fashion consultant, self-appointed. She took it upon herself to criticize my conservative work clothes every morning. If she had her way, I’d be in fishnet stockings, short skirts and heels. Totally unprofessional. My chino pants, sensible flats and tucked-in collared shirts were good enough for me.
“Maggie if you do not move away from my desk this minute I will call Andrew.” Maggie and Andrew were sworn enemies, no one even knew why they disliked each other so much. “Fine, I’ll go. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you when your jaw is on the floor because of his sexiness.”
She winked and left and I sighed in relief. Our previous boss was a fifty-year-old balding man. Pharmaceutical company bosses are usually the furthest thing from sexy. I was sure Maggie was exaggerating.
I went back to my spreadsheets and was engrossed until forty-five minutes later when I realized everyone was moving to the boardroom. I hadn’t even seen the email pop-up that had been sent scheduling the meeting. Yawning and stretching out my tired joints, I walked in last preparing to be eternally bored.
“There are empty seats at the front for those who’ve just come in,” a husky voice said. Its owner had his back to me. He was in a charcoal grey suit and the back of his head displayed a close shave with the profile of his face outlining beautiful sideburns. Not wanting to seem rude or insubordinate, I made my way to the front managing to catch Maggie’s eye prompting her to wink at me conspiratorially. The man at the front, who I assumed to be the new boss, was writing on the dry erase board. I settled into my seat just inches away from him.
I pulled my phone out of my pocket to put it on silent and when I looked up, my jaw might have grazed the floor, but not for the reason you’d think. He was smiling indulgently at everyone in the room. His skin a beautiful tone two shades away from black, perfect teeth, perfect lips with the lower slightly fuller than the upper. I stared shamelessly because my mind had gone into some sort of freeze. This was a face I could never forget. My campus boyfriend was standing right there, albeit in a more muscular body and a suit.
“Hello everyone, thank you for sparing your time to be here. I promise won’t take up much of your time, ” he began.
My mind was still racing. How is it that you can do everything in your power to live a quiet life, be nice to people and mind your own business but still have the universe send you an ex to be your boss? Not just any ex, but the one who completely broke your heart and left you picking up the pieces for a whole year afterwards? Why do bad things happen to good people?
I won’t lie, I did not hear a single thing he said. I sat there frozen in my seat looking at his feet as he moved around from one side to the other. His voice was like a hum in the background as all the thoughts I had stifled bubbled up to the surface. We’d been together for four years; from first-year second semester until fourth year. Everyone we knew had already started making jokes about the names of our future babies. He was my soulmate. I thought he was my soulmate.
Then graduation came and went, he came to my party and I introduced him to my parents. They absolutely loved him. The next week at his party as his mother gave her speech, she called him to the front. I was seated among the guests of honour beaming at everybody just waiting to be introduced to his parents. It was all falling into place, a degree, and a fiancé. Happily ever after was not too far off. In the midst of my blissful reverie, I saw a pregnant lady walk up to join Masha and his mother. She was just finishing her speech saying, “My son has brought me two degrees, an academic degree and a life degree,” the crowd started to clap as her words sunk in.
Masha did not even have the courtesy to explain when I asked. He shrugged his shoulders as if it was not his fault. As if the lady had just gotten pregnant out of the blue. As if he had not just wasted four years of my life. When I walked out of that hotel that day, I didn’t look back. It was the last time we had a conversation if you can even call it that.
Now he was here a couple of years later, wrapping up his meeting. I’d have to see him every day. Report to him. Ask him to approve my leave days. Respect him. I shook my head as if that would make that tormenting thought fall out.
“So just remember that with all the rebranding planned, we are a team. We’ll all be working very closely. That’s it guys, good day!”
I sprang up as though the seat was on fire and headed straight to Maggie. Whispering furiously while pulling her out the door, I reminded her, ”You remember that guy I told you about who totally broke my heart?”
“Dummy, what do you mean which one, there’s only ever been one!”
“Oh, campus Masha? What about him?” “I nodded my head in the direction of our new boss, who was still behind us. Her eyes widened as it dawned on her.
“New boss Harry Macharia is Campus Masha? Oh shit!”