Karl stepped into J-Lynn’s cubicle. “Then I am — happy. For you.” His arms hung loosely at the sides of body, as his eyes seemed fixed on the carpet between them. “It always seems like more people leave this company than arrive, but that’s because we’re usually too busy with our work to notice when a new person starts. But when someone leaves — ” he inhaled loudly, sighed — “if it’s a person you’ve enjoyed working with, somebody you looked forward to seeing, who actually had a sense of humor — when they leave, it’s like they’re taking a part of what you liked about your job with them. But they’re moving on to something better, so of course you’re happy for them.” He looked up, and for the first time that she could remember, smiled fully, showing his teeth. “So, good luck.”
Her right hand resting on top of the Jim Beam box, J-Lynn stared back at the soft-spoken man whom she had only occasionally worked with the past year and a half. She had sensed for some time that he’d been attracted to her, just as every middle-aged man in her young career seemed to have been. Karl, though, had always been professional, courteous, kept his urges under control. And now he was here, revealing his feelings as she had one foot out the door.
How to respond? “Thank you” — she had to say that, of course, but couldn’t leave him with just that. “I’m — sure you’ll find someone else to appreciate your jokes.”
Karl frowned. “Or perhaps I’ll learn to tell better jokes.”