A Room Transformed – TLWM 2E

Gary’s chair squealed as he suddenly rose from behind his desk. “Hold on — be right back.” He walked purposefully to his office door, opening it so swiftly he hit his shoulder (Dammit!) before stepping back, quickly exiting the office, then shutting the door behind him.Jane Summers put the backpack on the floor again, sat in the chair and leaned forward, rubbing her hands over her scalp. She could feel her brown hair lying in uneven clumps over her head. Fingertips began rubbing her temples aggressively — “Dammit. Dammit.”

Arjie walked to her chair, stood over her. In the five years he had known her, he had never seen her like this. He knew from experience what Jane was like when she was too frustrated to speak, too headstrong to be reasonable, too giddy to be cautioned, too focused to be distracted. But now, kneading her temples and muttering under her labored breathing, staring down at the floor as if she wanted to tunnel and hide under its surface — she seemed too lost within herself for anyone to find.

Arjie did something he had never done before. He put a hand on Jane’s shoulder, and squeezed. “It’s OK. We’ll figure this –”

The door suddenly opened, Gary’s head popping in. “OK, I cleared the room. Let’s go in.”

Jane looked up, confusion on her face. Gary could see her eyes were red. As Jane rose, joined Arjie in walking out the office door, Gary explained that he’d asked Rahul and Megs (Jane seemed to relax in recognition of the names) to take a break, so that they could talk to Jane alone in the room.

Jane recognized where they were going — a few feet to the right, down the corridor on the left, then the second door on the right. The drafting room, Jane’s office. But as they approached the door which was so familiar to her, she saw a sign she didn’t recognize. Blue with white letters: CAD Room.

Jane Summers then walked into a room that was simultaneously familiar yet alien, as if someone had played an elaborate redecorating hoax. The dimensions, colors, lighting, even the calendars and photographs on the wall — the four desks, even arranged at the same uneven angles she remembered. All of that was the same. But the equipment . . .

On each desk were two of what Jane thought were televisions, smaller than the one in her apartment. (Alana and Gary, she now recalled, had similar televisions on their desks.) Each desk also had another object, short yet wide and long, like a giant yet thin pizza box — Jane guessed it was made of metal and mostly plastic. On top of those objects was a small device, no more than an inch high, a couple inches wide, several inches long — each device had several buttons, in different colors. And there was another object, in front of the televisions — she had also seen this in Gary’s office. A couple feet wide, maybe a foot long, with dozens of buttons. She examined the closest multi-button device, and finally remembered what it looked like. A typewriter.

Jane looked up at Gary, saw his face searching hers, hoping to see some signs of recognition from her, yet slowly sinking into disappointment as her bewilderment became evident. She scanned the room quickly, looking for something, anything that looked familiar. She focused on the television closest to her — the image was static, multi-colored lines — turned her attention to the second television on that desk, then snapped her eyes open and thrust her right arm forward, index finger pointed directly at the image she saw on that screen.

“That’s the Route 20 drainage plan!”

“Yes.” Arjie’s voice behind Jane conveyed his relief on seeing Jane locate something, anything, that the two of them mutually recognized. “I found where you stored the files on the server just before you got here.”

Jane Summers half-turned back to Arjie, the look on her profiled face still wild with confusion. “Files — server.” She blinked, snapped her head in the other direction. “My desk –”

Off to the right and slightly behind the room’s door was a familiar narrow alcove. There was a desk, her desk — the picture of Jane and her parents from college graduation, her Van Gogh desk calendar, the Chicago Cubs schedule on the wall. But also, on top of the desk, those two televisions, the pizza-box sized object with its odd multi-buttoned small device, and that typewriter thing. And off to the left, a white table, high and wide, mounted at an angle sloping towards the wall.

“My board!” Jane Summers rushed to the table like it was a lost puppy, spread her arms and grasped its two ends, as if its feel confirmed its reality. Her eyes scanned its surface, a smile coming to her face as she recognized familiar marks on it — a coffee ring that had never come clean, the ink stain on the lower right, the words GET TO WORK she had scratched near the top —

“Where’s the drawing?” Jane turned quickly back, still holding the board. A sinking feeling came over her as she saw from Gary and Arjie’s faces that she wasn’t going to like hearing the response to her line of questioning. “When I left on Friday, I had the Route 20 drainage profile on my board. Where is it?” She looked between Arjie and Gary, saw only blank stares coming back. She let go of the board, turned fully to them — “WHERE ARE MY FUCKING DRAWINGS?


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