Route 7 Review - Page 130

planned, was that he was actually going to do it. Yesterday, when he decided it was going to be the most important day, it was different. Things were off. Whitney’s voice hadn’t been as strong on his drive, he couldn’t find a parking spot close enough for the day, and his boss never left his office-or the glass castle-as Percy liked to call it. Today, though. Today would be different. This day, when he quit, he would make an exit. No one really paid attention to him. No one knew when he came or when he left. No one knew what he liked to eat for lunch or what his favorite football team was. When there were birthday outings, as there were for each staff member’s birthday, no one acknowledged his. There were ten people in his department. Each person chose a place to eat, all expenses paid by his company. Percy’s was the only birthday unnoticed. He never had on-site parking, and he even had to use the guest WiFi. He wasn’t even on their company’s own WiFi after five years. This would be reason enough to leave. His temperature rose. He could feel his heart beat faster. He had to regain composure. He wanted to leave looking fresh in their minds. Then they’d all know what Whitney knew. Then they’d be sorry for ignoring someone so calm and cool. Whitney knew. His biggest regret is that she wouldn’t see this and that none of these people had ever even asked about her. Percy felt his muscles contract and his fists squeeze in a rhythmic motion. He could feel the vein in his temple throb. He had the same picture of Whitney and him at the ice skating rink on his desk for the last five years. It was the firs t year of his employment here that he lost her, but he kept the picture up as if it were present day. As if she would still hold him up if he were falling again. No one had so much as asked him who was in his picture. It was his only picture. Front and center. The first couple of years, he tried to move it around on his desk. He’d rearrange, giving her more of an opportunity to jump out at passersby, but to no avail. Was that why he was quitting? Was that silly? No. These were the thoughts of doubt, right on cue. The ones Whitney warned him about. He glanced at his Garfield clock, and his eyes followed the tail and eyes moving back and forth for each second. The cat’s eyes held his gaze. He was entranced by it. Garfield was counting on Percy, too. Counting down to the moment he had planned. He took a sweeping glance around his office. He saw two girls talking as usual. He saw Bill across from him listening to his audio book. He always wanted to ask him which books he liked. Too late. He composed an email to his boss. He would wait for their last communication to be face-toface. “Mr. Tillman, I would like to speak with you about an urgent matter. Would you be able to meet me at my desk at 11 am this morning for a small meeting? Respectfully, Percy.” The send button was throbbing. Pulsing as though it begged to be clicked. This would be it. Percy glanced up to Whitney and her face lit up the frame. How he had loved her. All of her. He loved her smell, her laugh, her hair, her crowded smile as if her face struggled to make room for all of her emotion. She would be proud on this very important day. He would make her proud. “Send.” There it was. He gasped and began coughing. The women looked up as he lost his control of himself. Coughing like this would not do today. It just wouldn’t. In the glass castle, he watched as his boss began reading something on his computer. He looked sideways and noticed that he and his boss locked eyes awkwardly over each computer. He received it. His boss’s glance snapped back down, and Percy began to compose himself. To get it all together before he left for good. Percy spent a couple of hours moving his personal work files to his permanent jump drive and cleared all proof of his existence away from the computer. Garfield looked at him, warning him that it was 10:45. He adjusted Whitney’s picture just so. He would not forget it. But he couldn’t put it in his bag yet. She had to see this. At 10:50, he noticed the doors to the glass castle shake a bit. This was highly unusual. It wasn’t lunch time. It wasn’t 11 yet. This was too soon. Mr. Tillman would have to walk down three stairs and make about 45 foot steps to get to Percy’s desk; he had to calm his heart. He was ready for an 11 o’clock meeting. Not a 10:50 sneak attack. It was now or never. Garfield’s second hand was moving too fast. Percy felt light-headed; he had to focus. He heard the steady cadence of footsteps gradu-