The Difference One Day Makes

The Difference One Day Makes

After-work reception and dinner
whatever you call it
I have to do it.
Everyone has to do it.

Last minute in the office
heel of my shoe
catching the hem of my dress
tears out a big line of stitches
Quick grab the stapler.

Secure hem. Yes now fine
but staples snag pantyhose
oh look a big run
all the way down the leg
those staples
I should have set them flat side in but
oops didn’t think of it and now it’s
too late and too late
for a nail polish fix
and besides don’t have any
try hair spray but
don’t have any hair spray
either. Never mind. Go

in a hurry
step in a street grate
keep moving but oops at it again
that cursed heel
it opts to stay behind
dropping out of sight and swimming
probably five miles out to sea by now
at least it can’t cause more trouble but
enduring a hobble to the ladies’ room
no fun. Buy a pair of flip-flops off a teenager
throw the pantyhose in the trash

staples scratch bare legs. Ouch.
Get rid of them. Borrow scissors.
Catering manager helps me
cut off the bottom of the dress
I fray it. I comb hair. I smile. I step

into the hotel ballroom full of
businesspeople in business attire
hems intact
regulation shoes
with all their heels attached but
forget it get to work
business cards are changing hands. Mingle and

stash the loot in the purse
a classy bag unscathed so far
when the waiter
pours the after-dinner coffee
he serves the purse
Substantial slug of dark hot sludge
shorts out phone
drowns loose change
floats business cards

Mop-up in process
as the dinner speaker
crawls her tedious way
toward conclusion
never makes it her wrap-up words
truncated by the clanging fire alarm

I leave the building with the crowd
Clutch the dripping purse

What if today
had been Friday 13
Thursday 12?


9 thoughts on “The Difference One Day Makes

    • Yes, it is fiction, but…based on various realities! I attended many work functions like this one and over the years, some of these things happened to me (I could not keep a pair of pantyhose for more than a few wearings, for instance). And I enjoyed visiting the memories of those events – I did enjoy most of the people I worked with, and in the past, of course, you worked with the same people for many years and they became a sort of family. And at family gatherings, things do happen…!

  1. This reads like one of those anxiety-induced nightmares we can all suffer from whereby an important event gets derailed by multiple things going wrong. I like the way you have layered each mishap so that the whole predicament snowballs and it makes your narrative more propulsive.

    • Thank you. I based this on the many work functions I attended like this in my work career. Though some of these things happened to me, luckily not all at once!

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