People ran past Nicole, their colorful outfits almost creating streaks against the gray office paint. While the interior of the rainbow factory looked drab and gray, it was the employees that helped to bring it to life. Nicole pushed past her coworkers to get to her desk. She worked in the lower department of the factory, where she answered phones and inputted data. It was tedious work but it paid just enough to keep bread on the table.
'The table that someone always breaks,' Nicole chuckled. As stressful as her job was, it was one of the few times that she was able to throw all her focus into her work and focus on getting the job done. Nicole was a born overachiever, which resulted in her being a workaholic, but if it earned her a few extra cents on her paycheck and a few more minutes of semi-peace, she would take it.
Today, however her mind was filled with Richard. As much as she tried to ignore it, thoughts of him filled her head and she felt like she was walking through fog. When she and Richard got married, she went from being a carefree girlfriend to basically being his second mother. His real mother had coddled and sheltered him so he wouldn't need to worry about the real world. And considering the world would literally end if Richard tried to get a job, that was just an extra layer of stress on her shoulders. Nicole had been married for 20 years but it felt like she was thrust into an early motherhood before even getting pregnant.
What made it worse was that Nicole was truly alone. She was raised to view her fellow classmates as academic competitors rather than potential friends, so there was never any carefree sleepovers or mall goings. This just made dating even harder because unless the boy was on his way to becoming doctor/lawyer hybrid, there was no point to even look at him. Even when she became an adult, no one really wanted to be friends with the woman whose kids were constantly causing destruction every other week. There was still a huge GoPayMe campaign to get their family out of town on ElmorePlus. Nicole felt outside of herself, trying to be the perfect student, daughter, wife, etc, but still had a pit of loneliness in her stomach.
A quiet voice snapped her out of her thoughts. "I see you're deep in thought like always." Nicole turned to see Yuki Yoshida standing near her desk. After their blowout fight, the two women were making an effort to rekindle their friendship. It was awkward considering that Yuki was also Nicole's boss's wife, but they were slowly but surely on their way to something good.
"What are you gonna do, report me for not being productive enough?" Nicole said.
"I definitely could since absent mindedness is frowned upon in the Rainbow Factory LLC, Incorporated," Yuki had rattled off in her usual boss's wife spiel. "But," she paused. "I figured that's the last thing you want to hear."
"I've just been thinking a lot," Nicole confessed. "About Richard, marriage, and everything. It's just been a rough morning like always."
"Hmm," Yuki twirled her white curls between her fingers. "I know that I must maintain an air of professionalism in the workplace but that doesn't mean I can't help a friend." Yuki reached into her purse and pulled out a small business card for a bar close by. She scribbled her number on it and handed it to Nicole.
"This bar has good drinks for cheap and I think it will help you get your mind off things."
"Oh, I don't really drink," Nicole said, flashing back to the few times when she drank leading to too many drunken fights to count.
"Then we can get some food," Yuki replied. "Either way it's my treat, you know, it's what friends do."
As Yuki left, Nicole watched her walk away, her white curls bouncing with each step. She glanced down at the card with a small smile on her face. While the morning had started gray and haywire, she found that the clouds were leading to a sunnier day.