Michael has the party planning committee plan three parties in a row for that first full week of June.
(Almost a month after: Lips against lips. 'Jim, I- I can't do this.' And then he had nodded. 'Yeah, I know. I'm taking that transfer to Stamford anyway. I just-' All she really remembers is his shoulders as he walked away and the way his mouth had felt so so so- warm.)
The first party is an 06/06/06 party. Michael wears horns and carries a pitchfork around all day. Stanley mutters under his breath, "Now this really is hell." Phyllis brings in devil's food cake and Angela refuses to participate in any of this.
She transfers a call from Jan to Michael and within seconds hears him groaning loudly into the phone, saying, "Once in a gazillion years, Jan!"
She looks over at Jim's desk on instinct. He isn't looking back at her with a look of mild amusement. He's directing it towards Phyllis who smiles and then sees Pam watching them and turns back to her desk.
At some point during the day, he laughs. She hasn't talked to him (really talked) in three weeks and she can't understand how he can laugh.
The second party is a bon voyage party for Jim. The planning session for this is the longest fifteen minutes of her life.
And she's been recruited to order and pick up the cake.
It says, 'Have a nice trip!' in yellow icing and there's a palm tree on it. She tries not to think about how before Jim would have made sure no one got the piece with the huge green leaf of icing on it before she did.
She thinks about getting him a card while she's picking up the cake. She can't decide what sentiment is appropriate so she buys a get well soon card, a birthday card, a sympathy card, and an apology card with a sad looking kitten on it.
She grips the cake box tightly as she walks back to her car and the plastic crinkles loudly.
It's June 7th.
Everything starts to tilt on the drive back to the office.
She takes a turn too sharply and that crinkling sound of plastic comes from the seat next to her.
In the end, she doesn't give him any of the cards. She puts them in her purse and pretends to forget.
Angela's made cookies shaped like airplanes and what she guesses are supposed to be koala bears. She picks up an airplane cookie and spends the next ten minutes in the bathroom.
He finds her later, as everyone's leaving for the day. She's sitting at reception, staring blankly at her computer screen.
He leans across the desk with his arms folded in front of him. Sitting on her desk is the airplane cookie. She tells herself not to cry.
She looks up at him finally.
Over and over, she's telling herself: This is not the last time. Not the last time.
He'll lean on her desk again. He'll smile down at her again. He's not going away forever.
"Hi," she says.
She tries to smile. "Have a nice trip."
Just like the cake says. Bon voyage.
She's at the door when he grabs her arm. "Pam, wait."
"Why?" She's losing her composure and he starts to turn into a tall blur.
"I need to say goodbye."
Because maybe this really is the last time. He's leaving tomorrow and when he comes back, he's only going to leave again. The word "gone" is now echoing in her head.
But she softens a bit because his fingers are on her forearm and everything about him is always so warm. She wants to kiss him. Needs to, maybe. But she bites her bottom lip as hard as she can.
She says, "I'm sorry things didn't-"
"Yeah." He ducks his head.
She puts her arms around his neck and feels him lean into her. Warm, warm, warm. She backs away quickly, because it's too much to feel his cheek against her hair and his hands on her back again.
"Goodbye, Jim," she says it without looking at his eyes, because they've always told her everything and right now she doesn't want to know.
The third party is a congratulatory pre-wedding party.
Roy comes up with the warehouse guys after five. There's a banner that says, "Congratulations, Pam and Roy!" There's champagne. And everyone's smiling and laughing and telling her that they're so happy for her. Although some of them sound strained and forced, like even they can't believe this is still happening.
She drinks too much of the champagne and she starts to feel a little sick to her stomach.
He isn't here. He isn't here. He's on an airplane. He's thousands of miles above her and she's getting half drunk on cheap champagne, trying to make all of this feel right. She hopes that those songs are right, that she can drink and go numb. That this will help her forget. But he keeps saying, "I'm in love with you," in her head. She says it under her breath to herself as she sips more champagne.
Roy comes over and kisses her messily on the cheek. It's not surprising that he's drunk. She wonders who will drive home. She supposes she should stop drinking now. He says, "I love you, baby."
She can't say it back. She literally can't. She tries, but she can't get the words to come out of her. So she simply nods and fakes a smile.
She finds herself stepping away from yet another office party. She finds herself back behind reception. She's calling his cell phone and it's going to voicemail and she says, "I miss you," into the receiver quietly. She says, "It's been one day and I miss you so much. I'm- I can't- Jim, I can't not have you here. Come home."
He doesn't call her back.
Not until Saturday night.
He leaves a message and he sounds like maybe he's been crying when he says, "Congratulations."
She listens to it over and over, imagines his tongue and his teeth as they form the consonants and vowels of the word.
She listens to it as she takes off her ring and puts it on her dresser.
She listens to it before calling him again and this time he picks up. It's almost noon the next day there.
"Pam, hi." There's defeat in his voice and he sounds like he just woke up.
She blushes, thinking of him twisted in his hotel bed sheets.
"I'm not married."
She hears the rustle of fabric as he sits up in bed and even through the phone it makes her feel warm.
"Yeah- Yeah, okay."
She doesn't mind picking up the cake that says in bright red letters, "Welcome home, Jim!"