“Good morning! How can I help you today?” Lir’s customer service voice was flawless. It was so perfectly crafted that sometimes he wondered if he was truly human, or if he was actually an extremely advanced AI that had been programmed to have emotions by mistake. But if that were true it seemed like he should be good at other things too. Like drinking his herbal spice tea without having it drip sneakily down the side of his mug and leaving a ring on the LGBTQ center’s thrifted wooden welcome desk.
“I’m here for the knitting group? I think I’m late,” the frazzled-looking newcomer draped in unseasonably warm and luxurious scarves offered with a well-practiced apologetic smile. Lir had a hunch that this person said that a lot.
“Of course! It’ll be down the hall on your right in the room with the rainbow tree on the door. And don’t worry, you’re only… forty-five minutes late. I’m sure no one will mind.”
He made sure to keep smiling brightly until they disappeared down the hall before he leapt back into action. There wasn’t any actual leaping involved, but the illicit thrill of using the center’s computer for its relatively higher internet speed to research MaStaff and refresh his email every thirty seconds (only to switch over to the center’s homepage whenever someone walked behind him) made him feel like he was actually participating in a parkour competition.
He was so deeply focused on hitting refresh exactly every thirty seconds, in fact, that when a low voice said “Hi!” over his shoulder he almost did do parkour.
Did parkour include startled flailing?
Once he had settled back a bit, he greeted Coral similarly, ignoring her amused smirk at his antics. She knew very well that he tended to overreact when startled and loved to show that she knew it. Traitor.
“Did you do that thing I suggested?” her dark eyes flicked to his screen significantly, and Lir knew then that she had seen his email refreshing cycle.
“I did,” he replied. “Now I just have to wait. And what are you doing here? You don’t normally come in on Tuesdays because you have to look after Adrian, right?”
“Cecilia is working from home today and volunteered to keep an eye on him,” Coral’s eyes softened a little as she thought of her wife and child, hand unconsciously stroking at her long black braids. Lir knew that a silly thing the two had joked about while dating had turned into a vow that neither would cut their hair as long as they loved the other, as a sort of visualization of everlasting love. He pushed away the reminder that he couldn’t even begin to think about pursuing romance while he was pursuing the means of living, but a guy could dream.
The dreamy moment ended when Coral’s dark eyes suddenly pinned him to his chair. “Don’t think you can distract me, Lir. Did you make the changes I suggested?” Her eyes and voice softened again. “It’s definitely not ideal, but I know the struggle you’ve been going through.”
Lir opened his mouth to answer, but a shift in his peripheral vision turned his head. The flail showed itself once more as he nearly fell out of his chair. “I got an offer!” He clicked on the wrong email five times before finally gaining enough composure to click on the bold text proclaiming, “Congratulations! We’ve found you a match!”
“What?” Coral exclaimed, doing her best to squeeze into the desk space not meant for two.
“‘Dear Lir Merriden, we are pleased to announce that we have matched you with a position! Please review the details below and confirm or deny your acceptance within three business days.’ Then there’s a bunch of small print… ah, here’s the details!”