A Vivian by any other name would still smell as sweet, right?
By Cam Dang
Danny ate his own face last week.
It’s that woman from Compliance, Vivian Stone. An analyst, her email signature said. She sent him an Excel sheet as big as The Hulk. Need two thousand business rules verified within five working days, she said.
Hulk, smash, he said.
Today he’s about to eat it again. After countless back and forth emails, Vivian wants to have a meeting ‘to put things in order, sort things out once and for all.’
He understands Vivian’s only doing her job. He just wishes her parents had given her a different name. Emma Stone? Sharon Stone? Rolling Stone? Why Vivian Stone? Why his ex girlfriend’s name?
Vivy, as he used to adoringly call her, was a fan of putting things in order and sorting things out once and for all. She was the only person he knew who could maintain a calm tone debating a bill for an hour over the phone. He’d wake up every morning to his work clothes picked out, his oat steaming on the kitchen bench, his lunch tucked inside his bag: a tuna salad box with a sticky note that read ‘Play nice’. She’d be standing in her black vest and crisp pants, reading the newspaper’s Finance section and nibbling on a piece of toast. He’d get behind her, and she’d turn around and stand on tiptoe as they kissed. His personal angel.
Even in heels, she stood only up to his chest. He’s big and likes avoiding humans. She named him The Hulk. She was petite and sweet, a package compacted with greatness that took up all the space in Hulk’s heart.
It has been a year since Vivy’s been gone.
She never gave a reason once and for all.
It was the classic ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ case. She’s gone, and the order he’s once accustomed to falls apart. No one here to tell him what to eat or wear or to stop being so grumpy, so Hulky. She’s gone, and now everyday is a day worthy of smashing.
‘I can’t wait,’ a voice approaches the meeting room where Danny’s waiting for Vivian and her assistant, Michael. ‘Okay seriously gotta go.’ Giggles. ‘You silly muffin.’
Two things: what the hell is a silly muffin? And can he have one? He’s hungry, but everything tastes like crap.
A man in his late fifties appears at the door, which Danny’s left open. ‘Hey Danny, sorry I’m late.’ His smile is as big as his beer gut. This must be Michael. Danny opens his mouth to speak, but the phone in Michael’s hand suddenly tells everyone it’s a Barbie Girl.
‘Oh Jesus!’ Michael jumps and fumbles to silence it.
‘Oh no, it’s my lady,’ Michael laughs. ‘She did something to my ringtone last night, thinks she’s funny.’
‘She is, actually,’ Danny forces a smile.
‘She’s a terror. It’s like we’re in high school.’ Michael pops a manilla folder on the table, pulls a chair out, and sits down with a huff. ‘Damn stairs! Hate trying to lose weight.’ He drums his belly.
‘You’ve known each other since high school?’ Vivian isn’t here yet, and Danny doesn’t want to sit in silence opposite the overweight version of Mr Bean.
‘Nah, that’d be my wife. She passed away eleven years ago. I met my new lady last year. Can you believe it? Eleven years and bam!’
‘Anyway, sorry I’m late,’ Michael smiles apologetically and opens the manila folder. ‘Let’s get started.’
‘Aren’t we waiting for…?’
‘Oh, sorry, Michael called in sick this morning. I’m Vivian, by the way.’