The Red Table

There’s never the right setting for a bright red table. With half-glass finish, perfectly circular, and smooth round edges that fit into the forefinger thumb nook of the hand.

A table like this silences the room around it perfectly with radial intimidation.

This is the table I sit on.

I’m due north, constantly pulling A4 paper from manila envelopes.

I’m a master of the bendable brass clasps and holes.

I’m a master of scanning through the curriculum vitae.

I’m the Miles Davis of life evaluations.

I hear the empty spaced in unfulfilled lives, the missing paragraph on the position at CERN, the sideways-to-backward scribbles on a Subway aioli-stained napkin making waves in the algorithmic world of quantum computing.

The most meaningful envelope to me contains the most space, where I can extrapolate every second of vegetation, incompetence, or indifference to the royalty of being smart.

     “This one seems interesting,”

         says my colleague to my left.

I don’t look at him in the eyes when he’s wrong.

I perform with silence - Miles Davis.

My colleague has a wife, and the two I’ve caught making out in the driveway before work on multiple occasions. Ssometimes she brings him flowers at the front door at 17:05 and his smile bursts through like a bundle of fire lillies.

The red table sometimes reflects his eyes drooping and dewy. The red mixes with his brown irises and I see magma cross-hatches seeping from the stable earth. He never laughs at me.

To my left is an intern fresh out of freshman year. He is bright and has yet to cut his hair. He always vibrates his legs and bites his fingertips and knuckles. He’s constantly hopeful and isn’t aware that it is inappropriate to wear political T-shirts to work. He blows pipe dreams like pipe flutes, and he always smiles at me.

This hour an applicant enters the room and is seated opposite the three of us.

I don’t know about them but I silently wonder about my place at this scary red table.

One second I believe I am the head, the pawn that made it to the other side, but sometimes I feel like there is something deeper to the radial symmetry,

     like a large hand could reach down and spin us all like a top, and we’ll all fall off our seats and dizzily find our feet and the seating arrangement so bureaucratically nailed into our mind will topple too and we’ll be left staring and evaluating and noting each other, all elbows on the scary red table, staring at ourself.

Image: Output from query “surrealist painting of round red table” into Dalle Mini by 2023.