Pink bubble gum ballooned away from Mike’s mouth. He watched it fill while imagining it was a crystal ball. There were no images to see and nothing that would give him an idea of what his future told. Without blinking he continued to look as it grew. Recognizing that it was near explosion, he squeezed the air out of it with a delicious inhale.

That’s all he had been doing for the past hour; thinking. His jaw was experiencing pain from the endless chew. There was nothing that could be done now. Relationships aren’t supposed to be so fragile anyway. He wondered how many friendships were tarnished by one mistake.

The gum had emptied its sugar and left a tasteless rubber between his teeth. If he noticed, he seemed not to mind. His left pocket would reveal three more pieces swallowed in wrappers. A tall man walked by that he immediately recognized as Alvin. What once had been a friendship, albeit purely work-related, had dissolved into relatively no daily interaction. Mike stood and paced the necessary steps toward the Men’s Room.

As he made his way back to his office, he saw Alvin speaking with another colleague directly in his path. While passing Mike spoke softly, but audibly to Alvin. His greeting went ignored. Who deserves that he thought.

The two men never had a discussion over the one incident of Mike voicing his lack of trust in Alvin to a coworker. Speaking in confidence, Mike expressed his displeasure with his friend’s lack of tact and discomfort with his periodic disregard for appropriate conversation matter. Alvin never asked Mike anything about this. Still, Mike understood, but never felt shame. He would move forward. He would learn and he would forgive himself and he would forgive Alvin.

Mike couldn’t recall any other circumstance that would cause their relationship to falter so quickly. Seclusion was a tough consequence. He trusted the wrong individual in voicing his thoughts. If it must be released, it would’ve been better speaking with a family member, or someone removed from the environment. Earplugs lounged in Mike’s ears as he pressed play and began relaxing to the engaging voice of B.B. King.

– Eric McCarty (4/9/2012)

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