The bedside alarm jolted him awake. 5:45am, it flashed. He wiped his eyes as he sat up in a regular attempt to gather himself. Today was his first day back at the office since he fled DC two weeks ago on what he called “the vacation to end all vacations”. He glanced over at the silhouette laying next to him, buried under the comforter and breathing softly as if the alarm never sounded. He paused and smiled, remembering the night before. After taking in the moment and a deep breath, he placed his feet on the floor and made his way to the bathroom to prepare for work.
Seventy five minutes later his bus pulled into its final destination. Fort Totten Station was a behemoth of concrete and looked even more menacing on this overcast August morning than usual. He swiped his SmarTrip card as Kanye West’s “Love Lockdown” blared from his ear buds. As soon as he made his way through the turnstile he saw her as she stood there waiting for him. “Good Morning, Jade”, he says confidently yet relaxed as he paused his iPod. “Morning to you too, ____. I see that your little vacation mellowed you out. Ready for all that to be undone once you step back into the office?” He shook his head as Jade giggled and then replied “I’m hoping it won’t, but we all know how that goes.”
They boarded the train headed for Downtown and continued to catch up as they hadn’t spoken in two weeks. They had been close friends since their freshman year at Howard and this conversation flowed like the others. Funny and witty. Intellectual yet simple. Their strong friendship allowed them to become a strong professional team and it was obvious that the pair were inseparable. “So all of that happened while you were in LA, huh? You were serious about this being THE vacation.” He balances his weight as the train continues to speed along and says, “J, I told you. It was major.I always leave Cali with a story to tell.”
He looks up as the doors close and spots their coworker Ben on the platform headed for the exit. Ben seems nervous and out-of-place. “Yo, J. There’s Ben. What’s he doing all the way up here?” He points towards the exit as Jade quickly turns her head. She sees Ben as the train begins to pull out of the station. “I don’t know. He’s usually one of the first people in the office in the morning.”, she says as she shrugs. “Maybe he forgot something… or something.” Jade tilts her head to the left slightly and says “But I just noticed something else, though. Where’s your ring?”
He looked down at his right hand and his ring finger was surprisingly bare. “I don’t know.”