Short Stories: The Lament of David Davies


David Davies is in a locked toilet cubicle and weeping uncontrollably. It was only last week he turned thirty ­one yet no one in the office knew this. On his birthday, David had called his mother and treated himself to a bottle of gin. He cooked his favourite dish of a single, solitary slab of kipper sprinkled with lime zest, and he drank the gin neat. David didn’t make the bedroom that evening and slept uncomfortably in soiled pants on the bathroom tiles. What little school friends he had remaining made no mention of seeing him though that was expected as they were nearly two hundred miles away with their own partners and children. But David was not crying because of all this, no. David was crying because he had asked a particular question to a particular woman, and she had said yes to it.

Her name was Yvette, and she was French. She had worked in the same building, on the same floor, in the same office and had been for a number of weeks. Yvette is quite unremarkable; dark haired and pale skinned, her figure was bloated, and her face looked rather like runny Camembert.

But to David Davies she was sublime. For David, it was the little things. What he had liked the most was the way her eye would twitch when she had incorrectly formatted and subsequently printed a document. David concluded that she, like him, found it difficult to express her emotions.

For example, David expressed his anger by talking to the shaving mirror wearing a beige nightrobe in his beige bathroom. In the mirror, he could talk back to the other men at work, the same men that would laugh at Yvette’s figure and congratulate each other for doing so. He could insult them, he could maim them, he could conjure up little scenarios in his head where he would feed their butchered bodies to the paper shredder and Yvette would thank him and make dangerous, animalistic love to him. These scenarios were important as they would often allow David Davies to fall asleep each night.

The closest David had got to Yvette was when his tyrannical boss one day decided to move the pair of them into a small office cubicle, much to the delight of his co­workers. David recalls that day being the best and worst day of his life so far. They were forced to file outbound invoices from fifteen years previously and yet, despite their proximity, David only managed to muster two phrases: a circumstantial hello to Yvette as they began, followed hours later by a squeaky request to borrow the stapler from Yvette’s delicate hands. Of course, naturally, Yvette had brushed his hand in passing, and David excused himself promptly to be sick violently in the same cubicle he is crying in now.

David is no Hercules, by any means, and certainly no Casanova. It took many sleepless nights of self­ persuasion and bags of forced Milky­ Way Magic Stars in the office kitchen to conjure enough courage to invite Yvette to his flat for dinner (he had no intention of spending good money in a restaurant). He timed it so he could ask her near the water cooler, away from his more, shall we say, sexually ­successful colleagues.

He waited and waited, every so often letting his balding head rise just enough to let his tiny eyes peer over his work cubicle. David had never really been any good at anything and having failed his amateur snoop all day he decided to prop himself next to the cooler as the day drew to a close and inevitably the love of his life appeared in front of him with a sorely bitten plastic cup in an outstretched hand. The question came out of David’s mouth rather like faeces from the rectum of a cat, and it was in her delayed reply that David’s stomach gurgled, and he felt bile in his throat.

He cannot exactly remember the small talk made afterward but as he blows his nose, back hunched like a clothed grub wiping his face on his oversized sleeve in that familiar cubicle, all David knows is that he needs hurry up and get ready for her arrival.

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