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Cream This Thick Chapter 1: How Do You Take Your Coffee?
“Michelle, can you step into my office?” hummed the speaker phone.
Michelle rolled her eyes and pressed to respond. “Right away, Mrs. Wasserman.” Michelle stood up and smoothed out her skirt and blouse. She rounded the corner of her cubicle and knocked lightly on the large, frosted glass door of Mrs. Wasserman’s office. She always wanted Michelle to knock.
Michelle carefully opened the door and peeked inside. Eloise Wasserman was sitting at her desk, looking over her laptop. Her brow was furrowed, and she was running her hand against her temple as though in pain. Another migraine. Michelle was wise to enter quietly.
“Migraine?” she whispered.
“Step in and close the door.” Mrs. Wasserman didn’t take her eyes off her work. Michelle obeyed as silently as she could manage, closing the door slowly behind her and turning the handle gently. She moved swiftly to Mrs. Wasserman’s desk and stood at attention, her hands held in front of her lap.
Mrs. Wasserman continued working, giving Michelle the chance to look closer at her boss. Eloise Wasserman was in her late twenties. She had shoulder length black hair that she often wore half up half down. She had pale skin that gave her a dark appearance, as though brooding or Nordic. She was thin, almost waifish. Michelle often thought she looked like a Russian ballerina whenever she wore her hair up in a bun. She was pretty, to be sure, but not the kind of pretty that gets idolized on the beach or magazines. She was like a runway model: exotic, thin, effortless, elegant, captivating, and young.
Incredibly young. Michelle checked with other staffers if it was normal to have someone still approaching thirty work so high up in the company. It wasn’t. Mrs. Wasserman was on her way to CEO someday, and this only a bullet point for her resume.
Michelle had only been working for her for three months. The first two months were a pain. Mrs. Wasserman was constantly nagging and correcting her. She hated Michelle’s posture or her attitude or her tone of voice. She said Michelle was too slow or too careless or too loud. Mrs. Wasserman wanted some Victorian era servant, not a secretary. Michelle would quit, but her husband, James, was out of work on disability, and they needed to make ends meet. It was back to work for the college dropout, and that made her options either the food industry, retail, or this. Mrs. Wasserman was firm, but she wasn’t hell. Michelle knew that in six months to two years, her boss would be promoted, and Michelle could either work for someone kinder when she left or hopefully go back to taking care of her kids.
It didn’t bother Michelle too much that her boss was twenty years younger than her, was paid seven times as much, and treated her like a matronly nanny. No. What bothered Michelle most about Eloise Wasserman was how much she liked to talk about her sex life. And — she knew this sounded worse than it really was — it made her more uncomfortable hearing about Mrs. Wasserman’s sex life with her wife. Would it bother Michelle if she were straight and talked about her soreness from last night with her partner? Probably not. But the way Mrs. Wasserman found ways to bring up how much better things were with a woman grinded Michelle’s gears. It couldn’t be that much better, seriously.
Mrs. Wasserman looked up from her work and saw Michelle at attention. She didn’t smile. “I need coffee,” she muttered.
Michelle resisted the urge to roll her eyes. She resisted the urge to stomp out of the room. But mostly, she resisted the urge to coldly remind her boss that they have an intercom system for a reason instead of summoning her like a servant.
“One sugar, no milk?” she said as politely as she could.
“No.” Mrs. Wasserman stood and leaned towards Michelle, whispering, “I have milk.” She said it like she was admitting to having cocaine in her office, and Michelle resisted the urge to snicker. She understood though. In this office, dairy was the new gluten. Some may say nothing, but they would give you a distinctive look like they were judging how long you had before your waist size increased.
“Is it in the kitchen?” whispered back Michelle, trying to match but not mock Mrs. Wasserman’s tone.
She nodded. “It’s marked with your name on it.” Michelle failed to hide her reaction. Mrs. Wasserman, for her part, at least looked penitent. “Sorry,” she whispered. “I figured it was safer that way.”
“Should I bring it here?” Michelle sighed.
“Don’t be impudent,” hissed Mrs. Wasserman. “And don’t be stupid. If you bring it in here, people will know. Make two coffees. One for you — you look like you could use it — and one for me. Put the milk in the one marked for you.”
Michelle wanted to say that she felt this was a bit much — it was just milk after all — but her boss didn’t listen to reason after she gave a command. To her, there was only obedience or defiance, no shades of grey.
“Yes, ma’am,” said Michelle.
She stepped escort bursa out of the office as quietly as she entered. Mrs. Wasserman’s milk was the only thing in the fridge besides salads, and it was, indeed, labelled with Michelle’s name. Michelle sighed and began to prepare the two cups. It took longer than she would have liked — Mrs. Wasserman always wanted her coffee freshly brewed, French press, beans ground moment before the water touched them. It was a bit much, but so was everything about her boss.
Michelle didn’t notice any glances as she walked through the halls of the office floor back to Mrs. Wasserman’s office. She knocked carefully, trying not to put down the coffee or spill it.
“Enter,” commanded Mrs. Wasserman.
Michelle obeyed. “Here’s your coffee, Mrs. Wasserman.”
“Thank you.” She took the cup in her hand and blew on it. “I had a late night last night. Vicki’s been experimenting with new rope techniques and,” she gave a soft chuckle, “let’s just say we both liked it… a lot.”
“Right,” said Michelle, trying to look anywhere but her boss’ eyes.
Mrs. Wasserman took a sip, and then turned suddenly and spit out her coffee. “Jesus!” she cried. She put the coffee on the desk, got up, and moved to a trash can. She spit again, then grabbed a tissue and began wiping her tongue.
“Water,” she asked between gags. “Get me water.”
Michelle obeyed and quickly returned with a bottle of water.
“Thanks,” said Mrs. Wasserman after a long drink. “That new milk is disgusting.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. It didn’t smell rotten when I poured it.”
“Not spoiled. Disgusting.”
“I’m sorry, do you want me to get you another –“
“Don’t bother.” Without warning, Mrs. Wasserman grabbed Michelle’s coffee out of her hand. “I’ll take this one, you take the other.” She went back to her desk, put her new coffee down, grabbed the one with milk, and handed it to Michelle.
“That will be all.”
Michelle said nothing. Arguing would only make it worse. She took her new cup of coffee and silently left the room. At her desk, she stared at the cup. She already had plenty to do, and going back to make another cup was not one of them. Besides, she didn’t care if she drank milk. If it was spoiled, she’d toss it, but she wasn’t convinced Mrs. Wasserman knew spoiled milk from non-mineral water.
She brought the caramel-colored coffee to her lips and took a hesitant sip. Her whole body shivered as the warmth of the drink spread throughout her mouth. The drink was light and sweet. It was almost buttery, and the taste of it lingered in Michelle’s mouth. She kept her eyes closed, purring while the taste lasted. It was, without a doubt, the best damn coffee she had ever had.
Michelle had never been a coffee person, but in the past few months, with her husband’s back injured, she had spent long nights up with him while he was in pain. He was getting better, but coffee was still a vital part of her diet these days. She tilted the cup back and took a long sip of the drink. It was hot, but not so bad that she couldn’t drink it faster. Her body hummed in response. The caffeine didn’t normally hit her this fast, but maybe it was the new milk. Maybe it sped up the effects?
Whatever it was, Michelle loved it. Her fingers began dancing and tapping on her desk. She felt herself relax into her chair. She was simultaneously more Zen and more focused than she had ever been in her life. Her legs spread apart as she tilted back in her chair, sighing to herself as she suddenly felt months of stress and fatigue, months of dealing with this terrible job and Mrs. Wasserman, months of taking care of her husband and everything else in the house as soon as she got off work, months of that, all of that, fell off her shoulders.
She wasted no time in taking another long sip of her drink. And another. And another. Before she knew it, the drink was gone, but the effects of it lingered for hours. Michelle had, without a doubt, the best workday of her life. She was productive. She didn’t waste time checking her phone or wondering about what she would do when she got home. Nothing pulled her away from the task at hand. At the same time, she didn’t worry about her productivity. She didn’t care if she failed to meet anyone’s expectations. She wasn’t concerned with dinner or tonight or anything after that. None of that mattered in the here and now.
Mrs. Wasserman was quick to notice Michelle’s pluck. “That coffee seems to have done you some good,” she said as Michelle came in to deliver some paperwork.
“I’m surprised you didn’t like the milk,” said Michelle. “I thought it was delicious.”
“Ah,” said Mrs. Wasserman with a smile, “I have a very refined palate. It’s quite sensitive to anything too sweet.”
“Well, can I keep using it if you don’t like it?”
“I don’t see why not,” she said with a shrug. “But you’re going to get fat… -ter.”
Michelle brushed off the comment with a smile. As soon as she was out the door, she headed downstairs to make herself another cup. Not even Eloise Wasserman görükle escort could rain on her parade today. The coffee was too good.
She had three more cups that day, and with each cup, the symptoms didn’t just continue; they increased. A report that would take her an hour that morning took her fifteen minutes after cup number four. It was a miracle drug. Michelle had heard people say they couldn’t live without coffee, but she had never understood it until now.
Besides the incredible productivity, the relaxant effect reached unparalleled levels. Michelle found herself in a completely new state of mind, an almost trance-like effect gripped her consciousness. It was as though her fingers and body knew the motions of her job: they typed, read, collected, synthetized, reported, scheduled, etc. But it took no mental effort to do any of those. She found her mind wandering, but not as it used to do, with anxiety. Instead of worrying about James and taking care of him, she wondered about his well-being. She wondered what he did all day and if he was happy. She wondered what she could do to make him happier.
It was a shame that his back injury had killed their sex life. Not that it was much of a sex life, but still, going from sex twice a month to no sex in nine months was still a huge transition. She had done what she could with her hands, but even the act of orgasm could put her husband in tremendous pain. He said he was fine, but with her mind free to wonder about anything and everything, she wasn’t sure if he was telling the truth.
And was she fine? She hadn’t really asked herself the question before. Physically, sure. She was tired all the time, but she was managing. But what about sexually? She was a mature woman; shouldn’t her sex drive be diminishing at this point in her life? Surely, menopause was approaching and soon it wouldn’t matter how long since she had an orgasm. How long had it been? Since before James’ accident to be sure, but before that even, yes? She didn’t cum every time. She didn’t cum most of the time, but she would finish herself off afterwards. So how long had it been? A year?
“Damn,” sighed Michelle as she finished another report. She got up, knocked on Mrs. Wasserman’s door, and entered. She placed the report on her boss’ desk and whistled to herself. “An entire year at least.”
“A year what?” asked Mrs. Wasserman.
“Huh? What?” Michelle stopped at the door, her hand on the handle, frozen.
“You said an entire year at least. A year what?”
“Oh, I was just thinking aloud,” said Michelle, smiling to herself. She couldn’t even find it in herself to be embarrassed. “Don’t worry about it.”
“A year what?”
“A year at least since I orgasmed,” said Michelle with a shrug. It was easy, too easy to speak her mind now. They flew from her lips before they entered her brain.
Mrs. Wasserman’s expression darkened. “This is an office, Michelle, and my office. Please keep those things to yourself.”
The realization of Michelle’s carelessness struck her quickly. She felt the Zen-like effects of the coffee drain instantly. “Yes, ma’am,” she said and looked to the floor, breaking eye contact with the stern young woman.
“How much coffee have you had today?” she asked.
“Umm… a few cups.”
“How many is a few?”
“Three or four?”
“All with the milk in it?”
“Well… yeah.” Michelle rocked on her feet, uncomfortable to be interrogated by the younger woman after being caught with such inappropriate thoughts.
“That’s a lot of milk for someone that wants to watch her figure.”
Michelle’s cheeks burned several shades darker. “You said I could have it,” was all she could mutter.
“I did. That being said, I’d like you to ask for permission to have it from now on.”
Michelle’s mind started to protest, but it wasn’t worth the battle. Besides, Mrs. Wasserman could simply tell other people at the office about Michelle’s sex life, or lack of it, now. She would if she thought it would hurt Michelle if it was useful to her purposes or desires.
“Yes, ma’am,” she said feebly.
“Good. Be gone,” said Mrs. Wasserman with a wave, and Michelle wasted no time at all leaving the office. Thankfully, the workday was almost done, and Michelle could leave and die of embarrassment in the safety of her own home.
The next day, Michelle decided to avoid the milk in her coffee altogether. She had spent her whole life taking her coffee with just sugar, surely she could do it again. When she came into Mrs. Wasserman’s office with her 9 a.m. coffee, the young woman looked up from her computer.
“Did you make yourself some?” she asked as took the cup from her secretary.
“Did you ask?”
Michelle felt her anger flare up. “I didn’t put any milk in it.”
“Ah, fine,” said Mrs. Wasserman. “Go.” She waved her hand, and Michelle obeyed.
Back at her desk was the steaming cup of dark coffee. She sighed when she saw it, already missing the beautiful soft brown of her cups from yesterday.
“It’s bursa escort bayan just milk, Michelle. Get it together,” she said to herself and grabbed the cup. She blew on it and took a careful sip.
Which she immediately spit out all over her desk. Never in her life had she tasted something so… vile. It tasted like dirt and salt and raw garlic. She found herself copying Mrs. Wasserman from the previous day, finding a tissue to wipe her tongue. She was desperate to do anything, anything to be free of the terrible flavor. She quickly took the drink to the nearest sink and poured it down the drain. There was no way she was going to risk another sip of that.
Afterwards, she cleaned up her desk and got back to work. She had a mountain of reports to organize for Mrs. Wasserman, and on top of that, people were going to be coming in and out all day for meetings with her. That meant Michelle had to greet them, organize them, and wait on them. If they wanted something to drink or needed to use the restroom, she would be their guide and host.
Unfortunately, as soon as she got to work, her mind wandered. She found herself dwelling on what Mrs. Wasserman had caught her saying the day before. She wondered if Mrs. Wasserman had told anyone else in the office. There was a tight-knit group of secretaries, most of them in their twenties, that worked close to Michelle. They all worked for important people like Mrs. Wasserman, all isolated from each other, but they were the closest thing she had to peers in the rankings here, and they gossiped like old women at a hair salon. If Mrs. Wasserman gave them a hint of what Michelle let slip, they would have nothing else to talk about for the rest of the day.
Or maybe they saw how much milk she drank the other day. Michelle did her best to maintain her figure, and she was trim for a woman approaching fifty, but she couldn’t compete with the aspiring actresses or models that got hired as secretaries around here. The secretaries were the face of the office, and the representative of their employer. It was a duty of the job to be attractive, sociable, well-put together, and welcoming.
Then Michelle’s mind wandered to her coffee. She started having flashbacks of the coffee from yesterday. They were tiny sensory echoes dancing over her tongue. She could still taste the hints of caramel, the warm buttery taste of the creme. It all still lingered in her mind more so than in her mouth, but still she wanted it. Her mouth craved it, watered for it.
Michelle stood up. She needed some more coffee. She needed to focus if nothing else, but the truth of it was that she wanted to taste it again. She wanted productivity and relaxation, but more than anything, she wanted the flavor spreading over her tongue, washing down her throat, filling her up.
She knocked on the door of Mrs. Wasserman’s office.
“Enter,” commanded the young woman.
“Yes, Mrs. Wasserman,” said Michelle nervously as she entered. “I was wondering –“
“Do you have the reports I’ll need for my ten o’clock?” she interrupted.
“Um, right. Not quite. I’ll have that for you quickly, but I was just wondering if I could… if perhaps I could… if it alright if I had some more of that milk?”
Mrs. Wasserman smiled. “Is that so?”
“Y-yes. If that’s alright with you.”
“If I let you have some, will I have my reports well before ten o’clock?”
“Good.” Mrs. Wasserman looked up from her work and right into Michelle’s eyes. “Moo for me.”
Michelle’s body locked up. “Excuse me?”
“If you want milk so badly, moo for me.”
“You want me to moo? Like… like a –“
“A cow. Yes. Moo like a cow and then you can have some milk. Only seems appropriate.”
“You can’t be serious. I’m not –“
“You can refuse if you like. But if my reports aren’t on my desk ten minutes till ten, I can find a secretary that has the proper focus to do your job.”
Mrs. Wasserman brought her eyes back to her desk and began typing again.
Michelle’s frustration quickly changed to embarrassment. She knew she was going to do it. Of course she was going to do it. She couldn’t focus without the milk. Two days ago, it would take her an hour to do the report Mrs. Wasserman wanted her to do. Today, without any coffee, she could maybe do it in two to three hours. With the coffee, she could do it in twenty or thirty minutes. She needed her milk, and to get that, she was going to moo for it.
Her embarrassment quickly smoldered into shame. She was almost old enough to be this woman’s mother, and yet, she had ordered Michelle to moo for her milk, and Eloise Wasserman always got what she wanted. Michelle didn’t have the power to refute her. She didn’t have the spine for it. She was a pushover, and that was why she was a secretary, and one day Mrs. Wasserman would be a CEO, a household name. She was everything, and Michelle was nothing.
The silence in the room was punctuated with Mrs. Wasserman’s typing. She was focused on her work, ambivalent to whatever Michelle decided. She had all the cards. Why should she care if Michelle got her coffee or didn’t? She could always find a new secretary, but Michelle couldn’t find another job with benefits as good as the ones she got here. She needed this job. Her family needed this job.
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