You need a distraction. Anything to keep you from thinking about the lump, the test results, the very likely possibility that you’ll die, alone, without ever having had a threesome.

This is the only situation you can think of where you’d actually prefer going into work.

You make sure to get your doctor’s signature before leaving. After you scared her with the bronchitis call this morning—which even now, less hungover, doesn’t make any sense to you; it’s only bronchitis, and it’s not even that contagious—Betsy’s not likely to cut you any slack on this one.

When you get into the office, it seems like no one’s around. Great, the one time you were actually hoping to have some idle chitchat with someone—anyone, even Gina, even though she’s hated you ever since you admitted you liked her old haircut better—you can’t find anybody.

As you walk past the conference room, you see why—half the office must be in there.

And your boss is looking straight at you through the window, eyebrows vee-ing down in anger. He gestures towards the door.

You head inside.

“So glad you could join us, uh-uh-uh,” he says, his fake laugh-tic even more grating than usual. “I assume you’ve brought your presentation with you? Perhaps on…” he glances at you disdainfully. You can see him taking in the wrinkled pants and unwashed hair. “… A flash drive?”

“Well,” you say, dropping your voice lower than usual. You look down at the floor, holding your gaze there for a few seconds. “I have to be honest with you all, I just don’t feel up to giving this presentation today. I don’t think I could…” You sigh heavily, rolling your eyes dramatically heavenward. “Do it justice.”

“Really,” your boss says, his eyes narrow. “But surely you’ve had it completed for some time now, yes? Uh-uh-uh.” God, that laugh reminds you of an ape that’s just discovered its own genitals.

“Of course,” you say, “but I’m finding it hard to focus right now. You see, I just got in from the doctor’s office, and… well, I don’t know how to say this, but…” You try to work up some tears. “He found a lump.”

The room exhales collectively, clearly on your side, if only for the next twenty minutes or so.

“Oh, god, I’m so… I didn’t… uh, uh, uh, sometimes you just don’t realize what other people…” Your boss looks around frantically. “What I mean is, let me take you to lunch.”

“Or I could,” Debby—your weird, aggressively unfashionable, sort of annoying, but nice-enough-to-count work friend from HR—says from the back of the room, the buttons on her sateen blouse straining as she leans towards you. “If you need someone to talk to.”


If you take your boss up on the lunch offer, click here.

If you opt for lunch with Debby, click here.