From Two to One (Flash Fiction)

“Howdy there, Bob,” said Brian as he came into the breakroom. Bob was sitting in a chair that was suspiciously uncomfortable for a breakroom, flipping through images on his phone. “Lookin’ at some porn there?” The question was asked as a joke, but the nervous jolt from Bob made Brian laugh and wonder if it really was the case.

“No, just checkin’ the scores,” Bob said.

“Oh sure, sure,” said Brian with a smile. “Which game?”

Bob was tapping at the small screen quickly now. “Ohhh, all of them.”

Brian rolled his eyes a bit and put his tea in the microwave. The buttons beeped and the magic of science got to work at whisking the cold away.

“Hey, guys,” said Catherine as she rushed in. Bob immediately shoved his phone into his pants pocket.

“Hey there, Cathy,” they responded in unison.

“Cold out this morning, eh?”

“Oh, sure,” they both said.

She opened the door to the second microwave and set her coffee mug in.

“Oh, no there Cathy,” said Bob, his face a little flush. “Can’t be using that microwave there.”

“Well why the heck not, Bob?” She gave him a glare that made him swallow hard and wonder if he really was fast enough at hiding his phone.

“Well, the sign there ya see. Can’t run both microwaves at the same time. Blows the fuses, ya know.”

Brian and Catherine both read the white sheet of paper taped to the wall behind the matching microwaves. Written in red pen were the words Do not use both microwaves at the sign time. Blows fuses.

“Huh,” said Brian.

“Well why don’t they fix the fuses?” asked Catherine.

“Oh, doesn’t work that way there, Cathy,” said Bob. “That’s a big electrical job, ya know. Big bucks. Corporate won’t go for it.”

“We should probably get rid of the other microwave then, ya?” said Brian.

Bob looked at him, perplexed. “Well why’d you wanna go and get rid of it then? It’s a perfectly good microwave.”

“Well yeah,” said Brian, “but what good is having it when we can only use one at a time? It’s confusing, ya know?”

Catherine looked at Brian. “But Brian, then we’d only have one microwave in the breakroom. We need two microwaves.”

Brian’s eyes narrowed a bit. “Well… yeah,” he said, trying not to sound condescending, “but what good is two microwaves when you can only use one at a time?”

“Gonna need two microwaves there, Brian” Bob said in a tone dangerously close to condescending.

The microwave next to Brian gave two beeps and he popped open the door and grabbed his tea. “But you can only use one at a time,” he tried again.

Catherine closed the door on her coffee and started the machine. “Yeah, but Brian, we’re gonna need two microwaves in the breakroom, ya know. Lots of people working here.”

Brian gave Catherine and Bob a quick look to search for hints of joking in their eyes. When he found none, he only shrugged and walked off.

When the coast was clear, Bob snorted. “One microwave. What’s with that guy?” Catherine shook her head in silent agreement.

“Mornin’ there!” said Susanne as she rushed into the break room.

“Hey there, Susie,” they said.

“Oh, it sure is cold today, ya?” She opened the microwave.

“Hold on there, Susie,” said Bob.

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