Ariena stood in the doorway, indecisive. Her hand hovered at the lightswitch. She still had work to do… god knew, it was never done, but she was too tired to think straight. Getting home safely wasn’t an issue for her, but she’d sent Joe home over an hour earlier, telling him to go while he was still coherent.
She switched off the lights and listened to the room sigh. It always did that and she enjoyed hearing it. Her office, shared with two others, was a sprawling industrial space and in an attempt to spare her sanity at living and working in the big city, she had filled it with growing things. There were even fish and frogs in the discreetly netted pool located at the center of the room.
She stepped back inside, on a whim, and closed the door, shutting out the world. One of the frogs started to croak softly. She closed her eyes, breathed deeply, smelling damp earth, and recalling her childhood. Evenings on the farm had often been like this, warm, breathless, and dark. The only thing missing were the blink of fireflies.
Ari opened her eyes and gasped in suprise. There, over the pool, was a little green flash. She rubbed her eyes, thinking the lack of sleep had finally gotten to her. Now there were two. She sat down in the nearest chair and watched them dance in mid-air, glowing songs to one another in a high-rise office. She had no idea how they had found this place. She didn’t really care, she was thrilled they were here.
Finally, she yawned and yawned again. “Good night, fireflies.” She whispered as she slipped out the door. “I’ll be back soon.”
In the morning she was late to the office, owner’s perogative, although she rarely used it. Joe looked up from his desk as she walked in. “Maeve went to grab the mail. You look rested.”
“I had a good night.” Was all she said as she went directly to the pool to feed the koi. They swirled about her fingers, as eager as puppies for their kibble. Bright bodies shone and flashed, and she saw one of the shy leaf frogs swim under a rock. She heard them, more than saw them.
“You know, Ari, this office is why I work for you.” Joe commented, coming up beside her and holding out his hand for some of the food pellets. She gave him some and watched his delighted smile as the fish nibbled his fingers. Exquisite in suit and tie, it was an incongrous image of the driven executive he was. She knew he was being honest. He could make much more than she could afford to pay him, but this place was something special. She knew it, and so did their clients. He pulled out a handkercheif and dried his hands.
“I saw fireflies in here last night.” She told him softly. Now, in the light streaming in from the floor to ceiling windows, it seemed unlikely, but she was fairly sure she hadn’t been hallucinating.
“I’m not surprised, somehow.” He tucked the square of fine white cotton away. “Ready for the dog and pony show?”
“Oh, yes.” She patted the attache case she had been carrying. “It’s a month’s work, and I’m so ready for it to be over!”
“Shall we?” He crooked his elbow and she took his arm, laughing at his formal attitude.
Their clients had wanted to meet in their own office. Ari and Joe were met by one of the managers at the door and ushered into a plush conference room. The windows were shaded and the light was one. Ari immediately set her case on the table and went to the blinds while Joe made his way through introductions with the gaggle of suited men and the lone woman who were waiting for them. She found the controls and stood silently by them, ignoring the curious glances coming her way from their potential clients. One of the man came to stand by her side.
“Miss Ariena.” He greeted her.
“Mr. Waltham. I recall we met at the Barclays presentation. How is Colleen?” She inquired after his assistant, a long suffering woman who had hit it off with her after their initial presentation. She now came to Ari’s office.
He beamed. “She is well, thank you. I wanted to come in and see the look on Sach’s face when you pull this one out of your hat.”
She chuckled. Joe had just given her the high sign, it was time to put on the show. He poured the contents of the case onto the table, eliciting outraged gasps from the assembled executives. “Ladies and gentlemen, the raw material.” He announced. Ari swept open the curtains.
Before their eyes, the crumbly looking dirt on the table began to writhe, then green tendrils erupted from it. They shot out, twining around themselves and forming a sturdy central trunk, then spreading out into branches over their heads, leaves springing out and turning toward the sunlight now streaming into the office.
“Behold, the new greener office. The tree we have just grown is capable of putting out enough bio-electricity to power at least one laptop. Imagine a room full of them. With the ability to harness the energy of the sun in a way the solar panel never had, the greener office is a less expensive proposition and a healthier one too.”
Overhead, the tree began to bloom, and the assembled people looked at it in silent awe. Ari just smiled. They had made another sale, she could tell.
For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Major Bedhead challenged me with “You are the last one in the office, about to leave for the night, when the lights go out. What happens next? ” and I challenged Michael with “Your protagonist is suffering from extreme sleep deprivation. “