The Office Party by Whitney G.

I take the pen from her hand and write:

1) For my neighbor to stop believing in Santa Claus

2) For an orgasm with my boyfriend (I mean, just one)

3) A holiday season that I finally enjoy.

I lick the strip and seal it, and then I hand it to her. “Here you are, Miss Cole.”

“Thank you. Have a good night!”

“You, too.” I push the door open and walk inside, stopping dead in my tracks when I catch sight of the winter wonderland in my living room.

A line of white Christmas trees stand tall by my window, twinkling in red and white, a shiny toy train is chugging along the floorboards, and lush green garland is draped over almost every surface.

Four stockings are hanging on my fireplace, and they each bear a single word in silver glitter.

Please Come Home Savannah

I step closer and notice my favorite children’s book splayed open on my coffee table. At the center of its pages is a note in my grandmother’s signature handwriting.

Dear Savannah,

I hope you won’t mind that I hired someone to decorate your condo this year.

(With your amazing job, I think you can afford a better lock on your door **smiley face** )

I figured that this is the closest I can get to celebrating the holidays with you.

I know your job doesn’t allow off-days for Christmas, but how about coming to see me after that?

Call me whenever you can.

I love you.

Grandma Hattie


I had them place my best biscuits in the fridge.


Your mother wouldn’t be pleased to know that you stopped coming home after graduating from college. Neither would your father. Family is everything, Savannah.

I walk over to the toy train and lift it off its tracks, setting it into a drawer.

My parents are long gone—casualties of a train crash, and no amount of biscuits or trips home will ever bring them back.

I turn my attention to the gingerbread cookies that are standing on my mantle. Each of the cookies features the name of the family members I’ve left back at home. I run my fingers across all their names, stopping when I notice the one named “Taryn.”

Ugh. I pick it up and bite off its head.

I’ll never admit to a single soul, but as much I complain, I was somewhat grateful for Garrett’s annual office party. For the “excuse” it affords me, anyway. I always offer it as the reason I stopped going home.

In reality, I stopped because there was a past chapter of my life that I was no longer interested in reading.

Well, a certain character anyway.

Letting out a breath, I walk over to the fridge and pull out the tin of biscuits. Then I sit down at my kitchen table and open my laptop.

The prep-ceremony for this year’s office party isn’t going to plan itself.

A few hours later, I place a checkmark next to “Remind travel agent to keep everyone in the dark about the upcoming destination, no exceptions” and look at the next thing on my to-do list.

The Rose Ceremony.

It’s the final event of the party, and its ripped straight from the script of The Bachelor. The day is dedicated to a tray of red roses that Garrett hands out to each of the executive team members to determine who is getting “a raise” for the new year. Those left empty-handed are given a lecture on the things they need to improve, and some people are asked to submit resignations.

Or, so I’ve heard that’s the case.

Garrett offers me the first rose without comment, so I’ve always left the room without knowing what comes next.

Flipping through the invoices, I realize that none of the necessary items have been ordered. The florist has submitted a quote with estimated instead of actual numbers, the Human Resources director hasn’t sent me the list of employees who are due for review, and the junior interns haven’t finished the work I assigned them two weeks ago.

I sigh and log into my inbox, coming face to face with messages that must’ve been prescheduled for the same time.

Subject: Need more time to complete. (Mr. West is being unreasonable, don’t you think?)

Subject: Extension request (Pleaseeee. He has to know this isn’t possible.)

Subject: Can we have another week to finish?

I know better than to open any of them right now. I also know that I’m tired of them weaponizing our mutual hatred of the boss to request special treatment here or there.

Even though give in most of the time, I can’t afford to do so today.