I walk briskly down the hall, back to my desk. One doesn’t linger in the hallways, even if one has the time, and I don’t. My mind races with the projects that loom over me. As much as I don’t like the stress, I am glad to be mentally occupied.

Otherwise, the hall would whisper to me.

I noticed this only recently, though it had been happening for some time. If I walk down the hall with nothing more pressing on my mind than my own thoughts, it happens. I think of (D). It’s as if the hall had whispered his name to me.

I wouldn’t mind the whispering, really, except that it’s so strange that it happens.

Why I should think of (D) is anyone’s guess. Although he’s a very likeable person, I’ve never really gotten to know him. We’ve never had a real conversation or exchanged more than basic pleasantries. He’s a nice man, a good man, a man that I admire and respect from afar, but not someone that I could say that I really know.

Nevertheless, the hall whispers of (D).

When our department reported to him, every so often he would come down to see us. He’d say hello to me, maybe stop to chat a minute if G. were here, and hole up a while in A. or P.’s office to talk sports or work or life or whatever it is men talk about. But he’s a busy man, and he wouldn’t come often.

If I were alone with my thoughts in the hall, it might occur to me if we hadn’t seen (D) in a while.

Then the reorganization began, and we didn’t report to (D) anymore. There was no more reason for him to come down, to make time in his busy schedule for visiting, and no doubt there would have been political fallout if he had.

When I was alone with my thoughts in the hall, it would occur to me that we hadn’t seen (D) in a while, and I would wonder when we might.

I could not have said why; I do not, after all, know him all that well. But crossing his path in the cafeteria – my only contact with him – became a rare and unexpected pleasure.

Now (D) isn’t here. On his last Monday, we had one of those rare encounters over coffee; on Thursday he was let go. So now on Monday mornings as I get my coffee, there is a melancholy moment when I think of (D). If only I had known it was the last time I would see him, perhaps I would have said more. Perhaps not. What, after all, was there to say when we hardly knew each other?

When I am alone with my thoughts in the hall, the whispering is louder than ever, there is a dull ache, and I find that I miss him. And why I should miss him is a mystery, when I barely knew him; except that he was a nice man, a good man, a man that I admired and respected from afar.

If (D) and I existed only on the periphery of one another — and still I feel this hole left behind by his absence – what will it be like when someone more central to me is gone?

Is that what the hall is really whispering?


~ by lorakceel on March 19, 2004.

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