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Progressive Khakis

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A cool wind blew, sending chills down Flo’s spine. She shivered softly and hugged her sweater closer to her body. It was a little past sunset and getting increasingly dark outside. It was getting hard to see, but she didn’t mind. She was meeting someone special tonight.

A rustling sounded from some bushes nearby and she jumped.

“Hello?” She called out. A pang of fear crossed through her, but she quickly ignored it. At worst, it was just a stray animal.

The bushes rustled some more before a person seemed to suddenly appear in front of them. It was a stout man with short brown hair and a bright red shirt.

“Jake!” Flo said, relieved. She skipped over to him. “Are you all right? Why didn’t you take the path?”

“I couldn’t see,” he admitted sheepishly, brushing some dirt off his khakis. “I got out of work late.”

“Be more careful next time!” Flo said, wrapping her arm around his shoulder. “I don’t want you to get hurt.”

“Sorry,” He replied.

“Don’t worry about it,” Flo told him, dismissively waving her hand. “Anyways, it’s a beautiful night. The sky is clear and this park gives a great view of the stars. Look!” She pointed upwards. It was true, hundreds of stars twinkled brightly, illuminating the sky.

“It’s beautiful,” Jake murmured. “But not as beautiful as you!” He playfully nudged her. Flo laughed and rolled her eyes.

“You’re so cheesy!” She teased, poking his side. Jake simply laughed.

The two stood there in content silence for a few minutes, gazing at the stars happily. Eventually, Jake spoke.

“I have to be getting back to work,” He said softly, sadness lingering in his voice.

“You’re still doing the graveyard shift? I thought I asked you to switch to a daytime shift!” Said Flo, turning to face him.

“I know, but my boss wont let me. Less people are willing to work at night so he takes whoever is willing to do it and keeps them there,” Jake explained with clear distaste. “Trust me, if I could go back and time and prevent myself from signing up for this shift, I would. But I just can’t.” He took her hand into his, their fingers slowly intertwining.

Flo huffed sadly.

“I just…I don’t see you very often in person,” She murmured softly, lowering her eyes to the ground.

“I know,” Jake sighed. “maybe we can meet up again on Sunday? I’m free then.” Flo shrugged at the offer. She didn’t feel like thinking about it right now.

A moment of silence passed before they talked again.

“Well, regardless, we’ll make this work. I know we can,” Jake said, smiling.

“What if we get caught?” Flo asked suddenly, looking back up at him, concern flashing in her eyes. “You know our companies are rivals. If they found out I was dating you, they’d probably fire me!”

“Who cares what our companies think?” Jake rebutted. “We’ve been seeing each other for almost three months now and no one’s noticed a thing. We’ll be fine,” he kissed her forehead.

“Hmm…” Flo hummed pensively. “Alright.” She smiled and pressed her lips to his before he bid her farewell and scurried off to work.

About two weeks later, Flo was busy cleaning up her apartment. Jake was coming over today, the first time seeing each other in person again since they met in the park. He was five minutes late, but Flo didn’t mind. His building was quite far from where she lived so she figured it must’ve been traffic.

She quickly set out some coffee and cookies on the table and grabbed some DVDs for them two watch before sitting on the couch and waiting excitedly, humming softly and kicking her feet.

Another five minutes passed. Flo grew worried. She grabbed her cellphone and quickly texted Jake.

Hey! Is everything okay?

No response came. Flo began to chew on her lip when suddenly the doorbell rang. She immediately jumped up and ran to answer it. She gasped when she opened the door.

There Jake stood, his nose badly bruised and a steady flow of blood streaming from it. His eyes were wet with tears and his fists were clenched and scraped.

“J-Jake!” She cried, immediately brining him in and closing the door. “What happened?”

“Mayhem happened,” He replied stiffly. Flo immediately knew what, or rather who, he was talking about.

Mayhem from Allstate was an annoying and mischievous man who always ruined things by, well, causing mayhem. He struck at the most inopportune times and never took responsibility for his actions. And yet, he managed to convince hundreds of people to join Allstate insurance. It boggled Flo’s mind how people could be so swayed by someone so atrocious.

“Let’s fix you up,” she said, rushing him into the bathroom, where she kept a first aid kit. She quickly wet a towel and wiped the blood from his face. Thankfully, it seemed to have stopped bleeding, but it would still require medical attention.

Flo cleaned and bandaged the scraped on his hands and knuckles and gave him an ibuprofen for the pain.

“We’ll have to get a doctor to look at your nose,” she said, gently guiding him to the couch, where he lay down with a loud groan. “Jake, honey, tell me what happened.”

“I said, it was Mayhem,” he replied, wincing in pain. “he somehow got into my cubicle and started messing with my stuff. I told him to leave but he refused and he started breaking things so I…” he hesitated. “I hit him and we got into a fight. He was much stronger though, as you can see,” he motioned to his nose. “eventually, my coworkers came and drove him out. I was so upset and embarrassed I ran out…” his eyes began to fill up with tears. “I’m sorry,” he choked out before sobbing.

“Sh…” Flo said, stroking his head softly. “It’s okay! You aren’t to blame. We all hate Mayhem. He’s a douche. I think you’re very brave for stepping up to him,” she kissed his forehead gently.

“But he broke half my stuff, and everybody saw-“

“Well, fighting him is still better than just doing nothing. You fought back against his actions. How many people have you seen do that? They’re scared of him. But you showed courage, and that’s awesome.” Jake smiled and looked at her.

“Thank you,” he said. Flo wiped his tears away and kissed his cheeks. “I love you,” he sighed happily.

“I love you, too,” Flo replied, kissing him sweetly. She gently nuzzled her head against Jake’s, giggling slightly.

The two lay like that in silence, holding each other and simply enjoying the other’s presence.