La Dolce Vita 3 – Sophie’s First Story
The hive is swarming with activity, every cubicle buzzing. Phones ringing, being answered, voices intermingling across the huge room, above the partitions. A sonorous murmuring meant to sound like efficiency, like productivity. The fluorescent lights overhead flicker, then glare again. The Manager stands in the doorway, smiling. The hum and bustle, the bright lights, the busyness all around make her feel alive, needed, fertile. She flutters down the narrow path between the cells and listens to the music of the office, watches the panoply of life imitating life.
“All estimates due by closing time today!” Veronica directs her Zoom attendees, brisk and bossy as always.
Amy balances two phones, one bright red. “Hold on, Ronda. Kate’s on the hot line.”
“We closed on the Wildflower account,” Brenda exclaims, as the Manager reaches her cubicle. “Congratulations!” Brenda is one of her best workers.
Greg hears the Manager coming and quickly switches his computer screen from a video game to a complex spreadsheet. She rolls her eyes, but says nothing. What can you expect from a drone?
She completes her daily rounds, heading back to her inner sanctum, when she notices the transparent pipe leading from each cubicle to her office filling slowly with a thick liquid. Today’s profits! She rushes to place jar after jar under the viscous outpouring. She dictates a memo to her AI device. “Order more jars.” When the flow subsides for the day, at five o’clock on the dot, she opens the nearest jar, dips a spoon in and tastes. Delicious! One of the best harvests yet.
She detects clover, rush hours, orange blossom, impossible deadlines, neglected families, sourwood. An exquisite blend of country and city, natural and unnatural, simple and cutting edge. Her workers have outdone themselves. She watches them file out of the exits like sleepwalkers. Then she cuts generous slabs of bread, slathers each slice with fragrant, golden honey, and wolfs down her evening feast. Moving toward the door, her compound eyes scanning rows of dark amber, her wings briefly glowing in the half-light of dusk, she extinguishes the lights, and heads for home.