Dictionary Definition

Day 17 of my daily writing challenge. I realized something horrible: I do not own a dictionary! Instead, I opened a book and chose a word at random.

17. Dictionary Definition: Open up a dictionary to a random word. Define what that word means to you.


cor·​ner | \ ˈkȯr-nər  \
transitive verb
1a: to drive into a corner
the animal is dangerous when cornered
b: to catch and hold the attention of especially to force an interview

Cornered. Trapped. There was nothing for it. My lunch break was ruined.

I’d waited until his desk—the one by the kitchen door—was empty. Perhaps he was in a meeting. Maybe he’d gone to the toilet.

Now was my chance!

I grabbed my Tupperware and made a dash for it. If I was lucky, I could get to the kitchen and close the door behind me before he got back to his cubicle.

I was nearly at the kitchen door when he pounced.

“Hey! You having lunch? Great! I’ll join you!”

My heart sank.

Turns out he’d been lurking in the printer room, waiting for a victim. Too late now. He’d seen the Tupperware.

“I was just going to warm this up and—”
“Oh, I’ll just keep you company.”

Cornered. Trapped. My lunch break was ruined.

I smiled wanly and meekly submitted to having my ear talked off on some tedious topic. As I stood there, waiting for my meal to warm up, I prepared to zone out.

Something in his tone, though, caught my attention.

There was a different note in his voice. A halting, hesitating manner. Normally he droned on, not seeming to care whether his victim listened or not. Today, though, he paused frequently. At a couple of points he trailed off, staring into space.

Eventually he stopped talking and just stood looking out the window. The microwave beeped, but he didn’t hear it. Instead of pulling out my meal, making my excuses and dashing off, I looked at him.

“Brad?” I said.

He was looking away from me, but I could see tears in his eyes.

“Brad, are you okay?”
“Oh! Oh, hey. Yeah. What was I saying?”
“I just asked if you were alright.”

He looked straight at me for a moment, then looked to the window again. He mouthed something, and I stepped closer to hear him.

His words were practically a whisper.

“My mother died last weekend.”

His mother. I cast back to see what I could remember him telling me about her. I seemed to remember he’d lived with his elderly mother. When he wasn’t at work he was her primary caregiver.

My own heartlessness filled me with shame. Here was a man cornered, too. Cornered by his grief and loneliness.

“I’m so sorry, Brad.”

I moved to the kitchen table and pulled out two chairs. I sat down in one and gestured to the other.

“Will you tell me about her, Brad? Will you tell me about your mother?”

He looked at me again. A weak smile came over his face. With a sniffle, he sat down. I passed the stack of napkins to him across the table, figuring he’d need one for a tissue. I took one for myself, just in case.

My lunch sat forgotten in the microwave.


The Brain In Jane works mainly in the rain. It's always raining somewhere. Find me on Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

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