BY T. L. TOMLJANOVIC
Copyright rests with the author.
“DON’T BREAK your grip!”
My wrists twist back. The ball connects with the metal face of my five-iron and reverberates through my palms. The sound is off, a hollow ting rather than a meaty thwack. Sure enough, the ball rockets to the right and into the pond with a heart-sinking plunk.
“Great distance.” Tina claps me on the shoulder.
Exhaling through my nose, I pocket my pride and plaster on a smile. Doesn’t she know the cardinal rule of golf? Never talk during someone else’s swing. Agreeing to hit the links with my boss is my personal idea of hell, but deals are done on the greens. Bonds forged in overpriced cart rentals and garishly bright collared golf shirts.
Tiny Tina, an office moniker as original as Little John, towers over me at six foot one. My supervisor, she irritatingly and repeatedly outdoes me in every facet of life — her career trajectory, her physicality, even her ‘atta-boys!’ cheerleader routine with the rest of the staff trumps me in the likeability department. I loathe her.
When I started working, I had dreams. I’d work my way up, save enough to buy a house. But as I toiled away year after year, I stayed put. Not bottom rung, but immediately adjacent. Tina joined the company less than a year ago, and, in that time, sailed her way from junior associate to manager. I should have paid closer attention. I should have done something sooner.
Shuffling my five-foot-nothing frame towards the water hazard, my resentment simmers like stew. Not much of a talker, I rarely socialize with my colleagues. I skip office holiday parties and claimed food poisoning last year to avoid the team-building retreat, which is probably why Tina told me that if I wanted to go over my performance review, it would be on the golf course. She said it with a wink. She knows I golf. And I couldn’t think of a new way to say no.
Chipping her ball into an effortless arc up onto the green, Tina sinks it. Birdie.
Dropping into the rough next to the water, I swing and miss.
If only there was no Tina. If only it was just me, I’d be manager, I’m sure of it. Maybe if I’d been promoted, I could have bought that house. I could have had a decent year, a decent golfing average. Tina the Terrible, destroyer of dreams.
I stare hard at the dimpled white ball and then up again at the hole.
Toxic Tina gives me a big thumbs up before pulling out the pin in one hand and her phone in the other. She brings her iPhone up to her ear by its neon pink case. The fluorescent flamingo-bright target next to the pin taunts me.
Tick tock, Tina; time’s up. Shoving doubt down into the bowels of my body, I loosen my grip and swing. The ball drives into the side of tragic Tina’s head with a wet thunk and she collapses without a sound. Par!
T.L. Tomljanovic is a freelance writer living in Langley, British Columbia. Her work was nominated for Best Microfiction 2024 and received an honourable mention in Off-Topic Publishing’s flash fiction contest. Read her recent work in Raw Lit, Bear Paw Arts Journal, Fairfield Scribes, and Literally Stories. You can find her on X @TLTomljanovic and tomljanovic.wordpress.com/.