Like sifting for gold, patent examining can be a scrupulous activity. I mutter my mantra . . . find a way . . . find a way . . . there must be a way. My eyes scan documents and reference books with a determined fluidity. My brain wheels churn in frustration. Pausing for a moment, I gently massage my right wrist with my left thumb. In the background, I can hear the steady beat of my clock. Tick. Tick. Tick. Finally, as 12 strikes, I see it. A sly smile grows on my face, and my eyes gleam. Smelling success, I reach for the stamp. REJECTED.

Sindya Narayanaswamy

Arlington

At the height of lunchtime rush, I plunk a mug of decaf on Table 3 and a silver creamer next to it. My pinkie catches the handle of the creamer, drags it across the table and spews the contents in the customer's lap.

"Sorry . . . so sorry!" I give his ruined wool slacks an awkward pat with a napkin and dash off for a refill.

Moments later, I've delivered the creamer again, hooked it with the same pinkie and swept a second wave of milk into his sopping lap.

"Miss! MISS!" he laughs, arms held high in surrender. "I take my coffee black!"

Paulette Moore

Arlington

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