According to the police, she died on a Friday night. It was the following Monday morning when we noticed she wasn’t at her desk. Later that day, she was found on her couch with the TV still on and a bowl of melted ice cream turned over on the carpet. Of course I wouldn’t know these details until some other time.
I never had reason to talk to her, so I never did. I knew her only by facial recognition. In fact, when someone asked me, „Did you hear that D___ died?“ it wasn’t until they qualified it with, „You know, the red jacket?“ that I actually knew who they were talking about. She kept a red jacket draped over the back of her chair and would sometimes place it over her shoulders when she felt cold, but she never wore it home. The red jacket never left the office. She also kept one framed picture on her desk, of a girl about my age – presumably her daughter. Sometimes when I’d pass by her desk and she was away, I would pause to look at that picture. The girl was very pretty and, during those times when I was in a spiteful mood, I would think she must’ve received her looks from her father, whoever he was.
But that Monday and Tuesday, her desk sat empty and preserved like an unvisited shrine. I’ll admit to calling her extension during that time just to hear a dead woman recite her voicemail greeting. Then on Wednesday, her few personal items (the red jacket and framed picture, included) were packed into a cardboard box and set aside in our manager’s office so that the girl or any other family member could claim it when ready.
After a few weeks, the box was moved into our stockroom where, as far as I know, it still is today with other, newer boxes piled on top of it. Someone else has long since moved into that desk, that chair, and took over that phone extension. He will sometimes drape a blue or gray sports jacket over the back of the chair, but always wears it home that evening. Sometimes I even wonder if he knows who sat there before him.