Hearing my name softly, I stood there cemented in my thoughts that drifted to my co-worker’s hands on the small of my back from the night before. Last night, we’d attended a charity dinner at one of the premiere locations in NYC.
Then I heard my name again. I remembered the way he whispered my name in my ear.
Then I heard my name come out in an angry roar. Other voices started coming to surface.
Snapping out of it, I came back to the here and now. Taking in the reddened face of the rather large barista and the heated faces of the customers behind me that trailed out the door, I wondered. How long have I been spaced out like this?
“Oh, so sorry.” I curtly apologized to only get a grunt from the man holding my coffee.
I took the coffee from his hands, and hastened out the door. Puta madre! I said looking at my watch. I am late for work. I gulped down the coffee as I crossed the same streets I did everyday. Until, I stopped at the revolving door of the company I worked for. The one I had my heart set on running in the near future.
Tossing the empty coffee cup into the trash, I strolled through the overly air-conditioned lobby. Taking in the marble everything and familiar faces, I smiled. I liked where I worked, and I was almost there.
“Good morning, Ms. ——.” They all knew me well. And were expecting me.
“Good morning, gentleman. Sorry, no donuts today.”
“Oh what a shame. Well, we’ll settle for that sweet smile of yours.” Willie gave me a wink.
“Flattery will get you nowhere, Willie.” I said as I waited for the elevator to arrive. I always played on the innocent banter with him.
Just as quickly as I stepped into the elevator, I was stepping out of it. The elevator doors opened, and I started making my habitual walk past the shabby cubicles to my office. That’s when my eyes met him. My co-worker from last night. My business partner on a new advertising campaign we’d been working on relentlessly for a little over three months. It should be no surprise that he’s here. I work with him every goddamn day. Why am I all of a sudden not happy about it? He’s the most diligent, hardworking partner I’ve had.
It hits me like a bus driving full-speed ahead.
The day I never wanted to come. In the last six years, I had distanced myself from all men with the exception of my father. I had always had big ambitions and goals– I closed myself off from men. I told myself I would not let a man or marriage get in the way of my dreams. I saw what it did to my mom. Now, I wasn’t so sure.
Tripping over my own two feet, and face planting into the hard, matted carpet, I had my revelation. I was in love with this man. With my co-worker who I’d known for over a year. Somehow, I had slipped up. I let him in.
Oh man, I am screwed.
It was like a stranger had stolen my wallet without me knowing. When I did realize what had happened, it was too late. It was too late for what I badly wished would not be true.
There were signs for weeks. I’d been a fool to ignore them– falsely telling myself that all the erratic heart beats, deep breaths, stares, and dreams meant nothing.
And now, things became more awkward in his presence.
During my fall, I caught sight of his face distorting in shock and what I think to be concern. He quickened his steps. Putting my arm in his to help me up, I gasped audibly. My heart was racing so quickly, I thought it would give out at any moment from exhaustion.
“Are you alright?” He asked me. Those eyes. That mouth. That voice.
Mentally, I started waving a white flag. I give in. Take me. Take me now.
“Hmm.” Is what I settled for.
I could feel his eyes burning into mine, but I could not meet his.
He stood there, staring at me and waiting for more.
I didn’t know whether to look up or down. My mind could no longer function correctly. I felt like I couldn’t speak without sounding like an idiot. Mentally, I slapped myself over and over. This is your co-worker who you have worked with for over a year. Be professional. You can do that. You have done that with this man for quite some time.
Running through and repeating words in my head over and over, I could not help second guessing what I wanted to say until the minutes were leaving me. Soon, it was too late to respond without seeming like I was mentally slow. Awkward silence never felt more uncomfortable or so right, because I was at least near him. I stared at the wall. If my eyes met his, I was afraid of what I would do or say.
“Well, if you need anything,” he touched my arm, “I am here for you.”
Fixating on his voice. I started analyzing all of his words as if under a microscope. Cursed by this new emotion for him, I now looked for deeper meaning beneath his words.
I started thinking that something, an energy, an understanding, a lust, a connection- something there stood. Even if it couldn’t be seen. Even if we both didn’t recognize it.
Then I started moving my two feet again to my office. He followed while telling me his ideas for how to impress our new, billion-dollar client.
Whatever it was between us, even if my own mind procured it, the damn something between us robbed me of my focus. For that, I resented him. I was so angry with him. I wanted to slap him. Watching his mouth move as he spoke, I thought, I want to kiss him. And these thoughts continued on– driving me to the brink of insanity.
Sitting in my office after he left, I thought of him. I couldn’t control my thoughts. What will triumph –my desire for a man or my desire for success?
Maybe I could have both.
No. I will not be a fool.
My decision was made for me. I got right down to business and immersed myself with work. Busy. Aha! Busy was the answer! I just had to stay busy, and that would solve my problem.
But my feelings were only budding. When my feelings for him bloomed, it would change everything.
Fictional excerpt by yours truly. Hope you enjoyed!