Loves Me Not (PART THREE)
My job was the thing that consumed my life. I spent long periods of time in the office or at home on my laptop, perfecting news articles. Contrary to my Mum's beliefs, I was never in any danger. It was difficult still to talk to a family right after a tragedy. Only at times where I had to write down gruesome details of a death or kidnapping would I question my job.
I had one girlfriend between the times I saw Laura. Her name was Rona and she worked in the sports department above my floor. We dated for two months until she dumped me for the Fred, the janitor. Fred seemed like nice guy, and besides, Rona and I had nothing in common. It still didn't feel good to be dumped, it never does.
It was only a month after that that I heard of what happened to Laura's fiancé. I was walking into work one day and they had the news on in our department (as always). They had it on solely so that they could be updated on any stories they should catch up on. Breaking News Story echoed though the department, and everything went quiet. Something we hadn't written about yet.
"Scott Milne, a 26 year old man, was shot and killed yesterday at his job. Joshua Anderson, the man trying to rob the small sweet shop in Basingstoke; also shot Scott's fiancée, Laura Garcia. Laura is currently being treated at the North Hampshire Hospital. We will bring you more of the story, as soon as possible."
My mouth gaped open as my manager walked up to the T.V. "This is a juicy one; I'll get on it right away." She said, and started to walk back to her office. When I caught my breath again, I ran up behind her. "Susan, let me take this one." I pleaded. She picked up her jacket. "Olly, you're a great writer, but I think this stories a bit sensitive for someone as new as you to handle." Susan replied, patting my back.
"No, Susan I can get the story, I know her." My voice echoed and Susan stopped in her tracks. She turned around and walked back to me. "How well do you know her?" She asked. "We were best friends in Secondary School." I said, sticking my hands in my pockets. "Why aren't you friends now, did you have a falling out?" Susan asked, getting closer. I could smell the smoke on her jacket she was so close.
"No, we keep in touch." I lied. My lying came through this time, and Susan nodded. "Then I suppose you're the right person to go. Just don't let any emotional attachments to this story affect your writing." Susan added, "And I want it back here by Tuesday." I smiled and nodded, grabbing my bag and running out the door.
When I arrived in Basingstoke I wasn't too sure as to what to do. I decided to wait until she was home. I called Susan in the day of the funeral. "Hey Olly, I hope you have the story done. You only have one more day." She said instantly. "I need a week extension." Susan coughed. "A week, everyone is going to have the story then!" Susan shouted. "Trust me; Laura's not talking to anyone else. I just want to wait until I can get her alone."
Susan groaned down the phone. "Alright Olly, but this better be a top story you have." She said. "It will be." I assured her, hanging up. I watched as Laura and her Mum got into a car and drove off. I followed. I needed to know where she lived. I spent the next few days in a hotel, waiting for her Mum to go home.
On a Friday I walked over to her flat. I wasn't sure what one it was, so I ended up knocking on a lot of doors. Up until the third floor, where a nice lady told me that Laura lived on the eighth floor, door number twelve. I mustered up all my courage to prepare for whatever was waiting on the other side of the door. I knocked three times and heard someone coming towards the door.
Laura swung the door open and stared at me for a second. She had a look of utter disbelief. Then she just jumped into a hug, standing on her tip toes. I felt sorry for her straight away. She looked tired, like she hadn't slept in days. I was also surprised that she was happy to see me. I finally let go, feeling her tears starting to soak through my collar.
She invited me in, apologizing for the mess, for her appearance, for everything. "You don't have to apologize for anything." I said truthfully as we sat down. She nodded, but started to clean up. I stopped her. "Do you want some tea?" I asked. She looked like she might object, but her tiredness got the better of her and she just sat down and said, "Yes, please."
When I had made tea, I handed it to her, and I didn't even have to ask her. She just spilled out every detail of what happened to me, like she was waiting for me to come around the whole time. I listened carefully, soaking up every detail. I felt terrible as I clicked my recorder on, but it had to be done. Soon she moved on, branching out to every other detail of her and Scott.
"The funeral had an open casket." She said, staring out into space. "He looked so peaceful…" She stopped herself and sniffled. "It sounds like Scott was a great man." I said. She smiled at me. "He really was." She talked for hours, but I didn't mind. She was the one that needed to get it off her chest. On the day before I left, I could tell Laura was getting better.
She started taking showers, making herself breakfast, and cleaning up. At dinner that night, she said "You know I've never believed that there's one person for everyone. I mean, I think a person can be equally happy with a number of people." Where was she going with this? Is she talking about me? I thought as she continued. "But life gets in the way of our happiness sometimes, making us pass up any opportunity that we may have with anyone else." She concluded. That confused me. We exchanged numbers and I agreed to keep in touch as much as possible when I got back.
On the way back I sat in the back of the taxi, typing away. I didn't want to continue, but I finally finished. I closed my laptop as we pulled up to work. I walked reluctantly into Susan's office. "There's my top reporter." She said, slamming her phone down on some poor soul. "Susan, I don't think I can do this." I said, clutching my laptop close.
She chuckled, "What do you mean, give me the article." Susan demanded, standing up. "She's my friend, I can't do this to her." I retorted. Susan scoffed, "Let me make this very clear. This story will put us into debt if we don't cover it, and get me in trouble. So you can play the hero and get fired, or hand me that laptop and this will all be over." She put out her hand.
I know how terrible it was to give her that laptop, but I worked for four years for that job, and I knew I didn't have a chance with Laura, so I handed it in. I got my paycheck two days later, and the article was published a few weeks later, since it needed a few tweaks. I didn't want to know what I had done. I showed up for work, receiving high fives and back slaps, co-workers telling me my article was a huge hit.
It all only made me feel worse, but I had to push through. I was in a meeting the day Laura called and left a message, and I listened to it when I got out, half an hour later. I immediately called back, leaving message after message. She didn't pick up. I wondered if she was coming to my work. I decided to go downstairs, so that she couldn't make a huge fuss in my department.
As I pushed the elevator button though, the doors opened and Laura was standing there. When she saw me there was fire in her eyes. She charged at me and I stumbled back. "Olly" She shouted, and I tried to shush her. "Don't you try and quiet me down!" She said, pointing her finger at me. I jumped into the now empty elevator. She came in after me. I was at least saved from my whole department seeing whatever was going to happen.
"Laura, just listen to me." I said. "What is wrong with you Olly? I thought you were my friend!" She screamed, and it echoed through the four walls. "I was- I am." I stuttered. "NO, you used me to get credit with your boss." She replied. I groaned. "Will you just listen to me?" I shouted. She raised an eyebrow and put her hands on her hips. "I'm listening."
The door suddenly opened and a man walked in. I had five floors to collect my thoughts. The man stood uncomfortably between us, as Laura kept her eyes trained on me. I stared at the door, pretending not to notice. Finally the doors opened and the man practically ran out. I grabbed the crook of Laura's arm and lead her outside and into the coffee shop.
We sat down. "I had no choice…" I barely started. "You always have a choice!" She retorted. I shot her a look. "Will you let me finish?" I grouched. She crossed her arms and leaned back. "I was sent to your house to report on the story of your boyfriend,"
"Yeah, fiancé, anyways when I got to your house I just knew I couldn't do it. So when I got back I told my boss that I couldn't give her the story. She threatened to fire me and…"
"You caved in."
"Laura, you don't get it. I was in college for four years straight, just to get this job."
"And you don't seem to understand that by printing that story you risked there ever being- us ever having- anything." Laura replied, and with that she stood up and began to walk away. "Oh no you don't," I said "Sit back down. You can't just say something that intriguing and then walk away. Let's sort this out like adults." I felt good with that statement. I felt empowered.
Laura looked me up and down and sat back down. She started. "You were right, we can't ever just be friends, and so why trouble ourselves with this constant attraction? I say we just do a clean break and rid ourselves of, well each other." She looked down at the table. "Is that what you want?" She shrugged, "I don't see any other solution." She said.
This girl, well this woman, was sitting just inches away from me. I was reminded of secondary school, all that time we spent sitting at the lunch table. And for half of that time, Laura said nothing about how she felt. Was I really about to do the same thing? It was too soon. I couldn't tell someone who is still grieving over their fiancé's death that I loved them.
It just wasn't the time. But that didn't mean that there wouldn't be a time that I could tell her. I decided to let her walk away, at least for that moment. She stood up, slinging her bag over her shoulder. I stood up and we shook hands, something different for us. She glanced at me one last time before turning around and leaving.
I, on the other hand, watched her the whole time as she walked away, to her car and off back to Basingstoke. I ran my fingers through my hair and walked back to my building, ideas running through my head. I needed something sweet, but not overly dramatic. I needed something that she would appreciate.
It was my mission to win Laura back, and I wasn't planning on her leaving my life any time soon. All I needed was some time.