First sight

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
My (two) week(s) with Marilyn (Ben)

Submitted: September 07, 2016

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Submitted: September 07, 2016

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Combing my fingers through my hair and straightening my tie, I made for the door of the staff room. I should say, to begin with, I'm a terribly shy and anxious person. It was my first day at a new job, and though I walked with my head high and shoulders back, it was an illusion. Perfecting this illusion is an art form I've worked on for many years. Maintaining a confident and collected exterior whilst living with one's own cacophonic internal monologue overanalysing each and every thing I do or say has become second nature. Reaching out for the door, the familiar sting of nerves electrifying my chest, voices bickering in my head, a sick feeling swelling within my stomach - I considered turning and walking away. Growing up I have always been well liked and popular: I have a great family, do well in school, dress well and have been told I'm good-looking, yet at twenty years old I still suffered extreme social anxiety and low confidence.

Among the chatter heads turned and eyes gazed, looking me up and down as I entered.  I scanned the room for a friendly face, finding Sandra perched at the end of a table. I met Sandra a couple of weeks ago when interviewing for the job, and she was a new starter just like me. I threw a general smile of greeting at the room before sitting quietly beside her. Whilst trying to glance inconspicuously around, I noticed someone who looked around my age. He had dark brown hair, a strong and well-defined face, was clean shaven and tall. Cool but not too cool, good-looking but not too good-looking and an aura of introversion that instantly attracted me too him. I have known I am gay for several years, though have continued to date girls and accept the fact that I will never have the courage to admit it. He briefly met my gaze before I looked coolly away. 

It was one o'clock when I returned from my lunch break, having chosen the option of leaving the building to eat my lunch on a park bench with my earphones in rather than make idle conversation of small talk and fake laughter with my new coworkers. My manager - a plump, arrogant and humourless woman with wispy blonde hair - asked me to photocopy some files in the copy room down the corridor. It was clear she had little affection for the task of training new staff: tutting, sighing and rolling her eyes at any opportunity. The harsh wrinkles around her eyes and hunched shoulders suggested she was a weary woman; the kind to take six months off due to 'stress'. 

"Where is the copy room again?" I asked politely.

She sighed, tutted and rolled her eyes. "Were you not shown around the building on induction?" She asked sarcastically.

"Oh yes, sorry, I'll find it". This moron literally whisked us around a few areas in about five minutes, two weeks before.

Walking down the corridor, I simply decided to check behind every door until I found the copier. The office sported a stale and dated interior: cream walls, fluorescent industrial lighting, brown pinewood doors. Opening the first door I found two middle-aged men dressed in suits either side of a desk strewn in files and paperwork. "Excuse me we're in the middle of a meeting!" 

"Oh sorry!" I replied, quickly withdrawing back into the corridor and feeling the heat of my reddening face. For god's sake. 

"You ok?" A voice behind me asked. Turning my head I saw it was he who I'd noticed in the staff room. I felt my heart begin to race and ears burn an even darker scarlet shade.

"Melanie asked me to photocopy these", I held up my stack of files for proof, "but I've no idea where the photocopier is." He laughed. "It's just down here I'll show you. I'm Ben by the way, what's your name?" "Alex", I replied, must say something else... "how long have you been working here?"

Ben and I stood in the copy room chatting effortlessly over the hum of my printing files. We liked the same music, films and books. He wasn't really into sport (me neither), mentioned how he didn't understand the hypocrisy over religion's disapproval of homosexuality and laughed with me. I was head over heels. 

As I stepped back through the double doors from the corridor I was greeted by an irritated stare at the clock on the wall and an eye roll. "Did you get lost?" Fuck off Melanie. I returned to my desk and sat down before my computer screen. I really liked him. Was this what love felt like? I'd certainly never felt such strong emotions for another person before, but how could I love someone I'd only just met. No, I think this must be what a crush is though that feels quite belittling of the feeling currently pulsating throughout my whole body. My chest ached agonisingly just to glimpse or talk to him again. 

Subsequent days followed a similar path. Each day would be spent thinking about my next encounter with Ben: do I play it cool this time or try to chat? Sometimes I thought I noticed him looking at me from the corner of my eye in the staff room, he also appeared genuinely pleased when bumping into me. Each night I would go home and think about him constantly - about what we spoke about that day, about what tomorrow may bring. This not unpleasant but limbolike routine continued for the next couple of weeks until one Tuesday lunchtime.

I'd entered the staff room and seen Ben sitting in the middle of a rather busy sofa. Not really any room for me to sit there but I wanted to. I wondered how people would actually react to me force squeezing myself into a position beside him, probably think I was weird. Maybe if I crouch down to my knees on the floor nearby and eat there that would be more socially acceptable... no. "Hey Alex! Sorry do you want to sit down?" Gary. In my deep deliberation about how best to approach the sofa, I'd carelessly found myself hovering by a different table where Gary who works on a desk near me in the office was sitting. "Oh... err... no it's fi-" I began, but to my horror he was taking his bag and jacket off the chair beside him and pushing it out whilst gesturing for me to sit, "oh thanks a lot Gary", wanker. I bitterly unpacked my lunch - a luke-warm cheese sandwich complemented by a bag of crisps - whilst looking longingly over to the sofa and trying to eavesdrop on the conversation. By the end of my sandwich, a space freed up on the sofa as Karen stepped outside for a fag. Must not let this opportunity slip through my fingers. I got to my feet and made my way over, planning to randomly 'catch' whatever they were talking about and join in. "...so yeah the whole area on the ground floor was flooded last week", Ben was saying. I interjected, bag of crisps in hand, "oh is this about the flooding on the ground floor last week? I heard about that earlier, what happened?" I hadn't heard anything about it but he was now talking to me and I took a seat and nodded my head very seriously and interested. Jesus I'm attracted to this guy. I read once that staring at someone's mouth as they spoke was a subconscious sign that you wanted to kiss them. Well I could not take my eyes off the way his mouth moved. He was also exceptionally witty, my personal favourite material being his impression of smelly Melanie, where he could contort his body into an incredibly accurate depiction of her hunchback. He continued, "anyway yeah so the floor was completely covered in water, in fact when I told my girlfriend about it she said it was really bad at her work too". What the fuck. Girlfriend. At that moment as my heart crumbled and body stiffened I zoned out of the conversation. My brain was screaming at me to not let my face react and to continue pretending to listen. I'd seen no mention of a girlfriend when I was stalking his Facebook profile. At one point I found myself holding back laughter as I thought what an idiot I'd been fixating on a straight person for the last two weeks. He was still talking, though his face appeared veiled in confusion. What's he pulling a face at? Oh shit. Did he notice some reaction to the G word on my face when he said it? I again felt the blood rush to the surface of the skin on my face, I felt warm, embarrassed, devastated. I noticed he had just finished talking. "God yeah flooding sounds well bad."


© Copyright 2017 Horatio Dawson. All rights reserved.

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