Friday, June 17, 2011

Tell Her: Speak Up

(Unexpected continuation of the story Tell Her...)


Holding his coffee in one hand, he watched his steps with exquisite care, slipping behind her as she strode down the hall.  She never noticed their near collision.

Or so he thought. Still moving, she glanced over her shoulder and smiled. "Hi."

Surprised, he could only mumble his own hello. But he did remember to smile. A good one, he thought.

She frowned for a moment, but before he could repeat himself she said, "I'm surprised you remember my name."

He opened his mouth to speak.

Andy breezed by.

"Hi Andy!"

"What? What was that?"

Amusement breaking along her face, she continued looking over her shoulder, her focus entirely on Andy, who was smaller but infinitely more animated than he was. Then Andy was out of sight and they were fast approaching his office, and—


In his head he called Andy several things only other number crunchers could appreciate.

"Lanie, Lanie, Lanie!"

He also cursed her single-minded attention.
Rolling his eyes, he slipped into his office with his coffee.

Wait...had she tried to look back at him again?  He could have sworn he saw her head turn in his direction. There was no way to tell now, not without a good excuse for poking his head back into the busy hall, and he couldn't think of one. Groaning, he sat at his heavily cluttered desk.  His first time seeing her all week and his overly friendly office-mate had botched it. The whole exchange—the near miss, their brief exchange, and Andy's sideswipe—couldn't have taken more than 2, maybe 3 minutes tops. The hall wasn't that long and she'd been on a mission.

Sipping his coffee, he imagined he could hear her.  From where he was that wasn't possible, not as loud as his floor got on a Friday afternoon. Then he saw a flash of color through his door. He looked up.  She'd paused long enough to greet Ben in the office across from his, but was quickly gone.

Ben waved at him. Chagrined, he saluted the other man with his coffee cup.

Back to work then.

He was pointedly trying not to look at the clock, again, when he heard, "Hi Andy!"

It was echoed, presumably, by Lanie.

"Haven't I seen you before?”


Andy breezed into their shared office and stopped suddenly.  “Is there something on my face? My shirt on fire?”

“What? What—No!”

“Then why are you staring?”

“I...” He shook his head. Now he really could hear her voice--hear her and Lanie talking loudly just around the corner, but too far away to make out he conversation.

“Oooh. I know what’s wrong.”

His head shoot up.

“I’m wearing the wrong tie.”

Smiling, he shook his head. “You don’t wear a tie, Andy.”

“Maybe I should.”

He chuckled and went back to work. If nothing else, Andy could always put a smile on your face. It was a bad day when he couldn’t.

“You know she’s just around the corner at the copy machine.”


“I saw you two in the hall. Did you tell her you liked her legs?”

He looked up from the document on the screen, its tiny text ruining his eyesight and contributing to today’s headache. “I barely got out a hello.”

“What? What happened. You had a captive audience.”

“You happened.”

“Me? What did I do. I said hello.”

I said hello, too. You just...” He gestured in Andy’s direction. “You were you. Very...” Using both hands, he made a motion as if pulling something, energy, from his chest and sharing it with the room.

You said hello? I didn’t hear it. I heard her, but you...” Andy shrugged. “I didn’t know why she wasn’t looking ahead. Thought she might be wondering who the stalker was behind her.”

He narrowed his eyes and frowned.

Turning serious, if only for the moment, Andy set his things down on his own cluttered desk and sat in his chair. “Next time, talk so she can hear you. You get a chance, you take it. None of this wishy-washy stuff, yeah?”

He drew his hand over his head. “Yeah. I guess.”

Andy snorted. “You guess?”

I never see her. And she doesn’t have a reason to come here unless it’s to see you.”

Andy shrugged. “She’s working with Colleen on something, and Colleen’s right over there.” Andy jutted his chin in the general direction of the world beyond their shared office. “  I hear them talking all the time.  I’m sure you can find a reason to visit Colleen the next time your girlfriend needs to talks to her.”

She’s not my girlfriend.”

You keep mumbling like that, and you’ll be right.”


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