Closer Than You Think…
But my words like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence…
- Simon & Garfunkel
Sunday, May 7, 2017
I am sitting by the window. The wind is blowing forcefully, threatening the trees, the houses, the city: everything that is peaceful. The dark sky promises to make the day even more miserable. Ignoring all the times I have decided against it, I grab my favorite book.
I have sworn to myself for a thousand times that I’m not going to read romances anymore. My problem with a good book is that I fall in love with the male character and then I start looking for them in real life. I start looking for perfection. I realize it pretty well that if I continue doing that, I won’t be able to love someone real. No one is perfect in life and even if they were, they would not like the not-so-perfect me. Anyway, I grab my “Entwined with You” by Sylvia Day and sit by the window again. Soon, I’m engulfed in the beautiful love-story and I read till it’s dark outside and my eyes hurt.
Waking up to the loud noise of my alarm, I realize it’s finally Monday. I can go to work and drown into my busy schedule which I am looking forward to. I’ve graduated the university a year ago and now I’m a teacher of English at ‘Reach It’ language learning centre.
I lock my stubborn front door which always resists being closed and head downstairs.
The cool, breezy air of Yerevan welcomes me outside my building and I greedily inhale it filling my lungs. This gorgeous, ancient city of contrasts has seen me happy and sad, flying high and broken down. I take the bus to my workplace. Though I am 22, I still haven’t got a car, let alone a driving license. I enter the building after a small pep-talk on how amazing my day is going to be. Positivity.
“Who’s the best teacher here?’’ Shawna greets me cheerfully as soon as I open the door to the office.
“Me!’’ I say jokingly trying hard to match her enthusiastic energy. “What’s up? Why are you so jolly today?’’
“Umm… Sarah, you have three groups today and Lucy suggested you could take the upper intermediate group to a forum. It’s on business psychology. They could implement their knowledge and also I know you love psychology, so…”
“Shawna, there’s no need to persuade me. I would love to. Why do you think I’d refuse?”
“Because they are Lucy’s group and she has called in sick today. Apparently, bosses also get sick. But she said she would replace you for two of your group lessons later on. We really need to have more practical classes and… It’s already arranged. Please?”
Shawna can be so sweet when she needs to persuade you into things. If someone wants to arrange something, they usually go to Shawna simply because she has her way with people. I have always admired that and I can’t say ‘no’ to her pleading eyes now.
“Sure, I will take them. No worries!”
“Yes! You are stellar, girl!” She says, jumping with joy. “I will leave the details on your table.”
Thank goodness, I am wearing a black pencil skirt and a matching blouse with creamy heeled sandals. My short, black pixie hair is deliberately made to look ‘messy’. I fix my almost nonexistent makeup before we leave. At least, I will look acceptable.
At the entrance of the huge, sophisticated conference hall I gather my group of five teenagers for a pep-talk.
“Guys, I have already told you that the working language here is English, and the environment is highly formal. I only trust you to ask correctly formulated questions. No question is stupid. Now, go rock it!”
“Miss Kasparian, you are coming with us, aren’t you?” One of the girls inquires looking hopeful.
“I’d never miss the chance!” I say cheerfully because I would really not miss the chance. It’s psychology, after all.
The conference hall is full of formally dressed people and journalists. We take our seats just minutes before the forum starts.
“Success is how high you jump when you are at the bottom.” A very deep, almost intimidating voice fills the air. I still at the power it oozes. “To break through your success, you have to break through your psychology in the first place.”
Pretty wise, I think. I don’t know who’s speaking because it’s really hard to see the stage through the crammed room but I get to see the very first page of the slide. It reads “Alexander Tateossian, Founder and CEO of ‘CODEET IT Company’”.
“Nowadays, the market is full of offers. It’s also full of lies, because everything that a business person wants is consumption. What do you think they use to make you buy their goods?” The first thing that comes to my mind is that they use psychology. Someone gives that option too. “Right.” He says. “They use psychology. Simply because our psychology and our logic are not perfect. Do you know how those imperfections are called?” No option from the audience. They are called fallacies, I think. “They are called fallacies.” He says and I smile to myself.
The rest of his very interesting training flies quickly and I get the feeling he must be very smart. He knows a hell lot of logical fallacies and he successfully and deliberately uses some of them on us. The other speakers are not that impressive and I sneak out of the room for a short break. I round the corner to the corridor and my phone rings. It must be Lily. She is my best friend with whom I share my apartment and she has been out of the town for the past two days. I terribly miss her. As I’m trying to fetch my smartphone from my purse, someone bumps into me with a force capable of knocking me off my feet. Fortunately, my heels don’t betray me. My smartphone, though, flies scattering on the marble floor, breaking into parts. I follow the little personal tragedy with my eyes and silently curse. My books, my contacts, my work schedule… Annoyed at myself for carelessness and at the unknown subject for hitting me, I look up, ready to fully display my anger and this time I am hit again, mentally, by a gorgeous face looking at me. His hair is dark brown, his frame very muscular and, well, male. He is in a grey tailored suit and a darker grey tie. Fascinating… That’s all I can register at that moment since he reaches to steady me and my breath catches at his sudden touch.
“Are you okay? I’m sorry, I was in a hurry. Hope I didn’t do you any harm.” Then his gaze falls onto the floor where my phone is lying sad and broken and dead. “Seems I owe you a new phone now.”
A part of me, a huge, enormous, gigantic part of me wants to pretend I have broken my legs and arms just like my phone, so he does not leave, but my realistic mind soon regains control.
“No, no, I’m fine. Nothing to worry. It’s my fault, I was too careless.”
“No way, I need to buy you a new phone. That is the least I can do.”
He is so sweet and so polite I melt like an ice-cream on a summer day.
“Are you here alone? Because I need to leave now and I won’t be in Armenia for two weeks so I would really appreciate it if we could do it now. Do you need to tell anyone you are leaving?” I didn’t even agree to get a new phone. And he’s ordering me around now.
“I’m here with my students.” I reply watching him gather the parts of my sad and broken phone. He’s graceful. Taking my hand, he opens my palm and places the broken parts in it. I cannot move, speak or breathe. No one in my entire life has ever produced such an effect on me.
“We still have half an hour till the forum is over. We will manage. Come.” He says, putting his hand at the small of my back, and I feel electricity coursing through me at his touch. And I get to spend half an hour with him.
The mobile shop is within a five-minute walk from the hotel where the forum is taking place.
“Did you like the forum?” He breaks the silence I would be too shy to break myself.
“The first part, yes, then it got dull.”
“So you liked the opening speech?”
“Yes, very much. It was both informative and motivating. I couldn’t see who was giving the speech though.” I feel his gaze on me. My breathing accelerates.
“It was Alexander Tateossian.”
“Ah, yeah, I got to read his name. Do you know him?”
“Yeah, I do. Should I tell him something for you?” Hmm, why not let him know he’s good at what he does?
“Just tell him I think his speech was very impressive and his voice exudes control. At least, that’s what I felt.”
“Well, thanks. I’m flattered.” I look up to him just to find him grinning at me.
“What? Why would you be fl…” Then it downs on me. That’s him! He is him! This is so embarrassing! I feel my cheeks flush.
“Sorry, didn’t want to embarrass you. I just wanted an honest opinion.”
“It’s okay. Just unexpected. Anyway, your speech was great. Especially the ‘Anchoring Fallacy’ part.”
“Not many people know about fallacies. How come you do?” He is eyeing me curiously and for the first time in a long period, It feels so good to just casually talk to someone.
The rest of our walk is accompanied with cheerful conversation. He jokes about killing my phone; I tell him why I was at the forum… Surprisingly, seems like we know each other for a long time. The feeling is so comfortable and I just indulge in it…
Just before we enter the shop, he reaches for my forearm bringing me to a halt. Hello again, electricity.
“You never told me your name.” I stand there smiling, looking into his greenish - brownish mesmerizing eyes and I wonder if he feels the same comfort with me.
“It’s Sarah. Sarah Kasparian.”
“Nice to meet you Sarah, I’m Alexander.” With that, he reaches out his hand which I shakingly take. He is imposing: reminds me of the book I was reading. The main female character had the same feeling when she met the male character and I secretly, silently hope he also feels the same with me.
“Now let’s go get you a new phone.” He says breaking my train of thought and leads me to the ‘Apple’ section of the shop.
“Oh no, you don’t get to get me an iPhone. Mine was a Samsung.” I never imagined I would talk a stranger out of buying me an iPhone one day.
“Fine, it’s Samsung then.” He is obviously not pleased.
I make up my mind real quick when I find the same model on the stall.
“Here, this is it. A3. Black.” And it’s on sale, so it’s much better.
“If I get you an A5, will you insist you are going to pay for it?”
“Certainly.” Not that I intended not to pay for this one as well.
“Fine.” He is pouting like a child and I can’t help the huge grin crawling onto my face.
“What? Why is the smile?”
“No, nothing…” I expertly hide my smile. As he busies himself reading the phone parameters, I rush to the cash register so I can pay for the phone. Somehow, he is right in front of me, a mischievous look on his face.
“That was a bad decision you made.” Adrenaline rushes through my blood as I feel small and unprotected and yet safe.
Alexander leans closer to me while the sales assistant is registering the payment fluttering her eyelashes every time she looks at him.
“Sarah, I think we will need your SIM and SD cards.” He is dangerously close. My face is heating.
I get my sad and broken phone from my purse and put it on the stall. His hands expertly remove the cards. He has beautiful hands.
“Would you please fill in your contact information here?” The sales assistant refers to me while peeking at him.
I take the pen and start filling in my phone number and address on the blank. I pass the ‘e-mail’ part though. The blonde woman packs my new phone and hands it to me.
“Thanks for the phone. I really appreciate your gift.” I tell Alexander as we head back to the hotel.
“My pleasure. I wish it was a gift but it’s more of damage compensation.” I giggle.
On our way back, I learn that he is 26 and he was a programmer when he founded ‘CODEET IT Company’. It was a small start up first. The team only had 4 members with his living room as their office. Just in two years he could expand his business into gaming and robotics sections. He is so amazing.
“Alexander, as far as I remember, you were in a hurry when you bumped into me. Did I interfere with anything?” I am pathetic. Why? Because I need him to say he gave up his plans just to stay with me.
I need to get a grip fast because the pragmatic Sarah seems to be replaced by a hoper. And I have to remind myself that when we reach the hotel, he will leave and I will never see him again… The thought makes me sad…
“No, it’s fine. There was nothing of urgency.” He says, breaking my train of thought and bringing me back to reality. “And please, call me Alex.”
We reach the hotel and I notice we still have some five minutes.
Standing in front of each other, he is only a few inches taller than me so I can see his eyes scanning me. The beautiful smile that lights his face up gradually fades away, just like a sunset. His face is impassive, giving nothing away and I wish so hard I could read minds.
“I need to go… My flight to Prague is a few hours away. It was nice to meet you, Sarah.” Suddenly, the friendly, open Alexander becomes ice-cold and I wonder if I have done something wrong. I look into his eyes and I know I must be looking pathetic. Please, ask for my number, please… I cling to the faint line between hope and reality. But then, as he turns and leaves me standing there alone, the line dissolves into a senseless darkness I am so familiar with…