The sound of rain always brings me to a place where my feet can’t take me. The pitter patter was always relaxing to me. At this moment I am not a measly secretary in one of the biggest architectural firms in New York City but someone of importance with important places to go. Umbrella in hand I am in a rush. I am a person with a place in the city that never sleeps. Cute and chic and in a hurry.
Someone with places to go. Places to see. Things to do.
Clink, clink clank.
Not realizing that I have been daydreaming my work bestie begins clicking her pen in my face.
“Joy? Earth to Joy?”
Jesus. I begin to snap back to reality.
“Holy crap, Elle. You are not supposed to wake a sleepwalker”. I say snipingly wiping a bit of drool that must have escaped my mouth mid-daydream as I started out the window. I began adjusting my hair and outfit.
“Well, I am pretty sure you weren’t moving and there’s this unwritten rule that says you’re not supposed to sleep at your place of work.” Michelle replies with equally as much sass with a playing smile on her face.
She sits up a little in her desk adjacent to mine. Tall, skinny and pretty much beautiful, Michelle was a sight to behold. She always hated her full name, so I got used to calling her Elle. Her skin flawless straight brown hair down her back. She always looked nice as I took the time to admire another cute work outfit that I realized I didn’t notice coming in; a cute off the shoulder cream blouse and navy slacks. Literally perfect in every way but she never flaunted it which made her even more attractive. She was my best friend for this reason. I never felt less than her when we were younger. We were just kids heads in the clouds wanting less to be noticed and just having fun.
That lasted all of 3 years. When we entered high school, Michelle’s beauty wasn’t just a thing that we giggled about as silly. Her appearance compared drastically to mine. My curvy look hasn’t always been one of the fantasy books. My caramel skin was one of my favorite features along with a pretty decent set chest and a decent face. My look has gotten me on a few dates, but I always felt misplaced. I couldn’t always wear the designer brands and in this moment, I decided to look at my work outfit of the day- a frumpy clearance turtleneck sweater with slack and mid length boots. Seriously? Like did I even look in the mirror or pick the first thing I picked up?
“You’re right. Sorry I need to honestly finish these reports before I am spending another late night here.” I say confidently despite my minor flashback.
“Joy, you need to spend time outside of work and home. It’s a Friday night you’re 25 and gorgeous! A few of the girls and I are going to the new nightclub downtown if you want to stop by my place?” she pleads with me. It was times like these I forget why Elle even stayed being friends with me. In college with my art major and her business major- we always seemed to never have time for each other. Elle always made sure she enjoyed her nightlife while I would come home and lose myself in some documentary or a sketch.
I consider it knowing well I haven’t been out properly in like forever. Ugh. The crowds, the overpriced drinks and the less than adequate men that only wanted one thing. Plus, I would have to come up with something to wear to even be able to stand next to my sexy best friend. Suddenly, the idea of a nice night in my PJ’s eating leftovers sounded much better.
“Sorry Elle. Not tonight. Plus, if I don’t finish this report the boss is going to have my head.” I tell her hoping she gets the hint and back down.
Of course, this is my best friend we’re talking about- she pokes me slightly further to dissemble my poorly constructed half-truth.
“You mean the man that no one in our department has even seen? I am pretty sure you could be standing next to him and not even notice. Joy come on; you work harder than anyone on our floor. Those reports can wait a day. It’s just one night.”
Michelle is on a roll today. I stare at the clock. It’s a little after 3pm. I really need to finish these reports and the compliant part of my personality hasn’t budged in 25 years and it won’t today. Not wanting to completely upset my best friend I offer to see her Sunday for brunch and we both go back to our end of day work tasks.
A few hours later, I feel a slight tap on my shoulders- Elle’s signal to me that she is clocking out for the day. I still have about 3 more pages to finish so I quickly get back to work completely engrossed in my task.
I felt a tingle in my stomach and realized I hadn’t eaten. Looking up from my desktop I see the rain covered window has now turned dark and almost all the desks on our floor are empty.
Just great Joy. Last one here. AGAIN.
Quickly I ran to the staff room to grab my pitiful soup and sandwich with the intent of going back to my desk. As I hear the microwave ding another sound surprises me.
The very same moment I hear the door open behind me I jump startled knocking over my lunch and papers along with it.
I regain my bearings and begin staring at the most handsome man I’ve ever seen.