“They say office romance can turn into a big mess. Ryan just didn’t think so.”
This story is part of the Claire Romantic Series.
Surprisingly I didn’t feel nervous like I used to when I noticed Claire Scott walking into the office the very next day. It was strange because I probably felt some kind of confidence instead seeing her from afar that morning, if I recall my feelings that morning correctly at all. I didn’t see her again after that until after lunch hour. I was on my way to the meeting room and Claire Scott was in the hallway talking to my boss. Butterflies were running wild in my stomach as I walked past both of them. So much for the brief confidence I felt in the morning. A few steps ahead of them, I instinctively turned my head around and my eyes collided with hers. She winked at me, while still talking to my boss, which made my boss turn back briefly to my direction, not particularly looking at me. I proceeded to the meeting room with a big smile on my face. Just like that.
I probably smiled all the way through the meeting and would probably still be smiling all the way through the day if I hadn’t seen what I saw after the office hours were over that day. Half an hour after five, and the office was probably already as silent as a graveyard when I turned off my computer and headed to the restroom. It was when I was on my way back from the restroom to get my things that I heard Claire Scott’s voice. And also someone else’s. In an empty floor like that, the voices were very loud and clear.
“Come on, I’ve missed you all week,” I heard the other voice said. A man’s voice. It sounded almost flirtatious to me. I stopped my pace and listened in closely, hiding behind the nearest cubicle.
“Daryl.. I know,” —now it was her voice. “But I’ve still got a few things I need to do right now,” she said. Firm, but almost playfully.
What was that about?, I thought, very curious now and leaned forward to take a peek at where both the voices came from. I saw her right away, with a guy that looked quite familiar to me. Not someone from our floor, no, but familiar nevertheless. He was standing in front of her, with both his hands in his pockets. She had a folded paper in her right hand.
“I need to go do my work now, okay?” she said, and was about to walk away from him when he grabbed her by the hand and gently pulled her to face him again. His hands were still on her when she playfully signaled him to the surveillance camera in the room, and let go of his hands.
“I’ll call you,” she said, holding up her hand like a telephone, winking and pointing at him as she mentioned the word ‘you’. Even from where I stood I saw it all clearly.
I didn’t wait any longer. Didn’t even go back to my desk to collect my things, because going there would mean I would make myself noticed. I left with only the wallet in my back pocket. Not even my car key. I went home by bus that day. On my way home I recalled who the guy that she called ‘Daryl’ was. He was from either Product Development or another department upstairs. I didn’t know him by name, but his face was undoubtedly familiar. I had definitely seen him in the elevator, or at the cafe downstairs, or somewhere. And it broke my heart.
For a different reason than before, I couldn’t go to sleep again that night. I knew I had no rights to get mad, or to even feel heartbroken. Claire Scott was not my girlfriend. But for a brief moment she made me feel like there was a reason to get up in the morning. She gave me a reason to smile. And gave me moments to remember. Because of that, it broke my heart.
It broke my heart to know I wasn’t the only one feeling like she was the reason to get up in the morning. It broke my heart to know I wasn’t the only one feeling like she was the reason to smile. Wasn’t the only one she shared some private and quite moments with.
It broke my heart to realize that I probably wasn’t the only one that had seen the other side of her. That she shared her special stories and childhood dreams with. That she told straight in the eye how she wanted to freeze a moment and make it live forever. And make people believe in it with all of their hearts.
“Do you love what you do, Ryan?” I suddenly remembered her question to me that day.
I didn’t. I hated it. She was right, if there was anyone to blame, it was myself. There was no one else to blame how much I hated my job. Or how much heartbroken I was when I saw her with someone else.
When I closed my eyes that night, one thing was certain. I quit. A resignation letter would be the first thing I would write in the morning. I didn’t quit because how heartbroken I was with Claire Scott. I quit to find that thing that would give me the real reason to wake up every morning. That thing that I would so love doing I couldn’t wait for the sun to come up in the morning. That thing that could set my heart on fire just thinking about doing it. I quit to find that.
I was probably as tired as Claire Scott, I was just too scared to ever say it out loud. She had the guts to say it. I probably had the guts to act on it. That, was one thing I could thank her for.
– THE END –
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