Romance Drama Adventure

The cheap watch which hung off his bony arm, almost making its way to the floor, served to remind him of the shortness of the tea break he had snuck off for, down to the local stall. It was ten minutes past ten. The glass over his watch had been broken for a fortnight now, yet, he had not found it within himself to repair his FastTrack. As long as time could be told, he had concluded. Besides, even if he had wished to trudge down to the watchmaker’s darkened alley, the luxury was not something he could have afforded. Overworked and underpaid, like the million others stuck in the rut of yet another run-of-the-mill sales job, it was impossible for him to not to be frugal with his money.

As he made his way back into the grey painted, washed-out, multistory, housing numerous businesses like one he was currently employed under, he felt himself swimming in utter dismay, a feeling he was well acquainted with despite not having acquiesced to. Passed over for promotion to foster a growing nepotism within the company, he was made the guinea pig for his department just as his friend had been in the branch office across town. Had he been younger he would have quit long before, humiliation such as this was where he would have drawn the line, but the strands of his hair betrayed his desires. Nearing his 40’s, unmarried and still living with his mother, he had long submitted to his complete failure in life.

Head down, spectacles rammed onto the bridge of his nose, leaving red in their wake, he walked past the revolving doors of the building, towards the elevator. The clicking of heels engulfed his senses; he wasn’t alone in pulling endless night shifts.

Clambering onto the recently renovated metallic machine, his breath hitched. Close, tight spaces always made him more conscious of himself. Earlier he would have preferred the stairs, there were rarely people opting to take them and he only ever had to occasionally encounter the habitual smokers, some sporting the popular e-cigarettes, others delicately balancing the traditional roll between the tips of their fingers. Regardless, it didn’t give him any reason to wonder about the odor of his body or the whereabouts of his clammy hands least they brush past anyplace inappropriate. Thankfully, the nights usually saw less people boarding the elevator all at once, a fact that allowed him some comfort.   

It was only after the repetitive, monotonous music filled the air that he straightened his back, his neck sore due thanks to his terrible posture. He threw a quick glance at the occupants accompanying him for the short ride till his eyes came to be fixated on a familiar face.

“She’s working again tonight.” He muttered to himself. 

He moved away from openly staring at the woman only to adjust his position so as to get a better look at her sharp albeit tired face reflected off the elevator’s shiny interior. She had been working as long as he had, maybe longer, he had first seen her two years ago, following his transfer to headquarters. Back then, he was indifferent to her. She had the same eyes, the same nose and lips, the same worry lines and bags under the eyes, the same hastily painted nails and creased shirt; she was just a pushover in the same old boring crowd. Yes, she was all that, but then also something more.

Contrary to the wrinkles traversing her forehead she was young, in spirit at least, for as to her real age, he was in the unknown, but the slight sprint as she walked off the elevator, the ambition in her voice as she dealt with clients over phone in hushed whispers trying her best to avoid disturbing those alongside her and the many other nuances he had come to take note off over the nights he had crossed paths with her, had lead him to develop a longing to know more about her, about her world. However that was far from the reality he lived, the reality where he wasn’t even sure of her name.

Muted, he counted the floors, dreading as they neared hers. Just then, with a stroke of luck, the time he had wanted to expand, even if only to fill with more silence, suddenly brought the elevator to a standstill. Jerking to a halt, the moment of panic was met by the emergency broadcast. “We are currently experiencing a power outage, the generators will soon kick in, till then we request your patience. Thank you,” Short and simple and then the intercom was quiet again. 

The initial shock wore off. Power outages were common from where they were. After all, load shedding was a necessity to sustain a city with a population of more than half a million. Elevators though were not the best place to be stuck in especially with unreliable backup systems.

As his exhausted watch clocked minutes, the smell of sweat began to overpower his nose His mind wandered down the street of his spoiled efforts for the umpteenth time that night. His labor was never to bear fruit as long as there was a son or daughter of a relative’s relative in the running, he despaired. Wanting to distract himself from the woes of his professional life he subtly reverted to observing the woman he was infatuated with so.  

As he watched her hug the documents she was carrying closer to her breast, he wondered, not for the first time, how it would be should he tap her shoulder and greet her politely. He would lead with a cheerful hello and then maybe if she smiles in return he would take the conversation further. How would it be if he were to ask her out for coffee? Or for a quick chat over lunch? Dinner would be fine too; he would make the reservation as she would please.

Now that he gave it a thought, he realized he wondered often about her, more than he would like to admit. He would mull over petty questions during mundane work hours, questions which served him no purpose knowing, but he had no self-restraint. He wondered whether she was married or if she was divorced? He wondered if the client who she was arguing with last Tuesday finally gave in to her suggestions or was he still sticking to his guns. He wanted to know if today was as frustrating as yesterday or was the day a bit better, he wanted to know what her favorite nail paint was so he could gift her on her birthday, talking of which, when was her birthday? Did she celebrate it with her family? Did she have any family looking out for her? Someone other than her parents? Or perhaps she was as alone as he was. Perhaps she too was interested in knowing him?

Or maybe he was wrong. Maybe she had seen him stealing a glance here and there, and maybe she disliked his vacant eyes, his buck teeth and his balding scalp. Maybe she would be put off with the cartoons adoring his bedroom wall, the only reminiscent of his childhood dreams, or by his incessant fear over his mother’s imminent death? Maybe she’ll be troubled knowing that, truthfully, it was not his mother he worried for but himself after her departure.

He sighed, his shoulder slumping, he would never know. He would never be ready to ask, he wouldn’t know how, for he was not the kind to speak to strangers, he was not the kind who was confident, neither in his ability to be charming nor in his talents of speech. He was the kind that left things to be what they were and not see them for what he wished them to be.

The electric current buzzed, the noise of the generator coming to life sounded through. As the elevator yanked forward, starting to move again, he snapped from his trance, trying to maintain his balance without flailing his arms about.

One more floor to go.

As everyone shifted positions, someone pushed him from behind, shoving him forwards. He almost crashed into her but swerved the last minute, coming to stand beside.

Almost there.

His heart was beating louder than it had in a while, his face flushed, he had never been this close to her.


 The doors flew open and she stepped out, pacing herself, but just as she began to continue down the hall, a paper from among the files she held came loose, fluttering its way down and he, as if by reflex reached out and  held on to the sheet, griping it with all his might. Her startled voice rang clear in his ear and he didn’t know what it was, he didn’t know if he hit rock bottom and so the only way to go was up o if the last of his willpower was manifesting itself but instead of avoiding facing her, instead of turning away, he looked towards her, he looked towards her while holding his breath, waiting, waiting patiently for her eyes to finally meet his. Waiting patiently for her to finally notice him.     

September 11, 2020 14:08

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Raquel Rodriguez
18:09 Oct 01, 2020

The description, in the beginning, is great, love it! Great job, Aya :) I think this is your first submission.


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Natasha Liu
15:39 Sep 17, 2020

I enjoy the way you described the details and quirks of the characters. It gives them unique colors and voices, which makes the story a pleasant read!


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Nandan Prasad
05:56 Sep 17, 2020

Wow, this is, I must say, one of the best stories in this prompt. I loved the way you've portrayed his feelings without it taking away from the main point of the story, especially the ones in the paragraph 'Maybe he was wrong.' Very, very well-written and keep writing!


Aya C
12:57 Sep 17, 2020

Thanks a lot for the comment really made my day! ☺️☺️


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Aarushi Sharma
19:03 Sep 15, 2020

I could feel the emotions just there on the precipice waiting to take the leap!


Aya C
19:06 Sep 15, 2020

Thanks a lot for your feedback 😄


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