Her, Him, and the Receptionist MAG

January 13, 2009
By SamanthaS BRONZE, Encino, California
SamanthaS BRONZE, Encino, California
1 article 0 photos 370 comments

Our daily jog together. At least I like to think of it as our jog. It’s not like we actually run together, but in close proximity in separate universes.

It is hard to remember the days when we did not run together. My elliptical jogs right behind his treadmill and always keeps up. It would have been so easy to say hi the first time. But with each passing day, it has gotten harder and harder, and now impossible. We have had occasional looks back and forth, but those were probably coincidences. Of course I ­always look at him. As for the times his glance met mine, perhaps something else called his gaze. And I’m way too shy to budge from my routine to approach confirmed rejection. Why can’t he just make the move? I know, that’s a funny one. Look at him and then look at me – especially without makeup!

I don’t turn red from exercising, but I do blush when I’m nervous or embarrassed. So my cover story would be that my redness is from my heavy-duty workouts. After all, I am at the gym. I’m struggling to keep up with myself. My mind is going faster than the elliptical. My fervent fears, my neurotic nerves, my taxing trepidations, my angry anxieties whirling through my brain. Now I’m really dizzy.

Even he has flaws. It’s not like I think he’s perfect or anything. How could he be perfect with shoes that smell like that? He comes close to perfection. And his feet come close to me as he lifts them on the treadmill upwind of my elliptical. Just as my iPod advances to the next song, a wave of toxic air per­meates my nostrils. “Tell me how I’m supposed to breathe with no air? Can’t live, can’t breathe with no air … If you ain’t here I just can’t breathe. There’s no air, no air,” sings Jordin Sparks. Whew, how can I breathe in this air? Deep breath in. Deep breath out. Ahh. How can toxic air be refreshing? But amid these toxins, there is some sweetness. I can just sense it; I have that tingling feeling in my nostrils.

It’s hard for me to hold back a little smile. I can’t get away from it this time. It draws me closer. The occasional silent connection I have with him is worth the foul air I endure. I must be high on either the stench or endorphins, because I don’t believe in drugs. I am exercising longer than usual. I am pumped. I am not getting tired. Exercise is a healthy form of procrastination for what I might do next.

The elliptical bars are sandwiched ­between my palms and my fingers. I am pushing on them with all my strength. Just as I alternately push and pull on the levers – left, right, left, right – my strength to contact him alternates with my fear of rejection. Our closeness has been on a meta­phorical treadmill – no matter how hard I try, no ­matter how fast I run, we don’t get any closer. The counteracting forces of acceptance and rejection are pulling on me equally. I am in equilibrium. I am moving at a constant velocity on the elliptical, but I can’t get myself to move toward him. Physics. Echhh!

I try to look cute in my gym clothes, but it’s hard. The mirror tells me I look fat and ugly. Those are the only things the mirror ever tells me, besides red hair, freckles, Raggedy Anne.

My pink good-luck sweatband hasn’t brought me any luck. I’m going to go buy some new colored ones. I’m getting kind of sick of pink. People must think I wear the same sweaty headband every day, but I have dozens of them from that sale at Costco. I know that’s what he’s thinking when he turns around: freak, loser.

Droplets of sweat drip down my face, ravaging my pores and burning the roots of my confidence. But he gives me a feeling all over my body just by looking at him. So I know it’s worth it.

The odor burns my nostrils, but I can’t resist. I tiptoe into the hallway outside the men’s locker room; one hand holding the heart-shaped Post-It, the other plugging my nose. I see them resting on the wooden bench, right where he left them after “our” jog, laces untied and tongues forming obtuse angles. Why are they here? My hands are shaking and my legs are trembling, but I bite the corner of my lip and stick the note face up in the heel of his right shoe.

I am leaving the gym and I can’t stop thinking about him. Still. I hope he feels the same. But he won’t. I hope he will call. But he won’t. It’s been seven minutes since I put my note in his shoe and put my heart on the waiting list for rejection.

I enter my apartment and begin pacing. It’s been an hour and three minutes. I shouldn’t have done it. He doesn’t like me. It’s ­going to be awkward. No way. I’m not giving in. I’m not going to change my workout routine. But it will be hard to look at him tomorrow. I hope he saw the note before he put his shoes on. If not, I hope the ink doesn’t smear.

***

There she is. I could set my watch by her if I had one. Same gym. Same time. Same workout. Same as me. She never misses a day. I don’t think I ever will either. My mom and dad are both kind of, I don’t want to say chubby, but yeah, they are. I can’t let that happen to me. But I have another reason too.

Crack. Crack. My neck always cracks when I turn my head swiftly to check the clock behind me. At first this was a pain, but then I saw her. When I realized I got to look at her every time I turned to check the time, my neck strain didn’t bother me. I must be discreet. I love looking at her, but I don’t want her to know that her beauty keeps me staring. At least not quite yet. I’m not a stalker, just shy. I want to talk to her. I want to go up to her. But what if she thinks I’m just hitting on her? I’m really interested in knowing her. How is she supposed to tell the difference?

What a cutie. She’s just my type: tall, slender, and I can tell her skin is smooth. The cutest freckles. Milk chocolate eyes. Her gorgeous, wavy red hair is tied is back in a ponytail and she wears a pink headband. She must love pink. She should, it’s her color. Her hair sways with every step. Thank you, pink headband – not a hair is blocking my view of her face.

What I like most is that she doesn’t act like she is beautiful. She doesn’t know how nervous she makes me. She doesn’t know the grace she exudes. She has a story to tell. I want to hear it. But I’m afraid to ask her. Wimpy, maybe. Intimidated, definitely. I feel like I’ve watched the same Candid Camera episode 5,500 times. My failed attempt keeps replaying in my head. With every day that I say nothing, she’s more and more likely to think I’m either gay or I need a watch.

I want to know her name. Seeing her every day for weeks, I refer to her as Pink Headband. How pathetic. I have to know her name. At least for now, it would be easier to ask the receptionist for Pink Headband’s name than to ask her. At least if she refuses, it won’t be as humiliating as a no from Pink Headband.

So I make my way to the desk. I say excuse me to the nerdy girl behind the counter. I have caught her staring at me in the past, but the one time I actually want her attention, she’s preoccupied. I’m the only person here. The phone is resting comfortably on its hook. But she is talking to someone or something nonetheless. I sigh. I’m getting impatient. I feel like I’m hailing a taxi. Waving and waving, and they just drive by. Same with her. I’m waving and that freak seems to be talking to her stapler. Finally I get her ­attention. I ask. She answers. I write “Molly” on the envelope containing my note to the woman I used to know as Pink Headband. I ask the ­receptionist to please give it to her.

As I sit on the bench outside the men’s locker room, I fight my urge to chicken out and retrieve the envelope. I bolt into the locker room to take a shower. The hot water is soothing. Shoot! I left my shoes on the bench. Not to worry. Who would want to steal those smelly old things?

Realizing I must have left my cell phone in my car, I get dressed quickly, jump into my shoes, and leave. I don’t want to miss her call.

***

I hate working at this place. Why do I work here? I need out. I need a work out. I’m so funny. I always laugh at my own jokes. Ha ha ha, snort, snort.

All day I inhale air tainted with the smell of sweat. And no, it’s not me doing the sweating. Oh, here comes Mr. “I’m so much better than you that I won’t respond when you greet me.” I scrunch my nose to push up my glasses, the way I always do when my hands are busy. He’s headed right toward me. It seems like he needs to ask me something. This will be a first. How will he do this and still keep his perfect record of never saying a word to me? Of course, it must be so hard to say “good evening” to someone who has just said it to you.

I can feel my nervous twitch starting up again. My top lip is moving diagonally; my invisible enemy has strung a thread through my lip with his needle. I try to yank it in the other direction, back into place, but it won’t budge.

The name of the girl in the pink headband? Uhhh. The girl in the pink headband! If she’s wearing her pink one today, it must be either Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday. Gross. But apparently he either doesn’t notice or doesn’t care. How sweet. For once he is nice and it is hard to hate him. He writes “Molly” on the envelope and hands it to me. Sure I’ll give it to Molly, all right.

He heads for the locker room; he is out of sight, but he sure isn’t out of my mind. Neither is the favor he asked of me. He wants me to give the envelope to Molly. Sure I will. I’ll be as good at giving this to Molly as he is at responding when I say hello. Actually, better because now my paper shredder’s name is Molly. Molly loves envelopes. She’ll fall bin over wheels!

***

Is there something in my shoe?



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This article has 1756 comments.


SelahSecrets said...
on Nov. 25 2009 at 9:30 pm
SelahSecrets, Burleson, Texas
0 articles 0 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Life is what happens when your busy making other plans."- John Lennon

Wow that was so cute! i thought it was weird though, that he stunk, but i loved the story, your style is amazing and it's sparked some creative ideas of my own. You should go on with the idea, maybe add some characters and different plots, signifying how people are connected whether they know it or not. I can definitely see you works on the shelf. Good job. Your going to go far as a writer. You did well with developing each characters personality. Again, job well done:)

katydid said...
on Nov. 24 2009 at 11:54 am
wow...that was really good you should keep writing especially on this story the first part was great! A little action wouldn't hurt though...maybe the receptionsist could say something out loud like "oh, I'll give it to her...don't you worry." or something mean but not mean like that...idk but yeah ur a great writer and i love ur style...way to go!

on Nov. 23 2009 at 5:32 pm
blanking_out GOLD, Bonita Springs, Florida
13 articles 2 photos 37 comments

Favorite Quote:
Follow the leader, but not too close, just in case they fall.

wow...this story was GREAT. it mad me sad because i'm a nice person and would've given the envelope to the girl- no matter how mean the guy was.. ugh i'm gonna be sick over this...I LOVED IT!!!

on Nov. 23 2009 at 5:24 pm
teenwrite123 BRONZE, New York, New York
2 articles 0 photos 44 comments
Love it! I like how the point of view changes.

lovely said...
on Nov. 23 2009 at 10:35 am
com for frindeship

on Nov. 23 2009 at 10:32 am
swim4ever SILVER, Carol Stream, Illinois
9 articles 0 photos 60 comments

Favorite Quote:
"you can throw in the towel or you can use it to wipe the sweat off your face"
"no one ever drown in their own sweat"

i loved it i wanted the story to go on it ws great keep writing

Avalynn BRONZE said...
on Nov. 23 2009 at 12:33 am
Avalynn BRONZE, Monrovia, California
4 articles 0 photos 26 comments
i LOVE THE LAST LINE!!

evie428 BRONZE said...
on Nov. 17 2009 at 8:27 pm
evie428 BRONZE, Ontario, Other
4 articles 1 photo 88 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Writing a novel is not merely going on a shopping expedition across the border to an unreal land: it is hours and years spent in the factories, the streets, the cathedrals of the imagination."

Great writing!! but true, I think it needs some action! :)

on Nov. 15 2009 at 10:01 am
Annabelle7614, Nunyabusiness, Georgia
0 articles 0 photos 98 comments

Favorite Quote:
This is my favorite personal quote.

I like this story alot, it's so fun to read!

KatAnne SILVER said...
on Nov. 15 2009 at 8:35 am
KatAnne SILVER, Meadville, Pennsylvania
8 articles 1 photo 165 comments

Favorite Quote:
http://teenink.com/fiction/realistic_fiction/article/128063/Sweet-Sixteen/
http://teenink.com/fiction/romance/article/129766/It-Just-Happened/
http://teenink.com/fiction/romance/article/162872/Forbidden-Love-and-Great-Adventure-Part-One

This was great. I loved the plot and the progression of the plot. You have an amazing writing style so keep writing.

L-Jay8 said...
on Nov. 13 2009 at 1:19 am
L-Jay8, Melbourne, Other
0 articles 0 photos 9 comments

Favorite Quote:
"These violent delights have violent ends, and in their triumph, die, like fire and powder, which, as they kiss, consume,"

- William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

That was amazing! I loved it! You're writing is fantastic and the story was so sweet. I especially loved the part from the man's perspective....it was great! Keep writing because you're incredible, and it's sure to only get better!

AquaMan BRONZE said...
on Nov. 11 2009 at 1:30 pm
AquaMan BRONZE, Dell Rapids, South Dakota
1 article 0 photos 7 comments

Favorite Quote:
If you can dodge a wrench you can dodge a ball.

I agree with all of that but it think the story needs more action.

SaM:) GOLD said...
on Nov. 11 2009 at 1:29 pm
SaM:) GOLD, Dell Rapids, South Dakota
10 articles 0 photos 8 comments
i agree with the others in saying it's full of suspense, but overall it was a really cute story that most of the time made me think of the meaning behind each line.

on Nov. 9 2009 at 8:21 pm
literaryaddict PLATINUM, Albuquerque, New Mexico
23 articles 3 photos 157 comments

Favorite Quote:
"We're almost there and no where near it. All that matters is that we're going." Lorelai Gilmore, Gilmore Girls
"The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound." Lady Bracknell, The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde

such a cute story. not very deep on the surface, but once you read it, you realize how much thought went into writing it. it's great

BookAddict said...
on Nov. 9 2009 at 4:57 pm
Wow, love the suspense just as pheonix queen said but indeed i to will die from the suspense! I want the rest of this quarky, adorable, love-story!(:

on Nov. 9 2009 at 4:31 pm
phoenixqueen GOLD, Idaho Falls, Idaho
10 articles 0 photos 30 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I cannot live without books."

Perfect place to stop, yet at the same time, horrible suspense! Need the rest of the story!

mcw_816 SILVER said...
on Nov. 8 2009 at 4:33 pm
mcw_816 SILVER, Short Hills, New Jersey
6 articles 0 photos 26 comments
HA! Love it, especially "bin over wheels." How did you come up with that?

on Nov. 8 2009 at 9:16 am
SAMI! I loved it, please please please write more! You have a real talent for writing!

Love, Clami

on Nov. 3 2009 at 10:20 pm
Dr@maGeek SILVER, Mckinny, Texas
7 articles 0 photos 16 comments
L-U-V it, its simply adorible and addicting the charicters have such diffrent point of veiws that it shocks me with the evil turn of the paper shredding receptinst. I CANNOT wait for another hit of this!!!

on Nov. 3 2009 at 8:02 pm
maragrace SILVER, Spring Lake, Michigan
5 articles 0 photos 8 comments

Favorite Quote:
Be what you are. Give what is yours to give. Have style. Dare.
Stanley Kunitz

Really cute. Kept me reading til the end, good job.


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