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Nothing Left To Say
“Never judge a book by its cover, huh?” Willow tossed the paperback onto the abandoned bench outside of her office building. “If the picture on the cover is that drab then the content must not be top quality.”
She sighed and stepped through the automatic glass doors into the air conditioned lobby. The fans above her were on full blast, fighting the summer heat creeping through the closing doors behind her.
There was no line for the elevator, thankfully, so she pressed the ‘up’ button and tugged at the ends of her honey-brown hair.
Once the door opened, she cautiously stepped inside, trying her very hardest not to trip in her new purple heels. Willow soon noticed she wasn’t alone.
“Thirteen please.” She said, smiling at the handsome fellow standing beside her.
He gave her a warm smile in return, flashing perfectly straight white teeth. As he went to press the button for her, Willow analyzed him.
He was about half a foot taller than her, six foot two. He had tight strawberry-blonde curls and dazzling chocolate brown eyes. Willow couldn’t help but blush when he turned around and noticed her looking at him.
Once the elevator began its slow ascent she decided to introduce herself. “Hello there,” She said brightly, “I’m Willow, and you are?”
He shook her hand delicately then turned to shuffle around in his brown leather messenger bag.
She stood awkwardly for a moment, wondering why on earth he said nothing to her in response. Eventually he handed her a business card.
“John Everly,” She read aloud, “lovely name.”
He smiled sweetly at her, but still said nothing. This irritated Willow and her short temper was about to get the best of her.
“Alright John,” She said sarcastically, “If this is some type of act to discreetly slip me your phone number so just maybe I would consider going out with you…” The icy tone in her voice made John’s shoulders tense, but he kept a straight face. “It’s not charming, Mr. Everly! Not charming at all!”
Willow stood there fuming in silence. John’s shoulders relaxed and his expression went from flat to solemn as floor ten passed.
“I’m sorry Mr. Everly.” Willow muttered. “What? Can you not speak or something?” She looked up at him and he gazed back at her. John had an almost sad look in his eyes which jolted her with a spark of realization.
Suddenly the elevator shuddered, sending Willow toppling over into John’s arms. He caught her and gently helped to steady her. His hand resting on her lower back gave her goose bumps.
“Sorry!” She said, smoothing her skirt again out of habit. “John, you really cannot speak?” Her eyes went wide with secret admiration and curiosity. Willow became completely oblivious to the fact that the elevator stopped moving.
John removed a yellow legal pad from his bag and handed it to her. She stared down at his neat print, all in capitals. As she skimmed the pages she noticed they were responses to interview questions all written out and explained.
“So you’re applying for a job here?” Willow asked, smiling to herself as she flipped through more pages. John nodded and took the notepad back. He set his bag down and settled himself on the elevator floor and began to write on a clean page.
Willow situated herself beside him, tucking her legs neatly beneath her. He tilted the page so she could read.
'I was born mute. My father left when I was five because he became fed up with me and my mother. She rarely had a problem with me not speaking because she enjoyed the peace and quiet. As I got older she sometimes got annoyed that I grew up without friends and kept to myself. Eventually she left me in foster care and remarried someone somewhere else. I loved books, since they always felt like people speaking to me and telling stories without expecting me to say anything in return. That’s why I am applying for the job here; all I have to do is read.'
Once Willow finished reading she looked up at him with adoring eyes. There was intensity in his stare and she knew he was not given the chance to tell this story often.
He took the pad back and wrote a quick sentence, then handed it back.
'Tell me about yourself, Willow.'
She blushed at the way he wrote her name; curling the letters in an attempt to make it look fancier. It worked.
“Well,” She began, resting her head on the reflective wall behind her. “I’m originally from the states; Georgia to be exact. I moved here as soon as I turned eighteen with my best friend, Eden.”
She paused and glanced back up at him. “I’m only twenty-one.”
John scribbled a twenty-six. Willow smiled to herself. “My parents are still happily married and are traveling through Europe.” She laughed, “I think it’s just an excuse to check up on me!”
John’s eyes lit up and his smile grew. Willow continued, “We live in a two bedroom place. It’s really nice, actually. We painted every room a different color because we bought, not rented. I started working here after I got my English major at the Institute Of English Studies at the University of London about an hour from here. That was about a year ago, when I just turned twenty.”
As soon as she finished the speaker above the door crackled to life. Willow scrunched up her face at the awful sound, as did John.
“Sorry for the inconvenience, the elevator should be up and running momentarily.”
Willow let out a sigh or relief and stood to gather her things. John remained seated and continued to write. Minutes later he tore out the bright yellow page from his legal pad. She watched as he delicately folded the paper into a perfect square, then he stood and slipped it into her hands. Willow gingerly tucked a strand of honey colored hair behind her ear and turned to face him.
“I’d like to see you again, Mr. Everly.” She said, pressing the paper between her palms. “Would you like to come over for coffee sometime?”
John smiled and nodded in a silent response, his blue eyes sparkled even under the dim lights.
The elevator opened at floor thirteen and Willow stepped out. “I’d be happy to put in a good word for you. Just let me know if you ever need anything. We’ll be in touch! I’ll text you or something.” She said, and then the door creaked and slid shut behind her.
As she walked to her office down the granite tiled hall, she quickly realized that she had only assumed he had given her his number, so unfolded the note.
'Never judge a book by its cover, although, your cover is fairly beautiful.'
Willow’s cheeks flushed a bright cherry red. Underneath was his phone number.
After her work hours were over she went back to the abandoned bench and retrieved her book. “I suppose I’ll give you a chance, too.”