I saw you in an elevator.
You wore feather earrings and worn leather boots. You had an apron in hand, so I can only assume you were going to or from work. I wore a blue hoodie and carried a notepad in my messenger bag.
The moment I saw you I smiled because there was something beyond pretty about you. You looked warm and smart and trustworthy. We made brief eye contact. You saw me smiling at you and your face sort of lit up. Then you looked back at your phone and finished your text message.
I intended to get off on the 12th floor but decided to stay on until you left. We rode that elevator all the way up and all the way down. You stayed. I stayed too. We both pretended not to notice that neither of us had moved.
I knew I had to say something to you by the time the elevator stopped again. Maybe I’d ask what you’re doing here, or compliment your earrings. Maybe I’d invite you to join me for a cup of coffee at the café across the street.
The door opened. I said nothing.
I fell in love with you that day, as much as you can fall in love with someone you’ve never spoken to. I decided you wore that apron every day to afford a master’s degree. You smiled warmly at everyone who got on the elevator so I knew you were the kind of girl I could introduce to my friends. I wondered how you like your eggs cooked and if we’d spend Christmas with my family or yours.
For weeks we rode that elevator and never spoke. We watched as various people got on and off throughout the day, sometimes exchanging glances when a particularly unusual guest joined us. When the woman wearing copious amounts of perfume forgot her surroundings and sang aloud with her iPod, you and I shared a non-verbal agreement: she’s crazy. I felt connected to you in that moment.
You pulled out a book to read every day but, even after nine weeks, you never got past the first chapter. I wish you’d drop it so I could see the cover and ask you about it. I promised myself I’d talk to you if you gave me a sign. I set deadlines. By noon today, I’ll ask you a question. By tomorrow morning, I’ll know your name and ask you out.
Another day passed. I remained silent.
Sometime during week twelve I started to resent you. I hated the way you glared at me when I crunched on an apple too loudly. I hated the way you looked at some other guy in the elevator that morning, practically throwing yourself at him right in front of me. I hated the way you made it impossible for me to leave; how you held me back from finishing my novel or meeting someone new.
Just when I had started to forgive you at the end of week fourteen, you surprised me. You put your book back in your purse and swiftly, defiantly pushed a button. The elevator opened and you took a step toward the door. You paused and looked back, willing me to stop you from leaving.
I want to tell you how much our almost-conversations mean but instead I watch you go. The door closes and I spend the next minute mourning the Christmases we’ll never have together.
I ride the elevator back up and get off on the 12th floor.
* Note: This fictional piece was written for a creative writing class and does not follow the usual format of my blog.