I participated in this short story challenge. Here is my “completed” short story.
I walked into the lunchroom and headed straight to the balcony. There was no point in paying attention to the women pretending their tables were full and the men trying to clear a space for me. That had been my life since middle school. Life as a light skinned, small waist, big booty and breast having woman with naturally curly hair had prepared me for both the instant hatred and the instant lust. There was a part of me that thought it would change as an adult. I mean who would think that adults would be so childish, especially in the workplace? It was like that everywhere I went.
After navigating through the crowded part of the outdoor seating areas, I found an empty table in the corner. The breeze was nice but fall had set in. I put on my sweater before sitting down. As I began to pull some of my lunch out I felt someone walking over to me. I looked over to see a guy coming closer.
He sat a book down on the table. “You dropped this.”
I looked down and realized it was my copy of The Alchemist that I had begun to read. “Oh. Wow. I didn’t realize.”
“Your name was on the letter you stuck in there.”
“You’re welcome.” He smiled and me and walked away.
For some reason I felt a little twinge of sadness that he didn’t try to take that opportunity to prolong a conversation or try to mack me like most guys would have. He was tall, had a beard, a nice smile, and pretty brown eyes. I almost let my eyes follow him as he went back inside. Then I remembered I was at work and focused back on my lunch. I really needed that job and workplace romances were landmines.
It took me three days to see him again and another day on top of that to figure out that his name was Wesley. I didn’t want to ask anyone because that would mean that I was interested in him in some way. I didn’t want to admit that to anyone, most importantly myself. Not that me thinking about him off and on since that first day wasn’t a clue, at least to myself. Once I got down in the department that I was assigned to I found that he worked in the department next door. The warehouse department, where we worked, was huge but my section was on the main traveling aisle. It was loud but I also got to do quite a bit of people watching.
There were a lot of interesting people at the warehouse. I tried to focus on them, and my job of course. However, I ended up focused on Wesley. I saw him riding by on every piece of equipment there was. One night he was just across the aisle from my station in a lift that allowed him to reach the equipment at the ceiling, about two stories up. I did my best not to focus on him. I tried to focus on scanning and printing labels, which was so tedious and boring. It wasn’t my dream job but it was necessary. I did my best to take it seriously and only steal glances at Wesley when I could get away with it.
After three weeks on the job my supervisor called me in told me that I was moving upstairs.
“Is this a good thing?”
He shrugged. “Get your stuff together and head up there. They want you to start now.”
I headed over to my station and grabbed my bags. I only had my book bag and lunch bag with me. The station was used by others during different shifts so I hadn’t brought anything to personalize it. Once on the elevator I realized that I hadn’t asked him specifically where upstairs I was supposed to report.
A woman smiled at me as the elevator doors opened. “Hi. You must me Antoinette.”
“I’m Diane. Follow me. I will show you to your cubicle.”
I followed her down the hallway and to an open area I remembered from when I got hired. It was the Human Resources department. She showed me to a cubicle that was empty except for a computer, a chair, and a file cabinet.
“Okay this is where you will be. Your shift will stay the same. We are swamped with new hires and a ton of positions to hire for. I have ten people retiring just next month so we are grateful to have you up here. There will be two other people starting on this shift next week. Unfortunately it is just you until then.” She smiled at me. “I think you can handle it. The day shift has made a handbook of instructions for the things I need you to tackle tonight. If you need anything I am in the third office along this wall to your left.”
“I have one question.”
“How did I get picked for this position?”
Diane smiled. “Your shift manager thought this would be a better fit for you. We actually just posted this position last week so you wouldn’t have seen it when you applied. I looked at your resume and you fit right in.”
“He didn’t seem happy to send me up here.”
“Who? James? No, he was just your supervisor. Wesley Daniels is the shift manager down there.”
My heart skipped a beat. “Oh. I think I met him once.”
She nodded. “He is always busy. Hopefully we can send him the ten more people he needs down there.”
I smiled and turned to the cubicle. “I guess I should get started then.”
“Holler if you need me.” Diane headed to her office.
I sat down at the desk and began to go over the instructions. In the back of my mind I wondered if I would get a chance to thank Wesley. Then I had to refocus back on my work before my mind went completely left.
I was sitting out on the balcony, eating my salad, while watching the sunset. It was chilly but beautiful and peaceful. It had been two weeks since I had moved upstairs. It was a great experience. I was studying Human Resources in school during the day and the managers in the department were so helpful and were already encouraging me. Work and school were going great but my personal life was complete trash. I had worked part time while living with my boyfriend but when I discovered he was cheating on me I decided I needed a full-time job at night so I could save up to get my own place. The hardest part was he was happy to have me out of the house more.
“Don’t you think it is too cold to be out here?”
I looked up to find Wesley standing at the side of my table. I smiled at him. “No. It’s nice.”
“Oh. Ok.” He turned to walk away.
“For?” He turned back.
“Diane told me you recommended me to go upstairs.”
“Oh.” He nodded. “You’re welcome.”
I wasn’t sure what else to say so I looked out at the sunset.
“Did you finish reading The Alchemist?”
I looked up again. “Yes.”
“Have you read it?”
“One of my favorites.”
I pushed the chair next to me out. “What did you like the most?”
Wesley smiled. He sat down with me and we spent the rest of our lunch break talking about the book.
We hadn’t eaten lunch together again. A week later he left a book, The Four Agreements, on my desk with a simple note saying that I would enjoy it. I wasn’t sure when he dropped it off because I never saw him up there. I would see him in passing in the lunchroom. He would nod and I could see his eyes smiling, which gave me a warm feeling.
I found myself thinking about Wesley even more since our conversation. He was so eloquent. At times I felt he sounded more like a professor than a shift supervisor in a warehouse. It was a change of pace from my boyfriend who couldn’t hold a three-minute conversation about anything other than basketball and questionable rap music. I wished that we could talk again but didn’t know how to ask, having never needed to, and wasn’t sure it was a good idea since we still worked for the same company.
I stopped walking and turned around to face Wesley. My shift had just ended. “Hi.”
“Are you… I mean would you…” Wesley looked away and then back at me.
I couldn’t help but giggle. I had never imagined him stumbling over his words. “What’s up?”
He looked around. “You parked this far?”
“I don’t drive anymore.”
I looked away and then looked back. “I used to drive one of my boyfriend’s cars. Can’t really do that since I broke up with him and moved into my own place.”
I smiled at his familiar response. “What were you going to ask me?”
“How about I give you a ride home and maybe I’ll have the courage by the time we get there?”
I giggled. “That sounds like a plan.”
The end… I think…