His Secret Desire

By: Alana Davis

Chapter One

The sound of a ringing phone cut through the office. A polite voice answered the phone as another piercing ring went off a few cubicles away. I sat at my desk, typing on a company computer, joining the rhythm of the dozens of other keyboards that attract hands like magnets. A fluorescent light flickered above me, dying slowly.

I called engineering to fix the nuisance. Over the phone a gritty voice told me it was going to be a few hours.

Everything around me was gray. Neutral colors only broken up by colorful frames on the wall that surrounded memories that were supposed to give life to an otherwise dreary corporate wasteland. I looked around my desk and studied the photographs I’ve hung on my little wall, taking a break from the spreadsheet that had occupied more of my morning than I care to admit.

The photo of my college graduation stared back at me from a past that I can still clearly remember. Genuine smiles across both of my parents’ faces, a rare sight indeed. For once they weren’t throwing harsh words at each other. It was a day without fighting. A day devoid of arguments leading to bitter silences. We were all happy.

I reached out to touch the photo, as if I could somehow go back to that day. A little laugh escaped me as I remembered my first days at college as a nerdy girl who kept to herself. Scared to speak up in class, even when I was sure I knew the answer. Four years later, posing with my parents for that picture, I was a different person.

I had joined the orientation committee early on in college as a way to meet people, and before long I had become a leader of the group. We proposed a Casino Night event that I was to organize. I spent days making phone calls, getting the proper paperwork filled out and signed, and coordinating all the members of the committee. When the night of the event came, I watched all of the students flooding the event hall and felt like I had accomplished something real.

The computer screen before me glared bright with the unfinished spreadsheet. The sounds of office conversations in quiet, polite tones filled my ears. My days at college are gone. A memory encased in a picture frame. The girl who blossomed into a woman capable of taking charge is now sitting in an office chair typing out mindless reports. That woman is me now.

I looked at the memories on my cubicle wall. My parent’s smiling faces looking back at me, now just memories encased in cheap plastic frames. I could feel the tears climbing up behind my eyes, daring to fall down my cheeks and ruin my composure. I breathed in slowly, fighting them back to the depths of the sadness where they came from.

I checked my phone for what seemed like the hundredth time since I had sat down. The phone’s clock told me it was only a few minutes past eleven in the morning. I scanned the office, looking for Emily Jones. Emily would be a nice change of pace from the banality of the office. I rose from my desk and spotted Emily in the corner, smiling and running her hand softly through her hair while listening to some young college intern tell some story just out of my earshot. Emily’s hand kept returning to the intern’s shoulder, a flirtatious laugh coupled with her every touch.

I walked up to them, interrupting the young man’s story. “Hey, do you want to grab a girls’ lunch with me?” I asked, looking at Emily pleadingly.

“Ok, Samantha, I’d love to,” Emily said, her eyes narrowing seductively at the young intern. I noticed him blush before he walked away.

“So, a new love interest I see?” I asked.

“Oh Dave? The intern? Hardly,” she said, laughing. “It was just a nice, innocent conversation.”

“You? Innocent?”

“You know, you could go for some more innocent conversations with some of the guys around here. At least for some practice talking to guys. It couldn’t hurt!” Emily said.

We boarded the crowded elevator and Emily pressed the button for the cafeteria. She turned to me and whispered in my ear, almost too loudly, “When was the last time you even talked to a guy, let alone went on a date?”

I elbowed her, giving her a look that I meant to convey shut up! but only managed to suppress my approaching laughter. We got off at the cafeteria laughing, my embarrassment all but forgotten.

“And when was the last time you were on a date? Twenty minutes ago?” I asked.

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