I had everything packed in my box. All I needed now was the stapler hoping the new girl didn’t do a June Carver and snatch it off me. But she just stroked my shoulder slightly and said good luck. It had been 12 days since I gave in my notice. All the people I passed just looked up from their desk and either nodded or smiled. Nod. Smile. Smile. Smile. Nod. Smile. I never really knew them. We talked on the occasion. At least I said goodbye first. One morning I came in and a desk was just empty. She was nice, even thought we didn’t see or talk to each other that often. We were in different division so we hardly came to work at the same time. It kinda hurt but it didn’t matter.

Then I saw him walk towards me. i hadn’t seen him in a day or two. It’s nice to catch up with him. Sometimes it was short and we were off doing separate things either in the same room or back to our desks, or we would spend ages talking by the kettle, or the water-dispenser-wotsit-thing. You know, the one that looks like a vertical fish tank and makes the blub blub sound. I guess him and I were just friends. We spent more time with each other than we did with other colleagues. Sometimes we walked to our desks together still talking. I would often think about what we just talked about. Does he do the same? Doesn’t matter now I guess. He leaned his thigh on my desk and put his hands in his pockets.
‘Best of luck.’
‘And you too.’ I didn’t know in what, but I meant it.

I knew that when I was telling funny stories to friends of mine about me, him and our conversations, they would look to one other. I didn’t know what this meant but it happened more than once. It’s not really something I think about, but I noticed I stopped mentioning his name or on purposely omitted it to see if they did the same thing. Very weird of me. I guess I didn’t want to give off the wrong impression, whatever that was. He was just nice. We just talked when we saw each other. I don’t know why we spoke to one another more than the others. We just…did. One time I saw him through the door window whilst he was leaving the office, I smiled then I kept walking to fill up the kettle, he opened the door,
That was it. Didn’t think it was necessary for him to just do that when he was leaving. He just did. By the large window I saw him walk away from the building then went back to making my drink. Shame it’s considered a ‘no no’ to drink in the afternoon, I could have used a splash of rum. Never mind.

We had a small chat about how our day was. It was good. It was a good day. It just was. I wanted to keep talking to him just for the heck of it but I had nothing else to say. We were silent for a bit. I tried filling it by pretending to check my draws to see if I got everything. I did. This was it. My time here was done and all packed in a single cardboard. Quite a temporary substance really, isn’t it? You never know when it is going to break or how long it took to wear away but someday, it just will be useless and need replacing. Cardboard boxes don’t really last too anyway so you can’t expect them to. Oh well. It was time for me to leave.

We shook hands. It was longer than usual handshakes. It wasn’t uncomfortable, or awkward. It was just…nice. I picked my box off my desk then headed to the lift. He pressed the button for me.
‘Cheers’, I gave a single nod. He just smiled.


You know, we never finished answering the 36 questions. We got to 14 one day then we just said goodbye.



It was nice. Sitting there. I made sure we picked the spot that didn’t have patches of mud around them, the evening dew on the grass was slowly seeping into my jeans. Nothing like a mildly cold arse to make you regret deciding to sit on the Hoe. In Plymouth, not a person. Who would sit on a- never mind, don’t want to go there.

I sneaked my hands into the sleeves of my jacket and closed the openings to prevent them getting any colder. My cheeks felt lightly bitten and the wind brushing against us only aggravated this sensation. I stretched my legs out and crossed them, If I tried to sit cross legged them my jacket would rise up like the tide and curl into a wedge of material up my stomach. Attractive. My jacket could stop traffic; it was a fluorescent blue like the water in front of us when it’s a clear day. He stretched out his legs too, the weight of his torso was anchored up by his arms behind him. He just stared forward. He sat next to me. We were close.

‘Thanks for inviting me again to join you’. He turned to my direction but I didn’t want to turn and look at him, his stare was so intense it could make my ear radiate with a flushing heat of embarrassment. I have no reason to feel like that.

‘No problem, it’s just nice to get out’. I didn’t do anything. But then again I haven’t really done anything. To ask. For all I knew he wanted something, or not the case at all. My emotions and vulnerability were locked in a concrete cell. I could hammer it down anytime but the cracks were becoming bigger and bigger, I was tempted to just seal up the cracks again. I wanted to leave them as unexplored and dormant as Jumanji. At least that was what I thought, because this could really mean nothing at the end of the day.

I have spent so long questioning myself and his actions that I was only torturing myself. My romantic emotions had become Pandora’s box. It was my decision to pry it open but the two optional fates seemed just as terrifying. The moment I was patient for so long to have of my own, or nothing. The curse in the box was that very often I guess it’s nothing and it turns out I’m right. Sometimes it’s not fun being right all the time.

I didn’t know what to do. The calm ocean had flickering moments of chaos when it collided with the earth. I wonder what it is like to have flickering moments of chaos. Or even a small break from equilibrium. We all like those so when crashed into, we don’t know what to do afterwards. Does the sea ever know when it crashes what to do afterwards?

This was the only chance I could really get, but my small and meek words disappeared when I began overthinking this, it was too late to rehearse anything in my head. I don’t know if it was my tongue-tidied thoughts leading me or some stupid sense of suspicion to find out the truth. But I did it anyway. I leaned my head on his shoulder.

He froze. I could feel his entire body and his breath petrify. I did not expect what happened next.

‘NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO’. He recoiled away from my head, his eyes widened and his glasses steamed briefly out of expiration. Probably shock. I flung back myself from such a reaction. I opened the box. I was right.

‘Ummm…’. I wanted to give an explanation but I was thinking of the multiple responses from him:
What the hell is wrong with you?
I have a girlfriend.
I’m not attracted to you.
Did you really think I would be interested in you?

The actual words weren’t as triggering and he wasn’t horrid, but just as painful and soon his words became ugly and repelling. It was unlike him.

‘What are you doing?’ He jumped from his spot and towered above me whilst I crawled myself up to his level.

‘Everything was fine and now you had to ruin it. What did you think would happen? Why do girls always assume that we are interested in them like that? God!’ I didn’t know what to say to this, even hearing it from a person a liked as a friend and as a possible other for quite a while seemed out of character from him. And I had to ruin our friendship. I wasn’t sorry but I knew things have crashed and wouldn’t be the same.

‘Look, I’m sorry, it was just a lean. If you feel this strongly then forget about it’. I didn’t want to look at him again from either embarrassment that was more appropriate to this situation, or a mild bubbling of anger. He paced in short bursts on the pavement off the grass, leaving tracks of his shoes from the mud he squelched out from his abrupt move.

‘What did you think was going to happen? Did you plan this the whole time?’ I had no words. They have completely gone. I tried to must a sense of logic out of me and shut the box again.

‘I don’t know. Wanna head back?’ He took of his glasses, grabbed a handful of his shirt and wiped them clean. He perched the glasses back on the bridge of his nose and pushed them closer with his index finger. He then interlocked his fingers, swept his palms above his head and sighed heavily as if the situation made his breathing buckle out of confusion and angst. That was how I was feeling.

‘Why did you have to complicate things?’


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Lights. Click click. Blonde.

‘Smile this way, please, beautiful.’

I shouldn’t feel this way, she deserves better.

Flash. Click click.

Her white skirt graciously fluttered and puckered from the biggest fan in the studio.

‘Just fabulous, now this way.’

Not a person, an actual fan just to be clear. I know it’s not her, but her fame, and her fame were enough to create this tribute for the classic edition of the magazine. Great opportunity for us to be picked for this, right? For me to be closer to her, right?

Click click.

A woman rushed to her with something that appeared like an artists’s palette with the multiple colours of nude and red on that bit of board. The woman took a small brush and gently brushed a coat of a bold red lipstick (I assume) on her lips. She smacked them together, the sound a kiss could make. The thoughts of someone opening the camera cupboard, finding us two with that very lipstick smudged around my lips with patches on my cheeks. How many fan-boys would have felt like this?

She turned to me again and smiled, more out of sympathy as a camera-guy rather than being really sincere. I was only aware then of the small mole drawn on her face. Such a small thing to contrast the silvery blonde sheen of her wig which glowed under the lights, thanks to the light guy (his name I have not yet learnt). God, somebody’s made a mistake picking me to be here, with her here. I stood there during the shoot thinking, ‘Remember, she is a star, you aren’t.’ And yet there she was, glowing under the lights.

I unfocused the light guy and everything was a blur. She was just laughing. Everything I was thinking was verging on stalker-like creepy. Verging? It is creepy… Who is ever like this! It’s just a cover shoot. I am feeling so much over a face. I don’t need to fantasise. I could move pass this, I deserve better, someone else, who loves me, who marries, who I’ll love forever. I could, but…you know, I never thought I would see someone illuminate the room so brightly with the flashes reflecting off her porcelain skin. It’s stupid, daydreaming, fantasy, but perfection in a shot.

There was suddenly silence, no laughing. She was walking towards my way. Like earlier this morning, I thought she was going to say hello, but she saw someone behind me and her coat slightly rustled against my arm. I winched slightly, thinking in my head she turned around hearing that and wondered about the weird sound the camera guy made. I wanted to punch myself, I didn’t need to feel like that. It could have been nothing. I could have imagined it. But I embarrassed myself enough to feel the blood rush through to my cheeks, shuttering from the worse-case senario possible…Over an arm brush(?) So, I turned around and this time and no one was behind me. She was walking- towards me. They said in their murmurs she was single.

Listen here, you need to get this right. There is a lot of things you could say. But you can do this. This is your chance, do it now. Do it.

‘Sir, are you alright?’

Just say it.

‘The light guy said you might want to ask me something.’

So, I’m not the only one who calls him that. Wait, how does he know? Does he even know?

‘Sir, are you okay?’

Say. It.

‘It’s nothing, head’s in the clouds.’