It was a lousy, rainy day and he sat in the office staring at his computer. He couldn´t get himself to work, even though he had done everything exactly as he always would. He would get up at seven and take a shower, shave. He would get dressed, but leave the blazer out on the bed to put it on later. He would eat cereals for breakfast, standing, because he hadn´t bothered to buy a table or any chairs for the kitchen yet. He would put the plate and the spoon in the basin, knowing that it would anger him when he got home, but yet without any real drive to go and wash the dishes. He told himself that he didn´t really have any time to do that in the morning. And when he got home late he told himself that he should better get some sleep and that he could do the dishes the other day. So usually he would only do the dishes when he ran out of them. He knew he should change that. But he couldn´t get himself to change his bad habit.
After eating his cereals he would rush into the bathroom and brush his teeth. He would stare at his reflection in the mirror and as he would stare at himself, he would get sad at his loneliness and then he would get angry, brushing his teeth furiously, spitting grimly. He would bang the tooth brush into the little glass he used as a tooth brush holder and with a last grim look at the rapidly aged man´s reflection in the mirror he would leave the bathroom, put on his shoes, the blazer and his coat, grab his suitcase and leave. He would take his car to work. He knew that he would rather take the bike, because he enjoyed the sobering effect the swift breeze had on him after his morning tooth brush madness. But on rainy days he had to take his car, which he hated, because he hated getting stuck in traffic.
Traffic was slow today, which seemed like a miracle to him. But he didn´t believe in miracles anymore. So he just drove to work without getting stuck in traffic. He would park his car in his parking space and rush to the door. He would greet the doorman and take the elevator to the seventh floor. He would go the thirty nine strides to his office, unlock the door and go in. His secretary wouldn´t be in for another half hour, so he would go straight into his office and sit down behind his desk and put down his suitcase. The remaining twenty nine minutes till the arrival of his secretary he would spend staring into thin air.
At the arrival of Mrs. Newton he would turn on his computer. He knew that she would start making coffee. While the coffee was brewing, she would open the curtains and look outside for a minute, doubtlessly observing the people outside who were rushing to work. Then she would turn around zestfully and walk over to her desk with energetic strides. She had short legs, which looked even shorter because of the medium length of her dresses she tend to wear to work. They always had a flashy design, some peppy colors which would brighten her days, as she said. She always had perfectly smooth hair, which she wore at chin length. Her make-up was flawless. Sometimes, when he looked at her through the door of his office and saw her typing away at her computer, he wondered how much time she invested in her flawless appearance every morning. She wore glasses when she was sitting at her computer, sitting on the edge of her nose. He marveled as to why the glasses never seemed to slid from her nose. He sometimes watched her for minutes but the glasses remained in place.
He sighed. He knew that she would put her computer on while the aromatic smell of freshly brewed coffee would fill the air. This was usually the cue for him to start opening outlook and get working, seeing that soon she would be standing in the door with a coffee in hand. She would scold him for being already at work and he would let her. He liked that she mothered him like that. She definitely was like a mother to him, which is why he had demanded that she remained his secretary as he got promoted.
She was the only female consistency in his life, he now thought and his mind rushed back to thinking about her. His only other love. He had seen her in the office. He had noticed her around. She had seen his glances over the conference table and had blushed. He had loved that about her. She would blush at any sign of romance. Or embarrassment. She would lift her hand and put her index finger to her bottom lip, then look down and as she would look up again there would be a questioning look in her eyes. She was full of questions. She was curious, but also cautious in her curiosity. She was in need of a little push in the right direction.
The day they met he had worked late and he thought that he was the only one in the office. Mrs. Newton had left hours ago, after asking him if she needed him around. He had told her to go him, to which she replied that it would bet better she got home on time or her husband would make a mess in her kitchen trying to make dinner for himself. He had smiled at the thought of Mrs. Newton scolding her husband for making a mess. He barely noticed how the time flew by as he worked, but when he looked up from his work he noticed that it was already nine. He leaned back in his chair, rubbing his eyes tiredly and decided that it was time to go home. His usually spend his weekends with his friends. He loved being outdoors, doing sports. They set up a little soccer team and practiced in the park every Saturday, followed by a nice, cold beer. It usually ended with them being at a pub or a bar, watching sports. He loved his weekends. This special Friday, though, he knew that there would be not Saturday with the guys, because Matt was on his honeymoon with his newlywed wife, Stuart was at a conference in London, Nick was busy with a project for work, Peter had the kids over for the weekend, and James was in Paris with his latest fling. That happened occasionally. When it did happen he would work late on Fridays and sleep in on Saturdays.
When he got up and listened to the beeping of his computer shutting down, he noticed the silence in the office. He didn´t hear a thing but his steady breathing and the buzzing of the air condition. He felt somehow at peace. Smiling slightly he put his blazer on and grabbed his suitcase from under his table.
He walked out of his office, locked the door behind him and slowly strode over to the elevator, his shoe soles quietly squeaking on the linoleum floor. As he pushed the button to get an elevator, he suddenly heard footsteps approaching. He turned around surprised and that´s when he saw her again. She stopped mid-stride and looked at him. Then she blushed. As she touched her bottom lip with her index finger and lowered her gaze, he felt suddenly drawn to her.
The following conversation was the first tentative encounter outside the conference room and it resulted in a date the following evening, two more dates the following week. On their fourth date, they enjoyed a romantic silence, during which no words were needed to express their attraction to one another. She let him kiss her goodnight at her door and he went home, his head filled with rosy thoughts, his lips prickling from their affectionate kiss. He called her up the following day and they spent their Sunday picnicking in the park. They went home together. And for over twelve years they remained together.
Nowadays, he would work eight hours straight and then go back home and lie in his bed, tired of life. He would have the TV on and stare at the screen, not noticing what was actually playing. On his weekends he would no longer go out. He would stay in his house, working like crazy. Since she has been gone he had been promoted twice. And it has only been nine month. It had been awkward going back to work after she left, but as he had informed Mrs. Newton he wanted no one to address him concerning her. And Mrs. Newton did a fabulous job blocking the others. Nonetheless, when he arrived at his office that morning, she was already there. She hugged him tightly, touched his cheek with motherly care. But she said nothing. Until now, she has never said a word.
He had lost count of the times he had now stared at her. The days went by as he watched her, but she seemed to be oblivious to the fact that he had his eyes on her. Seeing her now on that rainy day, he felt sad instantly. With his eyes, he scanned her face, which was so familiar to him. He loved that her dark green eyes always had a question in them. He used to tap on the tip of her nose, when she snuggled up to him in bed. He loved to stroke her soft neck. When she was cuddled up in his arms, he would hold her close and kiss her forehead every once in a while. He would play with a strand of her brown hair, which she tend to wear in a ponytail at work, though when they were at home, she would let it fall over her shoulders. He loved to kiss her warm lips. He loved to laugh with her. Her laugh was heartfelt and infectious and it was her laugh that he missed the most in the first days after she was gone.
He looked at her now, questions racing through his mind as he gazed at her eyes and imagined her looking back at him. But she didn´t. Her smile and the sparkle in her eyes, caught in a lucky moment at that summery day they were wed, were forever captured in the picture on his desk. As he reached out to strike her face, his fingers only met glass.
As he left the work this night and hit the light switch to turn off the lights, he knew that she wasn´t at home. He knew that he would not come home and be greeted by her smile or her laugh. That he would never be able to kiss her again, to hold her or to reach across the bed and find her warm body there. And even though he was certain that he would never be able to forget the wonderful time he had with her, he also knew that what they had was unique and irreplaceable. He wished to fall in love again and he knew that in time he would. But for now, he hadn´t said proper goodbye to her. As he stood in the elevator and drove down seven floors, he smiled to himself and made plans to go see her grave on Saturday morning. And after that he should go watch the soccer game in the park. For a change.