I’ve written this as a story submission for Georgie Girl’s writing competition. I hope you all enjoy it, it’s a bit of a deviation from my usual stories:
The Pink Earphones
Working in an office has always been dull for me. Sure I love what I do, but I can’t sit in the office all day. If I do, then I feel tired and I don’t work as well during the day. Really I should have been a farmer or the ranger of a nature reserve, instead I work on spreadsheets, trying to solve the many problems that we face trying to make our next microchip better. To clear my head I nearly always go for a walk during the lunch break and this is where my story begins!
The walk I go on is circular, so I end up where I began. There are the usual mix of people who do the same thing, there are naturally more during the summer than winter. I’m always amazed what some people wear, or rather don’t wear during the winter months though. I don’t feel the cold much, but while I’m shivering under my long winter coat there are those in just a shirt or the odd office girl in a tight blouse and mini skirt. But one person stood out, it wasn’t because she was outrageous, in face she was quite ordinary. She mostly wore jeans and had blonde crinkly hair. Often wearing sunglasses and listening to music with her pink earphones.
One day I realised one thing, I always saw her. No matter when I walked (because my schedule was erratic) I would always see her in the same place, walking towards me in front of a white building. The woman always seemed blind to the world around her. One time she was wolf whistled and told she was sexy by an old builder doing some work across the road. “Damn animal” I thought to myself. I made sure I reported him, but at the time the woman didn’t seem to notice, she carried on walking, her pink earphones plugged in.
I wanted to get this woman’s attention I decided, so I started off with small gestures. Smiling at first, nothing too cheesy a smile full of teeth can be very off putting. It was hard to say if she noticed, I couldn’t see her eyes behind those big sunglasses. She must have seen me though surely? I tried something more obvious, I smiled and said a little “Hi” or a subtle wave. But the blonde woman kept on walking as if I wasn’t there. Almost every lunch break I saw the woman, I was beginning to think she was blind or something. One day I was walking towards her, I had eaten a rather spicy curry the night before and I could feel it building as I got close. I clenched, trying to keep it in, but I knew this could make it worse. Just as I reached her *Parrrrrp* it was long and loud, I’m sure she heard it as I swear I heard a chuckle. I stood watching for a moment as the woman walked on without a glance back.
Months went on, the leaves turned brown and fell, rains came as they always did, I took my walks and so did she. It gold colder and the rain turned to snow it was at this time that we met. She was walking toward me, the pink earphones in place and suddenly in a split second she was on the floor.
“Shit” I heard her curse as I ran up to her. I was amazed, four people walked by and didn’t stop. I got there to a mess of frizzy blonde hair, the pink earphones were sprawled over the floor and her palm was cut.
“Here, let me help you up” I said, offering my hand out. She reached out her unhurt hand, I took it and helped her up. There was a bench just next to us, I sat her on it and went back for the pink earphones. I walked back and sat next to her, offering her earphones back.
“These are yours I think”
“Yes, they are. Thank you” her hand was hurting, she nursed it as I drew out a clean tissue. Taking her hand, in mine I turned it over. There was some blood but the cut wasn’t bad.
“Let me clean this a little” I said to my surprise she let me. Her hand was cold and white, I gently dabbed to remove the blood. “How are you feeling? Did you hit your head?”
“No, I’m fine… thank you for stopping and helping.” She said. I sat down next to her, she started shivering so I took my coat off and put it over her.
“Thank you” she said again “Don’t I know you?” She asked.
“Not really” I answered “I’ve been trying to catch your attention for a while though”
“Ah, yes. You’re the goofy guy that pulls funny faces” She smiled as she said this “Do you also often randomly wave at people?”giggling as she asked.
“I didn’t think you had noticed. You never seemed to.” I answered, trying not to look her in the eye.
“Of course I did, I’m only listening to music, I’m not blind.” I could tell she was having great fun making fun of me. It became obvious I had completely underestimated the effect my action over the months had on her.
“Well now I have your attention, my name’s Greg and I’m pleased to meet you.”
“Well, Greg” She answered “Greg with the goofy smile, I’m Lucy and I’m pleased to meet you. But I need to get back to work”
“Can I walk you back?” I asked
“You’ll need to if you want your coat back.” smiling as she answered. I hadn’t seen her smile before. We got up and walked the short walk back to her work. When we got there, she turned around, slipped my coat off and handed it back to me.
“Well this is me goofy Greg” Again grinning, It seemed I was going to be permanently known as goofy.
“I’ll see you soon?” I asked.
“Perhaps”Lucy grinned I took this to be another tease at my expense, she kissed me on the cheek, her lips were cold, but the feeling behind the kiss was warm. Lucy then turned around and I watched as she went back into the building. I slipped off the coat and went back, when I had reached my desk, I put my hand in my pocket. There was something in there, pulling it out I found I had a music player and a set of pink earphones.
“Oh well” I thought “I’ll give them back next time I see her.”
The next day I didn’t see Lucy. Or the next day, for over a week I never saw Lucy, but the music player and the pink earphones were in my pocket. The weather had warmed a little on this particular day, I was taking my daily walk and decided to wander into the building where Lucy worked. In from of me there was a long curved receptionists workstation, a young lad y with long brunette hair smiled.
“Good afternoon sir, how can I help you?”
“Good afternoon” Reaching into my pocket I pulled out the music player an earphones “I have something belonging to a Lucy who I believe works here. She left this with me and I want to return it to her.” It was as I said this and put the music player and headphones onto the workstation that I realised something was wrong. The young girl’s face dropped and went sheet white. She composed herself enough to ask in a whisper “Where did you get that?”
Surprised at this reaction I replied calmly “From Lucy, tallish girl, slim, blonde frizzy hair. I bumped into her last week.” Trying to understand I asked “What’s the problem?”
“You can’t have got it from her last week.” The young girl was failing at holding back her tears.
“I did, I watched her walk into this building.”
“She died over a year ago.” The young girl struggled to get the words out, but finally I understood. I was standing there, dumbfounded, like an idiot. I didn’t know what to think, let alone say. For what seemed like an age I stood there, watching the young woman as she stared a me in disbelief, fighting back her tears. Without saying a word, I turned and left and never dared go to the building again.
I still took my walks, but I never saw Lucy again. I have tried to work out what happened and why, but at the end of the day maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe one day I will find out. Whatever happened, for brief time I shared that friendship with her. For a brief time I had caught her attention and I hold that time special to me.
Copyright 2016 Simon Farnell
No ownership claimed to image.