She just sat there minding her own business. She didn’t know that Alex was sitting in the cubicle across from hers, awkwardly gazing in her direction. Maybe that’s because she was actually doing her job.
Meanwhile, Alex leaned on his hand with a goofy expression on his face. He was like a kid in school with a crush on his teacher. He briefly met Alyson when she started working for the company two weeks earlier. Other than a fast handshake and a quick “Welcome to the team,” he hadn’t really had a conversation with the new girl. All he knew about her was that she was possibly the most beautiful woman he’d ever met. And she worked right across from him, trapped in the same nowhere job.
His phone rang and broke him from his daydream. “This is Alex… Uh-huh… No, sir… I’ll get right on that.” Alex’s conversation with his immediate supervisor ended just as quickly as it had begun. Guess it was time for him to do some real work now. He could no longer sit there and drool over the girl of his dreams. But she wasn’t far from his thoughts as he got back to his spreadsheets.
As he input the numbers and analyzed the data, he rationalized his crush. Sure, he had looked up her Facebook profile once or twice on company time. It’s not like he was actually stalking her. He just liked to catch a glimpse of her in her cubicle from time to time. And he was mature enough to know that he wasn’t in love with the girl. He would categorize it as a mild infatuation. You can’t love someone that you haven’t had a real conversation with, right?
But what was stopping from having that conversation with her? He was pretty sure she was out of his league. Every day, Alex told himself that he would work up the nerve to invite her to lunch. There was an Applebee’s just outside the office complex in which they worked. It wasn’t anything fancy, but it would give them a chance to actually talk. Plus, half-priced appetizers. But then his fear would set in.
He was afraid that, if presented with the opportunity to talk to Alyson, he would forget how to speak English. He was afraid that he would just sit there and stare while she awkwardly tried to carry the conversation on her own. It’s not the kind of thing that had ever happened to him before, but he’d seen it happen to other guys. It was unbearable to watch. It had to be humiliating for the people involved. He didn’t want to go through that. He didn’t want to put her through that.
So he remained in his cubicle. Just him and his cowardice. But then it hit him. Just as he arrived at line 87 on his current report, he got an inspired idea. He would send her an email.
Alex knew that an email wasn’t the classiest way to introduce oneself, but it was what he had. He pulled up the company contact list and found Alyson’s email address. He clicked the link to compose a new message. And instead of staring at the girl in the other cubicle, he stared at the blank screen in front of him. And he just sat there.
He had expected that his that his fingers would just fly across the keyboard and he would be able to put into words just a little bit of what he felt for Alyson. He knew that an email wouldn’t be the way to just come out and say, “I’ve got a crush on you,” but he thought he could at least break the ice. He thought it would be a good way to let her know that he existed. He thought that maybe she would open the email, look across the aisle at him, and then she’d smile. He’d seen her smile enough to know that her smile lit up the room. But she’d never smiled at him before.
But the page on the screen remained blank. “Is that my email address?”
He was broken from his stupor by the sweetest voice he’d ever heard. He knew instantly that it was Alyson. She was standing behind his chair and she had seen that he was about to send her an email. What was he supposed to say? Of course it’s her email address, there was no getting around that.
He stammered, “Uh, yeah, it is. I was, um… I was about to send you an email.”
“Yeah, I can see that,” she said, smiling innocently at him. Alex had to work hard to remain composed. Her smile just about turned him to putty. “But, you know, I work about five feet from you. You could just walk over and tell me whatever you need to say.”
“Well, it’s just that you looked busy. I didn’t want to bother you,” he lied. “Are you still working on the McKinley account?”
“Oh, that’s all you needed?” He couldn’t believe his ears, but he thought she sounded disappointed. “I’m not quite done with it, but I was getting ready to leave for lunch. Did you need it now?”
“No, I was just curious.”
And then the awkward silence began. The silence didn’t last long, but to Alex, it felt like hours. He watched her as she looked down at her feet. He could tell she felt as awkward as he did. She reached up and pushed her hair behind her ear. Alex sought words to fill the void. “So… lunch?”
“Oh, yeah, I was gonna go to Applebee’s,” Alyson seemed relieved that he had finally spoken. “I hear appetizers are half-price right now.”
This was an open door. All Alex had to do was step over the threshold and suggest that he join her. It was just that simple. Then he could finally have a real conversation with the woman he’d been watching for weeks. He could find out where she was from. He could learn where she went to school, how old she was, if she thought Star Wars was as awesome as he knew it to be.
Just then, he felt as if his spine grew in, as if it had never been there to begin with. “Would you like some company?” Had he really just invited himself to lunch with her? Was this really happening? Or had the hypnotic glow of the overhead florescent lights finally done their job? Had he fallen into some kind of otherworldly trance in which even his dreams seemed lifelike?
“That would be great! Sorry, I didn’t mean to sound overly excited.” Was she embarrassed? “It’s just that, well, I haven’t really made any friends since I started working here. I just wanted to have a conversation with someone that didn’t involve spreadsheets and crunching numbers.”
“I completely understand. I’ve been here for six months and I hardly know any of these people.” And with that he closed out his email. He put his computer in sleep mode. And then Alex rose from his chair and walked out of the office with Alyson, the girl of his dreams.