When I actually sit down and think about it we’ve really not known each other that long; she just appeared one day in the cafeteria at work. She said she liked my t-shirt, sat down and started talking. I don’t even know if I spoke in that first five minutes, that t-shirt gave her a lot to talk about it seems. Apparently there’s a lot that goes on in that head of hers. We started to talk more regularly at work, it turns out we had quite a bit in common and it was really nice to be able to talk to someone who understands the simple things like my geeky references or even just the way I speak. There are so many young people in the office it’s nice to get to talk with an adult. You’ve no idea how annoying it is to get those confused stares for using a ‘fancy’ word in a sentence. It makes me a little self conscious if I’m honest. I don’t ever want to bore her and somehow in my deranged mind that means exposing my odd and bizarre side. Funny that, I want so badly to be able to speak to another adult, that when I do get the chance, my own immaturity flares up. Still, she seems to enjoy my company and that look she gives me makes me comfortable enough to do indulge in random humour and dry dark observations. It makes her smile. I like it when I can make her smile.
She has this way of looking at me like she’s actually interested in what I’m saying. It’s very odd. I know me, I know what I say and it’s all ridiculous. I barely think before the next absurd thought falls from my lips. No matter the insane or pointless story I tell, she always listens. She’s amazing company; it’s been a long time since I’ve had a friend that actually cares about what I have to say. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a friend at work. It’s been a long time since I had an actual friend.
Before she came along I would happily lose myself in my own world and not really speak to anyone. If I did it always felt forced and it always seemed like they were only talking to me because they didn’t want to sit alone. It’s a bit unfair, me who’s happy to sit on my own has my alone time stolen because someone is afraid to be alone with themselves. She’s different; she actually chooses my friendship which took a bit of getting used to. Luckily she has that comforting way about her. It’s really subtle and I never noticed at first, but she really encourages and inspires me to keep talking. It gives you a really warm feeling to know someone values your opinion, especially when most of your day in the building is spent having your opinions undermined. As much as I love the sound of my own voice and the undivided attention she gives me when I’m tumbling through tangents trying to entertain her, I love listening to her stories. Get her talking about the right subject and she’ll have you enchanted for hours. The girl is so animated, hands flying everywhere and possibly the most vocal eyebrows I’ve ever seen. They dance to the rhythms of her stories. I told her that once. She said I’m worse. It wasn’t too hard to believe; she brings out the dramatic in me. The way we go on it’s like we’re performers on a stage. She has on a few occasions burst into song. She claims the songs are real, I know she’s making them up; I don’t mind she’s actually got a nice voice. Not that I’d ever tell her of course. I get a little self conscious when we start drawing attention with our playful dramatics or her songbird act. Actually, it’s probably more like a lot self conscious. It’s not that we’re talking about anything too private, it’s just, I don’t really want to share her.
The one thing I refuse to do is talk about work with her. I don’t like talking about work with anyone to be fair, but unless it’s absolutely necessary, there’s always better topics of conversation to pick from. It’s so very impersonal. It’s the sort of thing that you’ll annoy an acquaintance at work with, but not someone you actually like and consider a real friend. It’s silly but I always try and plan out what I’d like to say if we happen to meet each other over lunch. Make sure we don’t end up moaning and making the few moments of peace we have away from the job depressing. Just a few bullet points in my head, something entertaining to help her escape the despair of having to do the job she does. I know firsthand how tough it can be and the last thing you want to do is think about it over a break, let alone speak about it. It’s not like either of us want to be here, so why would we really want to talk about it. That little list in my head is great but I so rarely need to use it. As soon as she sits down my mind goes blank but the words still fall out. I don’t think I’m ever sure what I’m talking about until she replies, seemingly understanding me. Sometimes it feels like we’ve know each other for years, we just pick up where we left off and before you know it, lunch break is over.
One of the things she’s been doing recently is recommending stuff to me. Music, movies, books; apparently she’s taken it upon herself to culture me. Her words, not mine. Surprisingly restaurants had never come up before as something to recommend. You’d think with us always meeting at lunch, food would naturally have came up but no. Just today she told me about this new place she’s been to at the weekend. I was late out for lunch, but luckily she was still there and her eyes lit up when I appeared. She was doodling in a notepad when I came in and didn’t notice me till I wandered over with my lunch and said hello. Mouth full, she excitedly swallowed and as I sat down proceeded to exclaim
“I’ve literally been to the single best restaurant EVER!”
Her eyes are wide, it’s like she’s been dying to tell someone all day and I’m the first person she’s bumped into. Me being me I of course respond
“What’s a restaurant?”
She gives me a look of, ‘yes okay I know you’re funny but I have a story to tell so shut up and listen’. Well it was either that or ‘you’re an idiot’. She doesn’t laugh, but I do before telling her to continue with her story.
“So it was my mum’s birthday and she really wanted to try this new Italian place. It’s one the seafront has these big massive open windows and from what her friend at work says a really good menu. I LOVE Italian food, so I was really excited. The place is gorgeous; it’s got this really rustic feel, so different to what the building looks like outside. It’s totally getting the ‘date night’ couples in, I think we were the only group but I can’t blame them. It’s got this really peaceful romantic feel to it, you’ve got the sunset, the candles and the whole back of the restaurant looks onto the sea. You can even walk out onto the beach. Oh and the food, everything on the menu sounded amazing, I seriously struggled to pick what I wanted. It was even worse when the desert menu came. You really need to go to this place, like right now!”
She was rather soft spoken as she told me all about it. The passion was there but she was in this dreamy wonderland of memory. It was beyond adorable, the restaurant sounded great but the way she described it was better. She started to clear up her rubbish from lunch as she told me about everything she had to eat that night. She clearly didn’t want to leave, she had so much more she wanted to talk about and I had stolen that time by being late. She started to speak quicker and even as she threw her rubbish into the bins she kept talking to me over the noise of the other patrons in the cafeteria. She sat back down for just a second and turned to a blank page in her note pad and began writing, quickly finishing the story she was telling me about her desert.
“You REALLY need to go to this place, it’s AMAZING”, she told me so very enthusiastically. As she stood up and tore out the page she’s just been writing on from her notepad. She folded it with a coy smirk and with a flick of her hair finished her thought with “oh and if you should really take me, it’ll be even more fun for you that way” before tossing the folded page in front of me and turning to walk away.
As she turned I opened the folded page, thinking it was the name and address of the restaurant. What I found was a phone number and a single ‘kiss’ below it. Looking back up she was only a few steps away from the table and she turned back to look at me. As our eyes met she stopped for a moment before heading off back to work. In that moment she shouted back to me, at least I think she did. Maybe it was just the look in her eyes but I swear when she looked back and saw the confused excitement in my eyes, the blushing on my face and could tell my heart was in my throat, she said
“I dare you…”