Tess was counting down the minutes until she left the graphics company. Things had been weird the past couple of days with Sam. It was like he had realised she’d worked him out and was trying to impress her with how brilliant he was before she left. She’d read about something like this before; validation. Guys who loved to chat and flirt, and you end up fancying them. But they never actually really liked you back, they were just keen on you knowing how brilliant they are, and enjoyed how happy you were to see them. Of course, they’d always take off again. In close quarters Sam didn’t really have anyone else to go, but when Corrine turned up again he disappeared for hours. Clearly he’d been knocked back a bit by something she’d said because he turned up moping and starved for affection.
But now Tess would be free of the headache. It had only been a week but the way Tess busted in and out of crushes it may as well have been months, all the thoughts and emotions it had caused. Served her right, Tess thought, she should know better than to do this kind of thing. All she had to do was wait twenty-eight minutes. She was being transferred over to another recruitment company the next week, they needed their records organised and Tess couldn’t think of anything better than being away from people and in a room full of filing cabinets. She’d happily discovered how easily she could slip on her iPod in some of these jobs. Don’t get her wrong, she had a great work ethic, but if she could find some distraction she would.
Twenty-six minutes to go. Sam knew when she was leaving, and she knew he would do something. Just something. Probably ask her if she wanted to get coffee, just for her to say yes, then for him to completely fall out with the idea. Her heart quickened as he appeared in the doorway of the mostly empty open plan office. ‘Hey’ he said ‘you’re still here?’. She really didn’t know what he meant by that. Was her still being there, good, bad, awkward? She hoped he would take it as awkward and bugger off. ‘Yeah’ she said, trying to keep her voice nonplussed. ‘Just have to wait around till five thirty, get this signed off’, she gestured with a piece of paper; the shift sheet the temp agency made her carry around. She was secretly pleased a lot of the companies in this building were old-hat, one of the recruitment companies had their employees use an app for overtime and it was always crashing.
Sam approached the desk and took the paper from her. ‘Oh, right. Do you have to have someone in particular sign it?’. ‘Marsha’ Tess replied quickly, meaning not him; her voice begging for him not to be nice about it. ‘Oh Marsha won’t be back today’ a voice from behind them said. She turned to face John, a grumpy looking middle-aged man with grey hair, and a paunch, who hadn’t talked to Tess since she started. He was looking down at his paperwork ‘I can do it if you like?’. Tess paused for a second, surprised by the gesture, also wondering if he just wanted to get rid of her. ‘Well, yeah, thanks’ Tess stood, took the paper from Sam and handed it over to John. ‘I’ll mark you down for five thirty’ he said, while signing it ‘but you can go now if you like, not much else for you to do, and you’ll beat the rush this way’. ‘Okay, well thanks’ Tess said, surprised, taking the paper back from him.
She turned to where Sam was facing her head on. He might really like her, but it was just more to think about, and she didn’t need more right now. ‘So, you off now?’ he asked. ‘Um, yeah, I guess so’, she responded, praying that something would happen, anything, to make this easier. ‘Okay, so-‘ Sam started when, as if on cue, someone bustled into the office. ‘Can anyone help me with our photocopier downstairs? I swear those people have no idea how their office works, I’m getting sick of being sent there to be honest’. Corrine; delightfully annoying, self-involved Corrine. Tess was smiling, but not because of this marvellous excuse to flee, but because she was so eager and excited to see how Sam would handle this. Would he be torn? Would he ask Tess to wait? Would he let someone else go?
Corrine wandered over to Sam, ‘now you look like a man in need of a task’. Sam smiled sheepishly, ‘well, I suppose I’ve got a minute. What can I do?’. The two of them left the office together, Sam didn’t look back. Tess thought about waiting to see if he would return before she left, but he knew she could leave early now. He could have- No, she thought. Even if he could have, he’s not. Tess put her bag on her shoulder, said goodbye to the few people left in the office and walked out. As she got in the lift she put in her earbuds and began flicking through the music on her iPod. But just as the doors closed she looked up and back down the corridor, back to the office doorway. Because a little part of her still wanted Sam to come back.
If you want to read from the beginning go here.