To know me, you have to read me. Otherwise, I'm just like everybody else. Without identity. Choose well.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Short story: THE MAN WHO MOVED

Man in action


"I'm late again!" Hyacinth exclaimed while forcibly pressing the elevator button going up.

Coming on time to work was never her greatest suit. Now she wallows in self-loathing as to why she still had to do her tresses and make-up before finally picking up her worn-out NY&C brown handbag and hail a cab. Not to mention her everyday addiction in checking the greatest enemy of human conversation: social networking.

"Oops! Sorry!" She muttered an apology as she bumped into the delivery guy who was carrying a bouquet of her namesake mixed with white daisies.

"It is Valentines Day indeed." She concluded as she sighed from that thought. "For some people."

Cinth, as what she likes to call herself, is the real life adaptation of Anastasia Steele. Well, that's what she loves to think. That unconsciously beautiful, witty, curvaceous, independent, and principled character of the best-selling book Fifty Shades of Grey is someone she fervently believes was created with great semblance to her that is entirely coincidental. Not to mention, she was a virgin herself. A feat for someone her age. She is also the real life adaptation of Olive Penderghast. Or so she thought. That sassy, intelligent, loquacious, outspoken, slender, popular in the wrong way, and self-sacrificing lead character from the box office movie Easy A who she's certain was cut-out from the mirror of her own reflection.

She immersed herself in thoughts of love affairs and almost lovers while staring into space inside that cramped metal cube of an elevator. Caused by the pressure this Valentine season brings. She was reminded of her flaws, her disadvantages, her weaknesses, her incompetence, swirled in a mist of flashbacks and memories. Like some invisible hologram wrapping and immobilizing the body and soul. Startled, Cinth reverted back to the present as the elevator doors open at the 12th floor of that impeccable building of white doors and windows amidst gray walls. She realized she was the only one left inside. Looking dumb and soul-less.

It's another day at work, she thought while walking along the lobby. Another day of piled up paperwork and reports. The routinary lifestyle of the working class. Everything is the same as it always has been. Except for the hearts and cupids decoration posted on bulletin boards, some hanging on ceilings and walls. The least a company can do to upend status quo. She tiptoed stealthily to the corner of the floor towards her desk. But not before doing a detour in their pantry to get some hot warm decaf from the vending machine. Decaf because she can't have caffeine. She looked out for one thing with her eyes squinting and her lips pouting involuntarily. Trying to avoid the one thing she hates the most.

"You're late again!" Her immediate superior Shadler shouted every possible curse word there is in French. He thinks it's French. And ended it by eyeing her with raising eyebrows and a disappointed smirk.

"I'm okay Chad. I wasn't in an accident. I am so glad!"

She gave a big smile as she hurriedly walked away. Attempting to diffuse the bomb of a boss whom she secretly thinks bats for the other team. Knowing she can't win with charms. She always uses humor during dire times as this. Or else she will finally get a memo for consistently coming too early for the next day. "What the...!" She approached her desk wide-eyed and open-mouthed.

A bouquet of flowers sits just left of her LENOVO desktop computer, shadowing the collage of family pictures pinned in the 3-foot long cubicle walls. It was the exact same flowers she almost flattened earlier that day in the elevator.

Hyacinth Alexandra Claiborne forgot her name for a while staring at the miracle before her. 18 years (if we start counting at the age of 7) of waiting, hoping, disappointment, waiting again, trashing, and giving up on getting anything during Valentine's Day has finally come to an end. The ugly duckling has finally become a swan! Her inner goddess shines brightly as she picks it up and smelled its wonders.

She heard gasps and jeering from her workmates as they crowd towards her. Hugged, patted at the back, kissed at the cheek, and besieged with questions by the female ability to make something big out of anything.

"Who is it from?" Rose, the chinky-eyed, curvaceous momma, could not help but ask with a teasing glint on her eyes.

"Is it someone we know?" Queenie, the sexy and only single lady other than her in the department, asked unbelievably.

"Read the card!" Bristol, the ever so boisterous and gay, demanded like there's no tomorrow.

The card read:

Cinth, I hope this makes your day. I have longed for this moment to show you how I truly feel. Finally had the guts to throw caution to the winds. I have loved you for so long. I realized, I at least have to try and win you. Now if you will let me, please see me tonight at the place I wrote inside the envelope. Don't let anybody know where it is as I want your time all to myself tonight. I will wait for you. Always. Love, Me.

"Barf! So cheesy!" Arwin, another gay and humorous workmate, did not try to hide his disgust at such gestures.

"I bet he's from here! Because he doesn't want us to know who he is." Caterina, the oldest and wisest but still smokin' hot, interrupted without further ado.

"Tell us where it is. C'mon Cinth!" Seraphina, petite but strong, tried to work on me her convincing skills like how she scores a sale from one of her customers.

"Guys, thank you. But I'm not gonna tell you yet. I'll update you tomorrow." Happy and laughing I told them off and not without difficulty.

In a matter of minutes the place was back to normal. Everyone busy at back logs, papers, and printers. Some sneaking a personal text message or a phone call. Some eating while typing on computers. She smiled at the view that she used to ignore. While experiencing the overwhelming feeling of giddiness and fluttering in her stomach. Suddenly, everything was filled with flowers and confetti. Unaware that she looked so silly and spaced out.

"Get back to work Ms. Claiborne." She looked up at the towering figure of the new boss who makes everyone's day a tad gloomy. Mr. Allen Fitzgerald. He's working as their Chief Operating Officer. Who they mutely refer to as, Mr. Grumpy. Tall, dark, and handsome of about thirty. With wide shoulders and a fit torso. A finely chiseled face with strongly marked cheekbones. He looked especially dapper in a crisp navy blue suit over a white long-sleeved polo and silver tie.

"I'm on it boss!"

He must be having a bad day, she thought. He ignored her warm smile today when he normally acknowledges it. Cinth, who is the only one who can successfully placate Mr. Grumpy, got back to work with a slightly shattered imagination. Queenie shot her a look of suspicion. Then gave her a very naughty smile. She rolled her eyes and shook her head at her. Remembering the reason to illicit such a reaction.

It was a humid day outside her office building. She was going to get some lunch at a nearby burger place as she stepped out onto the pavement just outside the revolving doors when she notices she didn't have a cup in hand. In that moment of stillness and confusion to decide whether to go back and get a free soda from the vending machine or just buy one with the burger, a guy bumped into her from the back and she sprawled onto the floor with him. It was a nasty fall. Luckily she had the reflex to put her arm before her face or she would have had a bloody nose. Luckily too, the guy had the reflex to not run her over and rolled just in time to the other side as he fell. Unfortunately, the phone he was holding rolled itself to the side of the road, which dropped and swam in the pothole under repair. More unfortunately for Cinth, she got gashes on her arms and legs. Knowing that she still has to go back to work.

The guy he bumped into immediately rushed to her aid and helped her sit up on a nearby stone bench. "Are you ok??" He asked without a backward glance at his expensive busted phone. She immediately registers the godlike built and debonair face clad in Levis dark blue jeans and a cream-colored polo shirt.

Her heart skipped a beat. She swallowed hard. She's not sure if it was a second, or a minute, or an hour that she just admired this beautiful creature. But she's sure it was a while before she recovered her composure and replied.

"Ahhm. I'm ok. It's just some scratch."

"We need to get you to a hospital."

"There's no need. I can buy some band-aids in the corner. But thank you. And I'm sorry about earlier. It was my fault. I shouldn't have stopped in the middle of the revolving doors! Hahaha." Her usual attempt to diffuse the bomb that might be the cost of having to buy him a new mobile phone.

"Are you sure you don't need the hospital? Did you hit your head?"

"I'm perfectly fine."

"Then at least, let's go to the clinic."

"No really, I can manage."

"Please. Just come with me to the clinic."

Boy, this guy is persistent, she thought while smiling in surrender. I can easily fall for this man, she mused. The guy held her elbow and the back of her waist as they head to the clinic. It surprised her that there was a current from where he touched that ran to the back of her spine. She sensed danger. But she looked at him and realized he hasn't smiled at all. He looked white-faced ushering her with her bloody gashes like some silly paranoid boyfriend. She laughed at the thought.

"What's funny?"

"Ow. No. Nothing." She smiled that she didn't realized she laughed out loud.

They got to the clinic and the nurse tend to her. The guy didn't talk much. Just kept looking at her and the nurse. She tried to engage him in a conversation but he was being curt. She did learn he is Allen Fitzgerald and a trainee. He just came out to have lunch too. Didn't realize she would stop outside the revolving doors as he was trying to send a message to his friend. Now he won't be able to use a mobile phone for a while. It seemed to her that he was annoyed by the situation. "I'm sorry about your phone." She said apologetically.

"I can buy another one tomorrow." he dismissed her just like that.

She tried to use her charms to recover some of her dignity. After all, a lot of the guys she dated did say she has her own charms and sex appeal. Hyacinth is petite but has deceiving pair of limbs that looks as if she's tall. It is true that some women do look taller than what their measurements say. Plus she's slim and slender with curves at the right places. She has this beauty from her mother's Spanish ancestry mixed with her father's African-American edginess. Blessed with a naturally tanned skin and smooth complexion. She was a looker. She knows that partly and never really tried her charms out much. Unless she likes the guy. With this guy, she was way too much interested for her own good. But the guy doesn't seem affected at all. So it awoke the challenge in her.

"She's all good." The nurse said.

"Thank you." Cinth replied.

"Let's go." Allen offered his arm for her to grab onto. He must have seen her uncomfortably painful limp. Hmmm... thoughtful, she noticed.

She gladly slid her hands through her muscular arms. She does need some support especially with the bandages and the magnitude of people staring. Thinking, it's better if she is seen like this while with someone who will interest them more than a walking accident prone. Not that Cinth is the shy type. Far from it. But she is not overly confident either. She's assertive if the need be but knows when to shut up and observe when it is required. And she just observed they're heading on a different direction. They're heading towards the parking lot.

"I'll get you home." he explained sensing her panic and opened the door to his car.

"What? Wha.. wait! I still have to go back to work."

"You will not be able to work like that. Get in." He ushered her in the passenger's seat. He shut her door and went over the other side and sat on the driver's seat.

"Please put on your seat belt."

"But.. but I still have to notify my boss!"

"I will inform him."

"You will? Do you even know him??"

"I do."

He buckled her seat belt for her, started the engine and drove away. Out to the busy streets of New York city.

"Stop the car!" Cinth couldn't help but show the panic in her voice.

"I told you I will take you home. What's your address?" he continued driving like she never said anything.

"Do you really think I'd let a stranger take me home?? I don't even know if you are really working in LY Ent.! Even if you, ahm look like that, it won't make you less of a probable serial killer! STOP. THE. CAR. NOW!"

She's in her most dangerous state. Didn't even bother to think what her comment regarding his looks might seem to him. Nor does she care if she's doing the right thing if indeed he was a serial killer. This guy better not mess with her when she is in a super saiyan boiling point. The nerve!

"Whoa! Ok. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to scare you." he sighed and looked for a chance to pull over.

"I do work there. I mean, I will start working there tomorrow. I got transferred. I also know your boss you told me about earlier. We used to work together before he got transferred too. Here, let me call and notify him of your accident." He pulled over to the nearest available curb, asked to use her phone, and dialled.

Cinth's anger was ebbing away as she looked at him talking to her boss in that casual manner. It is now suspicion that replaced the hostility in her eyes. And as if by cue, he handed her the phone.

"Cinth, it's ok. You can get off work today. Take a rest. I'll have your deliverables done by Queenie." Chad was unusually being nice to her today.

"Thanks Chad. Tell Queenie I owe her bigtime!"

They hang up and she handed the phone back to him. She couldn't quite look him in the eye. She felt a little embarrassed by her outburst. But she wasn't sorry. She had a point.

"I hope you can tell me your address now." She could swear she saw a glint of a smile.

Another towering figure who stopped in front of her desk broke her reverie. He just stood there and didn't say a word. Looked at her and eagerly leaned his right elbow on top of her cubicle, looking smug. He is Matthew Lancer. Tall, fair, and lean. With chinky eyes and a clean-cut face. Which would have passed for a fine example of a well-bred young man.

"I heard you have a new admirer." he smirked.

"And why is that your business?" she retorted with a hint of bile.

"Ohhh... foxy! That's what I like about you." he winked.

"Oh for Pete's sake Matt! Don't ruin my day. I got work to do. Go!" she shooed him off.

You can hear his chuckles all the way to the other lobby. Matt is her colleague for over 2 years since she started working in LY Ent.. He's now one of the supervisors in the other department which involves customer service. He was the first person who she had made friends with. But he wasn't looking for a friend in her. At first, she got attracted to the smooth talking well-dressed man who never fails to give her a smile and a compliment everyday. Dropping by her desk and engaging in sweet little conversations. He finally asked her out one day. She almost said yes when a reliable source warned her about his monster of a girlfriend from the 11th floor and to not believe a word Matt says. The idiot! Fooling around and letting women's hopes up. Since then, she always tries to shove him away. She doesn't believe in the idea of cheating. How much more in the creation of it.

She shook her head in disbelief of the men who think they are a gift to all women. And went back leafing through the stack of documents that needed to be filed and reported for the day. Contrary to most in this situation, she loves her job. She likes anything that deals with papers, filing, reports, data, presentations, and office management. She must be destined to become a secretary. Well, she never really had that much ambition despite her over qualification and raw skills. Never dreamed of grand things. She only lives for the moment.

"♫♪ Munja Washong! Munja Washong! ♪♫" A text message came in. A ringtone she eagerly downloaded from the Korean drama she's been watching lately. She loves anything Korean. She is even planning to travel and stay there for a while someday.

The message read:
Would you like to have dinner with me tonight? :) -- Oliver

She blanked out for a minute. Or maybe it was five minutes. She couldn't tell. All she could think of was, why today? Why did he have to ask me out today? Is it because it's Valentine's Day? Or was it him who sent the flowers? Oliver Stanton is a guy she met 2 weeks ago. Chinky-eyed, lean, tall, with a shaved head and a goatee. Looks rugged with his motorcyle. He works as head nurse at a nearby hospital. They met from the latest blind date she was in. Her friends love to match-make her with their friends. But not one ever worked out. She's been single for more than 3 years now. No one can imagine her frustration. Most of the times, she just wants to kiss dating goodbye. But she doesn't lose hope. Unfortunately, hope springs eternal.

"Cinth!" She jolted at the sound of her name. Caterina, her best buddy at work, seated herself eagerly at the empty chair beside her desk. Grace, with her glowing pregnant belly, already took her maternity leave a week ago so that chair will be empty for a while. "Who do you think it is? Do you already have an idea??" Cat asked squirming in delight. Who apparently doesn't agree with her earlier decision to update them tomorrow.

"Honestly, I don't have any idea at all."

"You must have someone in mind! What about Matthew?

"Her girlfriend would kill him!"

"Hahahaha. Indeed!"

"Well, I was thinking it might be Oliver. But the letter seemed like he knew me a long time ago. So it couldn't be him."

"You have a point. But I know you would really like it to be him." Cat teased.

"Well, I really like him. You know that. And he just messaged me if we can have dinner tonight! Of all the days!"

"Noooo way! What about your secret admirer??"

"I know right? What am I gonna do???"

She had read somewhere, that life has many ways of testing a person's will. Either by having nothing happen at all, or by having everything happen all at once. And today is definitely one of them. She had been trying to find the boyfriend material guy with little success. Went into a lot of blind dates. Most of them just wanted her for her body. Most of them wants her to chase after them. Most aren't ready yet. Why did they even agree to a blind date in the first place anyway?? Huh! There were guys that she didn't like, or liked less or liked way too much. But something always happen, with the guy, or with her, and it doesn't flourish. It doesn't push through. It's like fate is conniving against her. Like somehow she is being reserved for something much bigger. A thought she would like to console herself with all the time. But now, she finally found the guy she always wanted. The guy that fits her needs. Physically, personality-wise, professionally, and emotionally. A guy who knows what he wants and goes for it. Who doesn't make her chase after him but pursues her instead. Shows what he feels and isn't shy about it. That is Oliver. But what will she do if she has to choose between Oliver and this mystery guy? This mystery guy who promises her a love so strong. Love without asking for anything in return. Someone who have possibly known all there is about her and still wants her. Which of them is Mr. Right?


To be continued...


Disclaimer: The Man Who Moved is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales, is entirely coincidental.