“What are you talking about? I’ve never even spoken to him before, how could he possibly be in love with me?” Sofia whispered across the cubicle partition to her ‘cube mate’ Daria. After three years of working within five feet of each other, separated only by the recycled particle board and plastic panel lovingly referred to as the “Berlin Wall”, Sofia and Daria had grown to be quite close. So it can as quite a shock when Daria let fly that William, the dark-haired enigma located in the corner cubicle, chose to break his monkish silence last week to confess to her his unrequited adulation of none other than Sofia.
“I swear, Sofia, he was quite adamant. It was actually very touching,” Daria whispered to her friend who had yet to pick her jaw up off of the floor.
“What I can’t understand is how you got him to talk at all, let alone profess his love for me,” Sofia stole a glance over to the corner cubicle that, thankfully, was empty at the moment.
“That’s actually kind of a funny story,” Daria admitted raising her voice a bit. “I was in the mood for sushi, so I went up to that little place around the corner and who should I see but William. There he was, sitting all alone at the sushi bar so I figured I’d grace him with my presence,” Daria batted her eyes and gave a pin-up pout- a show of self-mockery at her usual brazenness. “So there we were me and Mr. I-probably-don’t-know-the-sound-of-my-own-voice. Well you know me I couldn’t shut up, poor man. Even if he had wanted to I doubt he could have gotten a word in. All my chattering must have made him nervous though because before you could break a pair of chopsticks he flagged down the little girl serving us and ordered a bottle of Sake. Well that stuff certainly loosens the lips, boy howdy! It wasn’t fifteen minutes before he told me about his crush on you. He was actually a little surprised that you didn’t know actually,” Daria continued.
“He was? But how would I have known? I pass his cubicle every time I need to visit the Ladies Room and he’s not said word one to me in three years,” Sofia said with obvious confusion, after all she had noticed him right away and even tried to flirt in the early days. When her signals went unanswered she chalked it up to disinterest and stopped trying.
“Well I don’t know about all that, but he did say something like if she would only listen or something weird like that; I don’t really remember all the details, on account of the Sake. But I tell you what, once I got that boy atalkin’, OOO EEE! He practically talked my ear clean off!” Daria said with a flourish causing the other members of the office to pop their heads up over their cubicle walls like disgruntled prairie dogs.
“I don’t know, Daria. It looks like both of your ears are still tightly secured to your head from here,” a voice like cool water said from behind the women. William allowed a playful smirk to wander into the corner of his mouth as he looked from Daria to Sofia and said, “Good morning, Sofia”. Smiling again at the stunned women, William continued on to his corner cubicle.
“Oh my God!” Daria whispered through the Berlin Wall. “Can you believe that just happened? You have to go over there and talk to him, Sofia,” Daria basically yelled through the particle board.
But Sofia was not there.
“Hi William,” Sofia released each syllable as if it were a precious gift she was unsure of bequeathing.
William turned slowly in his ergonomic chair and blinked a few times before trusting his eyes that yes, in fact, there stood Sofia, speaking to him. Cripplingly shy his entire existence, it had only been a few short months since he had begun a regiment to prepare him for this moment. Smiling (a sensation that still felt foreign on his face) William held up one finger and with his other hand turned up the song that was playing from his computer speakers.
With a single prompt, something as subtle as a forefinger touching an ear, Sofia understood that William had asked her to listen. And so she did, even allowing her eyes to drift closed. With the noisy florescent lights now dimmed to a red glow behind her eyelids, the words almost leaped out at her,
“…I know it’s kind of strange
But every time I’m near you
I just run out of things to say
I know you’d understand
Every time I tried to tell you
The words just came out wrong
So I’ll have to say I love you in a song…”
Opening her eyes in wonder, Sofia would have sworn up and down that the lyrics sung by Jim Croce through those staticy little speakers were spoken lovingly by William himself.
Seeing that she understood, William felt emboldened and spoke to the object of his affection for the first time, “I played that every day, hoping you would hear it. Well, actually I played that and some other songs too, but they all were speaking directly to you”.
Thinking for a minute, Sofia began to recall all those trips to the Ladies Room and sure enough, there was a soundtrack to go along with it. “Did you by chance play Junk of the Heart, by the Kooks?” Sofia asked, her voice taking on an ‘other-world’ quality.
Letting a chuckle of released tension and relief escape, William nodded excitedly.
“That’s one of my absolute favorite songs,” Sofia said in somewhat disbelief. “Would you like to… that is if you wanted to- would like to go to lunch with me?” Sofia half expected him to decline thanks to her obliviousness for the last three years.
“I’d love to,” William smiled, noting that his facial muscles might as well get used to the sensation… he had a suspicion they’d be getting a lot more use in the future.
The Not So Fantastic Reality:
The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:
ONE: So this one kind of took on a life of its own (that seems to be happening a lot lately, hmm). Anywho, while counting down the minutes to the weekend and finishing up some things in my office, a song came on my 8tracks.com mix that got me really jazzed. I was bobbing my head, bouncing in my chair and really a-tapping my toes. Then another, equally fantastical tune came on, a little joint called “Junk of the Heart” by the Kooks. As some students walked by the lyrics “I just want to make you happy” danced out of my speakers and for some reason that gave really struck me as funny. I don’t know, somehow my brain took that incident and spun it into the story of a shy cubicle worker using song lyrics to profess his love for a fellow worker, unable to get up the nerve or find the right words to tell her himself. I really liked that idea, talking through someone else, using music to literally communicate with someone, not a far stretch if you ask me- music speaks to us all in a way, doesn’t it?
Love & Squirrels.