For ten seconds or longer, my heart stopped beating and I went blank. Black had never looked so dark as my mind roamed blindly through the dim vague space, wondering what just happened. Did I get beaten by a scorpion? The last time I spaced out like that was many years ago when I got struck by lightning. It was raining that day. I and my little friends were playing under a coconut tree when the strike came. But now! Why would I be struck by lightning on a sunny Monday in an elevator?
“I’m sorry,” his words brought me back to the present. I stepped backwards a few inches away from him, adjusted my glasses to take a second look at the reason for my blackout. Fred was that kind of a guy that could make your blood go south by just staring at you. He was a drop-dead-handsome cherub, innocent looking, and always calm like an isolated Ilashe beach on a harmattan morning. He didn’t come across to me as one who would dent a heart, neither did I see him as someone who would jump on the slightest opportunity to smear his lips with my matte lipstick. But there he stood on his 6 feet frame, looking all ‘charming’ like a native doctor.
“I am reaaally sorry,” he emphasized, this time with a half-cork, half-remorseful smile on his face. Although his smile brought rays of hope to my heart, the light it emitted faded away quickly when my tongue twitched at the aftertaste of what he had for lunch – something like amala, gbegiri and ewedu.
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Lunch time was my escape route from work and the best time to exchange glances with Fred. I usually scheduled lunch to fall around the same time with his, just so his presence could serve as my appetizer. And on days when I missed the timing, I concluded that lunch was uninteresting. I’ve always questioned my attraction for Fred. My colleagues too wondered why I was being all crypto and cared that much about the guy from lunch room whose pseudonym had become “Lunch.” I too wondered why I liked him; maybe it’s because he looks so edible like fresh carrot, maybe because he wears glasses and looks intelligent, maybe he reminds me of someone special from my past, maybe he’s my work Ikigai, or maybe I’m yet to find a reason not to be attracted to him. I’m not one of those sapiosexual beings, but cute and smart are tops on my check list, the same way proud and rude turns me off. Fred was a nice blend of all four, yet I still cared.
Coincidentally, we had just left the diner together and happened to be the only two inside the elevator. Fred has always played the “I’m not interested” game with me and I wondered what inspired the sudden change of mind. Was he all of a sudden getting the vibes or he just wanted us to have “lunch” in the elevator?
The more he apologized, the more tensed I became. The air conditioner must have gone off cos all of a sudden I started sweating and the atmosphere became as tensed as it was the last time I was in the elevator with my boss.
“I’m sorry Abeke,” he repeated for the umpteen time.
“Apologies accepted,” I managed to say just as the elevator came to a halt on the 7th floor.