If she gave it any thought at all — and she tried not to because it was just too ridiculous, she was old enough to be his mother — she was drawn to his quiet eyes and the thoughtful formation of his sentences. She also liked the way he stood tall above everyone else in the office. It always amused her to see someone approach him, a gentle giant looming over the person’s head while Kris smiled benevolently downward.
But during the time it took for the days to progress from mid-March to the end of November, she felt they had made a true connection — brief chats in the kitchen standing at the coffee machine; discussions over lunch about recent movies they had seen; mildly heated debates about the company’s shadier polices while standing outside during his smoke break. When she won a restaurant gift certificate in a departmental competition, she asked Kris if he would like to go to dinner with her, and he said yes. She enjoyed his company and she was convinced, afterward, that the feeling was mutual.
Then, at the company Christmas party, outside on the patio with the other smokers, she approached Kris, standing slightly behind him, off to one side just as he stepped back, landing squarely on her foot and knocking her drink out of her hand.
True, he weaved ever so imperceptibly forward and back, but he did make eye contact and spoke very clearly. “What are you doing here?” he demanded. “The restaurant is booked for the whole evening. This is a private party.” Not waiting for an answer, he resumed his conversation with the person to his right. She had begun to laugh, but since the others didn’t join in, she stopped. No one else said anything either.
It was silly to feel so hurt, so anonymous. She carefully put down the empty glass she had been holding, its contents now on her one good party dress that would have to be dry cleaned before her friend’s holiday open house, and left.
She walked home slowly. When her feet started to really hurt; she took off her shoes, carrying them in her right hand. By the time she arrived at the door of her apartment, the soles of her stockings shredded, she had convinced herself Kris was merely fooling around. All would be well again on Monday.
Anonymous – Fragment #88