Perception

She bursts into the room in her usual flamboyant manner. Oozing with confidence and sexual allure, that most men, even the discerning, find irresistible, she demands attention. It is as if her whole being relies on an appreciative audience. Not for her the demure, lonely reflection of shyness. Surrounded by an aura of bright colours she is a force of nature, much to be admired. Her beauty is elusive. Nothing on her face is remotely symmetrical, but somehow all the parts add up to an exciting whole. Even the freckles that mark her nose are like stars in an effervescent heaven. Her lips, although crooked, possess a humorous twist and offer the promise of mischief or forbidden fruits.

Entering the room she fills it with electric energy. Her long velvet skirt of rich colour and silk shirt to match make a striking contrast with the grey suits she heads towards. Masculine company so much more fulfilling than any girly frippery. The strong vibes of female jealousy however never cease to amuse her. Stretching up to sit on a tall stool by the bar she reveals delicate feet, barely clad, narrow ankles and well shaped calves. Conscious of her curves she calmly, as if by right, accepts the cocktails offered. Conversation comes easily and those around seem captivated. Soon she is hidden behind a circle of admirers.

Possessing none of these charismatic qualities another woman stands timidly in the foyer waiting for someone to enter the gathering so that she can use their shadow. The room will not be affected by her arrival or the context of the evening by her presence. How can this dowdy mouse ever become that so desired delight of her imagination?

Straighten the tie. Check the mirror. Choice of suit alright, not the ones worn to work and not his best, but appropriate for the boss to wear on this one dreaded night of the year. The grey suits will all be there hoping to make an impression. The women, dolled up in showy finery, exposing more than normal, will fawn all over him with their ceaseless chatter. How he hates this event. Will the new girl be there? Her presence would change the complexion of the evening for the better. Perhaps though she will not find the party to her taste or he will fail again to find enough courage. Check the time; not too early, not too late. Ah well, grit his teeth, get on with it and see what the evening brings.

“Are you waiting for someone?” The voice is soft, inviting and familiar. It belongs to the office heart-throb but who can he be talking to? As she turns to see who it might be she is surprised to find that apart from the owner of the voice and herself no-one else occupies the foyer.

“Oh no” she replies in confusion.

“That’s good. We can go in together then. Not my scene really but thought I’d better make an appearance however brief. Maybe you feel the same”.

“Large crowds do frighten me a little”. Why did she have to be so gauche in front of this suave, self-possessed man?

How lucky to find her alone clearly waiting for someone in her calm, composed, manner and what joy that she is not. Is it possible she feels the same shyness? Take courage.

“You look wonderful tonight. Shall we go in?”

As they enter the revelry a hushed silence falls. The grey suits at the bar turn and stare. The women stop their chatter and gape; the opening of their mouths almost audible. Envy oozing from every pore, seeping round the floor like a malevolent mist.

“Take no notice of everyone. What will you have to drink?”

“A medium white wine would be rather nice”.

“Good. Wait here while I fetch it”.

She watches him make his way to the bar. As the men part to let him in she is surprised, and not a little disturbed, to see the personification of her desired self sitting on a high stool. She imagines him being caught up in her charisma. Why wouldn’t he be? He could choose anyone he wanted. Why would he waste time on a wilting wallflower? But no; he is walking back bearing two wine glasses and wearing a broad, conspiratorial grin. His eyes fixed only on her. “Let’s find somewhere we can drink in peace”.

Conversation comes easily and as they talk her shyness slips away. The gloom that had engulfed her earlier begins to lift. How could she have thought him so unattainable? Was this a dream? Will she wake up to her reclusive reality? Best enjoy the moment. The evening will be all too short.

“Are we ready to cause another stir? Shall we dance?” His heart is full as they move towards the dance floor. How lucky to have her in his arms for a while after weeks of longing and lack of courage. So nearly didn’t come. So glad he did.

There is movement at the bar. The woman, who has captivated all around her, slides from the stool, picks up her bag and leaves without an escort. Everyone watches the flamboyant exit. In answer to the unspoken question he says gently “They want to be seen with her but not to be with her whereas I very much want to be with you way, way beyond this evening. Would you say yes to that?”

Noticing how unsure and nervous he is she simply leans close to him and whispers “That will be wonderful”. As they embrace and enjoy their first kiss the gasps around the room are lost to them. They are there, just the two of them, complete in the moment.

Barbara S

© 2016 Yeadon Writers

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