The rain met the pavement in a way so similar to that of a pianist pressing the keys of a piano. A sonata hummed on the pavement and the water pooled around Nina’s shoes. The clouds above were thick and blue, with purple veins darting across them. Tuesdays weren’t normally so magnificent, but Nina had little time for it. Her head, far from the clouds, was preoccupied with watching the traffic in front of her weave through the street that she was trying to cross. Nina sighed.
Following the familiar path she walked every day, she got to work safe in the knowledge that every minute of her day was accounted for. She walked up the stairs and into the room where her colleagues were already squarely sat on chairs and nursing the early morning with large cups of creamy coffee. She sat down at her desk and glanced opposite at a bubbly, pink haired Charlotte, who was part way through a bowl of cereal.
“Have I got something interesting to tell you,” Charlotte said, her mouth half-full.
“Hi,” Nina replied as she sat down, awaiting the usual morning tirade of gossip that Charlotte never failed to throw her way. She didn’t mind it really, though it often involved people she’d never met, or had only seen zoomed in screenshots of pictures found in the deepest recesses of the internet that Charlotte took particular pride in finding. Yesterday, her story had ended on something of a cliff-hanger: Jolene, who, according to Charlotte, was an absolute cow, was threatening – for real this time – to break up with her boyfriend Samuel, which was good news to Charlotte because she and Samuel had been metaphorically and literally winking at each other from afar every time they saw each other for years now, and Charlotte thought this might be her big chance with him. Nina could only guess why Jolene was threatening to break up with Samuel, though it seemed to be something that happened quite a lot, as far as she knew.
“Carry on from where you left off yesterday,” Nina said to Charlotte.
“What had I told you?”
That she was about to break up with him and you were really-”
“YES!” Charlotte interrupted. “Sorry, but a lot has happened since then,” she said, wide-eyed.
“Go on,” prompted Nina. Nina was sure that at least she’d find Charlotte’s story entertaining for at least a minute, but Nina sometimes wished that someday it would be her telling the interesting and dramatic story and someone else would have to listen instead of her for a change. She pushed that thought to the back of her mind. Rain splattered against the window, more like a percussionist than a pianist.
“So you know how Jolene kept threatening to break up with Samuel?”
“Well, it’s only because he kept cheating on her and she’s only just plucked up the courage to actually end it!”
Charlotte’s face was twisted into a peculiar grin; one that suggested she loved retelling this drama, but also that she didn’t actually like what had happened.
“So this isn’t your big chance with Samuel, then?” Nina replied, flatly.
“No, probably not. If he’s cheated on Jolene… and Jolene’s so pretty, then I’ve got no chance.”
“You’re pretty, and better off without him,” Nina resolved. Even though Nina never seemed to find herself in the center of the kind of drama that Charlotte
would want to re-tell, her favorite part of it was always telling people that they were smart, interesting, and beautiful enough and far too good for whomever was attempting to break their heart. She had told Charlotte this nearly every time Samuel was brought into conversation, and sometimes, Nina felt like Charlotte had actually listened.
Nina knew the rest of the day would be spent softly consoling Charlotte and encouraging her to not be so harsh on Jolene, whoever Jolene was outside of her relationship with Samuel (Nina certainly didn’t know). The hours ticked by, the rain lessened and quickened, and Charlotte’s mood swung to and fro between wanting to cry and wanting to laugh. Nina tried her best to listen, but at 3 p.m. she’d had enough and resolved to rest her head on the table in front of her while everyone else in the office was in the bathroom trying to convince Charlotte to get somewhat of a grip.
As Nina’s head was pressed on the table, a purple light swelled behind her. At first, she passed it off as the storm outside simply worsening. But then it grew brighter. Nina spun around in her chair, hoping it was anything other than Charlotte. In the corner of the office, a big diamond-like shiny object was suspended in mid-air. It looked like something out of a video game. Nina blinked. She stood up and walked towards it, completely spellbound by it. The glow intensified as she inched closer. Then, she felt herself being pulled towards it, then being hurtled forwards, then sideways, then squashed, and then she was stood on a metal floor in a dark room and there were five people – more like things – in front of her all cheering.
“We did it!” One of them yelled. Two of them high-fived, one was giggling and another, very seriously making notes on a notepad, except it didn’t look like a normal notepad. One of them stepped forward and said, “Hello, I’m Sparrow, and we just picked you up from earth!”
Nina said nothing.
“Blimey, you’d think she’d be more excited,” murmured the shortest one (whose name was Pin). The one with the notepad rolled his eyes. Nina looked around the room and out of the window, where in the distance she could see planet earth, as lonely as a pearl in its shell. Her jaw dropped. Sparrow walked over to her.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Sparrow said. He smelled like oranges. Nina turned to Sparrow. “Charlotte isn’t going to believe this.”
Written by Rochelle Masquith Wakefield, West Yorkshire
Feature Photo by Sincerely Media
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