The Girl Down the Hall

There’s a girl that smiles at me every time I see her. She works in my office building on 43rd St., and has a view of the hallway that I walk down every day to get to my office. She’s a really cute girl. She has deep brown hair, and flirtatious eyes, and always seems happy to see me. She jokes with me and asks me how my weekend was, but I’m always a little too busy with work to talk.

But I see her every day. I pass her office when I leave for lunch, and when I step out for a meeting, and finally I tell her that we’ll go to the coffee shop on the first floor sometime. She smiles, and says that she’d like that.

I see her in passing the next day, and she’s smiling and laughing and talking to some other guy. He’s just as interested in her, and is doing all sorts of things to impress her: spouting trivia about popular bands, jumping to the floor to do pushups, bringing coffee to her desk. But that’s all fine with me. If she wants a chump who can bring her coffee and show off his masculinity by doing pushups in the office, well by all means, he’s the one for her.

The next day, she drops by my desk. “Just to say hello,” She says. She was over here running an errand anyway, she tells me. She asks me what I’m doing tonight, and I tell her I’m going to dinner with an old friend. She asks me what I’m doing after that, and I tell her I’m going to sleep, because it’s been a damn long week and I might turn into a zombie if I don’t. She says she understands. She says she needs to get going, but asks for my number, and I give it to her.

She texts me the next day, Saturday, asking if I’m busy and if we might get coffee on Monday. I text her back, and tell her “Sure.”

I’m a bit confused, though, because the amount of small talk we’ve exchanged hasn’t nearly been enough for her to garner authentic interest in me, and yet she greets me with an enthusiastic and almost star-struck smile every single time I see her. I’m a bit hesitant, too, because there are other girls that I’ve known for much longer, who are just as interested in getting my attention as this girl is, and whom I get along with very well. My co-workers tell me I’m thinking it over too much, and that I should just buy the girl dinner and get on with it. I listen to them, and text her back, asking if she’s free for dinner on Monday night. She replies, “Yes” with not one, not two, but three exclamation points.

I’m hesitant and nervous as I go to work on Monday, because it’s been a long time since I went to dinner with a girl. And although it’s been a long time, I still remember it, as clearly as glass and as softly as music.

We get coffee in the afternoon, and she asks me about my life. She tries to pry, it seems, into my past, where maybe she thinks that she can get a glimpse of the other girls that I’ve known for much longer than her. But she can’t, because not even I can get a glimpse of them any more. We have a nice, but short conversation, and then head back to our offices. “I’ll see you at dinner.” I tell her, and she smiles.

We eat dinner together, and she flirts with me, which I mirror back to her. She asks me to walk her to her apartment, nearby, on 14th, and so I do. Only, it’s raining, so I buy one of those terribly cheap 5-dollar umbrellas, and we rush to her apartment.

She asks if I’d like to sit down, and if I’d like anything to drink. I tell her “Yes, just water, please,” and take a seat. She asks me if I want wine, and I say no. So she brings me a glass of water, and sits down next to me. I notice the guitar in the corner of her room, and ask her if she plays. She says she plays a little bit, then hands the guitar to me and asks me to play something. I put down the glass of water.

I haven’t played in a long time, I say, but she doesn’t care. The only song that I can remember any part of is a song that I wrote for a girl that I used to see, so I play that song. She asks me what the lyrics are, and I tell her that I can’t remember. She asks me what the name of the song is, and I tell her that there is no name of this song. She asks me why there isn’t a name, and I tell her it’s because I wrote it for someone. She asks about that someone, and so I tell her just a little bit, because memories can only live in one mind for so long before you have to let them out.

“You do know the lyrics, don’t you?” She wonders out loud. I tell her yes, and she scoots closer to me, slowly. I can tell from her body language that she just wants to touch me, and for me to hold her, but I don’t. I keep the guitar locked in my hands, like I’m holding onto those memories. She asks me what the lyrics are, and so I tell her, and then put the guitar down. She cuddles up beside me, and I tell her “I’m sorry, but I’d better leave.”

I leave my umbrella at her apartment, by accident, and decide to walk home in the rain. The next morning, I pass her office.

Memories can only live inside one mind for so long before you have to let them out, but mine could have lasted a little bit longer.

She looks up as I walk down the hallway to my office, and doesn’t smile at me.