LIZZIE'S WORLD: The office stand-off

Friday October 6 2017

I am not looking for an affair. I don’t want to

I am not looking for an affair. I don’t want to hide anything. I want you by my side for the rest of my life. ILLUSTRATION| JOSEPH NGARI 

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“I am not looking for an affair. I don’t want to hide anything. I want you by my side for the rest of my life,” Chris looks me intensely in the eye. My hand abandons the dessert spoon that’s just about to plunge into my dessert and finds its way to my throat, which I grip as if trying to find a way to open it to allow something sensible to come out.

I don’t know how to respond to Chris’ impassioned, honest plea. I don’t think it is a good idea at all for us to be involved – not given our work situation – I mean, how do we even explain it to everyone?! And yet... I can’t deny the way that I feel about him. But why is the world like this?! Why is it that after years of searching and constantly falling for all the frogs, I can’t be with my prince when he happens into my life?!

“You have to say something Liz,” Chris says. His voice sounds even but his eyes are heavy with the exposure of having laid his soul bare, and the possibility of being thwarted.

“I… I…” I shake my head. “I have to go,” I say, tossing my napkin on the table, grabbing my handbag, running into the house, through the living room and the fancy foyer, and I don’t stop until I get to my car which I nearly force open. I only stop to breathe when I have safely driven out of the main entrance to the gated community Chris lives in.

I drive as if in a daze, refusing to think about anything lest my thoughts overwhelm me, until I get to my house. I walk into my apartment, change into my night clothes and jump into bed immediately, willing myself to sleep rather than toss and turn. Thankfully, sleep comes easily.

When I wake up the next morning I can’t figure out the reason for my trepidation… until I remember the events of last night. And what’s worse, I have to go to work today – and face Chris. I bury my face in my hands. He will undoubtedly want to discuss last night; how do I tell him all the things I am feeling considering I already bailed on my best opportunity to do so?

I take a shower, get dressed, and do my hair and make-up to the accompanying sensations of butterflies in my tummy, which ratchet up their actions the closer I get to starting my journey to the office. By the time I park my car in the office block parking lot I am a right mess, and so I decide to pop into the café across the street and buy myself a large cup of very strong coffee to take back to the office with me to help me steady my nerves.

I am just paying for my drink when I look up and spot Chris, also walking into the same cafeteria. My heart starts to beat fast and I turn around quick, hoping he hasn’t seen my face yet and doesn’t recognise the back of my head. Ha! Fat chance. I turn around to see if he’s spotted me – but I don’t have a chance to assess because he’s walked out almost immediately he’s come in; from the package he’s holding in his hand, I reckon he’d ordered something earlier on to pick up on his way to the office.

Feeling a little miffed at not being spotted – and perhaps even ignored – I make my way slowly to the office to see how the rest of the day will unfold.

An hour after I get to my desk and sit down to work, I have seen neither hide nor hair of Chris. I feel surprisingly deflated. I had come to work expecting some sort of stand-off – anything with emotional charge, really – or at the very least, a phone call to see how I am doing. This is an anticlimax. I call Ciku, his PA.

“Hey, is Chris around today?” I ask as nonchalantly as I can.

“Yes, but he’s been in a telephone conference all morning. Looks like it’ll go on for another hour or so. Want me to fit you in after?”

“No, no,” I tell her.

“Ok, I’ll tell him you called,” she says and clicks off before I can protest… and leaving me wondering exactly what I am going to tell him when he calls me to find out why I am looking for him.