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Jenny

Part 1 of a short story

By Kevin I. BarkmanPublished 3 years ago 5 min read
Jenny
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Jenny was barely thirty. Half the time she felt younger, the rest she felt as if she was knocking on death’s door. Most people who saw her out and about thought she was much younger than she was, due to the makeup, low cut shirts, and high heels. She drank a half sweet soy caramel macchiato, hot, with no whip. A classic drink, just boring enough to be overlooked, just fancy enough to hold eye contact with baristas a little too long. She listened to dream pop and her wrist tattoo quoted a song that had long fallen out of popularity. In her younger years she had backpacked Europe in a defiant step towards independence. Lately she had been to the Caribbean three times, but only to resorts. You wouldn’t have guessed they were carefully planned and guided trips by her backpack photos on Instagram, or her bikini pictures on what appeared to be secluded beaches but were really just tricks of camera angles and good timing.

She worked reception at an office that serviced software. At one point she had a boyfriend. A few actually. But recently she preferred the short flirty interactions that came with working in service. She liked first dates and the attention of someone trying to impress her. She enjoyed the challenge and thrill of figuring someone out and trying to please them. The hurried goodbyes and never seeing each other again that came from living in a big city meant that she could be anyone. That was a thrill.

Half past noon, Starbucks in hand, Jenny clicked her heels on the tile office floor. “Jimmy!” She gave him a little glance while walking past. A glance he did not return, in fact he barely nodded in response. She took her place at the reception desk with a smile and wave across the room to David, the token asian of the office.

David was the only man in the office she hadn’t gone out with. She used to blame it on his nerdy half smile and the way he kept to himself. He appeared thoroughly boring. Since her time at the office she had never heard him join a conversation with so much as a mention of ever going out. He never told tales of late nights, or early mornings. He never looked tired or hung over. Some days he even looked slightly annoyed at coworkers chit chat and tales of adventures. He never said anything of course. He would just walk a little faster past the break room and other desks and sit himself down a little more aggressively than normal.

Recently she had gotten more annoyed at David. At how he wouldn’t engage in office banter, and how he kept to himself. How often he smiled and didn’t talk. And how he turned down all her advances with ease and kept things professional despite her constant flirting. She was always flirting, and flirting with everyone. Men liked that, for the most part, and at the very least were kind and quiet in return, and often flirted back. When she first began working at the office she thought David wad purely naive but had recently understood him to be tactful and easy going.

Easy going and tactful avoidance was not something she experienced often. Most people would call it professional behavior. The kind smile that comes from the mouth but not the eyes, and the slight back step when she took a step closer. It had been years since she found him boring, and a few months of finding him annoying. That annoyance, as it often does, became a challenge. She felt she had to beat him at this game, and that she would beat him eventually. The challenge because desire. Desire to win, and desire to have her power over him as she did over most male person she interacted with. She wanted a date proposal. Maybe even a date. Nothing sexual of course. She would be happy if David showed even faint interest in friendship.

Her biggest opponent appeared to be her own habitual flirting, which seemed to instantly put David on his guard.

On Thursday, she told herself. On Thursday she would bring him some homemade cookies and strike up a conversation. She would need to learn to make cookies of course. Though that seemed to be the least of her worries.

As she stroked the sweat off her brow and threw another pan of burnt cookies into the garbage she felt very much like trying a different approach. With a struggled sigh she took another sip of merlot, read through the Pinterest recipe and tried again.

by 11pm she had a handful of chocolate chip cookies. She plated them, put on some plastic wrap. Hesitated then threw out the plastic wrap and took out a beeswax reusable cover and put that on. Impressions were key, they said a lot about a person.

In the morning she set the cookies on the leather seat of her BMW and turned the heated seat on to warm them up. Smart she figured.

David didn’t even look up as she came in. She forgot her hello to her other coworkers as she walked by and stumbled a broken “hello” in response to their greetings. with a deep breath she set the cookies on David’s desk, almost knocking down his coffee, and spilling hers a little as she stumbles to keep the cookies on the desk.

“Hi,” She hadn’t been this awkward since her she middle school years. But she continued with that confidence of someone fully aware they are about to fail but committed to following through. And she did fail. At least in a way.

“hi,” He responded. He didn’t reach for the coffee she held for him, nor even acknowledge it. Instead he gave her a polite smile, the kind that comes from your lips but not your whole face, and went back to looking at his computer screen.

“Here!” She exclaimed a little too loudly, thrusting out the coffee toward him.

He turned a little, nodded, then accepted the coffee. He held it gingerly in one hand without taking a sip. “Thank you, that is very kind,” he said, and turned back to his computer.

She stood their awkwardly a moment. “Here are some chocolate chip cookies I made yesterday,” She set the whole plate on his desk and quickly hurried away. She heard him call a thank you after her but she didn’t reply.

During break Jimmy thanked her for the cookies, and then Cheryl did, and then several others. Her plate of cookies sat half empty on the main round table that sat in the middle of the room. Johnathan grabbed one, nodded to her, and said somewhat shyly, “Thank you.” Jenny just nodded back. She didn’t say anything else, just turned and walked back to the reception desk. David had obviously told everyone she had brought cookies for beak. Not the plan she had worked out in her head before hand.

A week passed before Jenny got the nerve to talk to David again. A week of awkward silence in the office. Awkward to her at least. No one else seemed bothered in the least.

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copyright Kevin Barkman 2021

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About the Creator

Kevin I. Barkman

A wandering soul who feels at home anywhere in the world, but doesn't have a home anywhere.

A professional Athlete who travels the world.

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    Kevin I. BarkmanWritten by Kevin I. Barkman

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