Author's Note: Nice reviews are better than chocolate, unless maybe you're licking that chocolate off someone.
Sometimes I think that bad luck follows me, like it's grown attached to me or something. No matter what I do, there it is.
I think bad luck needs therapy, or at least a new hobby.
When I got to the offices of The Herald, it wasn't quite raining yet but I could tell it was coming. So I couldn't really say why I didn't bring my umbrella, not that it has any bearing whatsoever on what was going to happen; I just thought I'd mention it. Anyway, I had a job interview for a copy editor position. I really didn't think I was going to get it and that was the positive attitude I brought with me. Seriously though, I had no experience in the field and my last job was in an art gallery, but you need to start somewhere, right?
My interviewer was this woman who was a bit of a talker, but I didn't mind. When I get nervous I have this tendency to forget how to string basic sentences together. She asked the requisite questions and then somehow segued into her college days, her glory days as she called them. Had I mentioned something about graduating? I didn't think so, that was two years ago. She complemented my coat and I blushed; I'd bought it especially for this interview; I don't know why. It was dark grey and tied at the waist; I thought it made me look like I should be in a noir film. I have a lot of weird daydreams like that. Regardless, she seemed to like me.
It looked as though things were beginning to look up for me, today anyway. I glanced around the office as I walked toward the elevators; despite the institutional grey and the fluorescent lighting, I could see myself there. Ok, so it was a little depressing looking, but it was better than nothing.
I waited at the bank of elevators; two lit up at the same time which I only noticed because that never happens to me. Usually I take the stairs anyway. I would have tonight too, but I couldn't find them. I picked the elevator on my right and waited for the doors to slide open. There was a man already inside; he looked a little startled to see me, taking a big step over to give me more room. We were both going to the lobby. The elevator was just starting down when the lights flickered. I could feel us slowing down and I held on tighter to the rail behind me, did I mention that I'm not really a fan of elevators? Well, I'm not.
We stopped moving and the lights went out; I must have jinxed myself earlier with the whole my life is looking up thing.
I tried not to cry and closed my eyes, opened them; I couldn't tell the difference. I pressed myself as close to the wall as I could with the rail there and tried to remember what I was supposed to be focusing on. Breathing perhaps? That seemed secondary at the moment to getting the hell out of there. I don't know how noticeable my panic became, but suddenly out of the darkness came a voice. "Are you alright?" Must have been more noticeable than I thought. A dim light came on overhead; it was just enough that we could see each other. I realized then that I probably looked like I was about to jump right through the closed elevator doors. I tried to loosen my hands, but they refused to budge. The man moved closer and I could feel his eyes moving over my face. "You look pale."
He was stating the obvious. "I'm always pale."
"I'm Edward. What's your name?"
"Do you work here?"
I tried to pay enough attention to process his questions. "I just had a job interview at The Herald."
"Oh, what department?"
"Uh, I don't know, a copy editor position." My answer seemed clear enough to me. My hands still gripped the railing, but I could feel my heart slowing down.
"Have you worked at a newspaper before?"
What was with the questions? I finally looked him in the eyes; they were a bright shade of green. He had a handsome face, but it had an edge to it, a hardness or something. He had a world weariness about his features, like he'd seen more than his fair share of sadness. His hair was disheveled, like he'd just woken up. "No."
"Where'd you work before?"
I felt one hand begin to loosen and I raised it up in front of me; it looked like a claw. Before I could stretch it out he took it between his own hands and pressed; it felt like he was kneading bread dough. "Um, what was – oh…an art gallery." I let go with my other hand and he switched to that one. "Thanks, but you don't –"
He let go and smiled partway, "I was just trying to keep you from having a panic attack. You didn't exactly look steady."
I wasn't sure how to take that, but I didn't feel like arguing in such close quarters. "Thanks." I had said that twice now in a matter of a couple minutes. "Are we stuck?"
"Seems that way," he moved to the panel on the wall; there was a phone receiver for just such an occasion. Edward talked to someone on the other end quietly. After a minute he muttered a quick "thank you" and hung up. "If it makes you feel any better, we're not the only ones stuck in an elevator tonight. The power is out all over the place. Sorry." He said it genuinely, as if he could have prevented my discomfort. "The guy said they were working on getting things running again, but he couldn't really say how long it would be. They're running lights on a backup generator right now, but that's all."
I tried to stay calm. Ok, fact one – I wasn't going anywhere for at least a little while. Fact two – I'm terrified of elevators, actually most enclosed spaces in general. Fact three – I'm stuck in here with an obscenely gorgeous man that seemed to be acting as a nice mediating factor bringing down my fear to more manageable levels. Edward interrupted my train of thought by sitting down; he looked up at me, like he was waiting to see what I'd do. I stared back at him for a moment and then sat down too; he smiled as if he'd won something. "Do you work at the paper too?"
He leaned back and bumped his head on the rail. "No, I work at Traveler," he touched the back of his head. Traveler took up the fifth floor of the building; if I got a job here I'd be on the third.
"Are you a writer?" I was suddenly very interested.
"Yeah, I don't really come in regularly though, just once a month or so to hand in drafts. So I guess it's serendipity," he gestured around the elevator. I couldn't tell whether he was being sarcastic.
"Do you get to travel all over the world? That must be an incredible way to live."
"My last assignment was in Dubai, the one before that was South Carolina; so where I go really just depends on where they want me. I think it's my turn now. Why did you go from an art gallery to a newspaper?"
I bit my lip, wondering how in depth I was going to take this. "Art was the plan basically; it had always been the plan. And then one day I woke up and realized that it wasn't what I wanted to do, you know what I mean?" He nodded. "So I quit my job and started looking for something I loved. I know I want to write for sure and…well, you've got to start somewhere." That was quickly becoming my mantra.
"What's your favorite color?" He grinned slightly.
"I thought it was my turn?"
"You asked me three questions, I only got one."
"Ok, green." I said it too quickly. I could feel the heat rising into my face and I looked down.
"That counts as a question."
He chuckled and stretched his legs out, crossing them loosely at the ankle. "So I guess it's your turn then."
"If you had to stop traveling, where would you set down roots?"
He tilted his head to one side and looked at me thoughtfully. After a while he said, "here, I think."
I leaned forward slightly, "why?"
"Nope, you're taking my turn again. What's your favorite holiday?"
"Christmas, why here?"
"I like the Pacific Northwest, the rain, the real seasons. Why Christmas?"
"I don't know, I like giving people things I guess. I like to see their reactions. Guilty pleasures?"
"Hmm," he looked at me as though he was debating on telling me the truth, "old scary B movies." He smiled boyishly. "Val Lewton is my favorite, I don't think you'd classify him as B though, but I'm biased. Biggest pet peeve?"
"People that lack common courtesy, definitely. If you –"
Before I could say anything, the main lights came back on. I felt a vague sense of disappointment as the elevator descended the rest of the way to the lobby. Edward cleared his throat, "looks like you've been given a reprieve... Can I ask you something?" I looked up at him and raised my eyebrows. "Why didn't you take the stairs?"
"I didn't know where they were." I smiled lightly.
"Well I'm glad; it wouldn't have been as nice in there by myself." He smiled halfway as the doors opened.
He let me step out first; I took a big breath of air. "Thanks for getting my mind off things in there. I probably would have had a fit if I'd been alone."
"It was nothing –"
"It meant something to me, really," I looked at him pointedly. "So, will you be back here in a month then?"
"I'll be going to Peru in a week. I'll be there for a couple weeks." He shrugged like he'd run out of things to say.
"Maybe I'll see you around here after that, if I get the job." I put on my brave face and stuck my hand out. "It was nice meeting you."
He shook my hand, looking at our joined hands for a moment before looking at my face, "it was nice meeting you, Bella." He left then, taking a side exit that led to the garage. I walked out the big, glass front door and flipped up the collar on my jacket. The rainy season had officially begun.