I’m trying something a little cheesy and clichéd for this story. I’ve written two alternative endings and I want you, readers, to vote for which one I should go with. The winner will be posted on Christmas Eve.
I feel so awkward. To be honest, the awkwardness and tension have been coursing through me all day. It’s just that bit more intense now.
Perhaps I should give you a bit of insight as to what’s going on here. I’ve been working for Dietrich & Blainey for over seven years now. I’m part of the furniture. There are probably only two or three people who’ve worked here longer than I have. Everybody knows me and gets on with me. About four months ago there was an intake of new staff, as there regularly is at that time of year. As usual, I spoke to them. As a long-serving member of staff, the management always thinks it’s good that I have a word with new team members. I entered the room and prepared to talk.
Then I saw her. Corn-blonde hair flowed down past her shoulders and framed quite possibly the most beautiful face I’ve ever seen. Thick-rimmed glasses offered windows for a pair of almond-shaped sky-blue eyes. The frames were perched on a straight nose and a quite prominent bridge gave way to full, wide lips. The shape of her head seemed slightly unusual; perhaps proportionally too long against its width. That was really her only flaw. Her skin was pale and unblemished while her clothing spoke of a woman with a taste all of her own. She was no slave to fashion this one.
She looked at me with a genuine albeit somewhat bored smile. The training will have been long and arduous. No doubt all she wanted was to go home. I kept my gaze levelled at her for a trifle longer than I’d intended and chuckled nervously.
“Come on, Luke. You’ve done this enough times not to get nervous now,” my manager encouraged.
I gave my speech as I had several times before; the same old repertoire about what a good company D&B were and how they’d treat you well if you showed them loyalty and enthusiasm.
I left the room a different man to the one I was before I walked in. I don’t know if love at first sight exists. It sounds too fantastical to me. What I do know is that I’ve never had a woman before or since make me feel what I feel whenever Helena is nearby.
The months have passed and the feeling has never abated. It’s only grown. We’ve spoken on a few occasions and I’ve not noticed anything in her body language that suggests she’s attracted to me in any way. Why would she be? She’s inconceivably beautiful. I’m painfully average on my best day.
Despite this knowledge, I’ve been urged by Joe, my best friend, to make the Christmas party my time to strike. He works with me and he’s convinced that she’ll turn her head my way if I just talk properly to her; that I’m a great bloke and have the personality to win any woman over. The fact that I haven’t had a girlfriend in about four years apparently means nothing!
So here I am; dressed in all new clothes from top to bottom. No expense spared either. I’m at the pub now to meet up with a few of the other lads for a quiet couple before we head over to the hotel where the party is being held at. I’m trying to act like I’m just ‘one of the guys’. Inside, my pulse is racing. God only knows what I’m gonna be like when I arrive there and see her.
Everyone who was due to meet us at the pub is here now. One last warmup drink and then we’ll be ordering a taxi to the hotel. I have a room booked there so at least I won’t have to worry about getting home. The lager is slipping down a little too easily. I need to rein myself in a little I think. The last thing I need is to get bladdered and wind up making a fool of myself.
Drinks finished! We’re all in the taxi now. The chatter is loud and lively. Everyone’s looking forward to the party. I am as well, don’t get me wrong, it’s just that I’m a bag of nerves with it. Oh well, I’m sure I’ll calm down once I’m there and I’ve seen Helena.
The taxi pulls up at the hotel. It’s smaller and less extravagant than I imagined. There again, I shouldn’t be surprised. D&B is hardly the kind of company to spare no expense. They even charged us for the ticket to the party.
In we go. I can hear the music already. I decide to head to my room first so I can check it out. Grabbing the key from reception, I make my way up to level two in the lift. A pretty girl stands in there with me. She looks over and smiles; twice in fact. If my head wasn’t full of Helena I’d probably talk to her. No, I wouldn’t! Who am I trying to kid?
I get out of the lift and walk down the corridor to my room. Although very basic, it’s nice enough. I go into the bathroom and look myself over in the mirror. Tonight’s the night, Luke. You’re gonna talk to Helena—properly talk to her—and make her realise that you’re exactly the man she needs in her life! No wimping out now!
I give myself a quick look over and then make my way out of the room back to the lift. That girl’s there again. How coincidental! She gives me another smiling look.
“Are you at that party tonight?” she asks.
“Yeah. Yeah, I am,” I respond. “Are you?”
“No. I’m here from down south for a night out. It’s my friend’s hen party.”
“Oh right. I’d love to tell you the best places to go except I’ve never actually been out around here before.”
“I’m sure the girls I’m out with will know anyway.”
You see? This is why I don’t talk to women! I always end up saying something stupid!
“What room are you staying in?” she asks.
“Two-oh-nine,” I answer; only thinking what a strange question it is once I’ve answered it.
“Cool!” The lift pings. “Well, have a good night.”
That was strange. She looks and smiles at me one last time as she walks away towards another bar in the hotel. I’m left feeling kind of empowered by the situation and my confidence has crept up a notch.
I guess there’s nothing left but for me to make my entrance into the party. Here goes nothing! I approach the double doors and the cheesy music hits me face on. How awful! I mean, I wasn’t expecting Foo Fighters live or anything. This, though, is just hell! I’ll persevere regardless. Everybody I walk past in the room lets on to me; some forcing me to stop for a minute or so for a quick conversation. I’m happy that not one conversation is work-related. This crew definitely leave D&B where it should belong and I couldn’t approve more.
No sign of Helena. The place is only half full. Plenty of time for her to show up yet. I make my way to the bar where Joe stands and he hands me a pint without missing a beat. “Get that down ya,” he says and I duly oblige. I tell him about the incident in the lift and he acts unmoved. “Why wouldn’t a gorgeous woman flirt with you?” he asks rhetorically. There are many ways I could answer that question. I don’t for fear of reprimand.
We talk idly amongst ourselves while the place fills up; casting frequent glances towards the door as we keep our eye out for the arrival of the lady of the hour. Joe seems almost as excited about her arrival as I do. I can’t fault his support.
Nearly an hour after we arrived in the taxi, Helena finally breezes through the door. She looks incredible. Her usually straight or tied back hair hangs in loose curls and she’s dispensed of her glasses. A figure-hugging red dress shows off her curves in a way like I’ve never seen before. She has enough cleavage on show for it to be tantalising without appearing slutty and the dress cuts off halfway down her thighs. I can’t see what footwear she has on. I don’t care. I’ve seen all I want to see. She looks absolutely perfect.
Her smile is big and friendly as she says hello to virtually everybody she sees. She’s so sweet! No wonder she’s so well-liked around the place at work. Her path leads her towards the bar. Naturally! She’ll want a drink just like all others who walk through the door. I try not to stare as she approaches. Try is all I can do, not that it serves me too well. She looks at me and Joe and offers the same smile she’s flashed at everyone else.
“Hey Joe, Luke.”
“Evening, Helena,” I say; trying hard not to seem awkward.
Joe looks at me and nods towards Helena in a gesture that tells me to go and speak to her. She’s alone so now really is the perfect opportunity.
Ending 1: Luke goes and speaks to Helena
Ending 2: Luke decides against speaking to Helena
Vote for the ending you want to read in the comments section below. Alternatively, you can do it on the link posted on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Thank you in advance for getting involved. Voting closes at 11am GMT on 24th December.