Her, Him, and the Receptionist | Teen Ink

Her, Him, and the Receptionist MAG

January 13, 2009
By SamanthaS BRONZE, Encino, California
SamanthaS BRONZE, Encino, California
1 article 0 photos 370 comments

Our daily jog together. At least I like to think of it as our jog. It’s not like we actually run together, but in close proximity in separate universes.

It is hard to remember the days when we did not run together. My elliptical jogs right behind his treadmill and always keeps up. It would have been so easy to say hi the first time. But with each passing day, it has gotten harder and harder, and now impossible. We have had occasional looks back and forth, but those were probably coincidences. Of course I ­always look at him. As for the times his glance met mine, perhaps something else called his gaze. And I’m way too shy to budge from my routine to approach confirmed rejection. Why can’t he just make the move? I know, that’s a funny one. Look at him and then look at me – especially without makeup!

I don’t turn red from exercising, but I do blush when I’m nervous or embarrassed. So my cover story would be that my redness is from my heavy-duty workouts. After all, I am at the gym. I’m struggling to keep up with myself. My mind is going faster than the elliptical. My fervent fears, my neurotic nerves, my taxing trepidations, my angry anxieties whirling through my brain. Now I’m really dizzy.

Even he has flaws. It’s not like I think he’s perfect or anything. How could he be perfect with shoes that smell like that? He comes close to perfection. And his feet come close to me as he lifts them on the treadmill upwind of my elliptical. Just as my iPod advances to the next song, a wave of toxic air per­meates my nostrils. “Tell me how I’m supposed to breathe with no air? Can’t live, can’t breathe with no air … If you ain’t here I just can’t breathe. There’s no air, no air,” sings Jordin Sparks. Whew, how can I breathe in this air? Deep breath in. Deep breath out. Ahh. How can toxic air be refreshing? But amid these toxins, there is some sweetness. I can just sense it; I have that tingling feeling in my nostrils.

It’s hard for me to hold back a little smile. I can’t get away from it this time. It draws me closer. The occasional silent connection I have with him is worth the foul air I endure. I must be high on either the stench or endorphins, because I don’t believe in drugs. I am exercising longer than usual. I am pumped. I am not getting tired. Exercise is a healthy form of procrastination for what I might do next.

The elliptical bars are sandwiched ­between my palms and my fingers. I am pushing on them with all my strength. Just as I alternately push and pull on the levers – left, right, left, right – my strength to contact him alternates with my fear of rejection. Our closeness has been on a meta­phorical treadmill – no matter how hard I try, no ­matter how fast I run, we don’t get any closer. The counteracting forces of acceptance and rejection are pulling on me equally. I am in equilibrium. I am moving at a constant velocity on the elliptical, but I can’t get myself to move toward him. Physics. Echhh!

I try to look cute in my gym clothes, but it’s hard. The mirror tells me I look fat and ugly. Those are the only things the mirror ever tells me, besides red hair, freckles, Raggedy Anne.

My pink good-luck sweatband hasn’t brought me any luck. I’m going to go buy some new colored ones. I’m getting kind of sick of pink. People must think I wear the same sweaty headband every day, but I have dozens of them from that sale at Costco. I know that’s what he’s thinking when he turns around: freak, loser.

Droplets of sweat drip down my face, ravaging my pores and burning the roots of my confidence. But he gives me a feeling all over my body just by looking at him. So I know it’s worth it.

The odor burns my nostrils, but I can’t resist. I tiptoe into the hallway outside the men’s locker room; one hand holding the heart-shaped Post-It, the other plugging my nose. I see them resting on the wooden bench, right where he left them after “our” jog, laces untied and tongues forming obtuse angles. Why are they here? My hands are shaking and my legs are trembling, but I bite the corner of my lip and stick the note face up in the heel of his right shoe.

I am leaving the gym and I can’t stop thinking about him. Still. I hope he feels the same. But he won’t. I hope he will call. But he won’t. It’s been seven minutes since I put my note in his shoe and put my heart on the waiting list for rejection.

I enter my apartment and begin pacing. It’s been an hour and three minutes. I shouldn’t have done it. He doesn’t like me. It’s ­going to be awkward. No way. I’m not giving in. I’m not going to change my workout routine. But it will be hard to look at him tomorrow. I hope he saw the note before he put his shoes on. If not, I hope the ink doesn’t smear.


There she is. I could set my watch by her if I had one. Same gym. Same time. Same workout. Same as me. She never misses a day. I don’t think I ever will either. My mom and dad are both kind of, I don’t want to say chubby, but yeah, they are. I can’t let that happen to me. But I have another reason too.

Crack. Crack. My neck always cracks when I turn my head swiftly to check the clock behind me. At first this was a pain, but then I saw her. When I realized I got to look at her every time I turned to check the time, my neck strain didn’t bother me. I must be discreet. I love looking at her, but I don’t want her to know that her beauty keeps me staring. At least not quite yet. I’m not a stalker, just shy. I want to talk to her. I want to go up to her. But what if she thinks I’m just hitting on her? I’m really interested in knowing her. How is she supposed to tell the difference?

What a cutie. She’s just my type: tall, slender, and I can tell her skin is smooth. The cutest freckles. Milk chocolate eyes. Her gorgeous, wavy red hair is tied is back in a ponytail and she wears a pink headband. She must love pink. She should, it’s her color. Her hair sways with every step. Thank you, pink headband – not a hair is blocking my view of her face.

What I like most is that she doesn’t act like she is beautiful. She doesn’t know how nervous she makes me. She doesn’t know the grace she exudes. She has a story to tell. I want to hear it. But I’m afraid to ask her. Wimpy, maybe. Intimidated, definitely. I feel like I’ve watched the same Candid Camera episode 5,500 times. My failed attempt keeps replaying in my head. With every day that I say nothing, she’s more and more likely to think I’m either gay or I need a watch.

I want to know her name. Seeing her every day for weeks, I refer to her as Pink Headband. How pathetic. I have to know her name. At least for now, it would be easier to ask the receptionist for Pink Headband’s name than to ask her. At least if she refuses, it won’t be as humiliating as a no from Pink Headband.

So I make my way to the desk. I say excuse me to the nerdy girl behind the counter. I have caught her staring at me in the past, but the one time I actually want her attention, she’s preoccupied. I’m the only person here. The phone is resting comfortably on its hook. But she is talking to someone or something nonetheless. I sigh. I’m getting impatient. I feel like I’m hailing a taxi. Waving and waving, and they just drive by. Same with her. I’m waving and that freak seems to be talking to her stapler. Finally I get her ­attention. I ask. She answers. I write “Molly” on the envelope containing my note to the woman I used to know as Pink Headband. I ask the ­receptionist to please give it to her.

As I sit on the bench outside the men’s locker room, I fight my urge to chicken out and retrieve the envelope. I bolt into the locker room to take a shower. The hot water is soothing. Shoot! I left my shoes on the bench. Not to worry. Who would want to steal those smelly old things?

Realizing I must have left my cell phone in my car, I get dressed quickly, jump into my shoes, and leave. I don’t want to miss her call.


I hate working at this place. Why do I work here? I need out. I need a work out. I’m so funny. I always laugh at my own jokes. Ha ha ha, snort, snort.

All day I inhale air tainted with the smell of sweat. And no, it’s not me doing the sweating. Oh, here comes Mr. “I’m so much better than you that I won’t respond when you greet me.” I scrunch my nose to push up my glasses, the way I always do when my hands are busy. He’s headed right toward me. It seems like he needs to ask me something. This will be a first. How will he do this and still keep his perfect record of never saying a word to me? Of course, it must be so hard to say “good evening” to someone who has just said it to you.

I can feel my nervous twitch starting up again. My top lip is moving diagonally; my invisible enemy has strung a thread through my lip with his needle. I try to yank it in the other direction, back into place, but it won’t budge.

The name of the girl in the pink headband? Uhhh. The girl in the pink headband! If she’s wearing her pink one today, it must be either Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday. Gross. But apparently he either doesn’t notice or doesn’t care. How sweet. For once he is nice and it is hard to hate him. He writes “Molly” on the envelope and hands it to me. Sure I’ll give it to Molly, all right.

He heads for the locker room; he is out of sight, but he sure isn’t out of my mind. Neither is the favor he asked of me. He wants me to give the envelope to Molly. Sure I will. I’ll be as good at giving this to Molly as he is at responding when I say hello. Actually, better because now my paper shredder’s name is Molly. Molly loves envelopes. She’ll fall bin over wheels!


Is there something in my shoe?

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This article has 1776 comments.

toflyaway said...
on Mar. 18 2010 at 1:55 am
toflyaway, Melbourne, Other
0 articles 0 photos 85 comments

Favorite Quote:
"You're Bonkers. But I'll tell you a secret, all the best people are" -Alice In Wonderland (2010)

Ha! me too, i loved the way it ended :)

on Mar. 16 2010 at 7:40 pm
2SOONERS1RoxURound, Denver, Colorado
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
The story, Her, Him and the Receptionist, is about the love triangle. The boy is in love with the girl the girl loves him back but unexpectedly the receptionist is also in love with the boy. As the three characters go to work out and have an occupation there to be in the presence of each other. This story is a great character description.

In the story Her, Him and the Receptionist the author Samantha S., focuses on 2 development strategies: character’s thoughts and other people’s thoughts and opinion on the other characters.

One of the ways the author develops the character is by other character’s thoughts and opinions. Through the omniscient point of view each character states what they think of the person they have a crush on. You also learn about them. In the story, they talk about what they see, smell, feel, and hear. You learn about their love life and what they feel. The first person talks about how she goes there just because of him and what she thinks of him and his feet really smell but that’s ok because she is glad to be next to him. This has an effect on me because when you look at these three perspectives you see the voice and it intrigues you to see what might happen next and if they become closer or if the receptionist stops them.

Another way she develops a character is by using character’s thoughts. She executed this very well because there was no dialogue all based on the characters. Through these thoughts you learn about what they think about. In this story the girl thinks about the guy all the time when she works out and how they work out across each other. He thinks about the girl when he works out and thinks the same thing. The receptionist thinks about him so she, the receptionist, is jealous of the other girl the thought process is great and that’s what is so intriguing.

In the story, the author uses the 2 character development strategies: character’s thoughts and other character’s opinions very well.

cantwrite said...
on Mar. 15 2010 at 12:22 am
I read your story months ago and absolutely loved it. I noticed last week that your story is #4 which is fantastic considering how many stories Teen Ink has but your story is so much better than the #1, #2 and #3 so it deserves to be #1. I have voted when I think about it but it will not let me vote more than once per day and you are still #4 so I obviously need help from the rest of your fans who think that you are the best to make you #1. Not only is your story the best but no other story has comments better than some of the ones written by your fans which is why I did not write one before. I may not know how to write one of those great comments but I do know how to vote. Please write more. Either a sequel or another story would be great. I was going to write "you decide" but then I realized how stupid it would be to say that so now it just sounds funny. Okay, it is stupid and funny (I hope) but now you know why I did not write a comment before. I think the receptionist would think it was funny - snort, snort.

on Mar. 13 2010 at 11:02 pm
mellystone GOLD, Hinsdale, Illinois
11 articles 0 photos 9 comments

Favorite Quote:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. -PHILIPPIANS 4:6-7

i actually love the way it ended

on Mar. 13 2010 at 9:56 pm
redsoxandsunshine SILVER, Hamilton, Massachusetts
8 articles 0 photos 24 comments
haha so did I... also glad to be proven wrong!

on Mar. 13 2010 at 9:34 pm
redsoxandsunshine SILVER, Hamilton, Massachusetts
8 articles 0 photos 24 comments
So cute and well written :)

on Mar. 13 2010 at 8:38 pm
lookingforfreedom SILVER, Edmonton, Other
5 articles 1 photo 15 comments
I think you should right an ending for this! I would love to read it if you did!

AsherJ SILVER said...
on Mar. 13 2010 at 8:12 pm
AsherJ SILVER, Parker, Colorado
6 articles 2 photos 20 comments

Favorite Quote:
“You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”
~Dr. Seuss

Really good descriptions! I love how you have an ending that leaves you to make up what comes next but also kinda tells you what happens! Loved the story!

on Mar. 13 2010 at 6:48 pm
writergirl13 GOLD, Cherry Hill, New Jersey
11 articles 8 photos 261 comments

Favorite Quote:
All are lunatics, but he who can analyze his delusions is called a philosopher.
Ambrose Bierce

Cute!!! I liked the end part about the receptionists and how she's really mean and doesn't want to give the envelope to Molly, but then you can infer that they still get to meet later.

on Mar. 13 2010 at 11:35 am
mellystone GOLD, Hinsdale, Illinois
11 articles 0 photos 9 comments

Favorite Quote:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. -PHILIPPIANS 4:6-7

oh my gosh! this was so great. i was skeptical at first, but i loved it, mostly because i could just picture myself at the gym right now on the elliptical... except there's no guys of interest there. good job!

dreamer759 said...
on Mar. 11 2010 at 10:29 pm
So cute!! I absolutely love the ending and that nerdy receptionist. "Snort, snort".

Escribo said...
on Mar. 10 2010 at 3:25 pm
Escribo, West Linn, Oregon
0 articles 0 photos 3 comments
I just found this website;my language arts teacher recomended it to me. I've read quiet a few articles and this is the first one I came back and read again! Truly great.

ellie315 GOLD said...
on Mar. 6 2010 at 8:37 pm
ellie315 GOLD, South Pasadena, California
10 articles 0 photos 86 comments

Favorite Quote:
"And this, our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything." -- William Shakespeare

out of 183 comments i doubt mine will matter but...i rly like this! its interesting and cute and has a nice plot.

on Mar. 4 2010 at 10:08 pm
afosnight BRONZE, Mantua, Ohio
2 articles 0 photos 12 comments

Favorite Quote:
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who are alive.” -unknown

awww. this is such a sweet story and well planned out. i loved it! :)

on Mar. 4 2010 at 11:12 am
mylifeisabeautifulcomedy BRONZE, Colorado Springs, Colorado
2 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If you want to achieve greatness, stop asking for permission." ~Unknown

I love, love, love this! It's so sweet. I never expected the POV switches. I like them! =)

julia_elg said...
on Feb. 21 2010 at 8:14 pm
julia_elg, Valley Village, California
0 articles 0 photos 27 comments

Favorite Quote:
"And of course there must be something wrong / In wanting to silence any song." - Robert Frost, "A Minor Bird"

Wow, this is completely amazing! I don't want to repeat what everyone else has said, so I'll just say that you really know how to write great, relatable characters. Hope to see more of your work soon!

on Feb. 19 2010 at 7:58 pm
Green8a8 SILVER, NY, New York
8 articles 1 photo 161 comments

Favorite Quote:
im the author of my life, unfortunately im writing in pen therefore i can't erase nothing about it.-by some crazy friend of mine



on Feb. 19 2010 at 5:21 pm
tearingheart SILVER, Albuquerque, New Mexico
6 articles 0 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
Life's not about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain.

very well written. i loved it

twiwrite GOLD said...
on Feb. 19 2010 at 2:23 pm
twiwrite GOLD, Modesto, California
14 articles 0 photos 111 comments

Favorite Quote:
none :P

haha im glad that they still got a chance ! bravo! very humorouse!

fyreflies said...
on Feb. 19 2010 at 2:01 pm
This is a really cute article.

I love/hate the receptionist, which is something I rarely have. She's an interesting character, but she's keeping apart a really cute couple. T_T