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 1778 comments.

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

on Feb. 19 2010 at 9:56 am
toxic.monkey SILVER, Tashkent, Other
6 articles 0 photos 210 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Homo homini lupus"

duuuuuuude i love you!!!

the language is fluent and expressionate and you made it so clear who was who in this story, without really saying who they are. the change of characters makes it really original. i hope you keep writing :D

on Feb. 17 2010 at 5:23 pm
SarClark BRONZE, NC, Connecticut
2 articles 0 photos 534 comments
i didn't see the last part!!! that's so good

on Feb. 16 2010 at 11:01 am
TheBerkeleyBear BRONZE, Los Altos, California
3 articles 0 photos 19 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow."

That was the best fiction piece on the entire site. Beautiful story and storytelling. The characters were all relatble and humorous. Thankyou

on Feb. 12 2010 at 1:37 pm
JohnnyDeppLover123 DIAMOND, Holyoke, Massachusetts
54 articles 0 photos 146 comments

Favorite Quote:
Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.
William Shakespeare

Ha ha ha that was just too cute!!! i loved that so much...so adorable, awesome, perfect, and marvelous!!! Omg I have a tear coming...*tear*! Wow breath taking story...awesome job...SERIOUSLY!!! : ]

on Feb. 9 2010 at 6:46 pm
Silverae BRONZE, Hermosillo, Other
2 articles 0 photos 12 comments
Aww! such a cute story! I wanna know what happens after! And I love the name Molly!
btw, can u guys check out my stor :O?
http ://www.teenink .com /fiction/romance/article/173895/Hollywooder-Part-One/
I really need some feedback!

on Feb. 8 2010 at 2:52 pm
beautifuldownfall, Kkk, Iowa
0 articles 0 photos 20 comments
*applauds*!!!! wow...i loved how the different personalities came through, especially that of the receptionist! haha :)

one of my favorites!!!

on Feb. 6 2010 at 11:56 pm
writergirl22 SILVER, In, New York
6 articles 0 photos 66 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Never frown. You never know who's falling in love with your smile." -Anounymous

i loved this story!!

i really like how you chose to describe the perspectives of the three different people

and the end is great!

how you make it seem like they'll never be together and that they'll both think the other is uninterested and then how the last line gives hope that something may happen (quite a run-on sentence i just did haha)

but amazing!

Laura said...
on Feb. 5 2010 at 7:51 pm
The story is 3 parallel but intertwined stories. First the voice of "Her", then the voice of "Him" and then the voice of the "receptionist". I did not get it the first time I read it either. Read it again nd then if you are like me you will want to read it again and again.

Laura said...
on Feb. 5 2010 at 7:14 pm
If my school had an English class that analyzed stories like yours, I would enthusiastically take the class. If there were more than 1 class, I would major in English. I am jealous of your readers and fans who are able to study your writing for a school assignment. I love your story. I have read it so many times and talked about it so much with my friends that I deserve the academic credit that others are getting?

on Feb. 4 2010 at 7:09 pm
Our class was assigned to each suggest any short story and then one would be chosen for discussion. This was the story that was chosen. I had never heard of it before but more kids suggested this story than any other. The discussion was the greatest class ever. Your style, the different perspectives, and the ending were brilliant. It takes a rare and extraordinary story and storyteller to leave the reader begging for more and dying to know what happens next. I loved it, my class loved it and my teacher loved it. You get an A+ from all of us.

on Feb. 3 2010 at 5:42 pm
I agree with all of the comments that say that your story is the best on Teen Ink and want you to write a sequel. But if it were me, I do not know when I could write for fun with all of the homework, studying and the things that I have to do. Not much time left for anything else. But Stephanie Meyers did not come out with her sequels when her fans wanted her to and probably did not lose any. I do not think you will lose any fans either. It will be worth waiting for. Besides, you live in California where your winters are nicer than the summers almost anywhere else. Just stay away from the sharks if you go surfing. And if you are surfing, your story is more important.

on Feb. 3 2010 at 4:52 pm
LuLu95 PLATINUM, Denver, Colorado
32 articles 0 photos 25 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Oooh! Dark matter, we better bring a flashlight!"

This was great i liked it

on Feb. 2 2010 at 5:42 pm
VampiericRain GOLD, Amarillo, Texas
12 articles 0 photos 137 comments

Favorite Quote:
Would you like a side of epic with that fail?

PLease, please, please, please , please finish the story! This is one of the best articles I've read on teenink.

hi there said...
on Feb. 1 2010 at 10:22 am
Cool introduction and climax i really enjoyed it.

on Jan. 31 2010 at 5:13 pm
wombatz-rule GOLD, Montrose, Minnesota
15 articles 0 photos 53 comments
You HAVE to keep writing! I want to know what happens so badly! Great story; it kept me reading right up until the end, where it just left me wanting more!

Cici said...
on Jan. 29 2010 at 11:47 am
I forgot to mention that I have read so many Teen Ink stories but I love this one the most. The absolute BEST.

Cici said...
on Jan. 29 2010 at 11:43 am
My friends and I now talk about this story as much as we talk about Glee. We guess about what will happen next but cannot wait to read what REALLY happens next. Please write more!

on Jan. 28 2010 at 8:19 pm
QuintonV SILVER, Evanston, Illinois
6 articles 0 photos 2 comments
OMG. this was so amazing!