Josh had the most incredible green eyes. I met him when I worked at a document
control facility at this Nuclear Power plant
construction site. He came in all the time to get schematics. He had the kind
of easy good looks that made me feel slurry when I spoke with him and spoke
so softly I had to lean across the counter to hear his Texas
drawl. In that closeness I could smell cologne around him like a secret. It was some cheap, dime
store fragrance like Stetson or Polo, he switched it all the time and now
I can’t smell any of those without thinking of him.
Leaning into the space around him tickled the back of
my brain; it popped and sizzled being that close. The way he looked me straight
in the eyes, whenever he whispered, dissolved
every thought in my head. I could never look too long at his eyes for fear of
losing all train of thought. There have only been a few people in my entire
life who’ve left me stuttering.
I could have eaten him for breakfast.
My desk faced the counter and I could always see when he arrived. Sometimes
the hot air blew in and he would stroll in quietly and look across the counter
at me. I’m know he understood what he did to me because I dropped my pens, tripped,
or spilled coffee whenever he spoke to me. I never did that around anyone
else. I was
a mess and I loved it. Looking up from some stupid gaff and seeing the grin
on his face was almost a reward for making a fool of myself.
Josh once asked for a large list of schematics, poster sized documents that
had to be created from microfilm. He put his request in my box and I asked
him to come back in an hour. There were about twenty-five of them and I would
have to find, make and stamp them all before I could deliver. It took forever
to find. We had to compile the list and look up everything in a card catalog
before fetching out the microfilm. Once I had all of the cards, I printed
them on the huge document bank, (nothing was computerized at this time, the
summer of 1989) took them to my desk, checked their revisions and began stamping
them as travel documents.
I rolled them into a tube and flattened the ruffle of the paper edges by
smoothing them down with my fingers. I received the worst paper cuts of
my life from this type of document tube. On a roll of schematics, one paper
cut invariably meant at least ten - all lined up in a row like stinging fishbones drawn on your skin. Single paper cuts are annoying,
but twenty-five in a row are excruciating. I carefully avoided the edges as
I slid on the rubber bands, then turned the telescoped tube on its edge and
tapped it on the desk to even up the roll. I moved the rubber bands to the middle
of the tube and patted down the rough paper on the top.
The door opened and hot air blew into the room. I turned my head to see Josh
walk in with his smile. I met his eyes for an instant and I hurriedly turned
my head forward so no one could accuse me of staring at him. I also didn’t want
to fuck up his documents with a coffee spill or something stupid.
I started to tap the roll one last time but this time missed my desk completely.
The paper tube slipped through my hands and fell forward towards my face.
I jolted a little, trying to avoid slitting twenty odd rows across my palm.
I caught the roll in both hands on either side of the paper edges- well away
from the edges. The top of the roll hit me on the forehead and my face snapped
up, causing me to slice twenty, fishbone fine, half-inch long paper cuts
down the tip of my nose.
I stood there gaping at the ruffle of paper hanging between my eyes and
watched tiny flecks of blood well across at the tip of my nose. What the
hell just happened?
Josh laughed so hard that he buried his face in his hands and I turned bright
I grabbed a Kleenex, dabbed the blood on my nose and dropped the tube in front of
“Watch those edges.” I said through the tissue at my nose. “Paper cuts can
be nasty.” I pulled the tissue from my face and stared at the thin bloody
stripes on the tissue. “Fortunately, I only managed to cut my face. If you’d come in any
earlier I might have slashed my throat.”
I went back to my desk, as if nothing had happened and started on my next
request. I looked up to see him still laughing at me and I spilled coffee all over my