By James Hornby
Harold looked across the office at her, Laurie Langdon. The day he’d started the job at the office, she was there to greet him with the kind of cheeriness that warms the soul. Since then, he’d never looked at a girl the same way again. She was tall, with long dark hair that matched her eyes—as black as the darkest depths.
He sighed; he’d been working at the office for seven years now and had never once worked up the courage to ask her out for dinner. Sure, he’d talked to her loads of times, usually about totally pointless things. Their conversations were never about anything that mattered, not to him, anyway.
Almost every day, his head conjured up several ideal futures for the both of them, all ideal because they all involved the two of them being together. In all of these fantasies, all Harold needed to do was open his mouth and just blurt it out. His friends had told him time and time again that it was the only way to end the not knowing—whether she would say yes or no. At least then he’d have an answer and would be able to move on, one way or the other. His only worry was that if he did say something, and she did say no, then their relationship would be forever scarred from that moment on.
He just wasn’t strong enough to risk it.
She walked towards him from across the office. His stomach knotted, and his heart beat faster and faster the closer she came. He looked at her, the way her hair bounced up and down as she walked, and the way her smile gave him the strength of ten men. She was perfect.
She was almost at his cubicle now, and Harold leapt to his feet. He wasn’t even aware that he’d done it until he was face to face with Laurie, staring endlessly into her dark eyes.
“Would you like to…”
Harold’s life was never the same again.