Jay raced down the corridor to catch up with Kate as she entered the lift. He cherished any time he could spend with her and he often found himself making excuses to be with her.
“Oh, hi Jay. I didn’t see you there.”
“Hi ya. Well you know me, I was hiding waiting for you to show up,” Jay said smiling.
“Are you heading to the car park?” Kate’s finger was hovering over the lift buttons. Jay nodded nonchalantly. The doors closed firmly causing the rubber seals to sigh. The lift juddered into motion.
“So how are you doing Kate?”
“So, so.” She paused for a moment lost in her thoughts. “To tell the truth I’m not doing too well. Clive broke up with me. The prick broke up with me via text.” She took her phone out and showed it to Jay.
“What a cock. That’s pretty boys for you.”
Kate gave a little smirk. “Why do I go for these pretty boys. They’re all the same. Self-absorbed wankers.”
Jay gave out a little laugh. “You do know how to pick them. You did the same back at school.”
“I know. I fall for all that superficial crap. Why am I so shallow? A smooth word, a flash of cash, posh car, expensive presents. And they all turn out to be piss flaps.”
“What?” Jay burst out laughing. “You deserve better.”
“Yes I do. I’m done with this shit.” She took her pearl drop earrings and threw them on the floor. “I should go for someone more grounded. Someone like you.” She took off her necklace and threw that onto the floor.
“Well I’m open to offers.” He gave Kate a grand smile.
“Aww, you’re so lovely Jay.” She put the palm of her hand on his face and gave it a single stroke. She had never understood how deep his feelings were for her. He’d been besotted ever since school but never had the courage to tell her. He was too scared she’d say no and ruin their friendship. He’d rather have her as just a friend than not have her in his life at all.
Kate threw her bracelet against the wall. “Right that’s the last of all of their rubbish,” she said.
The lift lights flashed. A fraction of a second later the lift came to a stop.
“Great, what now?” Kate sighed. She walked over to the buttons and started pressing them randomly.
“I’m sure it will start up again in a minute.”
“This isn’t one of your practical jokes is it?”
“Me? Never.” Kate gave him a dirty look. “Honest. I don’t pull those pranks anymore. That was just fun kids stuff.”
“I didn’t like it that much. You would always pick on me.”
Jay looked embarrassed. “I know. I thought you found it funny.”
“I did to begin with, as I thought you were cute. But then I got to know you.” She laughed to break the tension.
“You said I was cute. I’ll take that.”
They were interrupted by the intercom. “This is building maintenance. We are aware of the issue and we have dispatched engineers to fix the fault. You’ll be on your way in no time. Thank you for your patience.”
“We may be here a little bit longer. We might as well make ourselves comfortable,” Jay said as he lowered himself to the floor. He sat down opposite the door and waved Kate to come and join him. She let out another sigh and sat down next to him.
“Clive really hurt me you know. I thought he might be the one.” She leant her head onto Jay’s shoulder.
“I’m so sorry Katie.” He put his arm around her and gave her a cuddle. He had imagined calling her Katie, but had never before found himself to be in a position to be so informal, to show that level of affection.
“Why can’t I find happiness? Why won’t anybody love me?” She burst out crying. Jay gave her a squeeze and held her closer. He didn’t say anything, just stroked her arm as he continued cuddling her.
Time seemed to stand still for Jay. He longed to hold Kate in his arms. He closed his eyes savouring the moment. Her hair smelt fresh, of vanilla and grapefruit.
Kate stopped crying and moved away to wipe up the tears. “You must think I’m silly.”
“No, I love you.” The words hung out there. A time bomb waiting to explode. Jay couldn’t believe he had said it. He was too lost in the moment, his guard was down and now he was exposed.
“Er, I said, erm.” His stuttering was unconvincing. “I said I love you can think that erm…”
“You said you love me.” Kate stood up and backed away to the door.
Jay pulled himself up, trying to hide himself in the corner.
“Do you really?” Kate asked.
Jay raised his head to make eye contact. This was the bravest thing he’d ever done. The cat was out of the bag, there was no point hiding anymore. “Yes I do. I’ve loved you since school. Why do you think I pulled those pranks on you? It was all I could think of to be near you. It was my way of saying it. Stupid I know. I love you Katie. There, I’ve said it. Wow, that feels so much better for saying it out loud.”
“Wow, Jay. I didn’t know. I never suspected a thing.” She stood staring at him, her mind racing.
“I love you Katie. You don’t have to wait for someone to love you. I’m standing right here.” He rummaged around in his pockets searching for something.
“I don’t know. You’ve caught me off guard. I can’t think straight.”
Jay pulled out a rubber band from his pocket. He rolled it around his fingers as he considered his next step.
The lift started moving again.
He dropped to one knee. He held the rubber band in his hand and raised it towards Kate.
“Katie, will you marry me. I know I don’t have much money and all I can offer you is my love. Please accept this,” he wiggled his hand holding the rubber band. “Accept this band as my commitment to you. I WILL buy you the real thing, I just wasn’t expecting to be doing this.”
“You’re offering me a rubber band? You’ve seen what my exes have bought me and you think a fucking rubber band can seal the deal. Are you mad?”
Jay was crushed. He stood up and put the rubber band in his pocket. He walked back to the wall as far away as he could. He kept his gaze on the floor. They stood in unbearable silence until the doors opened. Those 20 seconds seemed like a life sentence.
Kate took two steps out of the lift. Jay couldn’t bear to look. She paused then turned around and came back in. She stood right in front of Jay, but he refused to look up. She put her hand in his pocket and pulled out the rubber band. He watched in silence. She wrapped the band around her ring finger on her left hand.
“Yes I’ll marry you,” she said.
Jay’s jaw dropped open. He was gobsmacked.
“Consider that payback,” she said. She gave him a brief kiss on the lips, let out a laugh and ran out of the lift. Jay stood there stunned. The closing lift doors snapped him out of it. “Hey, wait.” He slid through the doors and gave chase.