It had been three long and lonely months in lockdown. The fear had changed. After weeks of pining to be back to normality, back to how life was before, somehow normal seemed so scary.
She giggled wondering whether her social skills had completely left her, not knowing how exactly she would react when seeing her colleagues, her friends, him.
It will be fine. It’ll be confusing and awkward, but it’ll pass. Everything passes.
Freya had taken it upon herself to head into the office early. It was the first day back and she knew it would be overwhelming for her so she wanted to have a moment of peace before the rest piled in. She typed in the passcode. It was good to be back.
It was odd. She made a full pot of coffee ready for the day. It was normal. Everything was back to normal, except it wasn’t, it wasn’t at all. She felt shaky. This was what she’d been waiting for, but it felt so weird and skewed almost like she was about to wake up from a strangely mundane dream.
She jumped a little turning to face the familiar voice.
“Jacob. You- you startled me.” Her own voice wasn’t familiar, in general nowadays it turned out, but especially from that sentence. It was quivering.
“I’m sorry. I- umm… This is- This is weird.” He laughed a bit, stroking the back of his neck. It was weird. It was really weird. “I kinda guessed you’d be in early. How are you? This is really weird.”
It was weird. They stood she would imagine about four metres apart in the kitchen. Usually they gravitated towards each other. Others had noticed.
“It is weird.” Freya giggled, raising her coffee to her lips and taking a sip. It was far too hot, but she was so nervous she needed something to do. “Yeah umm I guess I’m good,” she couldn’t help but notice the space between them. It was good to see him. “This is weird.” She repeated, feeling her face flush a deep red colour. She felt hot. “How are you?”
“I’m good. I’m good, yeah.” He took a tentative step forward and then immediately retracted it. “I was hoping you’d be in early actually. As it happens… This is weird isn’t it? I urrr, yeah I’m glad you’re here.” He strokes the back of his neck again.
His awkwardness was always what had attracted her to him. There was something wildly different about it now, she wasn’t sure if it was just the situation. The months of being apart and now being awkwardly thrusted together, yet also remaining so far still. Keeping that distance. She leant back against the kitchen counter and breathed deeply. Why was this making her heart beat so fast? Her face was still rosy and he’d noticed.
“Well, great minds clearly think alike,” she let out a nervous laugh. “It’s really nice to see you. Like see- see you if you get me. It- yeah. Would you like a cup of coffee? It’s good.”
He laughs, “You’re acting odd, you know? I know you’re an odd person, but I think lockdown has made you even odder.”
“Yeah well,” she chuckles. “I may be odd, but I think lockdown made you a little chubbier, you know?” They both laugh. The tension is eased and things feel normal again for a quick second.
He reaches up to get a cup out the cupboard, she notices his stomach showing slightly as he does this. He’s not chubby at all, but he is a little softer than before. She wanted to wrap her arms around him, but she knew she couldn’t.
He’s your colleague, she berated herself. It’s totally inappropriate.
The laughter had certainly taken away some of the tension between them, so much so that neither had realised the space between them was now significantly shorter.
He reached over to the coffee pot that was sitting behind her on the counter. “Sorry,” he murmured as his arm came close to touching her waist. She didn’t move out his way, she didn’t want to. “Frey, I-” he put the coffee pot back leaving his arm a lingering a little longer than expected.
It was tense again.
They both sipped their coffee.
They looked at each other. She wasn’t sure if he was feeling the same way, but all she wanted to do was grab him. She wanted to feel his body on hers. Desperately. It was overwhelming. She bit her lip.