She had a coffee mug that read, “Don’t ask until I’ve had my coffee”. Very practical, very true and, of course, her favourite. She kept it at a very prominent place in her cubicle so that the message would never go unseen.
She had a scary aura around her. It was not just because she came across as stand-offish. There was this subtle kind of otherworldly tinge in her overall demeanor that screamed for her to be left to herself. No one bothered her much. No one stopped her in her path. Despite all this, she was still held in high regard and was the unanimously approved go-to person whenever someone was in a pickle at work. She will help you, no questions asked and she was never a credit monger. A few colleagues often wondered out of pure concern as to why she kept everyone at bay. She’d join them for office parties, sure, and for drinks after a hectic day at work, yet no one could say with confidence that she considered them her friend.
That’s just the way things were and everyone around had accepted it wordlessly.
Till one day, a new character entered their little drama of an office life. He was the official trouble-shooter and as such was supposed to work with everyone, without being restricted to any particular department. Further still, he was a partner. So he poked and prodded, then offered genuine advise. Soon becoming the favourite of the herd. They’d laugh and joke around him, completely at ease. If it unsettled her, this sudden change in dynamics, this new cog in the wheel, she never did let it show. She took his appearance in her stride and deftly worked around him. It did not escape anyone’s notice, however, that she’d never yet approached him.
After about three weeks of waiting, he walked up to her cubicle.
“So, have you?”
He asked nonchalantly.
“I’m sorry, what?” She asked, slightly disconcerted.
“You know, had your coffee yet?” He replied with a pointed glance towards her mug.
She was now entirely flummoxed. No one had ever dared take her up on the challenge before.
“Well, yes. Did you need something? You could have simply emailed like always.” She said while trying to get her bearings.
“So can I ask now?” He said with a hint of a smile playing at the corner of his lips.
“Wha-what?”, She was now very confused.
“I get to ask my question now, don’t I?” He smiled smugly.
“Ah, yes. Please go ahead.” She said with a roll of her eyes.
“Go out with me, will you?”
“Excuuuuuse me?” She almost shouted while standing up to pin him with a glare.
All activity had stopped around them. No one even tried to hide their interest in their conversation.
“I said, will you go out with me? Or do you need more coffee before I can ask you this again?” He enquired with all the calm of a quintessential cat.
“I, eh, well, er, umm, y-yes” was her fumbled reply. It was accompanied with a blush so deep, she had to avert her gaze and stare at her feet till the heat from her cheeks died down a bit.
“Alrighty-o then, I’ll wait for you in the parking at 7, if that’s alright with you?” He asked with the most dazzling smile. Of course, she could not see the smile because her footwear had suddenly become very interesting for no apparent reason.
“Okay” she managed to reply in a small voice after two attempts at clearing her throat.
People were staring at them with gaping mouths. The ice queen had melted in front of their very eyes. Men were internally curing themselves while the women were staring daggers.
All it took was a man bold enough to tear down her defences, truly look at her rather than what she projected and simple ask her; Voila! She was almost human again.