Regardless of the rather pathetic events of my childhood, leading to an even more pathetic aversion to conversing with the opposite sex, I have managed to carve out a pleasant enough life for myself. Things are quiet and orderly, and as you can imagine that's how I like it.
However there is one element of my life I cannot control and through it I inevitably come into contact with more than a few men.
My job as a data configuration manager at Corpex Industries means that, despite being able to choose my office (in the most inconspicuous place imaginable) the ratio of men to women in data inputting and stats steeps in the formers favour.
The past three years I have managed to conceal myself; most of my male co-workers don't really notice me and I have lived in the same building as my team assistant and he still hasn't realised. This suits me fine. I don't need or want to be noticed.
'Hey Bella, what time did you want those numbers by? Was it 4:30?'
As I looked up, pulled out of my vigorous daydream, brow creased and mouth slightly open, I see the one man in this entire company who, when he casts his eyes on my face, sees it. He actually looks at me, not through me. He is also the one man I can't stand to be in the same room with for more than 40 seconds. There is no dislike or antagonism; nor is there attraction, but his company renders me almost completely speechless for an unknown reason I have yet to discover.
I nodded tentatively and pretended to busy myself with some papers I'd just printed off. My eyes flickered upwards to see him still standing in the doorway, smiling. Why was he smiling? Was there something funny about the way I looked? Did I have something on my face? Was I wearing my cardigan inside out again?
'Bella, is everything good with you? I mean, I can see you're fine but there seems to be a bit of tension between you and I, have I done something wrong? Was it because I took that day off on your birthday? Because that really was an emergency.'
His voice was soft and gruff simultaneously - something I couldn't quite understand. I looked up again to see an inquisitive look in his eyes. His usually smooth and calm face was creased. The air conditioning was playing with his hair, like grass in a breeze. I shook myself and looked hastily at my computer.
'No, everything is...just, just fine.' I managed to splutter.
I thought about my birthday. How humorous to think he thought I would have a more enjoyable engagement on my birthday than being here at my desk. I felt my glasses slipping down my nose and my hands began to sweat.
'Right, well I'll be back at half four to check the numbers, see you later.' He said, picking the words out of the thick air and casually dropping them beside me.
As he was leaving he paused for a moment, as if he was turning to say something else; but he didn't. And then, much to my relief he was gone, leaving a faint scent of his cologne on the air.
I gave an audible sigh of relief before turning back to my computer screen, pulling up my excel document and retreating back into my invisible shell, dreading the arrival of four-thirty.