Monday 19th January 2009by Tina
Carla thought the flower that Tom gave her was nice for a friend to do, but her thoughts stopped there. Or, rather, she refused to think further than that. There is no reason to assume that there might be anything between them. For one thing, she hardly knew Tom and for sure he hardly knew her, even if he did manage to guess Carla’s favorite flower. He seems especially nice to her, yes, but Carla also thought he was nice to everybody, so whatever she’s thinking is probably nothing.
Still, there’s that curious and indeterminable flutter in her stomach whenever she remembers the daisy.
And again whenever she sees him or talks to him.
But she keeps this all to herself.
Carla was on a break with some of her colleagues one day a month after her birthday. They sat outside the 7-11 beside their office, Carla and Julie sharing a bag of Chippy and sipping ice cold Coke Zeros while Paul smoked. Their conversation started with the upcoming company party, and then for some reason, they started talking about Tom.
“We were on issue mode yesterday,” Carla shared with a laugh, remembering the meeting she had with Tom and the other project team members for the upcoming party. Paul and Julie were also a part of it, but they missed the meeting. “Everyone was teasing someone to another, but when it got to Tom, we could not think of anyone! He’s so unfair.”
Julie chuckled, but it was Paul’s statement that caught Carla’s ear and stopped her laughter momentarily. “I know who Tom likes.”
Carla turned to give a questioning look at Paul. “Really? How did you know?” She took a sip of her drink while she waited for him to answer.
Paul shrugged. “We got to hang out a lot a few weeks ago, remember? I just noticed who he might like.” Carla nodded as she remembered that Paul and Tom were part of the same committee for the party.
She knew she should stop asking questions, and whoever it is that Tom likes, she does not have to know. However, a minute later, she blurted, “So who is she?”
The silence seemed incredibly long as she waited for Paul to answer. Carla reached absently for some of the Chippy from Julie’s hands and tried to look not too interested as she waited for Paul to answer. He took a long drag of his cigarette and blew the smoke out before speaking.
“All I know is that he gave a flower to that girl recently.”
The fluttering started out slow, but it grew faster and faster as Paul’s words sank in. Carla felt like her stomach was going to burst with all the fluttering, so she bent slightly, squeezing her tummy, hoping all of it would stop. She could feel Paul watching her, but she was careful to keep her face blank.
Fortunately, Julie stood up and invited them to go back to the office. Carla finished her drink and threw the can in the trash while Paul stubbed his cigarette. She started walking back to their office briskly, trying to forget about what she just heard.
There’s just no possible way.
Still, the fluttering continued.
* * *
Three weeks later, it was time for the company party that Carla, Tom and the rest of their project team worked hard on. Sometime after the program has finished, Carla sat by an empty table, watching the people on the dance floor with a smile. The party was attended by most of their officemates and they were all exhausted yet happy with the turnout of the activity. Carla took that moment to sit and rest, as she’s been standing almost the entire night.
Suddenly, someone dropped on the seat beside her. It was Tom.
“Hey Tom,” Carla said, her smile widening. Tom had been super stressed for the past few days, and she could hardly talk to him without him going all broody. It was nice to see him smile for a change.
“Why are you sitting there all alone? This is a party, you should dance!” Tom exclaimed. Carla shook her head wearily.
“I’ve been up and at ’em since this afternoon. My feet are killing me,” she pointed to her feet, all stretched out to remove the pressure. “I’ll go join the fun later.”
Julie breezed by the table, interrupting their conversation. “Carls, will you hold this for a while?” She handed Carla a white envelope. “That contains the winners for the contest. I just really have to pee. Thanks!” Julie was gone before Carla could object.
Carla put the envelope on the table and the two of them watched the dance floor in silence. Well, as much silence as there could be with the loud music blasting from the speakers.
The fast music faded and it was replaced by a slower song. The people on the dance floor lessened, and pretty soon only couples remained, swaying slowly in each others arms. Carla found herself smiling once again, and she hummed along with the song, forgetting that Tom was sitting right beside her.
Tom’s voice broke into her thoughts. “Well, this is romantic.”
Carla stopped humming and looked sharply at Tom. He just smiled and sang softly with the music, swishing a glass of water in his hands. Carla watched him carefully, wanting to know what he meant but not wanting to know at the same time. Tom glanced at her once and then back at the crowd, still humming.
“Thanks Carla!” Julie chose that moment to go back. She sweeped by Carla’s side and took the envelope from her hand and then disappeared into the crowd.
But Carla’s mind wasn’t with Julie, or with the party for that matter. All she could think of was the insistent fluttering in her stomach that felt like a group of butterflies having their own party inside her, together with her suddenly pounding heart.