| The Smile
The day had started out innocently enough with the beautiful weather and surprising pleasant behavior from everyone I encountered, but somehow I had some strange feelings about it. For some reason, people, especially women, were smiling at me. It wasn't all that unusual except many of them were much older. Maybe it had to do with my new suit. I always wore the latest fashion and some women noticed these things. With a nice smile on a woman's face, it made them look even more beautiful. Little did I know a simple smile was about to change my life.
The elevator seemed unusually quiet as it took me to the top floor. I didn't know why but somehow it gave me a feeling of a new beginning. I was about to make some changes in my life which I sorely needed.
In the spacious lobby, a hall led to the office where I was to meet the editor. My hand on the stainless steel lever, I took a deep breath in anticipation of the meeting. I'd put it off too long now and my decision was final. It was now or never. I was going to go into writing full time and get out of my eight to five job. Writing ads for a magazine paid well enough but it was boring and my life needed a change
The reception room was impressive. The modern teak desk and the Danish furniture looked warm yet almost intimidating in its sophisticated style. A soft gray carpet lent a soothing mood to the pleasant room while the sensuous Klimt prints lined the off-white plaster walls. The receptionist was busy on the phone, leafing through a file. All I could see of her was the back of her neck, adorned with a soft tumble of curls. Her dress, a subtle mauve, was smartly tailored and obviously expensive; at once elegant but evoking a cool softness.
As she turned to greet me, the profuse curls tossed around her head and seeing me, her eyes lit up, smiling a small but pleasant smile, at once interesting yet intriguing. The very moment I saw her I was hypnotized by her intense blue eyes and taunting smile. Pretty but not of stunning beauty her face was nonetheless sweet and enchanting surrounded by the profusion of curls. How was I to know this charming face would have such a profound effect on my life.
"May I help you?" she inquired, holding herself straight in the chair, now appearing trim and lovely.
"Yes, I have some manuscripts to be edited. I'd like to speak with Mr. Daniels."
"Do you have an appointment?" .
I felt an immediate flinch in my confidence. Why did she ask that? On the phone yesterday she said to just drop in.
With a coy smile, she said,
"Have a seat, I'll see if he's available."
The swish of her dress sounded nice and as I sat down to wait I wished I had watched her walk down the short corridor.
The wait for her seemed interminably long. To pass time, I looked around at the framed sketches on the wall which displayed lovely Klimt drawings. Held in cool chrome frames the graceful drawings were a delight to the eye, but somehow they didn't quite fit in the formality of the decor. Something about the receptionist didn't seem to fit in the surroundings either, but I wasn't sure why. Her funny little smile was strange, almost like Mona Lisa; aloof and mysterious. Or was it just my imagination going astray?
The soft leather briefcase in my hands reminded me why I was there. Writing ads all day was boring and I needed a change, but I was too preoccupied with this girl. Why did I have to get side-tracked by this receptionist? Though I didn't believe in mental telepathy, something bothered me that caused a flash in my mind. Suddenly, with a swish, she appeared at her desk, the glossy top reflecting the warm color of her dress. Giving me that funny little smile she said,
"I'm sorry. He's busy and won't be available until tomorrow."
Her voice had a pleading tone and the liquid blue of her eyes penetrated me. It was almost like I could read her mind but it wasn't clear to me. For a moment as our eyes met, my mouth went dry. How odd. She was just a pretty young woman, but somehow her enigmatic smile was triggering strange flashes of thought deep in my brain. Mumbling a half-hearted 'thank you' I quickly turned and left, not giving it another thought.
On the way home the lurching bus careened down the street and I chuckled to myself. The heroine in my latest story, Mona, was almost like the receptionist. I could almost imagine her as the same woman and I wondered why. What a coincidence. Both were sweet and enticing and like Mona, the receptionist had the same tasseled tumble of curls. But in my story Mona was a severe paranoid, ending up carving up a sizable part of the hero's anatomy. When I thought about it I realized a psychiatrist could really come up with some thought provoking reasons why an unimposing person like myself would write such lurid stories. But, I just had an over-active imagination pure and simple.
The next day, approaching the imposing marble and art-deco lobby, I headed for the elevator and suddenly remembered the receptionist; her wisp of a figure and taunting smile. Soon I'd be seeing her and I eagerly looked forward to it.
In the office I went to the familiar polished desk and felt an unease waiting for her. Then, as I saw a figure approach, I realized it wasn't her. Standing straight and looking indifferent, the new receptionist asked what she could do for me. Without thinking I blurted out,
"Where is the other receptionist?"
With a puzzled look on her face she said,
"What other receptionist?"
"Never mind, may I speak to Mr. Daniels please"
A slight blush crossed her face saying,
"He's busy with a client. Would you care to wait?"
"No," I replied, "I don't have the time. I'll just leave my manuscripts with you. I'll call him back tomorrow."
I was dying to ask her about the other receptionist but her detached manner deterred me. It was disappointing not seeing her and I felt a small void somewhere and left resignedly.
Several days had passed and I gave little thought to my manuscripts, in fact, I totally forgot about them. The impetuousity of everyday life and my routine was so ingraining that I gave little thought to my writing. It was a drab Sunday evening and I finally sat down with a martini and pulled out an art book on early Italian masters. I never tired of the early masters, especially Bottecilli. There was something about his mythical scenes and strange allegories mixed with the beautiful flowing curves of human figures and the luminous glow of their skin. The lovely faces and soft glow of the skin on young maidens was entrancing. The paintings reminded me of the receptionist with the strange smile and it bothered me What happened to her and why did the other receptionist not know? There was something gnawing in my mind but I didn't know what it was.
The evening was warm and languid and I was listless with boredom. Even with the stereo on with classical music, my mood was not good. I always had a feeling of sadness and loneliness on Sunday evenings. Sitting down, lulled by the soft music, I read a book and soon forgot my lethargy. The novel became interesting and I was fascinated by the convoluted plot, although I couldn't figure out why one particular character had any connection with the story. The trouble with being a writer is one is always analyzing the characters.
Then I was startled by a knock on the door. Who would that be on a quiet Sunday evening? Maybe it was the paper boy. With the door open, my hand on my wallet, it was a complete surprise to see a lovely young woman in a beautiful dress. For a brief moment it didn't register but it was the receptionist with the smile. Her sapphire blue eyes locked to mine, her face seemed to glow like a Bottecilli painting and the same enigmatic smile crossed her face. She said,
"I have something for you."
I was so intent in looking at her I hardly felt the object handed to me
The manila envelope in my hand, a look of surprise on my face, I stammered, "What..?"
"It's your manuscripts. Mr. Daniels has read them."
Standing in the hall, with a smile on her face, I told her,
"Please come in."
I could hardly think of what the editor's comments might be as I led her to the living room. Watching her glide alongside me she seemed so small and delicate, flowing almost like an apparition. With a swish of her dress she smiled and sat down. Next to each other almost touching, we talked inanely, trying to make conversation. Her dress, simple and elegant, flowing around her gracefully as a painting and its neckline open, revealed her soft neck, almost like a ballerina's. The pastel colors of her dress were of a purity I'd never seen before. A lock of hair artfully curled down the nape of her neck like a painting. Our talk about nothing in particular and our conversation seemed like background music as I enjoyed her beauty. The fine features of her face were delicately sculpted, her cheeks of unusual roundness and her skin was almost transparent in a radiant glow. I was haunted by her smile, smiling as if she knew me intimately. Soon I realized we were leaning quite close and I could see the sheer beauty of her fine skin. Once in a lifetime, it seems, a person feels without any thought or reason, that it is right to do, not think. I felt that impulse; drawing her to me, we kissed.
The next few moments were like a dream as our lips melted together and we were soon lost in each other. Time lost all meaning as we quietly made love. In the soft sensation of our soundless touching and caressing reality drifted into a vague world that I'd never experienced before. Shadowy obscure images flashed in my mind and I felt a strange nostalgia. There was something unreal about her. We didn't even know each other yet we seemed to communicate in ways that can not be explained. After what seemed like hours I held her head in my hands, running my fingers through the soft curls whispering,
"I don't even know your name."
Raising her head from my chest she peered deeply into my eyes with an intensity that was almost frightening. Smiling sardonically, her hand gliding down my throat, she whispered,