Catching sight of her striding after him as he hurried into the lift, he was relieved when the doors started to close and a mechanical voice said: Ground floor. Going up.
Undaunted, she reached forward and forced her outstretched hands between the two halves of the closing lift, prizing them apart. Once the doors sprang open, she slipped deftly inside and moved to the opposite corner, staring resolutely at the set of buttons indicating the floors.
Should he make a run for it? Not possible! The doors had just shut. So he wedged himself in the farthermost corner of the tiny lift, from where he glanced at her furtively.
She was dressed in shorts and a t-shirt that hugged her body, the kind some women wore when they were headed for a workout at the gym. Her scanty clothes left no secret about the muscular curves of her body. Hardly the attire for work.
Thank heavens she hadn’t recognised him. Had he changed that much? Of course, he had been off sick for a while following that first encounter and had lost a lot of weight. Surely she couldn’t possibly have forgotten. He certainly hadn’t. Cold sweat ran down his back at the thought.
Then the lift shuddered to a halt between floors, jerking him off balance. Her hand shot out to steady him. With a vice-like grip her fingers clamped aroundhis arm, her nails digging into his skin before she finally released him.
Now he was in for trouble. Last time he hadn’t known what to expect when she cornered him in an unlit corridor after an office party. He’d had the bruises for weeks. When he finally returned to work, colleagues had jokingly asked him if his wife had been beating him.
“What an awkward situation,” he said, thinking out loud.
“How are you John?” she asked, turning to face him.
“Feeling rather trapped.” He loosened the knot of his tie. Closed spaces always made him feel uncomfortable, but being stuck with her was far worse.
Judging from the smile on her face, she didn’t feel in the slightest trapped or uncomfortable.
“Would you mind if I kissed you?” she asked, as blunt as ever. “For old times sake.”
So she hadn’t forgotten. Far from it. His hand flew to his mouth, as if that might protect him. He took a nervous step towards the door and pressed the alarm bell several times, but he could hear no answering ring. “When are they going to rescue us?” he asked.
“It could be quite a while,” she said, leaning so close he could feel the warmth of her breath on his face and neck.
This story was inspired by an exercise with Marie-José about dialogue in a GWG workshop in Geneva.