Surprise, now you’re expected to… By D.I. Jolly
Ben was the quiet one in the office, not a bad guy but always reserved. He came in, did his job, spoke when he needed to and went home. He attended office events because at some point he had been told it was important to always attend office events, but was usually the first to leave. Other than a few strange rumours no one really had a bad thing to say about him other than he seemed like a man who’d given up. When new people started at the company there was always a standing staff meeting to introduce the new person to everyone and eat cake, which Ben usually didn’t attend. But when he heard the name Juliet some long forgotten voice in his head made him stand up from his desk and walk through the crowd to see her and when they locked eyes a wave of emotion like nothing he’d ever felt hit him from behind and washed his ability to speak. Juliet eyed him and where his face flushed with surprise hers turned cold and angry.
“Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me. What the hell are you doing here?”
Ben opened and closed his mouth a few times still unable to remember how to speak as his face shifted from bright red to ghost pale and back. Juliet put her hands over her face and let out an exasperated sigh.
“I don’t believe this!”
Then turned to look at her new manager who was not entirely sure what was going on.
She shook her head trying to force away the fury that was pushing on her mind and remember that she was at her new office.
‘this guy who I was involved with, have a child with, left me while I was in the hospital after a car accident by giving a note to my father telling me he didn’t love me and to ‘fuck off out of his life’ which I had apparently ruined. I’m really sorry, but … I don’t actually think I can work here.”
Her words stirred up another wave of emotion which struck Ben and tears formed and instantly started streaming down his face.
“Oh God, sure yeah go on, cry!”
Suddenly realising that she might be about to leave he took a deep gasping breath in and swallowed to try stop the tears then chocked out.
Which took Juliet a bit by surprise.
“What did you say?”
Ben took a few more gasping broken breaths in and a small step towards her.
“You’re alive… My God you’re alive…’
His tears flowed but he managed to finally find a voice and said.
“Your father met me outside the hospital, … he told me you’d both died … he told me it was my fault, and I believed him.”
Now it was Juliet’s turn to forget how to speak, as her mouth hung open behind her hands and memories of how her day in the hospital had been, her father disappearing for an hour and returning with a note. Her father’s deep disapproval of her choice of men, and disappointment when she’d become pregnant.
“I didn’t know what to do,’
‘So I got in my car and drove, and drove, it took me a couple days before I realised that I was driving to this town, the town you’d always wanted to move to, that we were going to move to.”
They stared at each other for a few more seconds while everyone else in the office stared in utter disbelief and surprise. Until a thought exploded in Juliet’s mind.
“Your daughter is alive.”
The words hit Ben and seemed to shatter the walls that he’d spent so long building around his heart and without thought, he rushed forward wrapped his arms around her, kissed her then lifted her up spinning her around as he cried out in pure unbridled joy.
“MY DAUGHTER IS ALIIIIIIIIIIIVE!”
A gesture that broke even the most hardened members of the office turning everyone’s eyes a little wet.
Juliet, in turn, put her arms around him and for a moment, a brilliant shining moment they were the family they always planned to be, and nothing in the world could touch them. After a couple spins he put her down and they just held each other crying in the familiar warmth, but slowly reality set back in and then stepped apart.
“Sorry, sorry, I… I shouldn’t have kissed you, I sorry.”
Juliet smiled and blushed,
“It’s ok, but you probably shouldn’t do it again I… I met someone a little while ago and we moved here together.”
Ben nodded and looked down.
“I… I couldn’t stop loving you, so I had to stop feeling everything. It, it all hurt so much, all the time and I just didn’t know what I was supposed to do about or how I could do anything. So I just sort of shut down.”
More tears filled Juliet’s eyes and she put a hand on his face.
“I’m so sorry, I’m so, so sorry my father did that to you. I, wish I couldn’t believe it. I’ve been so angry at you for so long, and it wasn’t your fault.”
Ben took her hand and looked up at her.
“It’s done, I don’t want to be sad that it happened I’m too happy that you’re both alive, and here, can… can I see her?”
A strange childish fear erupted in Juliet’s stomach,
“Do you want to?”
“More than anything else in the whole world.’
Her face lit up and they beamed smiles at each other,
‘Well, except for maybe murdering your father, that I might actually want to do a little more.”