Instructions: Read the short story and once you’re done (scroll to the end of the story) VOTE on whether this story should be turned into a novel or novella. And if you don’t think the author should keep going, we have a choice for that too.
“In Passing: A Chance Encounter”
A Random Thursday Morning
I looked down at the thick legal binder I had just grabbed from my bag and I adjusted the large leather tote back on my shoulder.
My arm automatically cradled the file in place as it made room for yet another object for me to hold. My stride never faltered as I kept up with the flow of the congested pedestrian traffic on the sidewalk. The sounds of chatter, heavy footsteps, and horns blaring filled my ears, and I clicked the volume up on my phone call.
“Yes, Mark, I have the file right here,” I breathed, glancing up from the file to survey my surroundings. Sometimes I had a tendency to be absorbed in other tasks that I walk past my destination, so a sigh of relief escaped my mouth when I noticed I had another two blocks or so before I reached the courthouse.
“That’s great, check pages 36, 42, and 55 to make sure all the signatures are present. We don’t need any more delays with this hearing. This Adam nigga is working my fucking nerves,” Mark’s sudden obscenity made me stop in my tracks.
My head dropped as I chuckled and thumbed through the file until I reached page 36. I flipped my twist out of my face so I could see better. My hair fell in thick juicy waves, resting just by shoulder blades. Glad I was waiting for the stoplight to change colors to cross the street, I took the time to look at the other two pages to make sure the signatures were present.
“Is this Adam guy actually a-” my voice trailed off as I heard the ticking noise indicating it was time to cross the street.
“A what?” I heard Mark say as I looked both ways and crossed the street.
“Is he really a nigga?” I asked. This was my second week working at my new job. I worked as a paralegal now at an all-black law firm called Smith & Black and I loved it.
The law firm was progressive and for the first time in my life, this was the first job I had where I felt like I completely fit in and could be my full authentic self. I was free to wear my hair, and how it grew naturally out of my scalp. And didn’t have to worry about explaining my frequent hair changes, love of hoop earrings, and pops of colors.
It was like everyone I worked with had mastered the art of code-switching, and I loved that for us. Even though work was being accomplished, I felt like I was amongst friends and the days often flew by.
Most of the lawyers here were in their thirties or forties. This law firm was also a big advocate of healthy mental health, so they were firm on having a good work/life balance. And the culture in the office?
The only way I could describe it was to say I felt like I was at home when I was at work. “That fast-talking, tight suit-wearing, pork-eating, too much cologne-wearing fool is king nigga,” Mark quipped. And all I could do was shake my head as I continued my trek down the street. I quickly learned that Mark was the type to call anyone a nig.
“You are not right,” I joked, looking down to check the time on my watch. “All the signatures are present on those pages. Do you need me to check for anything else?”
“No, not with that file. Hopefully, today is the last day with this shit.” “Okay, well, I’m nearing the courthouse. I’ll see you in a sec.”
“Hey before you hang up, do you have the file for the Donatello case? Sinead doesn’t have it and neither do I. If you don’t, we’ll get a courier to deliver it to us.”
“Let me check,” I said, closing the file and cradling the phone against my neck and shoulder so I could use both of my hands to go through my bag. I let my shoulder drop so my tote could fall to the crook of my elbow.
“The Donatello case,” I muttered to myself, putting the other binder back. I had just reached the front of the courthouse and began my ascent up the stairs that led to the huge iron doors.
“Which case is that, again?” I asked, looking behind me to make sure I wasn’t in anyone’s way with my multitasking. “The contract dispute with the plumbers, remember the discovery notice I had your review last-”
“Last Tuesday,” I said, suddenly recalling the case in question.
“Yeah, I have it here.” “Cool, I just got some new leads and I want to go over them with you and I also want to pick your brain on some of your notes.”
“Okay cool, I’m out front. I’ll see you in a sec,” I said, ending the call. I tried to place my phone in my pocket. But instead of feeling the weight of my phone in my pocket, I heard the sound of my phone tumbling down the city stairs.
“No, no, no,” I squealed frantically, turning to chase my phone down the steps. I knew I looked like a mad woman with my hands flailing about.
“Excuse m-” I said, bending in front of someone to reach for my phone. “Here you go,” the deep voice from the umber-colored hand passed my phone to me.
“Oh my God, thank you!” I shrieked, inspecting my phone, happy to see no damage was inflicted from its fall. “This baby fell from the top step. I just knew my screen was cr-” my voice trailed off as I finally stared into the face of a virile man.
There was nothing like a handsome black man who could dress. When our eyes locked, my pulse stuttered and my mind cleared. No longer hearing the loud hustle and bustle of the busy city life that surrounded us.
It felt like we were the only two humans left on earth as we took each other in. There was a familiarity there. Like our souls were reaching out to each other and remembering all the previous lives we once shared.
I hope he was checking me out because Lord knows I was eye fucking this man and liking everything my eyes wandered on. From his navy blue tailored suit down to his brown Ferragamo oxford shoes.
He towered over my 5’5 frame in my four-inch heels. And his prominent facial features made him an unorthodox kind of handsome. Not your average day, pretty boy. But something yet to be explored.
“My bad,” I blinked, sidestepping out of a passerby’s way. “Yeah, no problem. I was just telling you to do a better job of holding on to that thing,” his head nodded towards my phone in my hand as we laughed, both of us turning to start my second ascent up the steps.
“At this point, I’m gon get a leash for it,” I joked, this time successfully placing my phone in the pocket of my trench coat.
“Are you new? I don’t believe I’ve seen you around here before,” the strange yet familiar man asked, holding the door open for me. “How can you tell? It’s my second week on the job.”
“I would have remembered seeing a face as sweet as yours in passing.” I felt the tinge of heat warm my face and I just knew that my medium alder skin was blushing.
“Well, you don’t look too bad yourself,” I said, smiling to myself when I noticed we were walking towards the same bank of elevators. “What floor are you going to?” I asked as I hit the button for the 4th floor.
“Looks like I’m going to the same floor as you,” he nodded with a Cheshire smile.
“My name is Dior Jackson,” I said, extending my hand out. “Dior,” my name rolled off his tongue like he said it a thousand times before. “What a beautiful name,” he said, squeezing my hand with interest, his thumb rubbed the soft skin between my thumb and index finger and we locked eyes. I licked my lips and smiled.
When the elevator dinged signaling, its arrival, I snatched my hand out of his and stepped back to let the flurry of people out of the elevator. The brief melee separated us and I found myself at the back of the elevator as I watched him hold the door for the people who were approaching.
His phone began to ring, and he stepped back off the elevator to take the call and that’s when we made eye contact and he smiled. Damn, I didn’t even catch his name; I thought to myself as the elevator doors shut, I heard him say, “This is Adam. What can I do for ya?”
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