Glow Sticks and Jelly Beans
By Emyster & Professor

Disclaimers: No sex here. A few naughty words but this one is all about the romance.
Dedications: I want to thank and remind Wizzy that you now owe my family dinner. Also a huge thanks to Slick for doing this and I look forward to more. And Okie, as usual it would not be this good without you! Thanks. -- Emyster

Thanks to E for asking me to do this, and not strangling me for my procrastination. And thanks to Okie for her little red pen and for not pointing and laughing. -- Professor

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Part 1

Running late as usual I grabbed my gear and high-tailed it out of my apartment. I sprinted the three blocks to the bus stop, hoping I would make it on time. The rain fell fast around me as I splashed through the puddles. I had totally forgotten that I was wearing my khakis.

I saw the bus and turned quickly to see how many people were at the stop. Shit. I kicked it in high gear. No one was there and the bus flies by if there aren’t any passengers waiting. I waved frantically at the bus because the driver seemed intent on passing the stop by. Luck was with me and the bus pulled to a stop. Thank God. One more late day and I’d be up the river.

As I climbed the stairs I realized some very nice person had spilled their coffee. Of course, I discovered this when I reached the top, tripped, landed on my ass and exclaimed “fuck!” really loudly. Yep, this day was just getting better and better.

The driver looked at me with a smirk and said, “Not today, doll.” I scowled and gathered up my bag just as the bus shot off down the street. I was forced to grab the poor elderly lady next to me.

“I’m so sorry,” I apologized. “My morning is not going well at all.” This failed to impress her because she continued to glare. I paid my fare and slunk back to an empty seat next to a well-dressed business woman taking care to avoid eye contact with the other passengers. I learned years ago that public transportation ran a lot more smoothly if you avoided conversation.
I tried to wipe off the muck and coffee from my khakis but soon gave up because it only seemed to be making things worse. Damn. The man seated across from me snickered and I shot him my patented stare of death. He shut up.

As the bus drove down the hill toward my office, I thought about what special assignment would be on my desk today. Working for this temp agency over the last year had been enlightening. I had learned that I never wanted to be a receptionist, a filer, or a bookkeeper. I preferred using my technical abilities to help with training and computers. Maybe today would be my lucky day...not!

When I saw my office building ahead, I stood but in doing so I realized that I had sat in some type of gum. Shit, shit, shit ran through my head. I tried to dislodge the gooeyness from my pants only to realize my bus had just passed my stop. This would definitely be my lucky day.

I leaned forward to pull the stop cord causing the bus to break in record time. I was now sitting in the well-dressed business woman’s lap. I apologized profusely. She said nothing but I saw her looking at my shirt funny. I looked down and realized I had misbuttoned it. Wow. This day was stellar. I had learned the hard way; never wonder if more could go wrong because it always would.

I rose holding the seat handle in front of me for balance. I realized I had now left gum and coffee stains on the woman’s clothing. I continued to apologize. But instead of speaking she put her hand out and moved a lock of hair behind my ear. I stood there stunned, watching her smile at me. The driver yelled and I jumped into the aisle to get out. As I hit the curb, the bus pulled away and I stood there looking at it. I could see the woman looking back at me with that same smile on her face.

I started to walk back to my office with her smile in my mind. I stopped at the corner store and went to the candy section to look for my Mike and Ikes. Dammit. They were still out of them. I reached for a large bag of jelly beans, my second favorite. I paid for them reminding the gentleman again that he needed to order Mike and Ikes. Hell, it had been a week of nothing but jelly beans.

I jaywalked through the puddles with a very large grin on my face thinking about my morning so far. I opened the glass door to my building and strolled to the elevator. Before I got there Shelli stopped me with a bunch of papers and started to ramble at ninety miles an hour about how I needed to leave right now for my next assignment.

Shit. I didn’t even have time to drop crap off at my desk. I realized I’d need to grab another bus to high-tail it further downtown. The rain had picked up and now the lightning was flashing. I loved thunderstorms. However, that was usually when I was all snuggled up at home.

I grabbed a bus heading in the right direction and found a place to sit. I checked the seat carefully this time. I sat and read the papers on my next assignment. Great. Office dork to some business person named G. McNally. Wow, reading through I realized it was an eight week position. I knew the First Bank building where the office was located. It was really plush. I looked down at my attire and wondered how long they were going to let me stay there.

I pulled the stop cord and the bus slowly came to a halt. Different drivers can make or break the bus ride. I popped off the bus and headed toward the building. I was already soaked but the rain was making it even worse. I made my way into the building and some poor woman in a monkey suit opened the door for me with a big smile. I thought I am going to like this place a lot. Her smile made me remember the woman from this morning. I must have looked like a total goofball walking through the door soaked, mud-stained, with a huge grin on my face.

I walked to the security checkpoint to get a guest badge. I filled out the forms and headed to the elevator. I heard the hard clap of thunder outside. Well, at least I was dry.

I reached for the elevator button but another hand beat me to it. I looked up and there she was. Smiling. The elevator arrived and she entered, looked back and said, “Coming?” I stepped forward, turned and hit the button for the 21st floor. She didn’t move. I asked, “Which floor?” She nodded and said, “Twenty-one is fine.”

Suddenly all power cut out and the elevator came to a crashing halt. The back up generator light came on giving the elevator a dim yellow glow. I looked at the woman beside me. She was still smiling.

We stood there in companionable silence for a few minutes. Then the shrill ring of the phone disturbed the wonderful moment. I opened the phone box and picked it up to hear some security guard calling to let me know the power was out and the elevators were stopped. Like I hadn’t noticed. He went on to tell me they called the elevator repair crew to come right away, but it would be at least another thirty minutes. “Great. Late on my first day.” I muttered as I put the phone back.

I turned and in the semi-light I could see her watching me. I informed her of our predicament. She shook her head and took a seat on the floor. I joined her. She reached over with her hand and said, “Gretchen. And you?” I leaned over with my own hand and replied, “Sylvia.”

Not knowing what to say next I took my bag and pushed it to the side. She continued to watch me with that odd half-smile on her face. She said wistfully, “Wish I got my lattˇ and muffin before I stopped in to the lower offices.”

I grinned and reached into my bag to pull out the large package of jelly beans. I handed them to her saying, “After you.” She looked up and smiled. She reached into her purse and pulled out a small green stick. I couldn’t tell what it was in the dark until I heard a snap and the green glow emerged. She chuckled and said, “Safe candlelight.” She then ripped open the bag and handed me a jelly bean. I grinned really big. This day rocked!

Part 2

My alarm rang with its normal efficiency, 3 shrill beeps and then the local soft rock station. Why I still set the alarm when I’m always awake before it goes off I’ll never know. With a sigh I rolled myself out of bed and began my morning ablutions. Clean and appropriately attired in grey pin stripe pants and white blouse I stared at myself in the mirror, trying to psyche up some enthusiasm for the dawning day. Not coming anywhere near close enough I gave my efforts up, grabbed my briefcase and headed for the door.

Have you ever just opened your eyes some morning and realized that your whole life was in a rut? I’ve been having that morning every day for about a month. My life was safe and secure, and incredibly boring. Eventually you reach a point where you accept that you’re lame, or you start making changes, doing things differently, trying new things out. I had reached that point and, not convinced of my lameness, I chose to shake things up. This momentous decision occurred on my front step.

So with that thought in mind I headed for the nearest bus stop, instead of hailing a cab or dealing with traffic as I usually would in order to get to work. I achieved a seat on the correct bus line with minimal theatrics and smiled to myself. This whole ‘try new things attitude’ was a breeze and I immediately embarked on a mental list of all the other decisions I could make that would “shake things up”.

I was happily daydreaming of the board’s reaction to my new proposals when a commotion at the front of the bus caught my attention. I focused just in time to see some hapless passenger pick herself up off the floor. I watched her struggle and lurch all over the place as the bus shot into motion again. Taking in the number of free seats left on the bus with a glance, I surreptitiously moved my briefcase from the seat next to me onto the floor between my feet. Just in time for the seat to be taken by the stranger. I watched her for a bit out of the corner of my eye as she brushed at her pants and studiously kept her eyes down. Someone like her didn’t have a problem with ruts I bet, and that sent me off on a tangent in my head.

So it was a surprise when the next time I came to myself I found I had a lapful of stranger. My eyes were drawn to the large gap in her shirt caused by buttoning the third button in the second buttonhole. Muted and far off sounds proved themselves to be her voice apologizing, but the only thought that was really registering was: well, this is surely different than normal. She removed herself, leaving behind trace remnants of her apparently unfortunate morning.

For the first time in our short acquaintance I got a good look at her face. A slight blush worked its way up her neck and cheeks. Her hair hung haphazardly in her face and her eyes darted here and there in an embarrassed flicker. Her hands gestured vaguely as she continued to apologize. The entire picture she created struck me as adorable. Quite unable to stop myself I found my hand reaching up to remove a few strands of the unruly hair, safely tucking it behind one ear. I smiled as her jaw became slightly unhinged, perhaps at my forwardness. The driver’s yell shook her from inaction and she was off the bus and on the sidewalk before I could blink. I swiveled in my seat to watch her as the bus continued on its way. Yes this was definitely turning out to be a different day.

I had one transfer to make to get to my office building downtown, and I used the time to make sure I had all the papers and visuals I needed for my meeting first thing this morning. I wasn’t looking forward to it and in my present state of mind I had a feeling it was going to be a momentous occasion. After fastening my briefcase closed I reached up to pull the stop cord and the bus came to a halt without any mishaps. I debarked and found myself on the sidewalk roughly a block away from my office building.

For the first time since I gave myself a pep talk in the mirror this morning I took stock of my appearance. Shouldering my briefcase I frowned down at the spots that now liberally decorated my outfit. I couldn’t attend a board meeting looking like this. I spent at least five more minutes pacing back and forth debating whether I should head home and change and whether I should pitch my proposals this way or that. I must have looked a mad woman walking back and forth in stained clothing talking to myself, judging from the looks I was getting and the wide berth passersby afforded me.

Mid rant my eye caught the time on my wrist watch and I realized I had run out of time. I had to get to my office if I wanted any time to prepare properly. Just as I started to jog the block to the front doors, the sky opened up and rain began to splatter everything in sight with big, fat drops. I reached the safety of the front lobby before more than two or three of them had a chance to drop on me.

Spotting a couple of the board members arriving, I ducked behind some artfully arranged potted plants. No use in giving them any easy ammunition, like my appearance. Of course if they saw me hiding in a planted jungle…well, the point was moot, but I decided to take my chances. I was praying there was a spare set of clothes in my office closet.

As I freed myself from the dark heart of Africa I saw my friend from the bus head toward the elevator. I beat her to the button and wondered idly which one of us was stalking the other. Smiling at how odd this whole day was turning out, I stepped into the now empty elevator car. Turning to see my erstwhile companion still standing there I beckoned, “Coming?” She pushed her floor and I assured her that twenty-one was fine for me.

As the elevator ground to a halt I couldn’t help but smile and remember that old adage about getting what you asked for. I wanted to shake things up and boy were they shaken.

The ringing of the emergency phone put a stop to any more thoughts of self-pity. I listened to the short answers that made up this side of the conversation as my companion meted out yeahs and uh huhs. She hung up the phone with a decidedly resigned air and muttered for a bit before turning to me and sharing the wonderful news of our imprisonment for at least another thirty minutes.

I sank into a lotus position and decided that the time shouldn’t be wasted by remaining strangers and finally introduced myself. She didn’t strike me as a Sylvia, but then again I imagined I didn’t strike anyone as a Gretchen either. I was slightly charmed at her offer of jelly beans in answer to my declaration of hunger. I searched my purse for anything to add to the atmosphere when I came across my security blanket of sorts. The dim light given off by the generator was enough to cause me not to panic, but if we were going to be stuck here for hours I would eventually need something to stave off the fear.

I snapped the stick and bathed the elevator in a soft green glow. I could see her looking at me strangely, after all how many grown women do you know that are scared of the dark? “Safe candlelight,” is the only explanation I offered. The rumble in my stomach forced me to dive into the jelly beans, and not being one who likes to dine alone I made sure she had one too. Today was definitely turning out to be all about shaking things up. I could hardly wait to see would happen next.

The End? Maybe not....
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