Seeing as this is my 100th RECord, I thought I'd share my baby. It's my favorite thing I've ever written. Because I am that bank teller and this was written in one sitting even though I've edited it a bunch since then. The original idea was sparked by a dream that I had. I'd love to know what you guys think. I'd love for someone to help me come up with a good title. Maybe draw the characters or act them out or anything your creative thoughts inspire. I did just want to add a disclaimer here that in no way, shape or form do I believe there's been any stalking going on in this story. Thanks again!
It didn't seem probable for an accidental brush of the hand to be capable of capturing someone’s soul. The idea was downright ridiculous, but that’s what happened - all truth, no lies.
She worked in a bank. She worked the teller line. All day long she took money in and gave money back out. It was a system of checks and balances that got old fast and yet was too busy to become boring. It was six long years of doing that job. Of making small talk with her co-workers as they went through the arduous process of opening and closing the bank. Of taking a lunch that was never long enough to get anything done. Of being grateful for bank holidays just so she could sleep in. Of knowing too intimately exactly what money smelt like, felt like, and having her wrists and thumbs feel the effects of it.
Banks are exactly what they look like. They’re cold, sterile, pretentious, and secretive; and, sometimes it seemed like those very qualities were seeping right into her, making her a cold corpse with reanimated, money-needing hands. If that were possible, then surely a life-giving, warm, human touch could do the same in reverse.
Life outside the bank was normal. There was nothing exciting, nothing to come home to, no one to talk about. Outings were relegated to the occasional visit with her grandmother and trips to the grocery store. She always did her banking at work. She might have gotten a cat or something, but then she’d be the person who had gotten a cat because she needed someone to talk to. She didn’t have time to take care of one anyway.
She was beautiful and she knew it, but what did it matter when the only people who saw her had either died years ago or only saw her the way they saw an ATM machine? She wore flowers in her hair every day and only the mailman noticed. She didn’t really want the mailman noticing, even if her co-worker had half-heartedly tried to set her up with him. What was the point?
Her flowers today were white. She always liked to wear white flowers when she was wearing blue. She was pretty and feminine and probably looked like someone out of a fifties catalogue, but she didn’t care. She’d made her den of fashion and she was content to lie in it. It was fifteen minutes before her lunch break and Mrs. Sanderson couldn’t figure out how she’d deposited two checks twice when her balance was off by twenty dollars. Mrs. Sanderson did this every week and it was a simple matter to present her account history and say goodbye politely. She knew all of her customers. Six years of the same account activity, and that was perfection in a bank.
They didn’t want her doing anything else, and if she was going to continue at her present salary she agreed with them. She kept a pile of papers with meaningless numbers beside her desk just in case people thought she had nothing better to do than listen to them talk about how she had nothing to do, simply because there was no one else in the branch. It was ten minutes to her lunch break and she could feel one of her flowers slipping. She could duck out and fix it, but why bother with that when there were no customers? Clients, she’d forgotten they were called clients now. Someone entered, but there were two other tellers available.
Her hands were buried deep in her hair when the note was placed deliberately down on the counter in front of her. It looked like a deposit slip and why shouldn’t it? She’d seen him come in. She saw everything that happened in the fifty foot square room. She’d overlooked the tapping sound his shoes made as he walked on the stone floor, assuming he wouldn’t approach her, but he had. He’d ignored the no sunglasses rule, but he wasn’t wearing a hat which would have been an immediate warning sign. He was dressed well. A tailored suit, hair slicked back, an expensive watch. If she was stuck in the fifties, he was stuck in the thirties, and somehow the feeling of a well-mixed drink came to mind.
She untangled her hands from her hair with some difficulty and flashed an apologetic smile, not really looking at him. Looking at him implied a connection that she did not feel and doubted he did. Clients were treated in an efficient, professional manner and if they wanted to tell her their life story, that was their business. An expeditious manner was of high commodity in her line of work. Even not looking, though, she could see. She always saw.
She picked up the paper and examined it. It was part of her daily routine. Every i had to be dotted and every t crossed. The littlest piece of paper without a signature, the tiniest not filled in date, and she was in trouble. She was very good at catching things, that’s why she was still there. Even if sometimes she longed to accidentally forget or not notice or deliberately cross out, she never did. This piece of paper was completely blank on all the required lines. He was obviously another person who expected her to automatically be able to read his mind. He hadn’t seemed that way. He looked like the kind of person who was always prepared for everything.
There was writing on the bottom and she squinted to read the penmanship. It was exactly that, penmanship - no keyboard child was he. No, he had learned from a master. A flowing, loopy master who closed every loop and angled every angle. That was more like the snapshot she had formed of him. Or maybe it was more like a watercolor with all the colors blurring together until each tiny fact separated them just a little bit more and the image became clearer.
Hundreds. Fifties. No dye pack. No bait money.
The words were clear and she’d seen them a million times on audit sheets and cash counters. She knew them by heart, by smell, by feel. They were the building blocks of her world and maybe that’s why she couldn’t quite understand. That’s why she needed to look at him and figure out what he was trying to tell her. She did and he was looking quickly across the room, away from the main camera, and she looked as well, trying to figure out his distraction. Then he looked at her.
She couldn’t see his eyes; they were hidden behind dark glass. It suddenly hit her that it had been raining that morning. But even without seeing his eyes, she could feel him really looking at her. Measuring, weighing, and deciding. He slowly reached up and tilted open his jacket, revealing the handle of a gun and simultaneously slid a bag across the counter to her. He was calm, smooth, and deliberate. Her mind instantly flew to her training.
The money isn’t worth your life was the mantra pounded into her brain and she believed it. She always had. It was the one thing that made her feel validated as a person here and not just as a money machine. In some ways, she was thrilled to have the opportunity to prove it. She was worth more than the money she was going to give him. She pulled out her keys, carefully and slowly, not wanting to give the wrong impression. Her fingers itched to press the silent alarm, but he was watching her intensely and she blushed under the gaze. She hadn’t really been looked at in years.
Her drawer didn’t have much in it. He obviously knew something about the banking business, so she wondered why he had come to her. He must have done it deliberately because he had to walk past three other people to get to her. He didn’t look like he needed the money and he didn’t seem that concerned about being caught. Crazy, eccentric, rich and bored, or pulling a longer con? Her mind played with the possibilities as her fingers grabbed her money. She knew exactly where the hundred and fifties were. His gaze seemed riveted to her hands.
The bag he’d given her was worn and small, almost exactly enough for what she had in her drawer. Her mind pondered that and his hands. She could see them, but she couldn’t remember his face. She’d seen it a few seconds before. His hair was dark, she thought. But his hands, she could see them - long and slender fingers, not moving, waiting. The money was placed in the bag, not very much at all, and then she slid it across the counter to him.
His hands were waiting for it and they caught the bag, his fingers ghosting over hers as she slid them too far beneath his. For one brief second they were there, then he pulled the bag out from under her fingers and his warm touch disappeared. He was warm, unlike everything in this bank, unlike everything in her world. It must, it had to be the danger of her situation, but her heart was pounding and she wished she had the courage, the ability, and the right circumstances, to reach over and take off those sunglasses and see his eyes. Would they be as warm as his hands?
He walked away without saying a word and she realized she hadn’t said anything either. She watched him go, not even realizing she was free to press the silent alarm, to quietly make her way to the phone and dial the police, to press the door locker to protect against him coming back in. She simply watched. His stride was confident, strong, unhurried, and something about his feet made her think he must like to dance. She liked to dance, too.
When he was no longer in view, her knees began to give way beneath her. She felt like he’d somehow gained power over her very person and slowly, gently lowered her to the floor until he was gone. She finally did press the alarm, call the police, lock the door, and announce the robbery to her co-workers. It was all done without excitement, without fear. He had never once made her feel afraid, only suddenly and immediately alive. The police arrived and questioned her thoroughly. She calmly recited the facts, not protecting him, a simple itinerary of her day. The red tape and alarm system calibration and surveillance system retrieval took up most of the day and for once, the balancing was a simple process, if only because she had no money to balance, her drawer taken as evidence.
When she finally got home after quiet, solicitous questions from her manager, she walked carefully and silently to her door. There was no cat to greet her, but she didn’t mind today. She walked inside, locking up behind her. She still wasn’t afraid. She went straight to her desk, got out a pen and piece of paper, and wrote down the events exactly as they had happened, adding her impressions and sensations. When she read it over again, she realized that try as she may, she could never capture the exact details of his face or his unheard voice or truly ever know him. Moreover, the event was done.
She decided that that was the problem with real life fire and thrills, they ended, and humdrum routine reestablished itself. It wasn’t as if she was dissatisfied with her life; her good, solid, pretty life, but she had experienced something new and liked it better. She didn’t want to be robbed everyday, not even by him. That would defeat the object of it being a thrilling experience. She didn’t want to become involved with illegal and immoral activities. She wanted nothing to do with danger, guns, and heists. She wanted life and warmth, the touch of real hands. She could still feel the impression of his on her own. She got ready for bed.
The next morning her flowers were red. She always liked to wear red flowers when she was wearing white. She entered the bank with a feeling of calm, even though her co-workers were more jittery than usual. She walked to her desk, helped unlock the vault, got her much reduced cash drawer back, and settled in for a normal day. Nothing was to be different than before. It wasn’t enough, but it was something. She made out a cash order for her drawer.
It was during lunch that she got a sudden idea. It had been exactly twenty four hours and she was once again pondering the exact contours of his face. Was it like his fingers? She only had so much to go on. Without troubling to worry about why she was obsessed with her robber’s fingers, she walked to the backroom, put in her code, and sat down to look at the surveillance footage. She had exactly twenty three minutes in which to do so.
She could see why he had chosen her desk now. It was placed precisely in a gap between the cameras. Not entirely, nothing in the bank was completely hidden, but her desk was the best option for hiding one’s face. All the cameras had caught while he was walking in was his back. It looked marvelous in his custom-made suit, even in the black and white fuzziness of the camera. When he was actually standing at her desk, the camera only caught the barest of profiles and, of course, when he was walking out, the sunglasses hid those eyes, and he kept his face angled. Still, she was glad of a reminder.
She sat there for twenty two minutes and memorized his face, as much of it as she could see, and wondered how well he knew the bank, knew her, to have positioned himself so well. It wasn’t something that meant anything, she supposed, but that didn’t stop her imagination from working very hard on the problem. Before her lunch break was over, she had made a copy of the tape and placed it in her purse. Her ethical quandary was solved when her brain reminded her she should want judgment on him. She didn’t.
The news held the story of the robbery that night. She never watched the news, her world was dreary enough, but she did that night. The police had submitted a blurry surveillance photo, much like the one she had in her possession. A description, given by her, the anonymous bank teller, flashed up on the screen. She hadn’t said nearly as much as she could have now that she had had time to think. She didn’t mention the intensity of a gaze she couldn’t even see, the motionlessness of his soft fingers, the gait with which he’d strode away, the confident angle of his jaw. She found herself in reverie over a man she’d never heard speak and of whom she should be terrified. The news story was useless, such things were usually harmful in investigations, but it did give her a suspected name.
She was up much later than her normally scripted bedtime routine would have allowed. What else was the internet for but to find out information she wanted to know? The name brought up a much better picture, one that forced her not to blink for a full minute. It truly was him, without his glasses. His eyes were brown. It proved what she’d suspected and why she’d suspected that, she didn’t know. They matched the warm, darker tint of his skin, the heavier eyebrows, and the curious shape of his face. She was starting to feel like she’d always known that face. Maybe that was a bad thing.
Though she tried, she couldn’t find anything other than that picture. It was like it had been placed there for her to find. How or why, she didn’t attempt to answer. There was no good in feeding her obsession with supposition. She already felt as if she were drowning in the reality and life that a simple act of robbery had given to her. To put more into it would be dangerous to her mental health. Yes, more than it already had been.
When she went to work the next day her flowers were blue. She always liked to wear blue flowers when she was wearing brown. The day was shaping up to be exactly like every day before and she was not happy about it. She thought about how she hated numbers and data input and why, even though she was excellent at her job, she surrounded herself with people all day long. She had no ease in relating to people and she never had. She had never meant to be here. She was just here and she was starting to find she wanted to be over there. Wherever…well, best not to finish that thought.
When they checked the night drop that morning she caught sight of loopy handwriting and nearly wrested the envelope from her co-worker’s grasp. She opened it cautiously, excitedly, inwardly sure. It was the money, all of it. A flurry of exhilaration caught over the bank and for one moment she could think banking was a stimulating life. Her manager questioned her and she patiently answered the questions. The money was counted and twice counted and thrice counted. The police were involved, but in the end found nothing. It all went back into her drawer and the bills felt like old friends. She wondered what he’d done with them, if anything.
The envelope was taken by the police, naturally, but she had noticed where it had come from. It was for an old market, twenty minutes away from the heart of the city. She wondered what that could mean, if it meant anything at all. The whole situation caused her to think so much that she sat at her desk long past her actual break. She thought about it all throughout her break and when she came back, she hadn’t finished. Her work felt even less important than usual and so she almost missed seeing the information when she handed out money for a cashed check.
She snatched the bill back, mumbled something about mutilation, and handed the client another one. Mr. Henderson seemed to take forever to walk away. He was finally gone and she was free to look at the twenty that had suddenly become the most important thing in the world to her. The bill had a flower drawn on it, a little black flower, with loops and curves, just like his handwriting. Beside the flower was the same writing. Friday. Ten. Market. If it hadn’t been for the handwriting, she wouldn’t have looked twice at it. Money was written on all the time from obscenities to addresses to love notes to doodles. This could just be one more, but it wasn’t, she knew.
It seemed like her fate was decided for her as the afternoon wore on and the griping of the customers and the monotony of the numbers pressed in on her like a vice. Yet she couldn’t decide so lightly as that her entire future. The now had always been her priority, her surroundings, and circumstances. But now seemed like a prison after the tempting glimpses of life she’d been given the past few days. She wondered if she was crazy, if she was following a cliché out of desperation, if her entire future could become one huge joke or a prison sentence. All seemed likely, but that single touch, it had changed her outlook on life and decisions.
She handed in her keys and counted out her drawer before she went home. Friday was tomorrow and she couldn’t be morally obligated to the bank and to her old life anymore. Her manager argued for a little while, but she guessed that her recent experience and her old somberness could well explain any suddenness to her actions. She hoped. It didn’t hurt a jot to shut down her computer for the last time or say goodbye to the people she knew next to nothing about. The bank doors clanging shut behind her seemed like a church bell ringing out the call to joy. Or to disaster. Whatever her fate, at least she was free of that place.
When she got up the next morning, her confidence hadn’t wavered, but a new, purely womanly anxiety rose to take its place. She was beautiful and she knew it, but she was also embarking on an adventure, an adventure that required a new outlook, a new look, a new person. She liked her old person. But if he…if he was to be in her life, maybe something else needed to happen; maybe she needed to change to fit into his life. She deliberated for a long time and she was going to be late. She was never late. That simple fact reminded her that she was no longer bound by the old insecurities, and she could embrace the new life while still retaining herself.
She was going to wear yellow flowers in her hair. She always liked to wear yellow flowers when she was wearing red. She’d put off deciding for too long and so, there she was…flowerless, fifties-incarnate, and free, walking nervously down the path to the market. Would he be there? If he was, would she still be here tomorrow?
Something yellow bobbed in her vision and when she turned to look at it, she saw him behind her, in front of a flower cart, holding a yellow flower. He was even more than she’d remembered, more everything. She walked toward him slowly, still as captivated as she had been for the past three days. She couldn’t tell if that was a bad thing or a good thing. He’d instilled her with new purpose, but had that been his intention?
“You look like you could use this,” he said, extending his hand to slide the flower behind her ear, maybe purposefully, not touching her.
It slipped into place perfectly and she knew that without even paying attention. She was too busy hearing his voice. Everything with him felt new and exciting. Every bit about him was a new discovery, his hand, his face, his name, now his voice. It wasn’t necessarily deep, but it was the voice of a man. It sounded like it would be a raspy tenor when it sang, like it could embrace all new languages and make them its own, like when it whispered sweet nothings it would caress, like when it was angry it would stir up the blood. It was a normal voice, but it sounded like life to her.
Then he smiled and it was like landing in a foreign land all over again. She’d forgotten how beautiful new things could be. She decided she wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of her life finding out the newness of him and offering him the chance to do the same with her. It would be the most frightening thing she’d ever done, but it would be her own life and choice.
When she still didn’t say anything or move, when it looked as if she’d somehow forgotten how to breathe, he frowned, as if unsure for the first time. She didn’t like his frown as much as his smile, but she supposed that was probably true of everyone. He imitated his movements of three days before and opened his jacket so she could see he had no gun. She was relieved, but she was still overwhelmed and even though she’d already made her choice, she wanted to know.
“Why?” was the first thing she said to him.
He smiled, as if hearing her voice for the first time thrilled him as much as the same experience had done for her.
“Because you, dear heart, needed to come back to life.”
He held out his hand to her and she slowly took it and was delighted to find that even though it wasn’t the first touch, it was as mesmerizing as it had been the first time. His pulse gently throbbed against her fingers and reminded her of the vitality his presence promised her. She smiled to herself and let him lead her forward. The future wasn’t set but it had at least started.