Pearly Whites

by 82officefortress

Dear curatorpede, first off, I really want to commend you and your team for this site. I’ve been following it, and it’s been… quite helpful to me.

I hope you allow my story to your site:

The moment he stood up to enter my office, I knew I've heard that name before. Funny how, over time, all one remembers is the person's nickname; the full name eventually sounds as unfamiliar as the years we've spent apart. So he's finally back in the country, back in town, applying for a job in the company I work for. Talk about coincidence.

Is it coincidence? It must be. How could he even know that I work here? It's been years! He probably doesn't remember...

He smiles. He remembers me. Nobody flashes those pearly whites with such confidence at a job interview. Or maybe he's just confident. Practiced. My, you sure look the same as you did back in first year college... But you've really amped up your charm...

He must have noticed how quiet I've been. I stall a bit, browsing through his resume. Yea, it's definitely him. I should have noticed. Same high school. Same college as mine. I look at him and smile. Best to pretend not to know him... Even if he broke my heart years ago. I've moved on. I've had three other boyfriends after him, in case anyone's wondering. And, currently, I'm happily single. I'm strong, independent. And technically, he shouldn't count. I mean, come on, we were just freshmen when we...

He's applying for a job, that's all. I'm just going to see if he's qualified. That's all. His crisp, well-ironed, white long sleeves and plain black tie has nothing to do with our history. Our history? Perhaps just mine. As I stare at him, there's no hint that he recognizes me.

"Tell me a little about yourself."

Good start. He tells me having had to study abroad for college. That, I already know. In fact, I remember it too well. Or not. It's strange how the harsh realities of life sounded a lot more... devastating back then. We did try maintaining a long distance relationship after all. Then the snail mail turned to email, then the correspondence eventually stopped. Who sent the last message? Me or him? Probably me. He broke my heart after all. Without even the decency of breaking up with me. After four months of not hearing from him, I moved on.

He's done. I just realized... I don't remember anything he said. Did he notice I spaced out? Does he recognize me now, if he hasn't already? I suddenly remember, I haven't introduced myself to him earlier and just jumped straight to the interview. He might suspect, but he'll never be sure until I affirm his suspicions. If he suspects. By this time, he's probably wondering why I've been so quiet. There he goes with his pearly whites again. The corners of his lips stifle a tiny tremble. Am I making him nervous? Good.

"How did you hear of this position?"

"What do you know of the company?"

"Why do you want this job?"

I'm back on track. Just doing my job to see if he's fit for the company. So far, he is. Very fit. And by fit, I'm not referring to the obvious fact that he does work out. He's just what the company needs right now. He'll be a real asset. He'll rise up the ranks, for sure.

The tremble at the corner of his lips has subsided. He's leaning forward now, his fingers interlocked... There's no ring on his finger. Wait. What? No ring? So what if there's no ring on his finger? This has nothing to do with what he's applying for. So why am I bothered?

This man is so different from the boy I dated in my early college days. There's still that boyish charm in him, but other than that, what else do I know? As a potential employee, he seems a lot more reliable now than how I remember him. What happened to him when he was abroad? Why am I suddenly so curious? Why should I care about this now?

"So why should we hire you?" I manage to blurt out. Many years ago, I asked him a question of a similar vein, a lot less professional but... The stakes, back then, meant the world to me.

"What do you see yourself doing five years from now?" Give or take, a decade ago, this is the question we should have asked each other. But we're in the now. There's no point looking back anymore. Right?

The interview's almost done. From a professional standpoint, I think he did well. Good for him.

"Do you have any questions?" I finally ask. Again I catch that tremble at the corner of his lips. It must be such an effort to keep flashing those pearly whites for... How long has it been? My mind has been running back and forth between past and present.

But this time, it's he who hesitates. He catches his breath, as if to ask something... Of course. How did he do? I'm honest with him. His resume helped. He's well endorsed. His answers were everything we needed to hear. Of course, I don't say anything about how awkward everything has been. Don't bring it up, I won't either. We'll keep things professional. We'll keep things buried.

I lead him to the door of the office. The other applicants must have wondered what took so long. When we reach the door, he turns to me.

"Thank you for this chance," he says, shaking my hand. For a split second, all his charm disappeared. His handshake is firm, like his tight-lipped smile. What was that about? I recall how he has always been so hard to read. During our time together, he never lashed out at me, not even a hint of it. I couldn't have been perfect, right? Otherwise...

I let go of his hand. I'm sure he'll be hired. He'll do well. He'll probably date a co-worker, not me, of course, as he'll be in a far different unit from mine. Not that it should matter to me. That's what I tell myself as I watch him leave. I blink, then call the next applicant in.

"Pearly Whites" is part of a play called exesanonymous.com, written by Dr. Joem Antonio.Is this the first exesanonymous.com story you're reading? You might want to start from the beginning.If you want to stage this play, please visit exesanonymous.com/onstage for the script and license information.