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Colin Banks – Short Story

(PSA: this is terrible. apologies)

Colin Banks had always been a bit of, for lack of a nicer word, a loner. He hadn’t had many friends in school, and he’d only ever been in one relationship. Not one serious relationship, one relationship, full stop. And now that had ended.

At 32 years old, most of Colin’s peers and acquaintances were now married, many even had kids. Colin, on the other hand, was still attempting to make his way up the ranks of the opticians he worked at, and where he’d been working for the past 9 years.

And now he didn’t even have a girlfriend… Colin had thought that their relationship had been going well. They’d been coming up to the year-long mark, when she had decided that she couldn’t stand him anymore. Apparently it was something about his taste in music and the fact that all he ate was spaghetti… he didn’t know for sure, he had been too busy crying when she had been telling him. Not his proudest moment.

It had been roughly a week now, 6 days, 5 hours and 9 minutes to be exact, not that he’d been counting, but the optician still wasn’t over it. In Colin’s mind, moving on was the hardest and the worst thing in the world. He’d been so devoted to her, he’d even bought her a bunch of £2.50 flowers from Sainsbury’s on Valentine’s Day, it was hard moving on from that. But she didn’t seem to feel the same way about him; it was over, forever. So now he was just getting on with his life, going to work, testing people’s eyes, coming home and watching, no, re-watching, some of his favourite cheesy romcom films. He tried to avoid the ones that made him cry, as the one thing he’d taken away from his split with his girlfriend was that apparently he wasn’t ‘manly’ enough, but that was hard, as every film seemed to make him cry.

So on the sixth day of the breakup he was going through the motions. He’d got to work on time, greeted his co-workers with a weak smile, then retreated into the room that he worked in. He wasn’t in the mood for a friendly morning chat in the staff room – he hadn’t been since the breakup. He just went straight to his room and began filling out forms. Sure, it was boring work, and the part of his job that he disliked most, but he preferred it to the sympathetic glances cast in his direction and the questions whether he was alright that he still seemed to get. So, he sat down at his desk, and began the day’s work.

Colin had seen a young girl getting her first pair of glasses, an elderly lady who couldn’t see even with the glasses on, and a young man who really didn’t need glasses but insisted on coming back every six months for another test, ‘just in case’, and was preparing himself for his last patient before lunch when Jonah Williamson walked through the door.

Now Colin prided himself of being professional at work, just going through the motions and helping people to see well. However, he couldn’t help but admire this man as he walked through the door, escorted by Mary, the small and annoying manager of the practice who insisted on micromanaging everything that went on. He was so engrossed in admiring his tanned skin, his broad shoulders and his smooth brown hair that he only became aware of Mary talking when she suddenly said:

“Mr Banks? Are you listening?”

“Why yes, Mar- Mrs Aklesonn.” Colin said, slightly flustered after being brought out of his trance. “You want me to test this man’s eyes.” It was hardly likely she’d want anything else of him, after all, he was only a junior optician, but he wasn’t wrong.

Mary gave him a suspicious glare and then turned on her heel, not even plastering a false smile onto her face to keep up appearances as she left. He wasn’t the best at reading signals, but Colin was willing to hazard a guess that she wasn’t the biggest fan of him. The optician gave the other man a look that said ‘women’, and a slight eye roll, meaning to lighten the tense atmosphere that had been left behind by the bird-sized woman who seemed to hold a lot of power for such a small person. The man laughed as Colin gestured to a chair for him to sit in. It was the first time he’d made a joke or sarcastic comment in a while.

“Please, have a sit. No, wait, seat.  Have a, have a seat.” Colin fumbled. He felt his ears turning traffic-light red, as they always did when he was embarrassed. What had got into him? He just hoped the attractive man didn’t notice, that would be embarrassing. Not that he wasn’t already embarrassed enough… oh dear, this wasn’t a very good first impression.

“You are… Jonah Williamson, am I right?” He asked, checking the notes on his clipboard. Jonah nodded. “So… it says here that you don’t currently own a pair of glasses, but you sometimes feel as though you need some?”

“Yes, I just feel as though I can’t see things sometimes when I should.” Jonah replied, nodding.

“Well, that tends to mean you need glasses.” Colin muttered sarcastically under his breath, as he tended to do a lot. He was a sarcastic person by nature, he couldn’t help but make these little comments. It appeared he wasn’t quite as quiet as he thought he was though, as just then Jonah let out a loud laugh.

“That’s why I thought you could help me.” He replied with a grin. Colin felt his ears glowing an even brighter shade of red, if that was possible. But the man didn’t seem hostile, he seemed to just be as sarcastic as Colin was, so it wasn’t too bad.

The test went ahead as normal, with Jonah reading out letters from the screen and telling Colin whether the dots were clearer with “option 1…. or option 2… option 1… or option 2.” It was only when he had a torch and was looking into Jonah’s eyes when he found the thoughts on how attractive he was creeping back into his mind.

He has such nice eyes… Colin thought to himself as he inspected at them through his own glasses, which could do with being cleaned. Not physically of course, his vision is terrible, but they’re very pretty…

“Uh, thanks?” Jonah replied, somewhat awkwardly. Colin jumped backwards so suddenly that his torch flew out of his hand and across the darkerned room into a far corner. He hadn’t realised he’d spoken out loud!

“Uh, they’re just, um, they’re a nice colour.” He muttered as he crossed the room to retrieve his torch again and switch on the lights. When they came on again he saw that Jonah was just about as red as his ears were, if not more. Colin didn’t know what else to say – it was clear to both of them that he was lying. Jonah’s eyes, after all, were just brown. Plain brown. Nothing special at all.

Luckily, he had almost finished testing Jonah’s eyes, so there wasn’t too much awkward interaction following the accidental speaking out loud and then it was time for him to leave and Colin to go on his lunch break. It was only when Colin called one of the sales assistants to take Jonah to look at some frames for his new glasses when they had another interaction that wasn’t solely about eyesight.

“You, uh, you have my number, on the forms, right?” Jonah asked as he was leaving. Colin nodded, slightly confused, and almost missed the man’s wink as he left the room. What? The optician was slightly, no, very confused. He wanted to check that the opticians had his number?… ooooh, wait. He understood now. Wait, what?!

A year passed, and during that time, Colin went on many dates with Jonah Williamson. After the first hesitant text message, send during the lunchbreak following the awkward appointment, their interactions had grown more and more frequent until they messaged each other daily and met up with each other almost every weekend. Colin felt happier than he ever had before – even happier than he had been with his first girlfriend. He even splashed out a bit and not only bought a £2.50 bunch of flowers for him on Valentine’s Day, but also a cheap box of Christmas chocolates in the sale section of Sainsbury’s. Jonah had made him spaghetti in return and they’d watched a cheesy film together. Despite his best efforts, Colin did cry (very loudly), but it was okay, because Jonah said he didn’t mind the crying. He said it showed he cared.

Every morning Colin would catch the bus to work as he’d always done, but then he’d spend a bit of time in the staff room drinking a coffee and having a natter with his co-workers, enthusing over a cheesy film he’d watched with Jonah or a new rock song that Jonah had introduced him too. Jonah, Jonah, Jonah… his co-workers often complained he was all he ever spoke about (in a nice way of course, as he was now a senior optician, and was therefore above them). But Colin didn’t care.

Another year on, and Jonah proposed. It was the happiest day of Colin’s life, hands down. And it was in the moment that Jonah got down on one knee that he realised something, something very important.

Maybe moving on isn’t so bad after all…

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