Blindsided By Love
© Copyright 2023 by Valerie
Photo by Alan Healy at Pexels.
a morning like any other, Horace Green reluctantly dragged himself
out of bed wondering what on earth the point was.
behind the warmth of his snug cocoon, and the delightful dreams that
made going to bed early so appealing, he padded across the carpeted
floor to the bathroom. Turning on the shower, he arranged his shaving
gear neatly around the sink, and only looked up as the steam from the
shower formed a thick condensation on the mirror, blocking his view.
pulsating hot water from the shower brought him fully awake.
stepped out of the tub into a fluffy white terrycloth bathrobe and
dried himself off. Combing his hair back, he lathered shaving
lotion all over his face, enjoying the aroma of the thick, white foam
on his cheeks. As he shaved, he avoided the mirror. However,
was hard to shave without seeing, so he grabbed a hand towel and
wiped off the mist, glancing at his face with an air of disapproval.
dark hair and a narrow face glared back at him. You
again, he muttered, scowling at his
unfair, he thought. He was only thirty-five, yet
locks, his only good feature, had started to fall out in clumps in
his mid-twenties. His nose was what kind people called
aristocratic but to Horace, it was a hook. He’d often
fancied having plastic surgery, but dismissed the notion.
Wouldn’t make much of a difference now, would it?
of an indeterminate shade of grey peered into the mirror, tracking
down the last whisker on his face. Finally, rinsing off,
turned from the mirror and went back into the bedroom to
Green was not a conventionally handsome man; he’d always
believed his looks were the reason he had no friends.
he dressed, he thought back to his adolescence, such lonely
He never had confidence in himself, and lacked the personality or
talent to downplay what he thought were his unattractive looks. But -
he was bright and a good student, earning honors in every
his apartment, with thoughts of the past still racing through his
head, Horace walked to his nearby office, humming tunelessly.
As he strode through the glass doors of the five-story building that
was home to the tax firm of Horace Green, Chartered Accountant, he
nodded at the doorman. Ignoring the blonde receptionist, Kathy, who
was busy painting her nails, he strode to the elevator, pressing the
button to the fourth floor. Another lonely day,
thought, wondering why on earth he even bothered coming to work.
Horace opened the door to his office, he sighed. The red
on the message machine was blinking, but no secretary sat in her
usual place. Looks like Millie’s taken the
off again, he surmised, going over to the coffee
situated next to Millie’s desk and turning it on. He
picked up the answering machine and listened to his secretary’s
Mr. Green. It’s me, Millie. Listen, I’m sorry I can’t
come in today. My mom’s not feeling well and I have to
take her to the doctor. Sorry, Mr. G. See you
himself a cup of coffee, and selecting a cookie from Millie’s
stash in the cupboard, Horace sat back in his swivel chair and
tackled the paperwork that had accumulated over the prior
few hours later he was finished. Stretching in his chair, he
wondered what to do with the rest of the day. He stood up and walked
to the window, gazing out onto the busy street below. Buses and cars
screeched and rumbled, while pedestrians struggled with packages and
umbrellas, fighting off the sudden downpour. It was going to be
another miserable, rainy day in Bristol, and he doubted if anyone
would be making an appointment to see him in this weather.
walked aimlessly around his office, staring at the bookcases filled
with file folders of clients who came to see him perhaps once a
year. It was a lackluster room containing his desk and chair,
few file cabinets and an armchair reserved for the clients who came
to discuss their annual taxes. The windows were tall, draped
with dusty curtains that could do with a good washing. An old
potted plant leaned tiredly in the corner of the room, and Horace,
taking pity on it, poured the rest of the water from the coffee maker
around the brown, curling leaves.
glanced at his watch, noting it was getting close to lunch
Again, he walked to the window and stared out. The rain had finally
stopped and it looked as though a diluted sun was determined to push
through the grey clouds.
his thumb, Horace debated what to do next. Lunch at the
restaurant? A drink at the pub down the street? Or,
about a jog? He thought for a moment, and then impulsively
opened the door to his bathroom.
discarding his grey trousers, white shirt, tie and tweed jacket,
Horace pulled on jogging pants, tennis shoes and a Bristol City
sweatshirt. Grabbing a cap just in case the rain came back, Horace
picked up his keys and left the office.
of the reasons Horace had selected his office was its fabulous
location along Queen Square. A five-acre garden square in the center
of Bristol, it had originally been a fashionable residential address
but more recently most of the buildings had been taken over for
office use. A peaceful and relaxing green
was ideal for lunching businessmen, or for taking a scenic jog.
found himself on the jogging path within minutes, and soon maintained
a steady running pace. He enjoyed the beauty of the scenery as he
ran. It was quiet in the park since the rain had kept picnickers
away. The vegetation was lush and green, newly drenched by the recent
downpour. Birds chirped in the trees and the surrounding lawns were
emerald green, glistening with raindrops.
Horace ran through the park, his mind wandered, thinking about his
early years and how he had come to this lonely way of living.
thought of his parents, killed too young in a car crash when he was
only eighteen years old. Fortunately, they had left enough money for
Horace to finish his higher education, and to purchase an apartment
in the heart of Bristol. Money had been no object but the lack of
siblings, or even relatives, made his life an emotional wasteland.
thoughts skipped forward to university, and the times he had
attempted to make friends.
Jack,” he had mumbled once to a classmate. “Doing
anything interesting this weekend?”
sorry, mate,” Jack responded distractedly, “Seeing some
friends. How about you?”
nothing really. Maybe I’ll catch a movie,” Horace
had murmured, embarrassed that he had even had the temerity to ask.
lack of self esteem, and awkwardness were off-putting to his peers.
In his mind, they recoiled when he came near, seemingly repelled by
his unattractive presence. Of course that wasn’t the case
at all. His looks had nothing to do with the way he was
had often stared at himself in the mirror, wondering what he could do
to change his appearance. His skin was a little acne scarred and his
lips were thin and pinched under his aquiline nose, but when he
occasionally smiled, his face lit up. Unfortunately, not many
people had seen him smile, certainly not Horace himself. He
no idea how his shy smile transformed and softened his face.
Horace ran, he thought about his four years at university. Life at
“uni” had been lonely, and he’d spent most of his
nights alone in his dorm room, studying. He longed for just
person to ask him to join them at the pub or the local dances, but
they never did. He listened to them come home late at night,
singing drunkenly on the stairs, laughing and shouting. He’d
pull the covers over his ears, wanting so badly to be part of their
Horace rounded a bend in the park, he noticed a young couple walking
arm-in-arm as they walked slowly across the commons. Heads
together, they seemed deeply in love.
he thought to himself. “Why is my life this way? I wish I could
find someone to talk to, to be with, just once in my life. Surely
there has to be more than this emptiness.”
aching for the warmth of anyone, even a stranger, suddenly burst
forth, and to his horror and embarrassment, hot tears seeped through
his eyes as he ran. Hating himself for this unexpected surge of
self-pity, he rubbed his knuckles in his eyes to wipe away the
that very moment, without warning, eyes closed, he crashed into
someone. He could feel the form of a body right in front of him and,
as he opened his eyes in alarm, he saw that a young woman had
collapsed on the gravel footpath at his feet.
dear,” Horace cried, bending down to assist the fallen woman.
“Are you all right? Oh, I am so sorry; here, let me help
he leaned forward to give the woman his hand, he noticed that she
ignored it. Struggling to her feet, she gave a little shake and a
smile, waving her hand in front of him.
worry yourself, I’m fine. It was my fault. I didn’t see
you,” she reassured him. “Is there anywhere to sit around
here? Maybe you could take my arm so I can catch my breath.”
spotted a park bench close by and led her across the gravel path. The
wooden seat was located under the shade of a beautiful sycamore tree,
which cast a shadow over the two of them, shading them from the light
of the newly arrived sun.
she laughed and patted his hand.
all right. Please don’t worry.”
gazed upon the young woman with amazement. She was the most beautiful
creature he had ever seen. Shoulder length wavy auburn hair shone in
the sunlight. Her skin was like porcelain, smooth and creamy, and her
eyes were as blue as the sky. She appeared to be in her early
thirties and spoke like an educated young woman.
sat there, just staring. He could smell the light flowery fragrance
of her hair, and had a sudden urge to bury his face in it. Pulling
himself together, he took a deep breath, desperately thinking of
something witty to say to impress this goddess.
he sat there, a thousand words rushing through his brain. He had
absolutely no idea what to say to such a vision of
His experience with women was nil.
your name?” she asked after a few awkward moments had passed.
thought wildly, wondering if he should tell her the truth. He hated
his name and most likely she would too.
a moment of impulse he blurted out “Jake,” thinking this
a more manly name than ‘Horace’. Besides, she would never
know the difference as they were hardly likely to meet again.
to meet you, Jake. I’m Helen.”
put out her hand, and he looked at it, not knowing what to
She laughed again, and he took her hand in his damp one and shook it.
It was soft and smooth, and it was all Horace could do to not let go.
the ice seemed to be broken, Horace could not believe such a
beautiful woman would want to waste even a second more with him.
Embarrassed and uncomfortable, he thought perhaps he should just get
up and continue his run.
I’m so sorry I knocked you over,” he apologized again,
starting to rise. “I don’t want to keep you if you
have to get going.”
I’m fine,” Helen responded. “Please stay. Actually,
I’d love to chat for a while, if you don’t mind. It would
be nice to have someone to talk to. It gets very lonely sometimes.”
Horace wildly. “Lonely?” “What
on earth is going on here?”
have a lovely voice,” she remarked. “So kind and gentle.
Where did you go to school?”
was baffled. He stared at Helen, wondering how on earth a beauty such
as she could be lonely.
I went to Bristol University, right here in the City,” he
responded. “I’m an accountant.”
How interesting,” she went on. I expect you meet lots of
fascinating people in your line of work.”
really,” Horace explained. “I only see them once or
twice a year. Not enough time to get to know anyone on a personal
tell me about yourself, Helen. Do you like this park? I’ve
never seen you here before.”
so the afternoon passed in a hazy blur. The conversation grew deeper
and Horace eventually started to relax, basking in the glow of
Helen’s beauty and interest. She was witty yet sweet, and he
found himself starting to believe it was all a dream.
really should get back to the office,” he remarked, looking at
his watch. It was hard to believe that two hours had passed so
“It was lovely meeting you, and again, I’m sorry for
slamming into you like that.”
face dropped. “Must you go? I’ve really
enjoyed getting to know a little about you. ”
heart almost stopped beating. What was going on?
some kind of prank? But who would do it? He had no
really must, but. . . but, I don’t suppose I could see you
again?” he offered weakly, expecting instant rejection.
that would be wonderful,” she cried, a huge smile lighting up
her face. “Perhaps we could meet here tomorrow? I
could bring a picnic lunch for us both? What do you think,
cannot be real.
sure. I would love that. Shall we meet here, at
smiled, nodding her head in assent. “See you here tomorrow, at
stood up, his head in a whirl, and took her hand.
see you tomorrow, Helen. Thank you so much for this afternoon
and again, I’m so sorry for knocking you over!”
she murmured, “but we would never have met otherwise, would
squeezed his hand and sat there smiling to herself.
turned, and started back along the jogging path, walking slowly, his
heart filled with such joy and exultation he felt it might burst.
confirm that he had not been dreaming, he turned to wave once
She apparently did not see him as she stood up slowly from the park
bench, picking her way across the footpath to the other side.
As he watched, mesmerized, she bent down in the grass to pick
at her, his hand held up in a half wave, he seemed
As he was about to call out, she finally righted herself, turned, and
started to walk slowly in the opposite direction, her white cane
tip-tapping in front of her as she moved into the distance.
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
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