The Fifteen Minute Novel: Day 177

The Fifteen Minute Novel is a novel written fifteen minutes at a time with each week day’s section starting with the sentence from the previous day. At least it is attempting to be a novel. For now I am just aiming at one continuous story, worked on for fifteen minutes each day. Started Friday January 1st, 2021 (in case you want to search for the beginning. I can’t wait to see where it ends up. It could be good, or it could be a mess. We’ll have to see. For now, here is today’s fifteen minutes.

Day 177: With time figured out, everything else would depend on what he learned from Samantha.

With time figured out, everything else would depend on what he learned from Samantha. James reached the doors.  They were heavy metal, embossed around the edges with a floral design.  He gripped the handle and tugged one of the doors open, stepping inside.

It felt more like the lobby to a hotel than a health club.  It was carpeted and richly appointed.  Wood and metal gleamed with polish.  A counter, like a hotel’s reception desk stood off to the side.  As James walked over, here was an indication that this was not a hotel.  The person working behind the counter was dressed in athleisure wear.  There was a whiteboard featuring class schedules and a rack of health related pamphlets.  Off to the side he saw a cork board filled with notices for personal trainers and groups to train for marathons.

Still the person behind the counter smiled at him much the same way a hotel staff member would.

‘Generic customer service smile number one,’ James thought as he smiled back.  He wondered if anyone in customer service was taught the smile during orientation or if being able to produce the smile naturally was part of the interview process. 

“Good evening and how may I help you?” The man asked.  He smiled, each tooth gleaming white.

“Hi I have a tour scheduled with Samantha?” James said.  The sentence came out more as a question, even though he knew it was Samantha he was supposed to meet. Somehow in these sorts of situations it always did, as though some part of his brain expected the person to be changed out at the last moment.

“Of course,” Mr. Smiley said.  “You must be James, I’ll let her know.”

James nodded.  Apparently the desk was appraised of his visit.  James wasn’t sure if he found that reassuring or daunting.  After the past months of forced anonymity being singled out even for something so small, felt peculiar. 

The clerk picked up the phone behind the counter and pressed four keys.  He waited.  And then his smile brightened slightly. “Hi Sam, James is here for his tour.” He nodded as she responded and then placed the phone back on its cradle.

“She’ll be right out.”

“Great,” James replied.  He shuffled back from the counter a pace even though there was no one waiting in line behind him.  As he stood, he could hear the clink of machinery that he always associated with gyms.  It came from off to his left.  He looked but it was tucked behind a corner and the sound was faint. 

His wait was not long.  Soon Samantha appeared.  She strode down the hall towards the main lobby in long ground eating strides.  Her yoga pants were black with a pink strip up the side.  Her sneakers were black with pink laces.  The jacket she had over her pink shirt matched the pants and there was a pink ponytail holder holding her brown hair in place at the back of her head.  It was coordinated and it made James wondered if her closet featured several similar outfits each with their own sneakers and hair tie to go with the day. As his work outfits were in their own way as coordinated, he couldn’t really complain.  However in the athletic wear it made her look almost terrifyingly efficient.  He was instantly aware of the extra weight he was carrying around his middle.

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