People-watching is a delightful thing. It's funny how a word...a phrase...a name...a thought...a flicker of expression on someone's face...can turn themselves into a story before you know what's happening.
This isn't a story. Yet. But it was fun, and I'll share a bit of it just for that reason. :)
“I’ll get it for you.” Mr. Dayers turned away, then bellowed out, his voice going high at the end, “Sophieeeeeeee!”
Emma waited for a blonde secretary to come around the corner, but instead a young man came jogging up, out of breath, a bunch of papers under one arm, shortish, light brown hair bouncing slightly as he ran. “Yessir?” he asked, bringing two fingers to his forehead as if reporting for casual army duty.
“See that Miss Lee gets what she needs. Something to do with health and safety regs and daycares.”
Mr. Dayers looked back at her, his easy smile still seeming a bit forced. “Nice to meet you. If Sophie doesn’t get you what you need, come see me again. We’re all here to help."
“Thank you,” she said, smiling after him until he disappeared around the corner.
She turned around quickly to face the young man now standing beside the desk, eyebrows slightly raised.
"Sophie?” slipped out of her mouth before she could help it, her voice both hinting at disbelief and suggesting the ridiculousness of the name, to her horror.
“Shut up. It’s my last name.” He spoke breathlessly, fingers flying across the keyboard, and she giggled. She could not have helped that either, and she covered her mouth with both hands, trying to stop it and only making it worse.
“I’m sorry!” she gasped. “I didn’t mean…”
He stopped typing and glanced at her, his face unsmiling.
She giggled harder, apologizing more and succeeding only in starting herself hiccuping.
His unsmile turned into a glare. “It’s not that funny.”
“But when he yells it at you…and I was expecting a cute girl to come around the corner…and it was you…” She wasn’t making it any better.
But he snorted suddenly, his glare cracking into laughter. “The name is Vin.” He held out his right hand. “Vin Sophie, and if you call me by my last name only, so help me…”
Emma leaned over his shoulder, her eyes trying and failing to follow along as he scrolled down an endless list. He shifted slightly, and she realized abruptly how very close she was standing.
“Sorry,” she said, taking an awkward step to the right. “My personal space sometimes invades other people’s. It’s entirely accidental, I assure you.”
He shrugged. “Quite all right.”
“Sophie!” From somewhere down the hall came Mr. Dayer’s interrupting bellow, and Sophie took a deep breath.
“SOPHIEEEEEEEEEEEEE! HURRY IT UP!”
He smiled at her, but there was something about his eyes saying if he knew her better he’d be fake-strangling himself at the moment. “If you don’t mind…I have to answer that.”
Emma smiled, fluttering her fingers in a gesture meant to assure him it was quite all right. She glanced at the computer, her fingers tingling. If he went to talk to Dayer’s…
And he clicked off on the screen, leaving it only when the password required page locked on. He glanced at her. “I’ll be right back. Don't touch anything.”
She thought he was leaving when he glanced back over his shoulder at her. "Not even accidentally, yeah?"
He nodded, turning focused once again, though his smile remained like a shadow upon his face. “Okay, so what’s the problem you need help with? Maybe if I have a bit more information I can cut the search down a bit.”
She nodded, instantly serious. “It’s this daycare by my house.” Not likely he would care, but he had asked… “There are sixteen babies going to it, and right now ten of them are throwing up. Once a day, no other signs or symptoms, no shared similarities among them except that they’re all the same age and all attend this daycare. It’s been going on for a month - in the late afternoon, early morning, sometimes even in the middle of the night, each one of them just throws up everywhere. Projectile vomiting…it’s horrible. Their parents are going out of their mind trying to figure out what it is, and the owner is being terribly unhelpful. She’s insisting there are no viruses that would cause that, that it isn’t a communicable disease. But what else could it be! It’s not like they all had a conference at nine months and decide to throw up once a day for the fun of it!” She frowned indignantly.
Vin choked slightly, a flicker of laughter upon his face. “Sorry, I just got this image in my head of a bunch of nine month olds at daycare, sitting in a circle and sharing how they projectile vomit at home and scare their parents to death.”
She elbowed him. “It’s not funny!”
He gave to her shove, his grin firmly in place. “It is, a bit.”
She felt a giggle working its way up her throat and she bit down on the inside of her cheek. “It is not!”
He glanced at her. “You know it is.”
It kind of was, and she looked daggers at him through her laughter.
Emma stared after the whirlwind, feeling a bit as if she had just been spun around a dozen times and dropped on her head. Beside her Vin shifted a bit uncomfortably.
She shook off the numbness. “Well. All right then. Ready to keep going?”
He turned towards her. “She reminds me of Mrs. Lynde.”
For an instant she could not respond, and then she felt laughter bubbling up. That spinning mass of chaos with its husky voice and nose into everybody else’s business was the most Mrs. Lynde-like woman she could have imagined. “Oh,” she gasped, “I didn’t see it before but…oh…” Somehow the past five minutes had been made immeasurably better.
Abruptly her laughter stopped as realization struck her. “You watched Anne of Green Gables?”
He flinched. “I have five older sisters. Cut me some slack.”