Plain Jane – Part Four

Tuesday morning Jane woke at 6am, washed her face, brushed her teeth, fed the cat and dressed for her run. She took another look at her running shoes and made a mental note to go online during lunch and buy a pair.

Each day, Jane ate her lunch in the cafeteria from 11:30am to 12:30pm. She would eat a turkey and cheese sandwich, dry (Jane didn’t use condiments), a pickle spear and five potato chips (she would chose the best ones from the bag and toss the rest) with a glass of water.  She would read while eating. On the rare occasions Jane needed clothing or shoes, she would take her food back to her desk and purchase them online during her lunch hour.

Jane walked up to the fitness center and noticed that the lights were already on. Someone was probably in there. She placed her headphones atop her head, and headed directly for the treadmill in the corner. She stopped dead in her tracks upon looking up and noticing that it was occupied. It was him. The lost key man. Running on her machine. “Almost done,” he mouthed breathlessly, “just a sec…” He slowed and hopped off. “All yours.” Jane eyed the droplets of sweat he had left on her pristine treadmill. “Are you going to wipe that off?” she blurted. “Well, miss manners, now that you mention it, no.  Not until you give me a decent thank you for finding your key.” he smiled a devilish smile at her, turned, and walked out the door.

With the additional five minutes required to disinfect the machine with antibacterial wipes, Jane started her run ten minutes late that morning. She showered, dried her hair, and dressed ten minutes behind schedule. She ate her breakfast, watched the morning news, washed her dishes, and left for work ten minutes behind schedule. There was more traffic than usual, causing Jane’s commute to take an extra 5 minutes. Jane arrived to work at 8:15am.

The security guard noticed Jane hurrying in. “Running a little late”, he chucked to himself.

To allow for her being late (late for Jane), Jane went to buy her lunch at 11:45am. The line was longer than usual, which took longer than Jane had anticipated. When she reached the cashier Jane realized that she had left her credit card at her desk. By the time Jane returned to her desk, with food, it was 12:30pm. Jane did not order her shoes.

On Wednesday Jane approached the gym with trepidation and was relieved to find no signs of him or anyone else. She completed her run and with a huge sigh of relief stepped off the treadmill. Just then he walked in. “Oh crap!” Jane muttered and then covered her mouth in surprise (Jane didn’t curse). He started laughing. “You’re way too cute a girl to wear that sour look on your face all the time. I’m John, by the way.” Still holding her mouth, Jane walked past him, out the door, and then ran to her apartment.

“What a weird fuckin girl”, John thought as he watched her walk away. He shook his head and ran his hand through his hair and looked back in time to see her head through the doorway at a rapid pace. Damn if he didn’t kind of like it. John smiled.

Jane cut her breakfast/TV time down by 5 minutes on Wednesday in order to leave for work on time. She arrived to work at promptly 8am. During her lunch hour, she ordered her new running shoes.

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Plain Jane – Part Three

Monday morning Jane woke at 6am, washed her face, brushed her teeth, fed the cat and dressed for her run. As she was putting her shoes on she noticed the soles were looking worn. Jane owned two pairs of shoes. One pair was her running shoes. The other were burgundy loafers, the same kind she had worn every day since grade school.  Whenever either shoe wore out, Jane would replace them with the same pair.

Ten minutes into her run, a man walked into the room, dressed in workout gear. Jane adjusted her headphones and looked straight ahead in her usual manner, pretending not to see or hear him. But then he approached her and asked her a question, “Excuse me miss, I think you dropped this…” Jane looked at him expressionless, pointed to her headphones then turned her head away. “Miss! Ma’am!” he persisted, “Yo! Lady! I’m not trying to interrupt your run but I found a key right over there and I wanted to make sure it wasn’t yours before I turned it in.” Jane felt her pocket for her key. It wasn’t there. She looked up at the man, flustered, “Um, yeah, I think that’s mine.” She slowed and then hopped of the treadmill, reached over and took her key from his palm and walked towards the exit. “You’re welcome!” he called behind her. “Thanks,” she mumbled without turning her back as she walked out the door, breaking into a run as soon as she was clear of his line of site.

Jane arrived home 15 minutes ahead of schedule. She showered, dried her hair, and dressed 15 minutes ahead of schedule. She ate her breakfast, watched the morning news, washed her dishes, and left for work 15 minutes ahead of schedule. There was no traffic. Jane arrived to work at 7:40am. As Jane walked in the security guard looked up in surprise, he had the vague feeling he’d seen her before, but couldn’t quite place her. She was dressed head to toe in beige, but her clothes were well tailored and classically stylish. She was plain, he thought, but pretty.

Jane badged herself in, walked to her desk, sat down and started up her computer. It was about that time that Jane realized she didn’t know what to do next. For the first time in Jane’s life, she had deviated from her schedule. She sat there, sitting still in her chair until promptly 8am, upon which she thankfully resumed her schedule.

Plain Jane – Part Two

Every morning Jane woke precisely at 6am. She needed no alarm clock, since the age of five she had risen at 6am and her body was now programmed to wake without any aid. She would wash her face, brush her teeth, feed the cat (in that exact order) and then dress to go run.  Jane ran on the sole treadmill located in her apartment complex’s small fitness center, always for exactly 30 minutes. On the rare occasions another person was in the fitness center, Jane would put on her headphones and pretend to listen to music, although in actuality none played (Jane did not listen to music). Never had she encountered another person on the treadmill.

Upon completing her run she would return to her apartment, shower, dry her hair, dress, fix herself breakfast (which was always plain oatmeal, with a small glass of orange juice to drink), sit in the single chair at her small table and watch the morning news on her tiny portable television that was placed on the kitchen counter. This was the only time she would watch TV, Jane had no need for sitcoms and reality television. She just found them confusing. After eating she would wash out her spoon, bowl and glass, dry them, and place them back in the cabinet. Her kitchen cabinets held very little, in fact, she had one fork, one knife, one spoon, one bowl, one plate, one small glass and one slightly larger glass which she used to drink water. Jane drank mostly water. The only time she drank something other than water was her breakfast-time orange juice. By then it was off to work, which took 20 – 30 minutes depending on traffic. The traffic report was the main reason why Jane would watch the morning news. Jane always preferred to drive the exact speed limit.

Her weekends were essentially the same. On Saturdays, in place of work, she cleaned her apartment, every nook and cranny. Not one speck of dust escaped Jane’s careful eye.  To keep Whiskey’s shedding to a minimum, Jane would bathe him, and then carefully brush him dry to catch any nascent shedding hairs the bath didn’t take care of. Whiskey loathed the bath, but luxuriated in the brushing that would take place after. He would strut around the small apartment after Jane was done, stretching and finding sunny spots to lay in that would best show off his shiny, golden coat.

On Sundays Jane would do all of her laundry (which was more than one would think). Jane had seven running outfits, seven sports bras, seven regular outfits (all various shades of beige), seven regular bras, and sixteen pairs of underwear, eight rundies (running undies), and eight to wear under her regular clothes. Although she never wore the eighth pair of either, she found solace in owning an extra. After her laundry was put away she would grocery shop, eat lunch, visit her Aunt, and then spend the rest of her afternoon perusing her favorite used bookstores for new reads. Her evenings were always spent reading in her small armchair, wrapped up in her beige blanket, with Whiskey on her lap.

Jane lived in a world of one, a world in which she was perfectly content.

Plain Jane – Part One

I’m trying something new here today and sharing a little something that I’ve been working on. Hope you like it…

-Shan

Jane was the type of girl who after meeting her, you would have a hard time recalling what she looked like. She wasn’t unpleasant to look at, in fact one might even call her delicate features pretty, but she didn’t flaunt her looks. She dressed conservatively, wore no makeup and her straight brunette hair was always brushed back and held out of her green eyes with a thin headband. At social gatherings she usually faded into the background and became invisible, that’s if the host or hostess had remembered to invite her at all, or if Jane attended at all (she rarely attended, and rarely did anyone notice).  At work she always arrived promptly at 8am, and left promptly at 5pm. She kept her desk tidy and sparsely decorated. In fact, the only sign that anyone worked in the space was a small potted plant placed next to the phone, and her beige sweater hanging on the back of her chair as she had a tendency to get cold. Her work was always satisfactory, never falling below expectations, but never exceeding them either. One of her superiors once gave her the feedback on her performance appraisal that he would like to see her “step out of her comfort zone” and “take on new challenges”. In the comments section she wrote, “I fail to see how this has bearing on my current work performance, I either meet expectations or do not.” Her supervisor, realizing that Jane was not the type to ever stretch her wings so to speak, decided that Jane was one of those rare individuals who are completely at ease in the role they are in, and actually took comfort in the fact that what he had on his hands was a dependable, plain, Jane.

Jane’s small studio apartment was always clean, furnished with exactly enough furniture for one, all of which was some shade of white or beige. Like her desk at work, there were only a few signs that her apartment was actually lived in. In one corner, a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf was crammed with books, mostly paperback fiction, their spines creased, revealing the wear and tear of multiple reads. Next to the bookshelf was a small armchair, over the back was draped a beige blanket. An almost permanent fixture on the chair was Whiskey, Jane’s cat, named not for any preference for the libation (Jane didn’t drink), but for his deep orangey-gold color (the cat was one of the few colorful items in the apartment). In the bathroom, her toothbrush and toothpaste were placed neatly next to the sink.

At the age of 32, Jane had never been in a relationship, had never been kissed, and had never had sex. She had no friends or social acquaintances outside of work (if you could call her coworkers acquaintances), although she did have one Aunt she was close to, who she visited at the retirement center every Sunday from 1-3pm. Looking at her, one might think that she was the kind of person who had let life pass her by, either on accident or on purpose.

The fact that she had no friends or romantic partners did not bother Jane. In fact, she quite preferred it that way. People were conundrums to Jane, and she chose to avoid them whenever possible.