She Said Hello

“Hello?” I heard a little voice call out from somewhere behind me. It was soft and unsure of itself; one of those tiny, hopeful hellos which almost fall out of the mouth accidentally and surprise their owner almost as much as their recipient.

I was on my way out, hurtling down the stairs and along the corridor in a great big rush to where ever I thought I needed to be at. So I only slowed down and looked over my shoulder to where that voice had come from momentarily, before my momentum took me around the corner and out the building’s door.
Still, I had managed to get the smallest glimpse of the owner of that precious hello; a small girl of perhaps 6 or 7, standing outside one of the doors in the long, dimly lit corridor of my apartment block, waving sheepishly at me.

I couldn’t get that little hello out of my head for the rest of that day. It kept fluttering around my head like a delicate butterfly which is too mesmerising to ignore and too brittle to push out. hat was about her hello which made it so much more special than all the other ones?

I’m a travel agent, and so my days are literally filled with an assortment of hellos; the cheesy and the empty hellos, the hopeful hellos, the happy and the snappy ones, and all other sorts in between.
And of course, since I work in a shopping Centre, every time I walk past a pop-up stores, I also have to face the two-headed monster of sale-sy, I’m-going-to-sell-you-something-whether-you-make-eye-contact-or-not hellos shot at you by one of those energetic, occasionally good looking sales people. 

But there was something innocent about that hello which made it different from all the other ones. I sometimes think, especially after a particularly hello-heavy day, as grown-ups, we only use hellos as a tool; A sales-pitch, a pick-up line or just as a meaningless routine we follow blindly when we meet someone. 

But her hello was none of those. There was a tinge of surprise in her hello, as if she was hesitantly opening a door to a forbidden garden and was both excited and worried about what might lay on the other side. 

By the time I was heading home that day, I had made up my mind; if she was still around, I would say hello to her first. But she wasn’t there when I got back. Instead, an empty corridor awaited me, and the butterfly in my head was getting tired of fluttering around by now.

But maybe, just maybe, that little hello had already worked its magic; so that the next time I heard a little, tentative hello, I would stop, savour the moment and say hello back.

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