That afternoon she had a meeting with her whole department, the perfect opportunity to do some digging.
“So, this is just an informal meeting really,” John was standing at the front of the tiny meeting room, “just so we all get a chance to meet Louise, get to know a bit about her. And she can find out a bit about us too.” He gave a massive grin, nodded as if to himself and quickly sat down in the corner of the room. The whole department were squeezed into this airless room. All sat in a circle; except John, who for some reason had chosen to sit in the corner. Apart from the occasional banging noise resonating from the hallway, it was silent.
“How exactly do you want us to do this?” Mary, the team secretary had to turn 180 degrees to address John. That defeats the object of sitting in a circle, Louise thought to herself.
“Erm, oh right yes,” John fidgeted out of his seat, and stood uncomfortably in the middle of the circle, “well, how about we all go around saying a bit about ourselves and what our job is?”
Pairs of eyes around the room rolled, but everyone nodded – so that was what they were going to do.
“Ok, so I should probably start,” He paused and looked around the circle of faces. With an awkward expression, he took his chair from the corner of the room and slid it into the circle. Sitting down he sighed, “Well I’m John Reynolds, John Edward Reynolds and I manage the Copy Writing department. I’ve worked here now for about 10 years. I am married and have two children, Mason aged five and Ashleigh she’s about to turn 10.” With a look of satisfaction on his face, John slumped back into his chair.
During the next 20 minutes, Louise got to hear about Lorraine’s divorce, Paul’s love of classical music and Jo’s handbag addiction. Then it was her turn. “Hi everyone. I’m sure you all know, I’m Louise and it’s my first day. I’m the new Copy Writing Assistant. I moved to London last week, I’m originally from Stratford-Upon-Avon. Shakespeare Country. Back home I have a lovely family, a younger brother and sister and a wonderful boyfriend called Mark. I’m hoping to make as many great friends here as I have at home, so Hannah I’m definitely looking forward to Friday afternoons in the pub!”
John coughed, “we don’t spend every Friday in the pub. There is work to do!”
Hannah looked at Louise and mouthed “yes we do!”
Giggling Louise said, “Well in that case John, I’m looking forward to the occasional Friday afternoon in the pub. That’s about it.” Louise paused for a moment, “that made me sound like a complete alcoholic. I’m not.” She went red.
Her mind flicked back to 100 personal memories – No, I am definitely not an alcoholic.
“Don’t worry,” Tim said quietly, “we know what you mean.” Tim sat next to Louise in the office and was sat next to her now. He was skinny, pale, ginger and covered in freckles. He would turn red if any of the girls looked him in the face and only raised his voice above a whisper when he was on the phone or talking about music. But he had come to her rescue.
Cute boy. Little boy. She bet herself that he had never been kissed. If you excluded over weight and over familiar great aunts that is. Never been kissed by a girl. Certainly never been kissed by a pretty, blonde, blue eyed girl.
“Where did that come from!” Thought Louise, surprised by the random and innapropriate thought that had just popped itself into her head.
Jeremy had waxed lyrical about his cat, and Jenna was oozing some drivel about her Labrador, as Louise’s wandering mind decided to take the flushing, freckling, blushing, ginger boy under her wing. She would seduce him; no not seduce him, absolutely not! But seduce him into her philosophy, her view of life, her happiness and confidence; she would bring him out of himself.
“Ok, well I think that’s enough for now.” John was on his feet ushering everyone from the room, “Louise, wait here a minute. I want to have a chat with you.”
“Hi, Louise is it?” Three of the girls from one of the other departments were standing by her desk.
“Yeah, that’s right.”
“Hi. Sorry, I’m terrible with names. I’m Mina,” she said confidently reaching out her hand for Louise to shake, “And this is Becky and Sam. We thought maybe you’d like to come for lunch with us?”
Sat in the pub around the corner from the office with Mina, Becky and Sam, Louise felt really lucky. Lucky that she had got such a great job so easily, and lucky that people were already being so nice to her. The girls all worked in the design department. Louise could tell that it was the most glamorous department in the company; and the three girls she was sat around the table with were quite possibly the three most glamorous girls in the company. Mina had gorgeous, long black silky hair with one of those heavy fringes that are so difficult to pull off. She had a permanent tan, and stunning green eyes. At almost 6 feet tall in her heels, she was by far the most striking girl in the group. Sam and Becky both had mousy brown hair. Sam had hers piled high on the top of her head in a messy bun. She was just as tan as Mina, but it looked like it took more effort. Becky had enviously wavy hair, beautiful lips and dark, dusky eyes trimmed with thick tortoise shell glasses that Louise suspected she only wore for fashion. Louise looked from gorgeous girl to gorgeous girl and was quietly happy to be the only blonde in the group.
“So girls,” Louise said between sips of the diet coke, “what’s the office gossip? Anyone you need to warn me about? Office romances?”
“Well,” Becky was glancing around the pub as if she was about to reveal a big secret, she leant her head closer to Louise in mock intimacy, “We think John is having an affair with one of the girls in finance.”
John was Louise’s boss. “Really? Who? I didn’t think there were any girls in finance.”
“There’s only one,” Sam said knowingly. Louise was unsure of where this was going.
“Don’t worry, we’ll introduce you later.”
The girls chatted as the hands on the clock swung round, unaware of the passing time. Only when they were well and truly overdue in returning from their lunch breaks did the gorgeous gaggle of girls scatter back to work; only Becky lingered for a moment, ‘Fancy meeting up for an evening? Dinner or something?’
‘Yes’ said a slightly unprepared Louise ‘sounds lovely’
‘There’s a lovely little bistro just by my flat, we could go there. You could then come back and see my famous attempts at interior design’
Louise, who didn’t know London, didn’t know Becky, didn’t know where her flat was, and didn’t know that she had any attempts at all, let alone famous ones, at interior design felt her mouth fall open and say ‘Can’t wait.’
‘That’s a date then – Thursday night.’ confirmed new friend Becky.
Back in the office, Louise gave little thought to her date, but couldn’t stop thinking about their lunchtime conversation. Office affairs? It was so exciting and so unreal, just like a soap – and she was in it! She decided to find out more about John’s life outside of work. She just couldn’t understand how a man could cheat on his wife. Cheap, scurrilous whore of a man! How could anyone do that to someone they love? And he wasn’t even being subtle about it! Louise was appalled. Louise was disgusted.
It was a “meh” day. One of those days that is best described by a shrug of the shoulders or a roll of the eyes. It was grey and it was hot. The city was full of the sounds of cars and buses and the streets were full of men in suits striding down the road and women in stilettos strutting along the pavement. Louise was neither strutting nor striding, Louise was running because Louise was late.
At home she’d always been one of those girls; she was pretty and slim and had blonde hair and blue eyes. She had a lovely boyfriend, a great mum and a perfect dad, a younger brother and sister and loads of friends who she loved spending time with. She had graduated university with a 1st in English, and had been accepted onto every graduate programme she had applied for. When she told her friends and family she was moving to London they were upset and jealous. Well her mum was upset and her friends were jealous. All mums would be upset, but Louise’s mum was particularly upset; she had a special need for Louise to be close, even though they rowed. ‘How’ she thought ‘could Louise be so selfish?’ Louise felt it, but pretended, even to herself, that she didn’t.
Louise knew this was a great opportunity; the beginning of the rest of her life. She was excited because she knew she was going to be a great success. Her family would be proud and her friends would be envious; and her mum would come to understand it was for the best. Sometimes you just have to follow your heart.
Arriving flushed and out of breath at the large glass doors, Louise couldn’t help but smile. Pushing them open, she slid into the white reception. Looking at her, you’d never have known she’d just run the five minute walk from the tube station to the building. Glancing at the list of companies on the sign on the wall, Louise quickly picked the 6th floor and drifted into the artificially bright lift. She checked her watch, right on time.
That morning was an exciting blur of new faces and new names. Everyone was smiling and chatting, she knew she was going to love her new job. It was exactly what she had wanted since she was a little girl.
When Louise was six, she had visited London with her mum and Nanna. They had gone into all of the big shops; Selfridges, Hamleys, Harrods. They had eaten a yummy lunch at the hotel, and even had afternoon tea at the Ritz. London was a mixture of fear and excitement. It pinched the uneasy nerve of a little girl’s fear; so many streets, so many roads, so many dark alleys – she held her mum’s hand as tight as a six year old can. It was an amazing maze of streets she had thought. It would be so easy to get lost in London.
But the excitement she felt was seeing the glamorous ladies and men in suits and ties, carrying briefcases and umbrellas rushing about and going to work. “When I grow up Mummy, I want to go to work in a big office like that one. And don’t the ladies look so pretty in their suits?” Since that day, Louise knew she was destined to work in the city in a shiny bright open plan office. And there she was, sat at her own desk with her own computer, surrounded by lovely bubbly office boys and girls. It was like a dream come true.
Scrape is a story about a girl who, like so many other girls her age, is going through a major transition in her life. For those who haven’t experienced it or for those who have forgotten, it might not seem that what she is going through is very important at all and even for her it doesn’t seem all too significant; but it is. Louise might be a little self-absorbed and maybe even a little selfish at times and it might be these characteristics that stop her from noticing the important events that are taking place around her, or it could be that if you or I were in her situation we wouldn’t notice either – but that isn’t important. What is important is this: Scrape is a story in which nothing is as it seems but in the end everyone will find that the mysteries that were the most difficult to solve were the ones with the most obvious solution.
About me and about this blog
I am writing this blog as a different way of getting one of my stories out there. It is more of an experiment than anything else, an experiment in social media, and a way to encourage myself to write every day. Scrape is a story I started over a year ago, and recently it has fallen to the back-burner, another story I was writing took priority- but no more. I don’t want to be unfair to my characters by leaving them in limbo, not knowing what will happen and completely confused, so I have returned to them and in order to do them justice I am publishing them on the internet. Some, like Louise, will love the opportunity for publicity and so, like Billy, will not – but as they are figments of my imagination I can do with them what I will, and they can’t object.
Despite the ending of that last paragraph, I am not completely crazy. I am a twenty-something PA who enjoys writing in her spare time, although I don’t have as much of it as I would like. If you would like to find out a bit more about me you can visit my website.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy. Feel free to comment, but if you’re super mean you’ll make me sad