Chapter Three, Part Two
Louise’s morning was hectic. She had lost her support network of Tim and Hannah; the next participant of her induction process had not materialised and she suspected that she may be on her own from here on. People were expecting her to deliver. She felt simultaneously unprepared and determined not to fail.
By 10.00, she had completed the C-Pac report for John. Hannah had only showed her yesterday – she hoped she had got it right.
She skipped to his office and offered him the document. He looked at her, didn’t take the document; and said, “Email it.”
She felt awkward, not sure whether to leave the document on his desk or take it away again. She smiled the biggest smile she could muster, and with all the enthusiasm she had left that had not been deflated, she chirped “will do chief.”
“John, is a little curt”, she said to herself as she left his office, “or something like that,” she added.
She passed Tim’s desk on the way back to hers. Why she flicked his tie, she had no idea, but she did, and added a girlie skip as she bounced out of range. He blushed with a look of frustration rather than modesty. People in London aren’t half as much fun as people at home.
By 12.00, she was ready for lunch and went looking for Mina and the girls.
“So how are you finding your first week?” Mina was looking glamorous as usual, pushing her salad around her plate.
“Hectic,” Louise couldn’t decide whether to say more.
“Yeah, first weeks are like that,” Becky looked sympathetic, “So what’s the deal with you and Tim?” Louise wished she’d said more.
“The deal? What do you mean?” Louise tried to sound disinterested, she wasn’t sure she succeeded.
“Well we all think he likes you,” Mina said with a smile.
“Really?” Louise knew she wasn’t sounding disinterested.
“Well I have a boyfriend, so…”
“Yeah, but we all know how that goes.” Becky said knowingly.
Louise wasn’t sure what Becky meant – how that goes. She didn’t want to ask. The girls didn’t seem to mind if people had affairs or cheated on their boyfriends or girlfriends. Louise wasn’t like them, she didn’t want to be.
“I love Mark” Louise sounded defensive; “I don’t want anyone else.”
The subject quickly changed back to work, and Louise felt slightly awkward. They talked about office parties and Friday night drinks. They wondered how some people got away with strolling in at 10:30 when they all started at 9 on the dot. Then Louise remembered something,
“Oh my God,” she exclaimed suddenly brightening up, “this morning when I came in there was a really grumpy guy under your desk, Sam.”
“What?” Sam looked confused, “Oh, that’s Sean. He works in IT.”
“He’s a bit, odd,” Mina said thoughtfully.
“Odd? That’s putting it lightly,” Sam laughed, “he doesn’t talk much. Or at all. But he is like an IT genius.”
Like an IT genius, Louise thought, “I’ll remember that. I’m crap with computers.”
As the girls headed back to the office, Louise and Becky were walking side by side. Louise hadn’t noticed it before but Becky looked just like one of her friends from home, they could almost have been sisters. She felt relaxed being with someone so familiar.
“Don’t forget about tonight,” Becky said with a smile as she skipped towards the stairs. Louise wondered why anyone would walk the six flights of stairs to the office, but Mina, Sam and Becky all headed towards the stairs. “We need the exercise,” Becky laughed as the white Fire Doors swung shut behind her. Louise was alone waiting for lift. She composed herself, and mentally tried to psych herself up for the afternoon ahead.
As she took the lift back up to the 6th Floor, she checked her reflection in the shiny walls. “Still looking good,” she said out loud to herself. On the third the doors opened and in walked Tim. He looked flustered. As the doors slid shut, she slid up to him and stood so close her breasts were pressing against his chest and their noses almost touched.
‘Hello Timothy, isn’t it time we got to know each other better?’ she said as she fiddled with the knot of his tie.
The lift stopped. “No, I . . . I . . no,” said Tim as the doors opened on the fifth floor. Louise stepped away, two suits walked in and Tim jumped out, preferring to take the stairs. He glanced back at her as the doors slammed shut, Louise couldn’t read the look in his eyes but she knew it wasn’t fear.
Louise was taken up to the sixth floor by the lift and taken aback by Tim’s reaction. Didn’t he fancy her? Didn’t he like women? What was the matter with him?
Louise reminded herself that she really was beautiful. She could see the evidence all around her in the mirrored walls of the lift, she could see the evidence in the whispered looks of the two suited men sharing the small space with her. As she left the lift, she did her I’m hot walk. She concentrated as her high heeled feet placed themselves in a straight line in front of each other, her hips swayed side to side, her belt like a yacht rocking in a seductive sea, her back straightened stiff and proud, her breasts sitting slightly higher, her chin a little too far out. Louise looked hot as she strutted towards her desk. It was a strut that she could not maintain; a strut that got diluted and deflated with every step. She left the lift like Naomi Campbell – they don’t come haughtier, and arrived at her desk like Patrick Campbell – dead in the water.
The afternoon saw her with her head down, and her PC working over time. Her fingers working fast, her brain working faster, remembering not what Tim had said to her in the lift but what he had said to her at his desk when teaching her the system. Why didn’t she listen better – she had been more intent on seeing if she could get his blood to rush to places it shouldn’t. She had counted his blushes and played with his emotions. Now she was on her own, fiercely fighting to remember what he had told her; eager to produce her best work, desperate to impress, determined to get it right. Page after page she typed, two excel tables she inserted, more text she typed, and then her first attempt at a pivot table. Yes, she had got it right, then it happened; and it reminded her of what she had forgotten.
The screen froze, then shone bright white, then died black. Her PC had crashed. All her work was gone. She had forgotten to save. She stared at the screen and wondered if anyone was having a worse day.