Short Story 17: Beginnings
[One from the archives a.k.a. my old USB sticks. Finding a host of short stories which I forgot all about, so I will be sharing them here over the next few months – after some much needed editing, of course. Most of them were written as part of a writing course I signed up to years ago so they were based on themes which I can’t remember at the moment. Hope you enjoy them.]
‘Are you alright?’
Angie looked up from her recently organised desk and into a freckled smiling face. She couldn’t remember the girl’s name but she smiled back. ‘I’m just a bit tired,’ she answered slowly.
‘You know you don’t have to do so much work today since it’s your first day,’ the nameless girl carried on in a chitchat tone. ‘No one will notice anything you do for about a week or if you’re lucky even longer than that.’
For the second time, Angie smiled politely. She wasn’t sure how to deal with the friendly girl who didn’t seem to be going anywhere. In fact, the girl had positioned herself firmly at the edge of her desk, nearly knocking over the jar of pencils close by. Nameless girl grinned and shook her head.
‘You don’t remember my name, do you? Darren over there introduced us about an hour ago.’ She made a gesture towards the only other person in the room, a short balding man with crooked teeth who had given Angie the grand tour of her new office building.
Now Angie had to make an effort to remember her name. She already felt slightly embarrassed that she had been caught out and didn’t want to give the impression that she didn’t care enough to remember names. She ran her stubby fingers through her thick greying locks in an attempt to recall the long list of names that had been thrown at her earlier on.
‘Rachel?’ she blurted out more as a question than a certainty.
Nameless girl smiled. ‘So you remember. For a minute there I thought you hadn’t the faintest clue who I was.’
‘From the photocopying room,’ it was coming back to Angie now. Darren had shown her round the six-office room floor and shot out names and positions as they went by without bothering to see if she was coping. She really couldn’t be expected to remember all that information so she had given up after the fourth room and started praying she wouldn’t need to recall most of them so early. She would have to learn soon though. She needed to keep this job and if cramming a hundred names and faces was what it took, she would do just that.
She had been more than shocked when Meyer Associates took her up as one of its clerical staff after constant rejections from less reputable and lower paying companies. Her interview had gone frightfully wrong when her skirt had caught on a loose nail as she stood up to leave and ripped with a loud noise. She had been so sure she had lost the job that when the letter of acceptance came, she called the company to re-confirm the information.
‘Are those your kids?’ Rachel asked, bringing her back to the present.
‘Grandchildren,’ Angie answered with pride.
The girl stared in shock at the pictures that formed a neat line on the desk. ‘I thought the grey hair was just premature, you look so young.’
Was that a compliment? ‘I’m 39 and you are right, it is premature. Started greying when I was 27 and I gave up on colour treatment a few years ago.’
‘Oh,’ Rachel was lost for words. When she had been introduced to the very pretty grey haired woman, she had tried guessing her age but this was a revelation. The only thing that caused doubt about Angie’s age was obviously her hair. Her skin was smooth and spotless on her face, with piercing grey eyes that lit up when she smiled. However she hadn’t seemed like a threat to the younger girl, which was probably why Rachel had gone over to make friends. She must have been a very young mother to have grandchildren who looked nothing less than five years old. Rachel decided not to pry and changed the topic. ‘Would you like to join me during the lunch break? I know all the good places around here,’ she offered instead.
‘You won’t be going anywhere if you keep up with that,’ Darren’s unmistakable voice boomed behind her. ‘Those documents look like they should have been filed an hour ago.’
Rachel rolled her eyes and mouthed ‘See you later’ to Angie, before heading for her own workspace.
‘Take no notice of her,’ Darren said, ‘she likes to talk.’
Angie smiled and nodded. Just like that, her new life had begun.