‘Another Monday,’ thought Alison as she gulped down the last of her daily caffeine hit. She looked round the office. Phil was beavering away as always, plugged into his computer, oblivious to the world. Janice and Pat were gossiping by the kettle, casting looks at Colette, who was sitting touching up her make-up for the hundredth time in the last half hour.
‘Another long week ahead,’ she thought. Rather than face the pile of forms to be processed on her desk, Alison got up and headed down to the secretary’s office. Moira sat, efficient and stern, behind reception as Alison entered.
‘Morning, Moira,’ Alison tried to be cheerful. ‘Good weekend?’ Moira looked up with a raised eyebrow.
‘That fed up already?’ Moira asked.
‘I don’t know what you mean by that,’ Alison remaining jovial. She knew Moira saw right through her.
‘There’s no mail for you,’ said Moira, as her phone rang and she turned away to answer it. Alison hesitated for a moment, then turned to leave. As she did so she bumped into the young man who had appeared behind her.
‘Sorry,’ she mumbled.
‘Not at all, no one’s fault.’ Alison looked up into the smile and blue eyes of Robert, the new Junior Partner. He’d only joined the firm last week but had already been the subject of much speculation by Janice and Pat round the kettle. Alison had heard enough to glean he was in his late twenties, straight out of law school, and unattached as far as anyone was able to ascertain. Alison could think of nothing to say in reply. She stood for an awkward moment staring into his eyes before hurrying past him. Robert watched her leave as he waited for Moira to finish on the telephone.
Back at her desk, Alison couldn’t stop replaying that moment over in her mind. This was ridiculous, she thought. Why was she obsessing about it? Why had she not just made polite conversation like any normal person? Why did she feel like she was back at school with a crush on the unobtainable Mark Tenpleton?
The rest of the morning passed in this distracted frame of mind. She gave up trying to process any forms when she realised she had processed the same one three times. She left the phone on the answering machine to avoid having to answer it and idly gazed at her computer screen, half-reading the latest celebrity gossip.
At lunchtime she sat in her usual seat in the work canteen. She saw Robert sitting with the other Junior Partners. Once, trying to steal a furtive glance, she was sure she had caught him looking over at her. She soon convinced herself she had imagined it, and reprimanded herself for being so girlish about the whole thing.
She managed a more productive afternoon. Putting those blue eyes like clear pools of water and that cool smile to the back of her mind, she worked through the pile of forms and by mid-afternoon had cleared her backlog of work. Just as she was considering if anyone would notice if she left early for the day, her email pinged with an incoming message. Her heart leapt when she noticed the sender: Robert Hughes. Maybe he had been looking at her after all. To her dismay she then saw that the message had been sent to all the staff in the office. It was an invite to drinks for the following evening, to welcome all the new Junior Partners. Robert was especially keen to meet people as he had new to the area and didn’t know anyone.
Alison smiled. So he was unattached, and looking to meet new people. She shut down her computer and quietly slipped out the office. Janice and Pat noted her departure and gave each other meaningful glances. Alison stepped out the office at 4.45. Enough time to make it to the shops and get something new to wear for tomorrow night.
Written for a creative writing course I am currently doing, an assignment looking at the difference between ‘showing’ and ‘telling’ when writing.
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