Another great competition on Authonomy Flash Fiction Friday thread. The challenge this week was The Perfect Form set as usual by our lovely leader Miss Lilian.
Anyway this was my feeble offering.
I Don’t Want to Work in Tesco
See, I need this job – I really do.
My mum has never had any faith in me, “Oh Gilly why don’t you go and get a job in Tesco, Marjie from next door has a job on the checkout. She gets all the damaged packets cheap. Get a job in Tesco, you know you never were any good at school. Don’t go getting ideas above your station. It’ll end in tears, look what happened to our Sylvia.”
Aunt Sylvia had “got ideas above her station.” When she left school they thought she would go into the canning factory with the rest of the girls from her class but she hadn’t wanted to, she wanted to be a nurse. She didn’t so much want to “be” a nurse as to nurse. She had a deep and abiding need to comfort and help and so she had struggled with the entrance exams, this was in the days when nurses actually worked on the wards not in University classrooms and she had loved it – she had been good at it and she had blossomed. The family had pursed their lips and with mouths like cat’s arses had shaken their heads, it’ll go badly they said and it did.
Poor Sylvie, she had “taken up” with a student doctor, not at all approved of in those days and the upshot was that she lost her place, lost her will to live and on a rainy Manchester night she had swallowed a handful of pills and gone to nurse the babies in heaven, well that’s what I was told. I was only a kid then and lies and subterfuge were the things that floated our communal family boat. Granddad hadn’t been a drunk, he’d had a sore stomach from the war. Granny wasn’t a downtrodden depressive she was “sensitive” on account of burning her arm on the fire when she was a child and so on – you get the idea.
We were all supposed to know our places, keep to them and not try to climb out from under. The thought of Tesco and damaged packages makes me feel physically sick and so I stuck it out at school and managed a handful of reasonable O levels, a couple of A levels and a place in college.
“I don’t know what you want to be messing about with them computers for our Gilly. They won’t last, they’re just a fad. Get a job in the sandwich place, people’ll always want to eat.”
Anyway, I struggled on and now here I am, I’ve been here for six months and I love it. I wear my own clothes, business casual. That means that I can wear trousers but not jeans, a blouse but not a T shirt and no trainers. I have a cubical of my own and every day I climb down from the train and join all the geeks and secretaries and managers and it thrills me, it thrills me deep down inside. I know how Aunt Sylvia must have felt fastening on her fob watch and pinning on her hat and scissor chain.
It’s wonderful, but today, I knew it had to happen, of course I did, but today the blow fell. My first solo assignment. Mr Crowther smiled when he gave it to me, I think he would have squeezed my shoulder but of course that’s inappropriate but in all of that I knew, I could tell. I musn’t screw this up. Everyone these days is aware that the place is struggling, most offices now do this work “in house” and there has been talk of redundancy. Please don’t let me have screwed it up. I had to submit the work straight after lunch. It’s three o clock now and Mr Crowther has been in the office with the clients for ages.
I can’t breathe, my mouth’s dry but the thought of drinking anything, even my water makes me feel ill. I’m sweaty and clammy and hot and scared and excited and I think I’m going to burst.
He’s coming – shit he’s coming.
“Ah Gilly. I need to speak to you in my office. If you will?”
“Oh bum. I’ve screwed it up haven’t I? It’s not my fault. Well yes it is my fault. My mum was right I was aiming too high, reaching for the stars when I should have made do with the top of the trees. My knees are jelly. I haven’t been here long enough to earn redundancy money. I musn’t cry. One thing that I musn’t do is cry.
“Mr Crowther, you wanted to see me?”
“Yes, Gilly sit down. I have met with the clients as you probably know. I did explain to them that this was your first solo assignment and that if they weren’t happy we would put one of the other teams onto their account. They are quite difficult and we have had problems with them in the past.”
Oh just get on with it, let’s get it over
“Anyway, they have indicated that they are more than happy with the work that you have done and in fact we are going straight into production, the first print run will be tomorrow. Tell me my dear where did you get the idea.”
“Oh, erm. Well I just looked at what they wanted to ask and then wrote it down. Instinctively I think.”
“Well you have good instincts, hang on to them. They said that as far as they were concerned it was perfect – the perfect form – was what they actually said and so simple. Just a square box with ‘Tell Us What You Think’ above it. Simple, clean and clear.
That’s what they said “The Perfect Form.” Well done my dear well done.
but head over to the competition proper and see the other super stories all on this same theme – and some funny and interesting back and forth between the thread participants.
and don’t miss Tonia’s which is obviously going to be a runaway winner even though voting isn’t closed quite yet