Short Story 3 – It Could Happen Too Easily / Nearly Autobiographical

It Could Happen Too Easily / Nearly Autobiographical

(A semi-autobiographical Story) 

Written by Lucy Shaw

Published on her blog on 14th September 2013

A-ha, thought the sarcastic voice that lived within Clara’s head. It’s going to be one of those days is it? The belt loop on the jeans from which Clara had been strategically using as a means of hoisting the jeans over her hips had snapped in her hand, leaving the top of the belt loop smugly in place whilst its counterpart hung limply below. Determined to not have ‘one of those days’, she inspected the damage with her finger. Yep, one small hole. Finding a baggy top that covered the small hole and landed just below the belt line, Clara felt smug. First challenge of the day had been met head on. She was ready. Even though it was a Monday she was ready. Ready, ready, ready. OK after one more coffee she would be well on her way to face the day. Heading downstairs, Clara made her coffee and got ready to leave the house. Riding the high of the jeans challenge she decreed that with the sun trying to shine, as an act of encouragement, today she would wear a small jacket rather than a huge winter coat, she got in her car and off she went.

The drive to work went by without notice, leaving Clara to believe that the worst was over. Rookie error.

Oh yes! Clara was feeling like a winner as the lift doors opened. She had even managed to check out the hair and make up on the mirrored walls within the lift without getting caught, and as she winked at herself in the mirror, Clara mentally scolded herself, it was only 9am and far too early to be classing the day a success, but it certainly was a great start. Especially considering she still had at least two high level meetings to get through. A quick look on her phone and Clara changed course and instead of her desk she went straight to the canteen where her work wife Louise was already in the queue for breakfast. Deciding to ignore the voice in her head informing her that she had, in fact, already eaten a healthy cereal for breakfast, Clara smiled at Louise already at the front of the queue and pointed at the nearest table and joined the end of the line. As Clara could smell the bacon, sausages and butter it was a cacophony of delights that managed to overcome the now screaming voice in her head, shouting out ‘that oatmeal was plenty satisfactory thank you.’ Clara watched as Louise was awarded bacon bap, she grabbed some sachets of sauces with a nod at Clara to confirm that she had picked up enough sundries for both of them. Louise got her food and took it over to the aforementioned table and prepared her bap for consumption. Clara decided to get the same and eventually made her way to the table with Louise.

“Hi Clara, how you doing?” It took a few tries for Clara to process what was said. This was because frankly she wasn’t listening properly, she was too focused on opening the bap and getting the bacon lined up, and second because Louise was asking the question with a mouth full of food. Lovely.

“Am alright doll, going to be better once I have eaten this!” Clara reached for one of the ketchup sachets. Aiming for the helpful ‘tear here’ hint, Clara grunted when after several attempt the packet would not divulge of it wares. Throwing it on the table Clara angrily went for the second packet with the same gusto. This sachet was all too well aware of its purpose in life and was far too eager to serve. In slow motion, but not, the packet was ripped open and needless to say, the sauce ended up all over Clara’s top and onto her jacket. Clara groaned and closed her eyes to mentally prepare herself before she assessed the damage.  Louise, had very thoughtfully, jumped up to get more napkins. Given the amount of ketchup that had made its getaway, some even as far as the wall, Clara had the sense that napkins were just not going to cut it. Sure enough as Clara lowered her head and a big glob of ketchup fell off her nose and onto her bosom she knew it was bad. Louise returned holding the napkins as far in front of her as she could. Whether this was because she didn’t want to get any ketchup on herself or because she was afraid of Clara’s reaction remains unknown. Clara calmly picked up the first sachet the one that refused to budge and gracefully opened it without any resistance or complication. Clara slowly spread the ketchup on her bacon bap replaced the top and took a bite, having made no effort to clean up any of the ketchup on her person and instead gracefully crossed her legs and quietly ate the whole thing.

Louise suggested that they go the ladies, Clara assumed this was so that something magical would transpire between now and when she stepped back out of the ladies. The best they could do was to rinse the jacket then dry it under the hand dryer. Clara scrubbed at her face and looked at herself in the mirror wondering if the red on her face was from the force of removing the ketchup or a stain that had been left behind. Looking at the state of her jacket she had to think that maybe her face was stained for life. There was little to be done with Clara’s top. Being that it was cream. Clara was also devastated to discover that it was somehow all over her bra as well. With gritted teeth she remembered that she had left a gym kit in the car and asked Louise if she would mind going to get it for her.

“Louise, do me a favour and just stick a post-it note on my bosses desk telling her I will be back in ten.”

“Sure, no problem.”

Whilst she was on her own Clara tried a little smile and a little laugh at the situation. It didn’t work. It was too soon. With a groan she continued trying to dry off the jacket. A quick check of her long dark hair and she was grateful that none of the sauce had landed in it. At least it didn’t feel like it had but it did have a smell of tomato about it that definitely didn’t come from the shampoo used that morning.

When Louise returned a little while later she had the sought after gym bag in her hand. Clara wished that the clothes fairies had put a lovely little work top in there for her. With a quick prayer she opened the bag knowing that realistically the possibilities of what may be inside the bag were not great. Worst case scenario it was an already worn gym kit that included a bright blue sports crop top. Best case scenario was a clean black sports vest. Clara said a little thank you as she pulled out the tight black sports vest, grateful that although she would have to show off her arms all day, and that she would not be able to breathe out once, that at least her mid-drift was covered. Just. Ducking into the cubicle Clara quickly changed. She threw on the now blushing damp jacket and decided that there wasn’t any need to really look in the mirror. Ignorance can indeed be bliss, she though to herself.

On the way back to her desk Clara looked over to find her boss. The desk was empty and there was no post-it note. Confused Clara quickly wrote a new Post-It in the event that her boss would wonder where she was.

“Covered in Red, but will be OK. Check my diary.” And with that Clara quickly grabbed her laptop and ran to her first meeting.

Luckily at the meeting Clara did not cause any incidents and for this she was grateful that at least two hours of her day would not be marred by any upset. Well, besides the fact that she could always smell ketchup anyway. There were a couple of strange looks at her edited outfit choice, but then Clara reasoned, she got those sorts of looks on a regular basis. In fact, the worst that had happened in the meeting had been that she had lost her wireless connection and so hadn’t been able to access her emails.

When Clara returned to her desk there were few people about, looking at the clock she saw that it was lunch time. Well. lunch time for a Monday, which typically started about 11.30am.  Deciding that they all had the right idea she nipped out to the sandwich shop. Apart from spending too long trying to push a door that said pull, it was pretty uneventful, especially when Clara decided to opt for no sauce. Getting back to her desk, Clara connected and fired up her emails. 20 seemed a bit excessive for a morning, but again it wasn’t unheard of especially if there was an important piece of office gossip. The top email was a Message Recall. Knowing better than to open a recall and lose whatever piece of information shouldn’t have been shared, Clara ignored it and went straight to the email in question. It was from the New Girl. It was probably a pointless email that she accidentally sent to the department, like last week for example, when she emailed everyone to tell them she was finishing early, to get her bikini wax done. Like anyone cared, well some of the office had but Clara hadn’t been particularly bothered. Until it got to the bit about va-jazzling.

Clara tried to concentrate on what she was reading her head buzzing about all over the place picking out key words that suggested she had been copied into some juicy gossip. Unfortunately the rather large sauce-less sandwich and the not-to-be-talked-about bacon bap from this morning had left her feeling bloated and huge. The sports top was showing it all off, the tight stretchy sports top having the equivalent effect as a neon sign pointing to her gut. Clara took a deep breath and pulled up her jeans and pulled her sports top down trying to smother the worse of it. Breathing out she looked back at the email, it looked like a picture at the bottom of the email and just as she was about to scroll down to find out, the phone on her desk rang, it was Jemima informing her that the meeting she had spent all week preparing for, the one with the visitors from the other office, and her boss’s boss, had been moved to now, and could she “hot foot it upstairs immediately”. Clara slammed down the top of her laptop and hurried off to the lifts.

The lift Gods really were with her today, Clara thought as the ping signalled the lift was already ready for her, the doors parted and the lift was gloriously empty. Perfect. With a little wiggle Clara faced the mirrors and checked her appearance. She leaned in and smiled to discover that some of the salad from the sandwich was stuck between her choppers. Disengaging it with her fingers and a quick suck from the tongue and she was ready to go.

“Phew that would’ve been close-” of course that’s when the doors open and yes there stood a group of good looking men in suits, looking around the lift, all wondering who the hell she was talking too. Clara mentally slapped her head, smiled her biggest smile and walked through them towards the meeting rooms, without tripping up and successfully guessing right, her way through the push door.

Clara took a deep breath as she knocked and entered the meeting room. Looking round she saw that it had all been set up for her to deliver a presentation. Which was a good job really because in her rush she had forgotten to bring the paper reports? Clara was introduced and before she knew it she was stood in front of them all putting the wires into her laptop to ensure it would show on the projector. She opened the lid as one of the members immediately asked a question. Without looking at the screen behind her of the laptop in front of her Clara answered the question that had been posed. It was quite a technical question but she felt relieved that for this one at least, she knew the answer. That was a good start. When she was finished replying, her boss’s boss was coughing and pointing to the screen. Slowly Clara looked around and saw that the last thing she had been working on was still on her screen. The emails. The email that should have been recalled but that she was reading anyway. The email from the New Girl. The email that should have been about an early finish but wasn’t. The emails wasn’t about the weather. The email was a picture. Best case scenario it could have been a cute kitten or puppy. It wasn’t. It could’ve been her work photo ID. It was, but that wasn’t just it. Oh god who’s bloody buggery stupid idea was this. Oh right, Clara thought it was hers. They had been taking it in turns to use the pictures taken for work ID’s and run them through an app to show what any two employees baby would look like. It was something her team did. Every now and again. Normally they put the two original pictures on the top and the resulting offspring underneath. Sure enough the New Girl was learning fast. This was awful, thought Clara just plain painfully awful. That awfulness that made you feel hot and sick and sweaty, but also a bit cold, numb and dazed all at once. Made worse by the fact the New Girl had picked a really good couple. The offspring created was monstrous. So for completing the task the result was ten out of ten. It was just a shame that of the two people used to create this one was sat right in front of her. Clara’s good self paired with none other than her Boss’s Boss.

“Clara, I am not sure that you are the right person for this presentation at this point. Wouldn’t you agree? Perhaps we should discuss your Project at the next Multi-Managers Group. In the mean time make sure to schedule a meeting with me for first thing in the morning. Thank you.” Ah, thought Clara, that’s what it felt like to get tactfully and professionally dismissed from a meeting, no raised voice no shock horror just a professional request to leave. As she disconnected the wires Clara would have preferred an outright confrontation leaving her a chance for an explanation. But this. This. All Clara could do was exactly as requested. As she walked back out of the meeting room she closed the door quietly behind her and went straight to Jemima the PA.

“That was quick Clara, I haven’t seen anyone present something so quickly. I am impressed.”

“Er yeah, listen the boss wants me to ask you to set up a meeting for tomorrow. But I am sure that there is no availability.”

“Well, yes short notice like that is a bit tricky but let me have a look in his calendar. Oh hang on.” Jemima’s face paled. She read something on the screen, quickly glanced up at Clara and went back to the screen. Jemima coughed.

“Erm, it appears that the calendar has become a bit more available. I would recommend meeting at 9am?” Clara did not buy the recommendation for a minute, she did however think that Jemima was worth every penny. She clearly had received an email informing her that she was to make the appointment possible no matter what she had to reschedule and yet she was incredibly diplomatic and tactful.

“9 am would be fine. Thank you. See you later Jemima, thanks again.”

By the time Clara got back to her desk there was an email meeting invite from Jemima, for tomorrow, goddamn that girl was quick. Clara had no recollection of how she came back to her desk. But the one thing she did know was that she needed chocolate. Again her boss was not at her desk, but she must have been at some point because the post-its kept disappearing, and her colleagues were nowhere to be seen either. Writing out a third post-it that said:

Another emergency, back ASAP.

Clara slowly made her way to the canteen towards the chocolate. She couldn’t help but notice the cleaner desperately trying to get a red stain out of the wall. With a grimace Clara made her way to the till her chosen chocolate in hand. She was losing the will. If the chocolate didn’t work then she might just have to go back to bed.

“You alright Clara you look a bit pale. You didn’t have the best start to the day did you?”

“I am sure I will be better once I have eaten this,” and with that Clara went back to her desk. Again the Post-It on her managers desk had disappeared. Clara studied her emails again and decided that from now on she would just complete an email recall if it was so suggested. Suddenly Clara’s boss came up behind her and tapped her gently on the shoulder.

“I got your post-it’s, managed to go out and get you these.” Clara looked down to see her boss was holding a Boots bag. Handing it to her Clara said,

“Oh you shouldn’t have-” Confusion reigned supreme. In the bag was a box of regular tampons. “- I don’t, erm thank you???”

“Do you not need them I ran out and got them specially. After the Post-its I assumed…”

Clara was lost, in an office stationary based ocean. Completely lost and at sea. The Post-it’s the dammed Post-its.

“What did the first one say?” Clara asked her cheeks beginning to heat up.

“Well, it just said that there had been a nasty accident in the canteen and that you would be back ASAP. The second one said that you were-” the boss’ voice lowered “it said that you were covered in red and that you will be OK and that you should’ve checked your diary, and then the third one said that there had been another emergency. So you don’t need these then or do you?”

Clara was struck speechless.

“No, I got red sauce as in ketchup all over me this morning, I had to change tops and that’s why my jacket looks a weird colour. I then had an awful meeting and here we are.” Clara’s boss burst out laughing and had to grab the back of her seat to catch her breath. Clara wished she could do the same. Suddenly she was exhausted. She just couldn’t believe all the things that happened in one day. Not even a day in just 5 hours.

“Erm if it’s ok,I am going to finish early today, I don’t think I can take much more.” Clara muttered the last part to herself.

“Oh sure that’s no problem you have hours owing anyway.” She was still laughing. “Enjoy your evening.”

Clara closed down her laptop and gathered her things. Deciding that if she took her laptop home she could get some work done to show why she should still have a job after 9am tomorrow. Grabbing her laptop bag she felt it catch on something, yanking the strap she heard a rip and then the bag settled on her shoulder. Clara walked through the floor and towards the lifts at the other end, nearest where her car was parked. Again the only thing working right for her today was the lift and it was patiently waiting for her. As the doors opened she got in and turned to face the doors eager for a quick exit. As she turned there was a flash of unexpected colour. She turned again and saw that the jeans had ripped. Not just a little bit but from the belt loop down to her butt pocket and the whole pocket was now flapping in the breeze like a flag. In summary Clara’s ass, courtesy of the thong she was wearing, was on show to the world. With no long jacket to cover it up and only a tight sporty vest top all Clara could do was pray that no one wanted to use the lift. With dread Clara realised that the laptop bag had caught on her belt loop, the one she had broken that morning. With a feeling of nausea Clara finally realised that she had walked down the corridor at work, with her arse on display.

A few hours later and she recapped the events of the day with her nearest and dearest over a bottle or two of wine, holding up the Jeans that had started it all. Looking through the hole that was left she watched as her friends were creased over laughing and not being able to breathe. Clara could feel one side of her lip start to raise. Before she knew it she was smiling and before long she was on the floor beside them doubled up with laughter producing the occasional snort as she tried to catch her breath.

**The next morning**

Clara found a pair of tights that didn’t have any ladders, a dress that didn’t need ironing and the copy of the report she was going to present at the meeting yesterday. She got in the car and got to work without incident. She got to the meeting room where her boss’s boss said,

“Well, Clara we have some matters to discuss today regarding your professionalism and one count of nudity in the workplace.”

Clara couldn’t breathe. All the air in her lungs had been forcibly removed she felt winded. Nudity in the work place! Oh God, those Jeans. She was getting fired today. Right now. Clara went pale and green all at once and then…

“Hahahaha no I can’t do it.” Her Boss’s boss burst out laughing. “Sit down and tell me everything that happened to you yesterday. Your boss was telling me about some of it but I need to hear it from you. You’re awful day could still be turned around yet, from what I have head I think it will make an excellent advertising campaign.”

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