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The floor was quietening down as the sun filtered through the windows. Not many people were about now, a couple of managers pottering around gathering documents for the next morning’s meetings, the overzealous work experience student happily tapping away at someone else’s work. I had some degree of pity for him; he’d well and truly been had this time; preparing 6 months worth of reports meant the difference between a colleague of mine getting out at lunchtime and staying until well past eight!

All I had to do was reply to the afternoon’s emails and then I could go. There were no phone calls the needed chasing up and as I waited for them to load I traced the dust motes in the air. Quietly the CPU’s hummed all around, a comforting sound removed from silence. The thunk-cerchunk of the photocopier shuddering into life echoed down the cubicles from the other side of the office. Nothing moved. I smiled to myself, knowing why I liked working late on Fridays. Perfect time to get things done, no nonsense with Freda and Pearl bitching over my chair trying to determine who has lost the most weight, who has the best new heels and who will pull the hottest bloke at the club this weekend. As soon as it hit 3.15 they logged out grabbed their bags and headed for the ladies loos. Then, emerging at four on the dot they were coated in lashings of makeup and usually, totally different clothes, ready to hit the local wine bar and then work their way further into town, aiming to get in, sleep and then do it again on Saturday.

Not that I didn’t appreciate a drink or two, I just preferred to make it part of say, lunch with friends or a shopping trip, Sunday lunch. This weekend, I mused, I would be going up West with a friend from University for a day of pampering and delicious treats. Facials, Massages – the works, followed by a shopping tour de force. Perfect for the changeable autumnal weather. I had my list for what I wanted to get, the basics mainly, new vest tops, skirts (pencil, mid-calf and mini) roll necks, a brand new winter coat and some shoes and boots. Everything was itemised and entered into my notebook, with a list of where I could get it. Regimented, I know, but it ensured I had the things I needed. And, naturally, once you have those you have ample room for those “Just got to have it purchases”.

Somewhere along the lines I had begun swinging my legs around idly in my chair and managed to smack a passing manager squarely behind the knees. Blushing a deep red, I apologised, but she stalked off without acknowledging it, all brand-name suit and icy manner. I clearly hadn’t meant to! Try as I might, I can never quite grasp being all cool and collected; no-one’s every going to hail me as a sophisticate! Not at all, I’m the clumsy and disorderly one.

As I tapped away at the mind-numbing e-mails the pangs of hunger hit me. They never bothered me in the morning, I could easily go from breakfast until lunch without even thinking about food, but here I was at five-thirty, fighting with the munchies. I rummaged in the lower drawer of my desk. I wonder what my boss would have thought if she’d actually bothered to look in there once in a while. Aside from the croissant which I’d put in there this morning, there were several chocolate bars, bags of sweets, mints and all manner of such things. Not necessarily for consumption at work, but so I would have them on hand. It always pays to have things on hand. Now I sat brushing the flaky pastry away from my jumper as I finished the last communication for the day and logged off.

The sun was lower now, barely peeping below the neighbouring rooftops. It filtered onto the floor showing another days' worth of dust and dirt in the pile. I tugged my coat on knowing it would only just be warm enough for the walk home. I smiled at the thought of getting the snuggly winter coat the next day. Until then this summer jacket and a scarf would have to do. I screwed up the paper wrapper from the croissant into a ball and aim it towards the bin. It goes in and I do a victory pose. Another worker in the late-working exodus stares at me nonplussed and continues. Stretching, I pull the hair band out of my hair and shake it loose down my shoulders.

Before I go to leave I check my phone for texts. There’s one from my older sister, inviting me for a drink this evening. I text back and then head for the lift. It feels like it takes forever to descend, like it is powered by little creatures who fall asleep after regular office hours.  I sign out and head for the revolving doors. Oh how I hate them! No matter how long I have worked there I always manage to come to a juddering halt or trip up or something else equally stupid much to the amusement of the Security Guards on the front desk. Why they can’t just unlock the side door of an evening I don’t know.  

The breeze bites as I step out into the open. It whips up all the leaves in the walled garden around the doors (where the smokers sit) and crunch with a dead finality. I tighten my scarf and head out the gates, along the tree lined avenue. There are no flowers left now underfoot and above is the aching void of bare branches. Their leavings crunch underfoot as I go; the sun now low on the horizon and birds chirruping with joy at the oncoming dusk. Few cars come this way at this time of day. It is lonely as I walk, and you would hardly blame me for being jumpy in the darker months, were I inclined to be so. The sky was a washy grey-blue, the clouds glowed a dirty pink, giving an effect that overall looked like the residue of a child’s paint box.

I sat down on the bench and took a deep breath of the evening, drinking in everything – the sight of the sky above me and the earth below, of the people rushing past me; on their way home, to lovers, to children, to family, to friends. I sniff the scents on the breeze: burgers, curry, leaves, and bonfire. I feel the pressure of the cool air on my exposed hands, every slight gust on a hair. It feels good, I feel alive. I am drunk on the evening.

I get up and I go home.





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