Suddenly, Someone Brings Up Hemingway #4



The BBC news droned on in the back of the room.

“…five cars and a lorry at Junction 25…”

Coffee smelled better than it tasted. There was no arguing that. The office had chipped in and bought a mini barista at Christmas. It did not matter that we used the generic beans. The smell snaked through the room. It was God-dammed lush. The top of the day morphed into mid-morning. People moved about the office. Everyone talked fast. They laughed at random information that featured heavily in their lives. People droned on about television shows and the football.

“…the driver of the SUV had been travelling south-bound…”

Everyone smelled clean. The clinical nature of office attire made the clipped chit-chat and general anecdote trading appear like something out of an advert on antiperspirant.

“…police are questioning the lorry driver who is from Lithuania…”

People yammered on the phone. Others tapped away on the keyboards. I’d been mentally skiving since 8:45am doing just enough work to exculpate getting this job. Someone decided they preferred tea to coffee. Janine asked if anyone else wanted a hot drink. She was taking the kettle to go get water. Only two people wanted tea. One said he would not bother because there was no milk. Someone said they drank green tea. The debate on green tea versus regular black tea morphed into how many atheists there were in the office.

“…the M1 South is open again…”

The tally was three atheists, one ex-Catholic agnostic, a Buddhist, and the rest C of E. Someone mentioned the Green Man and everyone decided that pagans had it rough. Everyone switched to spread sheets when the manager walked in.

“…in other news, a rare Grevy’s zebra is born at Chester Zoo…”

The manager motions to me to follow her. Her eyes looked watery. Her lips were taut. As I walk through the corridors, I notice people in other offices going about the day as I have. I spot Stubbings. He owes me £5. I see Hayley. I wonder what she will be making for tea tonight. She always talks about what she will be making. I walk into reception with the manager. There are two policemen standing there. She introduces me to them. My heart begins to race. She leads us to the boardroom off reception and closes the door.

“…regret that your husband did not make it…” he said.

“I’m sorry…” she said.

I remembered the BBC news had droned on in the back of the room.

About A. E. Wallace aka [EL] Selkie

Ann Wallace holds a degree from the University of Texas at El Paso in Mass Communications and minored in Creative Writing. She worked at the NBC Affiliate Newschannel9 in El Paso, was a journalist for the El Paso Diocese Catholic Newspaper, held writing workshops with The Tumblewords Project, performed as a Slam Poet and published poetry in small literary magazines. She is now an ex-pat in the UK where she lives, knits, games, works and writes. View all posts by A. E. Wallace aka [EL] Selkie

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