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Published on June 26th, 2011 | by Yellow Magpie0
Ann’s Story: Chapter Six – Where To Now?
As she got ready for work the next morning Ann felt a bit brighter. She decided she would try wearing one of the hair grips. She pulled some of her hair back off her face and put in the tortoise shell grip, then looking through a hand mirror at the back of her head, she admired how it made her hair look. It was sophisticated and even kind of sexy looking. She pulled down some tendrils around her face and was pleased with the effect.
On her way to the office she noticed she got a few glances from passers by, normally no one noticed her, she believed. She felt quite self-conscious, but was beginning to enjoy the novelty of being looked at.
When she arrived into work Julie and Alice were already there, engrossed in their work.
‘Morning Ann’, they said without glancing up from their desks. Ann, took off her coat, hung it up on the wooden clothes stand just inside the door and sat down to begin her days work, following the same routine she had for years.
‘Oh your hair is lovely like that Ann.’ Julie said.
Ann blushed, ‘oh do you like it?’
‘Yes it suits you away from your face,’
‘Thanks I just thought I would try something different,’ Ann was delighted with the compliment, though abashed. She felt a happy little song going on inside herself.
Mr Johnson, interjected her reverie and called her into his office.
‘Bad news I’m afraid Ann, the new partner is bringing his own secretary with him, sorry to break it to you this way,’
‘I suspected as much,’ Ann said smiling weakly.
‘Look, if you want to take the rest of the day off.’ he offered,‘there is no problem, maybe go home and relax for the day.’
‘Oh, no it’s alright, I will work on.’
‘Well if you are sure, by the way do you know where the Williams file is?’
‘Yes, I will get it for you,’ Ann, went out to her filing cabinet, immediately put her hand on the file and brought it back to Mr Johnson, who was on the phone, she just put the file quietly onto his desk and left.
Back outside she sat down at her desk, her head was beginning to throb and her stomach felt sick. ‘Where will I get a job at my age?’ she asked herself for the umpteenth time. Then abruptly she got up and went back into her boss’s office, his phone conversation was over.
‘I think I will take that day off after all,’ she announced.
Mr Johnson, looked at her with surprise, ‘well alright’, he said, taken aback. ‘Though when you said you were staying I was going to head out and leave you some work that needs doing.’
‘Oh stuff you, you pompous asshole, who cares what you want, you dickhead.’ She wanted to say but instead she said nothing, suddenly realizing, he could do nothing to her, he couldn’t fire her, she was already going, and he had asked her if she wanted to take the day off.
‘Okay, off you go,’ he said coldly over his glasses.
‘Thank you,’ Ann replied just as curtly.
On her way home, Ann did a curious thing for someone who has just been told they are losing their job, she stopped off at the local beauty store and bought a coral coloured lipstick, black mascara, eyeshadow, and foundation. She also went into a clothing chain store and purchased a pair of tight fitting blue jeans and a crisp white shirt, when she was at the counter paying for the items she spotted a pair of gold hoop earrings and added those to her stash.
‘What am I doing?’ she asked herself, ‘why am I buying all this stuff?’ But for once she decided to ignore her sensible voice and be spontaneous.
She walked quickly home, with her purchases, once inside, she sat down and promptly fell asleep. It was a long deep sleep and when she woke up she realized she had been sleeping for well over an hour. She sat there for a long time, looking back over her life, and realized she had very little to show for it. No children, no husband, a dump of a house, and now no job either.
The sound of the phone ringing dragged her away from her reflections. It was Thelma. She was the last person Ann wanted to talk to.
‘Sorry to disturb you Ann, but I saw you going in, I wonder could you do me a favour, I am turning up the hem of a dress and I need someone to help me pin it up,’ could you call over.‘
Ann threw her eyes up to heaven, she really did not want to have to talk to anyone she needed to figure out what she was going to do with herself. But she didn’t want to be rude. ‘Sure’ she answered ‘will be over in a minute.’
‘God dam it,’ Ann seethed quietly ‘why can’t she get someone else to turn up her stupid dress.’ But not wishing to offend Thelma she duly went across the road. As she reached Thelma’s door, she suddenly realized that she still hadn’t met her husband, or partner or whatever he was.
Ann knocked on the door, and from inside Thelma called out, ‘ just push it open, it’s unlocked,‘ Ann did as she was told. ‘I’m in the kitchen’, Thelma’s musical voice announced.
Ann walked obediently into the kitchen, Thelma had on a beautiful full length dress in a stunning shade of lavender, with purple crystals sparkling across the bust and on the straps. ‘It’s beautiful’ Ann gasped.
‘Do you really like it? I am going to a do, with this guy who I met in my singing class, he asked me to go to a dance and dinner at his work place, he says it will be very dressy, so I splashed out on this today.’
Ann was almost sick with envy, she was so so jealous, she longed with all her heart to go to a dance especially now that she had her new red dress. She was also amazed at how quickly Thelma had got herself a date.
‘But I thought you were married?’
‘No, not at all, I was always buzzing here and there, never had time for marriage.
‘I thought I saw you with a man the day you arrived.’
‘Oh, that’s Joe, he is just a good friend.’
‘Oh, I see.’ Ann wanted to ask if he was married, but she declined.
‘Thelma, would you not be better off going to a dressmaker, with this, are you not afraid you would mess it up, it’s so beautiful?’
‘Not at all, I have a sewing machine I will have it done in no time at all.’ If you just pin it up.’
‘Okay.’ Ann said, doing what she was told, all the while, flabbergasted that Thelma had a date while she hadn’t had a man in her life in years.
‘Why couldn’t this be me for a change?’ She asked herself, but then she looked at how attractive Thelma was and she had her answer.
She pinned up the dress, and Thelma slipped out of it. Ann noticed the matching green bra and knickers she was wearing.
‘God everything about her is just so annoyingly perfect.‘ She dreaded to think what Thelma would think of her tatty underwear.
‘Sit down and I will put the kettle on,’ said Thelma.
‘Oh, I can’t wait,’ Ann answered, ‘I have to get back I am in the middle of something,’
‘I would love if you would stay,’ Thelma insisted, ‘just for a half hour, I wanted to ask you something.’
Ann, wondered, what on earth Thelma would want to ask her, but she said resignedly, ‘alright, just for a minute.’
Ann sat down at the kitchen table as Thelma hung up the dress. She looked around the spotless kitchen, everything seemed to be shining, the kettle was gleaming the sink was spotless and you could see your face in the taps, ‘How does she do it?’ Ann pondered as Thelma returned.
‘I was thinking of having a small get together, just to get to know people on the road, what do you think?’
‘Yes, that’s a good idea.’
‘Do you think so, would you help me to organise it?’
‘Me? Well I am not that good at organising parties, but if you want, sure.’
Ann wanted to escape she felt overwhelmed by Thelma, her good looks, her confidence, her home, the way she dressed, everything about her, made her feel inferior.
‘Well, I was thinking Friday week, that would give me time to plan it and send out invitations. You could help me with the names,’
‘Okay, I will do my best’, Ann smiled dreading the thought of it. ‘But I really have to go now, I am in the middle of something.’
‘Sorry, I didn’t mean to keep you, but thanks for all your help,’
Ann, breathed a sigh of relief as she let herself out of Thelma’s house, on the one hand she wanted to be her friend, on the other, she wasn’t feeling at all comfortable with her. She was so accomplished, able to organise parties, turn up dresses, get dates at the drop of a hat, no doubt well-travelled and college educated, Ann was none of those things and she felt she didn’t really belong in her world.
That night as she looked at herself in the bathroom mirror she wondered where the young Ann had gone. She had had so many dreams and ambitions for the future.
‘Who am I? Where did I go with all my hopes. I don’t know who this woman is anymore. Where is the real me?’ she contemplated.
‘Well, you will have plenty of time to find out when you are out of work,’ she answered herself dryly.
Ann put her hands through her hair, it felt coarse and looked dull, her face also felt dry, in fact her whole body seemed to have lost its juiciness. ‘How do I get it back? How do I find out who I am and what I should do now that I will be out of work in a few weeks time?’
Ann didn’t really know, but she did feel just a faint glimmer of excitement as to what direction her life would go now. But immediately pushed it away, as she knew she shouldn’t feel excited about losing her job.
As she went asleep that night, she tried to imagine her life without going to work in the office every day, but she couldn’t. She tried to read one of her self-help books for inspiration. But it just kept asking her what she wanted, but she wasn’t sure, she had to get a job to survive, that was about all she knew as she switched out the light and once again fell into a deep sleep.