Published on June 11th, 2011 | by Yellow Magpie0
Ann’s Story: Chapter Four ‘The Job Loss’
Next day in the office, Julie announced she was pregnant. Alice threw her arms around Julie and gave her a sisterly hug while Ann looked on uncomfortable, hoping that she would not have to do the same. Alice then withdrew to got some coffee in the shop across the street.
‘Congratulations’ Ann said.
‘Yes, I am so excited,’ answered a delighted Julie.
Unsure of what to say next, Ann resorted to the tried-and-trusted. ‘When are you due?’ Ann inquired, feigning interest.
‘The beginning of November’ responded Julie.
‘ Ah that’s just great. John must be delighted’. Ann stated, feigning interest.
‘Yeah…He is thrilled too. He loves kids. I think he will be a great dad.’
‘ I’m sure he will.’ Ann retreated back to the safety of her own desk, relived that the niceties were over. She pretended to be busy, so as not to have to talk about the baby anymore. Talking about babies always made her feel uncomfortable, she was never really sure what to say.
Just then her boss, called her into the office.
‘Sit down Ann,’ he said.
‘Ann you have been with us now for …what is it?
’15 years Mr Johnson,’ a meek Ann replied, beginning to fell apprehensive.
‘Has it been that long? My goodness, where does the time go to.’ He said taking off his glasses and wiping then with the white handkerchief he always kept in his top pocket.
Ann, felt uncomfortable, and a sick feeling was beginning to form in the pit of her stomach.
‘Ann the reason I brought you in here today, is to tell you that I will be retiring at the end of the month. Now as you know, you have been my personal secretary. I hired you and paid your salary. Now a new partner will come to replace me, he may well keep you on, and I will certainly recommend you, but he might have someone himself or may want to hire someone new, you know a new broom and all that.’
Ann could feel the colour drain from her face and she could feel a lump developing in her throat, she wanted to shout at him, ‘you can’t do this to me, you can’t treat me like this not after all these years.’
But instead she said nothing, she weakly smiled and when the words came out of her mouth they were the exact opposite of what she was feeling.
‘That’s all right Mr Johnson. May I wish you all the best in your retirement, I have enjoyed working with you here. I will be sorry to go but all good things come to an end, haha.’
‘Yes thank you, Ann. You have been a very efficient secretary and, as I say, I will recommend you to whoever comes in my place.’ He stopped and looked at Ann and she knew the conversation was over and it was her cue to leave. Ann thanked him again and left the office.
Once outside the door she felt disoriented, the girls were chatting and laughing away about the baby and nurseries. Caught up in their happy world, they didn’t even notice her. Ann went to the toilet, and looked at herself in the mirror, she thought of the red dress and the hopes she had for the future, but now the rug had been pulled from underneath her feet.
‘How will I live?’ Panic was beginning to overwhelm her as she gasped for air. Abruptly the door opened and in came an effervescent Julie, smiling and still talking about her pregnancy. Ann did her best to smile at her, but instead she burst out crying.
‘What’s the matter Ann?’ she asked confused.
‘Mr Johnson, is retiring in a month’s time and there is good chance I will lose my job,’ Ann sobbed uncontrollably.
Julie, stood looking at Ann, not knowing what to say, Ann rarely showed much emotion, and so Julie was at a loss as to what to do. ‘Oh my God, that’s awful’, she patted Julie on the shoulder. ‘But maybe the new person will keep you on?’
But Ann knew that likelihood of that happening were slim. No doubt the new guy would be young or it could be a young woman, she wouldn’t want Ann hanging about. This is what Ann surmised.
‘Don’t worry I will figure something out,’ said Ann, trying to sound cheerful again, and she went back out to her desk. She continued the rest of the morning in a daze. At lunchtime she went to the church and lit a candle.
How many candles she had lit during her life? She had lost count. After lunch, Mr Johnson, gave her a pile of work to do, which kept her occupied for the rest of the day. By the time she got home she was exhausted, and her eyes were tired and red. She lit the fire and turned on the television, but she didn’t see anything, her head was in a spin.
‘Where will I get a job, how will I even go about looking for one.?’ at my age.
Ann began to think about her life, how little she had achieved in her 48 years on earth, the years had passed her by in a haze and she had nothing to show for them, she had never travelled, never been in love with someone who loved her back, never had any real adventure. Desperation began to tear at her inside.
‘How am I going to live?’ She asked herself once again. She got onto her computer, and logged onto a number of websites advertising jobs, but the more she looked, the more frustrated she became as there seemed to be nothing that would suit her. She switched off the computer again and began to search through her large pile of self-help books for some sort of an answer. But again they only annoyed her, it all seemed so easy. She tried to look at the television to take her mind off things but nothing was sinking in.
Finally, she resorted to looking across the road to see what her attractive neighbour was up to. The front door was open and this time another neighbour, Lucy, who lived next door to Ann, was coming out.
She was laughing and the new arrival was wearing a stylish blue dress, her hair was up one side and she had long gold earrings in her ears. Ann thought she was beautiful, though she was extremely jealous of her and what seemed to be her growing popularity with the inhabitants of the street. Lucy waved goodbye to the woman and the door closed.
Ann’s mind was in turmoil, she went to the wardrobe to look at the dress again. ‘Should I bring it back and try to get my money back, Ann wondered, she knew she still had the receipt, but she couldn’t bear to part with it, it was the only bright spot in her life at the moment and it would break her heart to bring it back. Anyway, every time Ann looked at it she began to believe that her life could be different somehow, and she just had to hang onto that for dear life.