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Chris Irving

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Member Since: Jul, 2007

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Valiant Journey
By Chris Irving
Sunday, July 01, 2007

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She makes a new like for herself and finds her inner strength.

Valiant Journey

She looked up as the bell sounded over the shop door, a tall middle aged man came into the shop and Susan returned her attention to the orders she was working on. Slowly her eyes returned to the gentleman, Simon Marsh, my god how long had it been since she’d seen him, getting on for three years, doesn’t time fly?

It had been a dull, cold late November afternoon with sleet slashing at the window. She had been snuggled up on her settee with a book, surrounded by paper hankies and cold remedies, the gas fire giving off the only heat source in the flat.

The book had not held her attention and she had been thinking about work. If she had any more time off she would be required to have a doctor’s note, she wished she could have the rest of her working life off but how would she live. She did not know what else she could do. She had worked at the same place for the past fifteen years, and had made supervisor five years ago. All the original friends she had made had moved on either to have families or to better jobs. Why had she stayed? None of the younger staff seemed to want to do the work and the more she nagged them, the more their resentment grew.

The door bell had startled her, who could this be? When she looked out the window towards the front door, there stood Simon, a newspaper over his head trying to stave off the sleet, clutching a bunch of flowers. What could he want?

She reluctantly went to open the front door.

Simon turned towards her “Hi, how are you?”

“Bearing up”

There was a pause.

“We had a whip round and bought these for you” he said presenting Susan with the bunch of flowers.

“Oh thanks, they’re lovely” she said without enthusiasm, they must have cost all of £3, he probably bought them on his way to see her.

“Well can I come in?”

“Oh yes sure”

She closed the door and he followed her in to the small sitting room.

“Would you like a cup of tea?”

“Yes, that would be lovely”

She went into the kitchen and put the kettle on. She was still wondering what he could want. Simon was the department head at the firm, they had never been close and she couldn’t believe this was a social call. Had he come to check up on her, see if she was really ill? She hadn’t known that to happen to anyone before.

Simon sat on the edge of the settee, nervously picking at a hanky in his pocket. Should he take his coat off? He didn’t really want to, he wanted to get this over with as soon as possible and get home. Why had he been given this task, surly it was better coming from senior management.

Susan eventually came back with the tea and gave Simon his mug, smiling timidly.

“I am hoping to be back by Monday” she gabbled.

“Oh, Oh, yes, well, good. Yes that’s good…………”

He smiled back at her nervously and took a sip of his tea.

“Well is everything OK at work?” she asked hoping that some disaster had happened that needed her help showing she was indispensable.

“Oh yes everything is running smoothly.”

There was an awkward pause.

“Well actually its not. That’s why I’m here.”

“Yes?” she asked quickly.

She couldn’t really remember the rest of the conversation, everything seems to go in slow motion, Simon’s voice faded in and out, she remembered things about cut backs, no reflection of her work, other people in the same boat………..

Her first reaction was one of panic.

“But how will I live? How will I pay the rent?”

“You will receive a good redundancy package, you have been with the firm a considerable time and of course we will give you a good reference.”

Then one of anger.

“You haven’t been at the firm as long as I have, why aren’t you going?”

Simon look embarrassed.

“Well it is only certain jobs, I’m sure they considered every option.”

Susan wasn’t really listening anymore.

“After all the years I have given them, they haven’t even the decency to tell me face to face, they send a scapegoat. Well they can stuff their job, and you can tell them that. Now I would like you to leave.”

Susan realised that she was shouting.

“I’m sorry Simon I didn’t mean to take it out on you, it’s not your fault.”

Simon had scrambled to his feet, having put the mug on the floor.

“I am sorry Susan” he said inadequately “I’m sure you will be able to find something else”

He hurried to the door, looked at Susan’s hurt and angry face and fled. Outside he breathed a sign of relief, well that hadn’t been too bad, he hunched up his collar and hurried to the train station.

Susan sat dazed. God what was she going to do. She paced round the rooms like a caged animal not knowing what to do, not being able to concentrate on anything, picking things up and putting them down again, sitting staring out the window for what seemed like hours. Then all of a sudden she was calm. Why was she so upset? She hated her job, this was her chance to get out, do something different, realize her dream, be someone.

She wondered how much redundancy she would get, would it be enough?

The next few weeks had been frantic. She had negotiated her redundancy, which hadn’t been easy as she had had to go to the office and had the staff staring at her, knowing what had happened. She had drawn up business plans, spoken to bank managers, looked for premises, had doubts, talked to friends and family, some thought she was mad, others envied her, others encouraged her, but through all of this she knew that this was what she wanted to do.

And she had, three years later she had a good little business going, she had a couple of people working for her, a nice house, a faithful retriever, she was very happy.

She slowly put down her pen and went into the back of the shop.

“Wendy, a gentleman has come into the shop, would you deal with him please.”

“Sure.”

Wendy came back five minutes later.

“He just looked round and went.”

“OK, thanks”


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