It’s another day in the office much like any other, and I arrive late. The car park is full, spilling me onto the street. Excellent I think, at least I now have a late excuse at the ready ‘Couldn’t find a park, it’s a nightmare out there today’. Though I have to giggle at the ridiculousness of such an explanation.
What’s more I find a park only footsteps from the front door. And so there goes my first excuse for the day, dashed in the seconds it takes me to walk from car to office block.
But that’s ok, my second excuse lies within the rickety shell of an old elevator, taking hours to climb and drop between only two floors. Which today, dam it, is waiting welcoming and open just for me.
I could take the stairs they would be quicker, perhaps shaving a second or two off my late arrival. But still, no. I take the lift, I prefer the lift for 2 reasons.
Every day it threatens to break – now there’s an excuse for being late no one could argue ‘Sorry I’m late, that rotten lift finally broke, I was stuck for hours’. One day I’ll get lucky. Maybe today.
The other reason I like the lift is the mirrors. I live in a mirror less house and so enjoy the surprise of my reflection every morning. Most days I look quite humorous with mismatched clothes, bad make-up and hair styled by the shower. I enjoy the comic relief.
And today, well today is even better then yesterday. Though I am of course initially disappointed when I press the button for level 2 and it glows instantly orange, as proud as a praised child and warning me, today I will not break, today like yesterday I will deliver you to the slaughter.
And so I turn my back on the rude button to face the mirrors. But, before I get a chance to mock my own reflection I am abruptly jerked by my rickety archrival, forcing my forehead, nose and mouth to collide with the darker mirror tinted version of me. I am a little stunned at first, the flat coolness of the mirror feeling momentarily like a sharp knife. But with only a short burst of pain I am rewarded with a comical vision. Today the lift has brought me the goods. I am hideously dressed, my garishly green top with a rough purple paint stain on the arm, does not make my eyes more luminous, it makes me look sloppy. The black skirt though somewhat sliming, is unashamedly exposing the safety pins holding us together.
Though today I am more amused by my greasy forehead and nose print on the mirror. Staring at my smudged face painting I notice a little blood trickling over my top lip. I smile. The force of my two selves violently kissing has given me a bleeding nose. I’m in luck – I now have the perfect excuse for being late, with evidence.
The lift finally stops, and it knows this time I have won. As if embarrassed, it switches off its glowing orange pride and releases me. Stepping out into the hallway, covering my bloody nose with my hand I glance back at the elevator, sheepishly closing its doors. Same time tomorrow elevator, I think. And next time, be careful. I can’t help but smile, my own sarcasm too witty for me to bear. Bloodstained, I brave the office, it’s going to be ok today.
Habit causes me to creep towards my lonely and abandoned workstation. Despite having to walk passed 9 people to get to my desk, I somehow think quiet walking makes me invisible. I hold that same belief of verbal silence. If I don’t say anything, they might think I’ve been here all morning. And so I slink into my chair, not a single good morning is uttered.
Hovering over my desk trying to look productive while waiting for any sign of life from my computer a small droplet of red blood lands on my white keyboard.
‘Anyone got a tissue?’
‘Oh shit Sophie are you ok, what happened?’
‘Yeah that rotten lift..’
It’s midday and I decide to go out for lunch. Not a word spoken to anyone since the blood on my nose dried, in a hush I collect my bag, phone and keys and silently float out the door. Avoiding the lift, I again have to wonder, was I quiet enough to slip out unnoticed?
Driving to the local shopping jungle I allow myself to get lost in the smells of a nutrition-less food court and tangled in clothes I don’t like. My lunch hour passes in the numbness of 2.
Making my way back to the office I scan my brain for ready made late excuses. I come up empty. But this time I start to panic. I know it is only a matter of time before serious trouble – late arrivals, long lunches, early departures, the tricks I play trying to fool them I work longer harder more thoroughly than I do. Every night I leave with my computer, and arms overflowing with paper in the hopes they will believe I often pull late nights – forever diligent.
Consumed by my own thoughts of a jobless future, I start to speed up. Cars blurring beside me, then behind. I drive so quickly, I have no further use for the road and so I discard it, offering it to the distance behind me.
The sound of crunching metal is loud.
The faraway, soft and caring voices of my work colleagues is heartbreaking.
‘She’s so quiet at work, never raising her head from the job at hand, never leaving her work behind’
‘I’m so sorry about the accident, I don’t really know her that well, but man, I can’t believe she was going so fast’
‘She’s just so lovely, her quirky clothes and gentle manner’
‘And always smiling, every morning when she steps out of that lift, a kind and funny smile’
If my eyes were open it was then that I closed them. Alive or dead I don’t know what I am, but I do know I’m a fool.
If I’m alive, my days in the office will never be the same.