Sunday Photo Fiction – Appearance Isn’t Everything

56 04 April 20th 2014

Copyright – Al Forbes

Please check out the main Sunday Photo Fiction page here to find out how to submit your own story and to read the other entries! If only I had an office like the one described below. I’ll consider myself lucky if I have a bedroom free of mould when I move South this autumn…

Dr. Isaac Calder could almost be described as an artist for the sheer aesthetic pleasure a person would experience after stepping into his office. Others often remarked that he was a man of excellent taste, and no furniture passed through his doors unless it pleased his visual papillae. The scent of leather, not only from the sofa, but from the books which lined the walls in perfect order, gently spread through the room and was occasionally mixed with the smell of fine whiskey.

However, the furniture was merely a setting for the rocks. A life dedicated to the study of geology had led Dr. Calder to the strangest of places, where he collected the most unusual specimens to display at home. On almost every flat surface they sat, iridescent, flecked with unidentifiable colours, translucent or opaque, almost hypnotising.

The most unremarkable of these sat on his desk; a heavy granite block the size of a grown man’s fist. Dr. Calder, when he was alone, would admire this rock more than the rest of his collection combined. In the end, it was the rock that started it all.

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The Library Book Project – 23 November 2009

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Today, this company will lose a major asset. I open the top drawer of my desk, revealing reams of printed paper that are dated between yesterday and and five years ago. No, surely I must have cleaned out this drawer since I first moved into this office? I suppose I always had far better things to do. I was a busy woman, constantly managing and advising the junior staff, who always seem so much more clueless than I was at their ages. They’re not completely incompetent, but they can’t back up their own egotistical bluster.

Amongst the stream of fury, I feel a small amount of relief that I’m not obliged to clear out all these documents. Most of them could probably go in the bin, but I’ve always erred on the side of caution, which is why the second drawer down is equally full. In fact, all four drawers contain nothing but pages which now have no relevance or importance to me. It’s liberating and soul-destroying all at the same time.

At first they wanted me to reduce my hours. That conversation left me with a sour taste in my mouth. It was sickly, sugary lines from a man half my age. Made me almost long for the days when sexism was rampant, but at least the man (it was almost always a man) in charge didn’t bullshit you and pretend that everything was for your own good.

I vowed not to let it set me back. I joined the gym. Even though I can afford books, I frequented the library because I couldn’t think of any more excuses to go outside. I ended up drinking wine on the evenings and watching box sets of my favorite televisions shows. When I retired to bed I’d still be wide awake, wondering what I’d done wrong, and why they wanted less of me rather than more. Hadn’t I proved myself invaluable?

Soon, my colleagues will come into the office and present me with a card and some flowers, congratulating me on my early retirement. None of them will look me in the eye. Tomorrow, I will be the main course on the cafeteria gossip menu.