Encounter

The morning had begun badly. Waking came with a start prompted by anxiety. Dreams had come thick and fast lately and recalling them proved patchy. A handbag with all identity lost, a much needed toilet elusive, a room amongst many corridors searched for but undiscovered, an office meeting somewhere in the dark recesses of a complex building, full of people waiting for a presentation which is not prepared; all scenarios adding up to a veritable haven for Freud.

Today though something important is happening and could herald a brand new start. An early shower would be useful. With clean suit hanging up, underwear lying in a neat pile on the chair ready, ever prepared I stumble towards the bathroom. Familiar feelings of dislocation left over from the nightmare will soon dissipate under the pounding of the power shower leaving me fresh and clear to face present reality.

How will the interview go? Will I be successful? Will I want the job even if I get it? The money would certainly be useful. The fall in stocks and share prices have seriously eaten into the monies my husband left but re-entering the world of work could be difficult. Things have moved on and with no retraining they may not be interested in taking me on. My C.V. had been good before I gave it all up to take care of Gerald, watching him slowly leaving me, but my world of work was a long time ago. There must however be something of interest in my application for them to invite me in so I should summon some courage from that.

One last look in the mirror, not bad, just some finishing touches and all will be ready. Bag collected and documents picked up I turn to lock the door of what is now a very lonely house and make my way to the station. Catching an early train will allow time for a coffee and a final look at my preparation details before entering the interview room.

So absorbed in my thoughts on leaving the station I didn’t see who knocked me over. All I was aware of, with my head resting on the ground, were a pair of rather smart, obviously handmade, black shoes and a voice saying “I’m so sorry; didn’t see you. Here let me help you up”.

Feeling slightly shaken I looked at my papers, so well ordered before, now lying scattered all over the pavement. Starting to gather them together I wondered why I’d not made sure the folder was secure. The calm, soothing voice again joined in to help. “Sorry I am not usually nosey but couldn’t help noticing the company logo on these documents. Are you an employee?”

“Oh no, but I would like to be. In fact I am heading for an interview there right now but the way things are turning out this morning........” My voice faded away.

He saw the graze on my knee which was beginning to sting and the subsequent hole in my stockings. “Oh dear we had better get you sorted. What time are they expecting you?” “Not for at least another two hours and the building is not far from here”.

“Good, I know just the place for a rest.” Taking my arm he led me gently but firmly into a nearby cafe.

“A strong cup of tea with plenty of sugar for the lady and a damp cloth for a graze please Rachel”.

“Coming right up sir, and your usual drink and table?” We sat down and I wiped away the blood on my knee as best I could but there was nothing to be done about the stocking. Looking at each other we started to talk almost simultaneously.

Conversation came easily. Apart from being smart and good looking in a comfortable sort of way, this stranger was a good listener and I found myself telling him all sorts of things that had hitherto been unspoken; as if a dam had burst; such a relief. The panic that had been so palpable earlier in the morning began to recede. I talked about my work and the years spent looking after a husband who no longer knew me. What was I thinking of bearing my heart to a total stranger but it didn’t feel like that. What a pity I have an appointment.

I could luxuriate in his company for hours but the encounter will be all too brief. “Perhaps you we had better make a move. It must be getting close to the time of your interview”. His voice, soft and inviting, brought me back from my daydreams. “Yes it must be”, I whispered wishing I could prolong the moment. “I’ll escort you there if you like. Don’t want anyone else bumping into you do we?” ”No”, I said. “That would be nice thank you.” At the Company’s door we parted and that was that. More than a little disappointed I stood for a while watching him walk down the street.

Brace yourself, back to the business in hand and the procurement of a job. With head held high I negotiated the splendid rotating doors and entered the myriad of marble which made up the lobby. At the reception desk I told the young, slim receptionist about being there for the interview and also about the accident hoping that that would explain away my dishevelled appearance. “Oh yes Mr Engleby is expecting you. Go to the fourth floor and wait in the lounge. There is a cloakroom to the left of it which you might find useful. Mortified I turned towards the lift.

Having sorted out the papers as best I could I settled into a comfortable leather chair and waited wondering what kind of questions might be asked and who I might be up against. At that moment a door opened and a very well dressed, confident young man came out oozing with success. My feelings of inadequacy were only compounded by his not wholly disguised, disdainful glance in my direction. Perhaps I should gather my papers and beat a hasty retreat.

As I bent down to pick them up, pondering on exactly what to do next, the door opened again. Looking up I saw the same pair of shoes. It couldn’t be possible could it? Not the same black, polished shoes I’d seen from the pavement.

“Hello again” said the familiar, friendly voice from the cafe. “It’s so good to see you again. I’ve cancelled your interview as the post has just been filled. There is a position for you here but not the one you came for. I have something altogether better in mind. If you don’t like my suggestion you only have to say and we will find you another position. Sorry about the deception earlier but it was so good just sitting listening to your life’s story. To explain myself I must tell you that I’ve been looking for a personal assistant for a long time now and at last I think I’ve found her. She’s stood in front of me with a hole in her stocking looking a little dishevelled but otherwise perfect. Are you interested? Shall we discuss the possibilities over lunch? Do say yes”.

Oh yes, but please don’t wake me from this dream.

Barbara S

© 2016 Yeadon Writers

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