The Hub

Library High Angle Photro

I had no idea what the person next to me was doing. In fact, I had no idea what anyone in this office or even building was doing. It was a strange thought and one that had not even dawned on me before.

I looked around, taking in the long rows of desks, the tops of computers and stacks of papers. Someone was sat at every desk, typing or writing away, their heads mainly down. There was a low murmur of voices, tapping keys, scrabbling of phones and churning of machinery. Around the walls of the room rose the bookcases. They were packed with multi-colored book covers and contained all the knowledge of the world, from start to finish.

How long had I been working here now? Five, six, seven years? And not once had I thought to find out what this company was and what the other workers did. There had never seem to be any need though. I had always known my job and just got on with it. The awareness of everyone else had been there, but I guess I had never really noticed.

I peered over at the person to my right. It was a woman and she was busy tapping on a laptop. There were books, paper and pens scattered on her desk. She ignored me, either not realising I was watching or not caring. She was working on a research piece about monkeys, something which I could link to my own work.

I turned to the left and looked at the man there. His desk seemed the same as the woman’s, only he had no laptop and busy handwriting notes. There were many large books open before him. He was writing about monkeys in films. Once again, he didn’t seem to care I was watching him.

I got up and slowly made my way around the room. Everyone was researching and writing about something different and yet it all connected together. Finally, I concluded that we were working on a complete history of Earth’s animals. Each person had been given a different animal and subject matter which at first seemed a little out of place, but was actually a piece of the jigsaw we were creating.

I went back to my desk. My thoughts really awake for the first time.

Monies

Copper Cent Coins

Jasper loved money. There was something comforting and reassuring about the feel of coins in his hands. He liked the weight and the coldness which quickly became warm. The sounds the coins made as they clinked together or on to things was music to his ears.

He marvelled at all the different designs there were on the backs of coins from all over the world. He enjoyed watching the British Queen’s face changing through the years, the USA Presidents switching around and special editions for events like the Olympics.

Coins was not were it ended though, Jasper also enjoyed paper notes. He liked the rustle sounds of them, the feel between his fingers and the oily printing smell of them. He hung on to notes that were crisp from the machines, not parting with them till he had no choice.

Jasper’s collection was huge and though it took over his house, he wouldn’t give it up for the world. He had perfectly fitted cabinets and drawers made to protect and store the money. The most valuable coins and notes lived in numerous safes hidden in the walls, floors and ceilings.

Even his job in involved money handling! Jasper would hurry to the bank five times a week and carry out his role as a finical accountant manger. He loved watching money roll in and out of accounts and the stock market changing. Sometimes he would go into the vault and look at what was on display down there.

However, he loved home time when he could return to his collections and study his coins in greater detail.

 

Closet Office

businessman, coder, computer

When Larry had got the job he hadn’t expected his office to be so small. He told himself it was only temporary and he’d be promoted soon enough. However, five years had now past and he was still stuck in this closet they classed as an office.

Sitting at his desk which was hard because his knees banged against it, Larry wondered what to do. A part of him wanted to quit but the more sensible part knew it wasn’t worth it. The job paid very well and the hours were good to, but how much long could he put up with being inside this room?

He looked around at the orange walls, done to try and make the room brighter and warmer. There were no windows, only a single door and beside from his desk and chair there was nothing else in the room. There wasn’t space for anything more really! And even the desk was pushing it.

Larry looked out of the door which he always kept open to let some air and general background noise in. He couldn’t see much, other then part of a dividing white screen and the edge of a filing cabinet.

He knew though that all the offices on this floor were just the same as his. Many of the other workers also kept their doors open and when he past by he would catch snatches of conversations. He had never talk to anyone in these rooms though. There was never the need to.

He would often talk with the women receptionist and admins though. Their desks were all in the long corridor outside of his door. He welcomed their chatty voices and tapping of keys as it made him feel not so lonely. Sometimes he would go out and ask one of them for a file or a pen, just to stretch his poor legs and break up the monotony.

I should quit, he thought as he tapped a pencil on the edge of his desk, I’m worth more then this! 

But Larry just couldn’t bring himself to do it.

Dear Diary #31

composition, cute, design

Dear Diary,

Work has been so stressful these last few weeks. I’m so in need of a holiday but no luck! My hours have changed, so they are longer now and due to there still be staff shortages, no one can really have time off. Of course, if I did ask for a few days or a week off I would get it, though my supervisor might not like it!

I’m meant to be training like four volunteers to do my job which would be really useful, but none of them turned up this week. Hopefully, they might next week. I don’t mind training as it means less work for me but it just takes time away from other things.

Everyone thinks being on reception is a cushy job but it’s not! You get rushed off your feet answering the phone and greeting visitors. I don’t mind answering and sending emails though because at least you have longer to deal with them. I’ve always been a happy friendly person, but work expects you to be like that all the time!

My face feels numb from smiling and I’m so weary of being cheerful even when I totally don’t feel like it.

I shouldn’t complain. I like my job and the money is great, but sometimes it just gets too much. I think everyone feels like that sometimes. We get grind down like wood in a sanding machine. Everyday we lose more of ourselves and we can never get it back.

I’ve been reading too many morbid books!

I need to get some more sleep too. That would really help. Maybe trying to get sometime off work wouldn’t be that bad an idea.

 

Wine

alcohol, bottle, gift

Lucas opened his front door, ready to set off to work and almost walked straight into the deliveryman. The youngish man was half hidden behind the large cardboard box he was carrying both hands.

‘Mr. Bennett?’ the deliveryman asked.

‘Yes?’ Lucas replied as he eyed the box.

‘I need you to sign for this….’

The deliveryman placed the box down, breathed a big blow of air then took out his electric device.

Lucas sighed for it, the letters like a child’s first attempts at writing.

‘Thanks,’ the deliveryman said and hurried away.

Lucas looked down at the box. He hadn’t ordered anything, nor was it close to his birthday or Christmas. He tried to nudge the box inside his apartment, but it was too heavy. Picking it up, he put it next to the sofa.

He paused really wanting to open it, but he was going to be late for work. Deciding it would have to wait, Lucas dashed out.

His day was boring and long. He answered the phone and sent emails, he dealt with a few cases that were in his inbox. He had a quiet lunch in the park and then went back to his desk. He avoided his co-workers as much as possible. He didn’t mind them really, but the woman were always so loud and gossipy and the men; only talking about sport and being overly flirty with the ladies.

When Lucas got home he sank on to the sofa and looked at the ceiling, exhausted. Then he remembered the large box from this morning and hurried to open it. He ripped the duck tape off and yanked back the cardboard flaps.

Inside was a case of twelve bottles of wine.

He took one out and looked at it. He didn’t know much about wine. He read the label; a deep fruity red from France. Setting it aside, he pulled out another one. It was different; a light refreshing red from California. He selected a third: a full bodied red from Africa.

One by one he pulled out the other bottles and looked at them. They were all red wines from around the world.

Lucas put them back in the box and closed the flaps. He looked at the label; Mr L. Bennatt. A slight misspelling of his surname. Then his full address, but the number of his apartment was wrong.

Lucas tapped the lid then began looking for a note or a receipt of any kind. Finding nothing, he shrugged and pulled out on the bottles that had taken his fancy.

A month later, he was coming back from work, his thoughts on opening another bottle from the mysterious wine case, when he saw a man at his door. The man was tall and wearing comfy clothes. He had dark hair and looked about Lucas’s age – middle thirties.

‘Can I help you?’ Lucas called over.

‘Do you live here?’ the man asked.

‘Yes,’ Lucas answered.

‘I live in the apartment above. I moved in two months back. I’m Luke Bennatt. Pleased to meet you.’

‘Lucas Bennett,’ he replied, without thinking.

The man held his hand out and Lucas shook it as he felt a sinking feeling in his belly.

‘I was expecting a case of wine and I believe it might have been delivered to you by mistake due to our names being so close in spelling.’

‘Wine?’ Lucas questioned.

‘Yes. It would have been in a big heavy box. Have you seen it?’ Luke asked.

Lucas paused as if thinking then said, ‘no, I don’t think so…’

‘Are you sure?’

‘Positive. I’ve never been into drinking it myself,’ Lucas added, ‘well it was nice to have meet you…’

‘Yes of course. Thank you,’ Luke spoke and turned away.

Lucas watched him leave then hurried inside. He went straight to the box of wine that was set on his kitchen floor. The lid was open and inside were ten bottles. He debated what to do then decided to hold on to his blessing.

Bus Jam

Aerial Photography of Cars on Road Intersection

I slide the sleeve of my black jacket up and checked my watch for the countless time then looked down the road. The huddle of people who were at the bus stop with me turned to look too. I caught a glimmer of exception on some faces but that quickly faded when they saw that there was still no bus.

Trying not to grind my teeth, I stepped back into the crowd which was a mixture of school children, parents, older adults and workers but I was the only man dressed in a business suit.

‘There should have been two buses by now!’ an angry tubby woman shouted.

‘Three,’ an older man corrected, ‘the eighty-five hasn’t turned up yet.’

‘Mummy, I’m going to be late for school!’ a small girl in a grey skirt and blue uniform jumper cried out.

I looked over. The mother, an African woman with a towering head scarf on, lengthy brown coat and a long, very brightly coloured pattern skirt looked tried. She was half leaning on the double buggy which had months old twin boys almost stacked on top of each other. Behind her, six more children-four girls and two boys, wearing the same school uniform, played on the grass.

The little girl tugged her mother’s coat. The woman muttered and sent her to play with the other children.

Someone tutted at my elbow and I turned back to see a supermarket worker scrolling through his phone.

I checked my watch again. Time hadn’t moved. I grounded my teeth together, caught myself and stopped.

Looking up I saw cars lining the road. Their drivers tapping the wheel or dropping their hands out of sight. One woman was even putting on lipstick. Then the traffic began moving again, the lights further ahead had changed colour.

‘Look a bus!’ a high school girl cried.

Everyone twisted their heads to look and there just peeking around the corner was the front of the bus.

People flew into a flurry. Pushing each other, getting out their purses, money, bus passes. The children raced back from the grass, pressing against their mother and the pram. Someone dropped their phone, but the sound of it hitting the pavement was lost in the babble of voices and mixture of movement.

The traffic crawled to a stop. The crowd sighed like a deflating balloon and became still again.

‘Which one is it?’ the old man asked.

‘I think it’s a seventeen,’ the same girl answered.

‘Pah! Not the one I want!’ he grumbled.

It wasn’t the one I wanted either but it would get me into the city centre of Manchester. I checked my watch again and the hands had crept around. With a sinking feeling, I realised no matter what I was going to be late to my new job again. I needed a car! Or maybe a motorbike? Perhaps, a bicycle would be better? At least my mother wouldn’t have to worry about me as much with one of those.

The traffic moved on and finally the bus pulled up. Everyone charged up as the doors opened. People getting off and on mixed together then broke free of each other. I squeezed on, waving my pass then I saw the bus was totally full.

There was nowhere for me to go as there was a blockade of people before me. I tried to look over them to see if there was any seats, but there appeared not to be. The way to the stairs was also blocked, a mother had her three children pressed into the stairwell.

‘I’m sorry but you won’t get that pram on here,’ the bus driver shouted.

I turned, my hands slipping over the cold blue metal handrail. The African family were trying to get on. The mother was rocking the buggy back, causing the front wheels to lift and her sea of children were all ready on and huddling against the other passengers.

‘Hey, excuse me! No room! Stop!’ the bus driver shouted loudly.

The woman looked up, balancing the front wheels of the pram on the floor of the bus.

‘You’ll have to get the next bus. I’m sorry.’

The woman said something under her breath that sounded like it was in a different language. She slowly reversed the pram and yelled at her children in English, ‘get off! Come over here! Tilly, come!’

The children, like tumbling puppies got off the bus and clustered around her. The little girl who really wanted to go to school burst into tears. Two of the boys started fighting and the other girls walked back to the grass again.

The doors of the bus closed and we left the family and a few other people behind us.

I clung to the handrail, though there was no need really, the press of bodies against mine was enough to keep me stable. I shut my eyes tried hard not to think about who’s fingers had just brushed my hip and who’s elbow had bumped into my bag.

Taking deep breaths, I thought about over things, like what I was going to say to my supervisor, what I might grab for lunch today, if I’d get the guts to talk to that pretty blonde a few desks away from me.

First though, I had to get through this.

In A Corner Of The World

knowledge-1052011_1920

I’ve no idea how I ended up walking through this field. But here I am surrounded by long grass, wild flowers and the calling of birds. It’s a warm afternoon, but I can’t see the sun above me and the sky is a strange off blue color.

There’s a cottage ahead. The yellow thatch roof rising through the green leafy trees and tall bushes. There’s nothing else to do but go over and see if anybody is home. The field leads me to a small brown fence over which is a short carpet of grass. Bright flowers dot around the cottage and a wire washing line is stretched in the garden.

I go to climb over then stop. There’s an old woman beating a green rug on the washing line with a wooden tennis racket looking thing. Her white hair is piled up on top of her head and she’s wearing many skirts, a grey blouse and a pale blue apron. I can just about hear the thwacking sounds.

Climbing the fence, I walk slowly over, hoping that she spots me before I have to call out. Luckily, she does and she stops her work long before I reach her.

‘Hallo!’ she calls out and waves the tennis racket thing.

‘Hi,’ I answer back with a wave too.

‘Nice day for a walk,’ she adds.

‘Yes,’ I reply.

I come to the end of the washing line and look up. There are many green rugs hanging down…actually….they are strips of grass….

Puzzled, I look across the garden and see strips of dirt close by. There’s also a small red wheelbarrow, a spade and a large black bucket.

‘I’m just dusting my lawn,’ the old woman says, cheerily and as if that’s a perfectly normal thing to do.

I open my mouth, questions popping, but no words come out.

‘It can get quite dusty you know. And yes, there are other ways to do it but I prefer the good old fashioned method!’

She shows me how by beating a strip of grass. Only, she does it lighter then before.

I nod and slowly say, ‘how does it get dusty?’

‘Oh! Heaven knows!’ she cries and throws her hands up to the sky.

I glance up, half expecting to see a pig flying by.

‘Do you some time to spare? I’d be ever so grateful if you could help me,’ she asks and nods towards the dirt strips.

I look around, shrug and reply, ‘why not?’

‘Good. Then start digging, deary!’

Still puzzled, I walk to where the last dirt strip is as the old woman takes up beating the grass again. Looking down, I see how she’s cut the strips out and then I pick up the spade and start with the next one.

It’s actually easier then it seems as it appears the grass is use to being cut up. I slice the spade in and make my way around. It’s like a knife through butter. The smell of fresh cut grass and unearthed soil floods my nose. The grass strip comes up and I put it into the wheelbarrow. I start on another and quickly cut that strip loose too.

I look up as I place it into the wheelbarrow and I see the old woman taking down the first strip of grass. I watch her replace it into the lawn then return for the second piece.

‘This is so weird,’ I mumble.

Returning to my task, I dig up more pieces of grass and when the wheelbarrow is full I drive it over. I help the old woman take them out and hang them up. She begins beating the first one and dust raises off it.

‘How long does this take you?’ I ask her.

‘A few days,’ she answers.

‘And how many times do you do this?’

‘Oh, three or four times a year!’

‘Really?’

‘Grass gets very dusty in the summer, deary,’ she explains.

I look at her, but her face is just that of a plain woman in her early seventies. Her cheeks are fat and wrinkled like the rest of her skin. Her eyes are a warm blue, shinning with knowledge and happiness. Her white hair is long and tightly held back in a bun. Around her neck is a string of white pearls and there’s an old wedding ring on her finger.

‘Don’t you have anyone to help you?’ I ask aloud.

‘Sometimes, I do,’ she replies with a mysterious tone to her words, ‘it’s mostly just me though. I don’t mind. Keeps me busy.’

I nod and hear a shrill whistle sounding. Looking, it seems to be coming from the cottage and there’s smoke now rising out of the chimney.

‘It’s time for tea. Do you want to join me?’ the old woman asks.

‘Okay…’

She hurries off, leaving the grass strips on the washing line but taking the tennis racket with her. I follow and go through the small blue door after her. It leads straight into a kitchen. I stand in the doorway and look around.

It’s a very old fashioned farmer’s wife like kitchen. There’s a huge black wood burning stove against the far wall. A large oak table and chairs in the middle, a metal sink and draining board under a netted curtain window. Sky blue cupboards and work surfaces line another wall.

The old woman rattles around cups and things. Humming to herself. I pull out a chair and look down to see a fat old ginger cat curled up on it. I pull out another chair instead and sit down. I hear a clock ticking somewhere and the warmth of the kitchen hugging me like a old friend.

‘Here we are,’ the old woman says and sets down a tea tray.

There’s a tea pot wearing a tea cosy, milk jug, sugar cube bowl, a plate of biscuits, two pattern flower china cups and matching saucers.

‘Thanks,’ I reply.

We have tea and it’s good. I nibble at a biscuit and look around the kitchen. There’s not much else to see though. I want to talk, but I don’t really know what to say. Finally, the old woman breaks the silence.

‘I must get back to keeping my corner of the world tidied now and you should be getting home.’

‘Home?’ I say aloud.

‘Yes. It’ll be dark soon and the woods can be a dangerous place. Even for yourself.’

She pats my arm and gets up.

‘But….I don’t know the way…I found myself in that field. I don’t even know where I am!’ I cry.

The old woman tuts at me, ‘just head back the way you came, deary.’

I move my tea cup away and get up.

‘Goodbye,’ she says and gives me a little wave.

I don’t wave back, but go straight out the door, too confused to speak.

In the garden, the grass is still hanging on the washing line and there are dirt strips in the lawn. The sky is turning a dark blue and the birds are still singing. I walk off, feeling like that’s the only thing I can do. I go back over the fence and through the field. I look back at the cottage, smoke is still coming out of the chimney and the old woman has gone back to beating the grass again.

I turn, take a step and stumble. My legs go out from under me and I land face first in the grass. My eyes shut. I take a deep breath and open then again…And I am no longer in the field.

My study comes to life before my eyes. I blink and the rest of the long grass is gone, replaced by the bookcases, my desk and a fire crackling of the fireplace. I sit up in the deep plush chair, disturbing the book that’s slipped down on to my lap. I pick it up and read the title; Maps Of The Old Worlds.

Dear Diary #29

composition, cute, design

2017. 2017. Even just writing that feels weird. I’ve gotten so use to putting 2016 at the end of dates, events and things. It’s going to take awhile to switch that one number around. But it’ll be the same for everyone I guess.

Well, my first day of 2017 was pretty tedious. Who wants to sit in an empty office whilst everyone else sleeps off last night’s party? Nobody is the correct answer! But me being the Geek I am agreed! And why not? It’s not like I have a life anyway.

It’s 2017 and what have a I got to show for it?

An office job with long, strange hours that pays so little. A tiny apartment with an outrageous rent and a stray cat I can’t get rid of. A driver’s licence, but no car, the fading memory of a degree in a useless subject and a handful of friends who live too far away.Oh and now I can add three ex-boyfriends who are in new relationships.

What has my life become? Where has that carefree girl who spent all her free time reading books and watching movies gone? The girl who didn’t care if she was not in a relationship whilst everyone else was? The girl who dreamed of being a Princess in a tower waiting to be rescued by that drop gorgeous Hollywood guy?

I guess, Diary, she grew up and she saw what life really was; a repeating pattern of work, eat and sleep.

I shouldn’t be so bitter about everything though. My family are all well and I did get to see all my friends at the reunion day. My health is good, but I’m going to drop that diet for a bit. I know the weight might creep back on and I was so good over Christmas, but I just need some cheering up. I’ll still be going to the gym and swimming class though.

I’ve decided to give up on the romance for bit though. Lord knows I need a break from that! And maybe it’s time I looked at getting a new job and moving house. I like my apartment, but maybe something cheaper out of the city would allow me to get a car? Oh, to be driving again and have such a freedom! I could see my friends more often, maybe make new friends and go on new adventures.

Could I really do that though?

Is it worth it? Would I be happier?

I guess anything would be better then this, Diary.

Cold Morning

winter-in-the-mountains-1114934_1920.jpg

Lizzy didn’t want to get up, but the alarm clock was demanding she did. Throwing the bedding back from her nest, she got up and ran to the bathroom, before her body had time to register the cold. She got in the shower and blasted hot water until she felt like a layer of skin had been burnt off.

She got out before she had fully thought about it. Leaving the shower to drip itself to a stop, Lizzy wrapped three towels around herself and went back to the bedroom. There she got dressed, trying not to take too long to decide what office clothes to wear. Anything warm and comfy would do.

In black trousers, a dark blue blouse and a long black cardigan, Lizzy sat before her mirror and sorted out her hair. Then abandoning the towels on the heating rack, she went into the kitchen and made breakfast. It was at that point Lizzy’s mind fully awoke. It was as if someone had flipped the switch that made her off autopilot and on to normal again.

Lizzy sighed as the kettle clicked and the microwave binged.

‘I don’t want to go to work today,’ she muttered, ‘its going to be another blue Monday.’

She made a cup of tea then collected her porridge out of the microwave. She put the TV on just for background noise and had breakfast whilst half watching the news. Then she left her things in the sink, feeling an odd sense of satisfaction that no parent or housemate could yell at her. Living alone might have it’s loneliness, but there were so many benefits.

Gathering her things, putting on her shoes and coat, she risked a peek out of the windows and saw the streets below shining as if a million tiny diamonds had been dropped on the tarmac. The weather forecast hadn’t lied.

Leaving, Lizzy didn’t bother calling the elevator, but went straight down the five flights of turning stairs. She braced herself at the front door then opened it. An icy wind blew in her face and around her legs like an old man’s wandering fingers. Lizzy fought it off and hurried outside. She walked boldly to the bus stop and waited with a few other people.

There were two old women dressed like Antarctic explorers with shopping bags on wheels. A middle-age man in a tried grey business suit who looked washed out by society’ demands. Four chatting school girls in mini skirts and nothing covering their legs, but short socks. Lizzy wondered how they masked the cold they must be feeling so well.

The bus pulled up and it was full as was to be expected. She showed her pass and had to stand up for the twenty minute ride into the city center. Luckily, her office was just around the corner. Getting off in a sea of people, Lizzy hurried down the slippy street and to the office door. She took off her gloves keyed in the numbers and opened the door when it clicked.

Climbing the stairs, she decided to head straight to the kitchen and make herself a hot drink. Maybe some fancy fruit tea? She pushed open her office door and stopped.

Brightly colored Christmas decorations were hanging from the ceiling and the windows. Plastic ornaments spun in the breeze from the door and the soft notes of Christmas songs tickled her ears. In the far corner, a fake green Christmas sat. Heavily decorated with cheap tatty things which the string of fairy lights lit brightly up.

Lizzy walked in and closed the door. A few people were at their desks all ready. Their voices as they spoke to one another or to someone on the phone rose and fell. She went into the small kitchen and found that had had a make over too. Someone had hung some mistletoe up by the window and there was a wicker gift basket by the sink.

She went over and looked at it. A large noticed announced it was a collection for the homeless to be given to the church just up the road on Christmas Eve. Lizzy tucked the card back and made herself a strawberry and lime tea. She took it back to her desk and just sat there for a few moments.

There’s just something, she thought, about Christmas decorations that makes you feel at home. I guess I was wrong about it being another blue Monday.   

Reading For Love

old-newspaper-350376_1920

Everyday on her bus journey to work, Jamie looked through the newspaper’s personal ads and love column searching for any mention of herself.