When The Air Strikes

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The Office

4

The office is a huge skyscraper overlooking central London. Despite of the old look of the city, the glass building blends in. It seems like a farfetched metaphor, for not standing out while you take in and absorb everything that happens. I enter through the main doors, like I have a couple of time and trip over an umbrella at the reception. I nod at the lady at the reception. Back when I was eight I remember her holding my hand as I waited for my mom and dad to wrap up their work, because the school had called for a holiday due to unforeseen weather conditions. I puked on her dress. The lady smiled at me. She is old now. The red lipsticks I have seen her wearing for more than 10 years hasn’t faded a bit though. I take the lift to the seventh floor. The seventh floor is the busiest, because they do the final edition and compilation there.

I walk slowly across the corridor leading to the main hall, hoping to catch a glimpse of my dad in his cabin. I peer through the narrow slits my eyes have reduced to due to tension. He isn’t there. The main hall is a beautiful place. In the centre is a huge table, with a hollow within, inside which Andrew stands, directs and controls the working of the room. Andrew, who my dad, to his utter annoyance, calls Andy, is the co-founder and the head of the Editorial and Administrative department of the office. Sometimes he also makes coffee for the staff. The hall is rectangular, but all the furniture is arranged in a circular fashion. At one side of the entrance is a cookie counter- a quick remedy for writer’s block and the other side is a water dispenser. I fill a glass of water and feel it moving snail-like down my esophagus, as opposed to the wild flow of blood in my body.

Andrew is my parents’ best friend and the voice in my head says he has answers. But he looks busy right now, these are peak office hours. I know I’ll have to wait for the coffee break. Just to kill time I take the lift and press nine. Floor nine is very bright. It has huge windows everywhere, and every inch of the wall that isn’t an opening to the outside world is flooded with photographs. This is the photojournalists’ department, but people like to call it Click.

I look at all the photographs. There are some new ones. And in the corner, sandwiched between two others, is my mom’s first photograph to have ever been featured. It’s a snap of the Eifel tower on the Bastille Day, which coincidentally falls on the same day as my parents’ marriage anniversary day- July 14th. If you look closely you can also see me holding my dad’s hands. I am around six, and the trip to Paris wasn’t official. My mom carries her camera everywhere, my dad, his pocket radio. I walk into the ninth floor hall. It has been divided into little booths for individuals. I go sit in my mom’s booth, and thanks to God, nobody notices me. On her table sits her laptop. I think of opening it, but then the half open drawer catches my attention. I slide it towards me, and find a muffin. It has been nibbled on, and beside it is a bill for a chocolate muffin, a bag of chips and one tea, processed today at 3:13 AM, at the 24/7 grocery shop down the lane. If she was here at night, she must have done something on the laptop. I think of opening it and checking, but that would seem suspicious. If only I can slip the device beneath my coat. As soon as I unplug the laptop from the charger, I hear a collective sigh of relief. It’s the coffee break. Everybody breaks into little groups of chat and laughter. A woman walking towards the exit, turns and looks at me. “ZARA, it’s you! What a wonderful surprise. Come here, let me get you the famous Click drink.”

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