Razzles. It’s been two hours and so far all those that have left the office have been downsized. It has been like this since Monday; the tragic news of our magazine is going down with the economy. I sit nervously on my desk and anxiously waiting. Not wanting to think about what would happen next; I kept myself busy taking calls and finishing up letters that needed approval. Another hour has passed and most of the people have been downsized and others upgraded to do more than they are used to handle.
“Angela.” Beverly’s voice calls out.
“Yes?” I peek out from my cubicle
Beverly gestures me in, and I feel all eyes fall to me. I walk in Bev’s office and I am welcomed in the same Crisp air from her cologne.
After graduating and getting my degree in interior design I fell flat on my butt when I started to look for a job, it seems I have an unlucky streak in finding one. So I became an assistant to an editor of a party-planning magazine, Confetti. I knock the door and she lets me in.
“Come in.” She says
“What can I do for you Mrs. Grayson?” I ask stupidly hoping she doesn’t fire me.
“Bev.” She says for me to follow as she gestures for me to sit. She never lets me “just sit” this is not good.
“Bev.” I say as I swiftly took the seat in front of her desk
“Angela, first of all, I’d like to commend you on your job performance and I can honestly say that you have been an asset as far as this company goes.”
“Thank you, Mam.” This is good I thought. Maybe she’s offering me an extra load instead.
“Angela, I am sorry but we have to let you go. The company is downsizing and we have to let go most of our fine women and men, right now I have no need for an assistant. Let me just say that you are far more than qualified to be just my assistant. Plus I cannot compensate you for your hard work, any longer.” She says
I don’t say anything for quite awhile as Bev searches my face for a reaction. My mind is racing to the future, showing me a picture of me in a McDonald’s crew outfit.
“I’m sure with credentials like yours; you’d have another job in no time. ” Bev gives me a reassuring smile.
“I’d just like to thank you Mrs. Grayson, for giving me a chance to work with you. It was a pleasure. I just have one favor to ask if it’s ok with you.” I say keeping me composure and putting off my nerves.
“Oh. Sure, Angela.” She smiles again.
“Could you write me up a recommendation letter for résumé purposes?” I say formulating a plan in my mind.
“Certainly, after all you have done a heck of a job in this company. If it were up to me I’d let you stay. If you still haven’t found the right job when we get out of this economical crisis, I’ll let you know.”
“Thanks Bev. I understand. ”
“I’m glad you do. That’s it for the day, just bring me all your files and you may collect your salary in the accounting department. Till we see again, Angela.” Bev says standing up, I find myself mimicking her moves.
“So this is my last day?” I ask growing sadder now. This place has been my home for quite some time and it’s the only stable thing I have in life.
“Yes, it seems I couldn’t afford you if I let you work till Friday.” She says apologetically.
After bidding each other good-bye I packed my things left my workload in Bev’s office and walked all the way to the accounting office. I kept my head high but my thoughts were up in the sky and played my next move over and over in my head. My panicking persons deep inside me just wants to break free from the straight jacket. After receiving my final pay I quickly went to the open parking area and got in my beat up civic. Taking deep breathes in the car seat; the unemployment quickly took over me. I turned on my music as loud as I could and screamed the fear and that unsettling feeling out of my system.
As I miraculously arrived in my apartment, I sat on the floor with my entrance door behind me, looked around the one bedroom space that now looks as if a bomb just hit it. It wasn’t welcoming anymore. To top it all off mail arrived and knocked me in the head as envelops dropped from my mail slot, special delivered.
“Great. Bills. I can’t afford this now I have been downsized.” I said to myself as I gazed fearfully each envelope. As much as I hated the thought, this was all that I could think about. LIVE WITH THE PARENTS. The thought made me shudder and apparently it made my phone do the same.
“Yes.” I answered not even bothering to look at who it is.
“Darling, I just heard. What happened? You didn’t deserve that downsize nonsense.” My mom’s trying-to-comfort-me voice is resounded in my ear.
“Mom? How did you know?” I ask surprised
“We’ll I called the office to beg for you to come this weekend for a little family reunion, your aunts and uncles are coming, but then that man told me you no longer work for the company as of today.” She explains
“Oh. Well, seeing I don’t have a job, I’ll be able to join.” I say less enthused of the thought that the whole family will know about my situation,
“Oh, honey. No need to fret. Why don’t you move back in with us? Your room is till the way it was. Just until you get back on your feet. I bet you couldn’t afford that apartment without a job.” She says in a tone that somehow was endearing yet had a “I-knew-she’d-come-back.” Undertone. Typical mum, even if she means well she never fails to make me feel insignificant, like I can’t do anything on my own.
“I actually thought of that Mum. If you don’t mind me staying for a while.” I say
“Oh honey, of course, I’ll ready your room, move in anytime. Now, I need to shop for the food. See you tomorrow?” She says
“I’ll be there on Friday mom, I have to settle my apartment issues and I need to pack some stuff.” I say
“Ok Hun, I’ll prepare your favorite.” She says and just like that she hung up.
I had a long day laid out for me, I have to talk to the landlord about my apartment, buy boxes to pack all my stuff and move on Friday.
Finally arriving in the front steps of my parent’s house I breathe in and ready myself with all the pity glares and the “be positive” speeches. Before I could make my presence known the door flings wide open and the gleeful, cheerful faces of my parents greets me along with some relatives that has already arrived.
“Angie, darling!” Mom greets me as she gives me a bear hug.
“Mom- too- tight- can’t-breathe.” I say struggling with my mother’s hug, before mom lets go dad hugs us both and kisses my forehead.
“We miss you too much bug.” Dad says as we let go of each other.
They welcomed me in and a couple of cousins greeted me along while helping with my luggage and boxes. Mum lead us up my old room, I stand at the doorway looking at the room as everybody dropped my boxes on the floor and went down leaving me with only my mother.
“Mom, this looks amazing,” I say looking at what seemed like my old room but tidier with new additional pieces that tied up the room together.
“We’ll, Hun. You were a genius with decorating your room I just thought it needed more accents, you know how much I tweak, and sometimes this serves as a guest room.” She says fluffing the pillow and settling it back down.
“Thanks mum, for letting me stay. It’s just until I get lucky with a job.” I Say apologetically.
“Nonsense, darling. Take the time you need, it’s been awhile since you last visit because of that demanding job of yours.” Mom says sitting next to with one arm around my torso.
“Now, I’ll leave you to unpack and freshen up. If you’d like we need help in the kitchen.” Mom says standing up, making her way to my door.
“Ok. Thanks mum. I’ll unpack necessities and maybe change, is tonight the dinner?” I ask
“Yes, we have one tonight and another tomorrow at noon, where other relatives arrive.” mom says leaving me.
Dinner was pretty much the usual pain in the head when you haven’t achieved anything, especially when you have perfect cousins. One of which my ever perfect cousin Jane, who will be arriving tomorrow with good news about her job, I’m sure. The night was long and getting unbearable especially when the relatives took an especially annoying attention to me, telling me how it was ok to lose my job or how I could maybe volunteer since I don’t have a job. The night dragged on, lying in bed I was thankful that I survived, then again I thought of the rest of the weekend and my head started aching again. Having no choice than to stay where I am, I let the soft background from my iPad mini drift me to sleep.
I woke up to loud clanks of pots from the kitchen below my room. I turned to my nightstand and searched for my clock. 9 am and I still wanted to act sick and sleep in, but with all the chaos below it was hard to ignore it. I quickly took a bath; change into comfortable clothes to prepare for the dreaded party.
“Good morning darling” mom greets me ecstatically as I descend the stairs
“Hey, mom. Need help?” I ask lifting up the tray of utensils from the kitchen
“Well. Honey it’s very late but we do need last minute touch ups.” Mum says gesturing to the buffet table that is indeed in need of a few flowers, or a truckload of beauty and huge polishing needed.
“Sure mom.” I say
I made my way to my mother’s incredibly well kept garden of flowers and picked a few blooms to make a simple centerpiece. Minutes passed and I managed to add a chic feel to the buffet. As mom and the rest have finished placing the dishes I followed wiping away the stains from the rim of the dishes. Tweaking the placements until it was pristine. The doorbell rings and mum shoo us away from the table like a couple of flies.
“That looks lovely dear. Now, time for you to change.” Mom orders me as she bolts to the door with a huge grin.
I got up and quickly changed into my best sundress and place my hair in a low ponytail to show off the nice cut of the sundress. I did my best to place color to my cheeks and hide the circles under my eyes that had form ever since lost my job. Put on my comfy strappy wedges and went down bracing myself for the pitiful looks.
Arriving downstairs I spot my family in a commotion, I join in the crowd, as I drew near the formed circle I spot Jane gleaming so happily and beside her was a man who seemed to be equally happy. I looked for clues as to what the commotion was, then a huge gleaming rock hit me, Jane was engaged. I felt the room getting smaller as the crowd spots me and threw pitiful looks my way. How I wish aunt Brenda was here, she’d be my angel, but she was so busy ever since her hotshot boss became a gazillionaire.
Grabbing a glass of wine I slip out the back door and relax on the swing where I usually stay when I’m having a bad day. Sipping wine and staring blankly. I let my thoughts take over me. How much I wished to be as successful as Jane. I take another swing of the wine to prepare me for the Jane’s smug face.
“Why are you here, dear?” A voice calls from behind interrupting my thoughts.
“Mum, I just need air.” I say as I turn to face her, but it wasn’t my mum and a huge smile plastered on my face.
“Aunt Brenda! You made it!” I jump out and hug her tightly
“Buggie! How are you? It’s been awhile since I last saw you.” She says hugging me tight.
“I feel like crap. Haven’t you heard I lost my job and Jane just got engaged?” I say as we both head back to the swing.
“Oh buggie. Everything will work out fine.”
“How did you make time to attend this time Aunt Brenda? It’s been so long.” I say as we both face each other as the swing moves slowly.
“Well, I’m retiring. He finally allowed me to.” She says excitedly
“Retiring? Aren’t you a bit too young to retire? Since now, your jobless, I must say misery loves company.” I say teasingly, Aunt Brenda laughs at my comment and she seemed genuinely happy.
“Well, Robert has helped me so much and agreed that I’m too old to handle stress and set me up to have a comfortable retirement.” She says gleaming back at me.
“Speaking of jobs, I am offering you mine. I’m retiring and I need a replacement. I assure Robert would be pleased.” She says tucking a lock of hair behind my ears as she waited for my answer.
“Oh, Aunt Brenda, you’re a life saver. Are you sure I can do your job?” I ask ecstatic and worried at the same time.
“Buggie, you don’t have to worry, you’re a Morley, and we Morleys give a thousand percent on a job. I know you can do this. Why do you think I gave it to you than Jane?” She says encouraging me.
“Maybe, its because I’m your favorite.” I say
“Well, there’s that.” She smiles
“Thank you so much, Aunt Brenda!” I say leaping to hug her once more.
“Let’s head back, your mum might be wondering where we are.” Aunt Brenda says leading me back to the house.
As we went in, people had started to finish up chatting with the new couple and had started to go through the buffet table. Aunt Brenda and I approached the happy couple to congratulate them.
“Angie!” Jane shrieks at the sight of me and hugs me tightly.
“Hey, Jane.” I say trying so hard to hide my disdain towards her and gave her my fakest endearing smile.
“Ah, this must be Jason Riley.” Aunt Brenda gleamed at the striking man approaching us.
“Guilty and you must be Aunt Brenda and Angela.” He says shaking both our hands.
“I’d like to say congratulations to the both of you. Welcome to the family, Jason.” I say extending my welcome with a handshake.
“Thank you.” He acknowledges with a genius smile. Jason seemed like a good guy, I wonder how Jane charmed him with her guarded look, her scary stares and know it all talk.
“So, How are you?” She asks in a step ford wife manner while ushering Jason, Aunt Brenda and I to sit.
“Did I tell you Jason is a lawyer? He is soon to be offered, partner.” She interrupts me disregarding my pathetic explanation as she glows with pride as our relatives praised her.
“Oh, that’s wonderful dear, we’re so proud of you.” My mom comes in with cookies on a silver platter and sits between Jane and I.
“I heard the sad news of you losing your Job, Angie. It’s scary how nothing is stable in this world.” Jane gives me a perfectly orchestrated concerned look.
“Well, our company is hiring right now, I’d be glad to help you. Although it’s a bit lower than what you might be used to” Jason offers
“Oh she’s going to be able to adjust easily, She has to start somewhere. Angie you should do it.” Jane interrupts Jason, trying to convince me to take the offer.
“That’s so nice of you to offer Jason. Dear, you should do it.” Mum chants as she turned her attention from Jason to me.
“Uh- it’s ok-” I stutter to formulate the words to say to Jane, mum and Jason, who now is looking at me intently, their look made me tense, making me want to run away.
“Angie already has a job. She just got hired this morning.” I hear aunt Brenda saving me from these people.
“Really? Angie you never told me about a job.” Jane says in a louder voice letting other people overhear our conversation.
“Where exactly are you going to work now, Angie? Is it still an assisting job for a magazine? What was that last job it was flutter? Fireworks? What was it? ” Jane bombards me with questions making me feel uncomfortable she had this look in her eyes feeling superior over me.
“It was Confetti and yes it is an assisting job.” I say able to finally answer Jane who looks pleased with my answer and everyone’s sympathy looks was so obvious making me feel sad about my situation.
“Well, a bit more than assisting, She’ll be working for Robert Alexander Sleigh.” Aunt Brenda interrupts to make a statement that no one can miss. I see Jane’s reaction wishing she never ask.
As everybody heard, few cousins stressed their happiness and excitement for me, while mom was gleaming with joy spreading my employment like wild fire. I, on the other hand, am glad that aunt Brenda was here to save me from the pitiful glances and even was able to turn those pitiful looks to approving looks.
Jane looking scared of losing the limelight, she changed the topic.
“Angie, congratulations. There’s one thing I need to ask you though.” She says
“Will you be my maid of honor?” She asks after a few moments of suspense.
“Um, well, could I be second in command to the maid of honor?” I pleaded, since I didn’t know if I’d be able to fulfill the maid-of-honor duties. Plus I didn’t want to cater to her every need.
“Oh, anything for you, all you have to do is show up on my wedding weekend and have as much fun with me.” She smiles giddily and hugging me. Everyone was awed at our display of affection.
“So how did you two meet? I’m sorry to be asking it’s just that I didn’t hear the story. I was out in the back.” I say as Jane pulled away form me.
Jason smiled back as if accepting my apology and started to chat about how Jane and he met at a conference that Jane was attending and went on the boring financial jokes and how they knew the moment they introduced themselves to each other that they were meant to be. Jane was flaunting her extravagant ring soaking up the praises, telling them it was a family heirloom.
As the afternoon dragged on aunt Brenda and I sat in the comfy poolside sofa together as we drank our punch and ate home made fries.
“So Aunt Brenda, what is my scope of work exactly?” I asked eyeing her.
“Don’t worry buggie; since I know you are absolutely well organized, I know you are going to please Robert.” She says laughing at me as if she tricked me into a cult.
“Aunt Brenda. I’m not kidding what if I’m not cut out for it?” I say now really worried.
“Dear dear Angela, let me explain to you what your job is. Basically, your life will revolve around Robert. You take care of all his transactions, business, pleasure and all the aspects of his life.” She explains
“Pleasure? What do you mean by all aspects?” I say taken a back this time getting scared of those two words who had somehow impressed to me had double meanings. Eww. Date an old guy, not an option.
“Dear, Robert is a bachelor who has dates; your job is to cater to his needs. That has always been the case. You basically get up before he does. If he had his dates and it ended well, and by ended well-”
“You mean she spent the night?” I finish her sentence
“Yes, you ask the cleaners to clean up his room have the girl’s wardrobe dry cleaned and send it back up. Every morning you head to his apartment for a briefing and head together in the office and there you handle your end, receive calls, fix the calendar and whatever it is.” She explains. I listen this time, my heads Swirls with all the information.
“So basically, I’m the help, a mother and a slave. Do you even have days off?” I ask
“It’s not that bad dear, you get paid well, you travel to places you’ve never been. Yes you have days off Saturday afternoon and Sunday. Unless of course if you have business to attend to o. Those days then you get paid extra.” She says very amused to my horror expression.
“Ok, if you say so.” I say totally horrified and excited at the same time.
“One favor, could I please crash in your apartment for like a day or something I promise I’ll find a place by then.” I pleaded
“Of course, stay as long as you like.”
“So pack up now, we’re leaving tonight.” She says
“You booked me a ticket?”
“I know you’d agree, because like me I never back out of an opportunity and I know you’d rather get out this family bonding.” She says winking at me, I smiled and immediately nerves took over me.
I woke up the next day, in luxurious bedding; I almost wished I could sleep in. I sat up and slid out of bed and walked out of Aunt Brenda’s huge condo unit. Apparently working for a rich gazillionaire lets you inherit your employer’s living. It was already 5 in the morning; I was excited and alone on the breakfast nook. I decided to run out the condo and grab a quick pick me up since I didn’t know how to work half of Aunt Brenda’s equipment.
I went down to the nearest coffee shop; luckily there was no line. I was about to order when this guy in his jogging outfit cut me off and ordered. It seemed he was a regular because the giddy barista started to make his coffee.
“Um- Excuse me?” I voice out really annoyed at this guy
“Yes?” He says facing me
“Manners? Weren’t you taught to never cut in line?” I ask feeling annoyed at this guy who seemed to be fine with his actions
“Sorry, I didn’t see you.” He says looking right at me, trying to figure me out.
“You didn’t see me? Are you visually impaired? I was just here.” I motioned to show him how idiotic his statement was
“As I said I’m sorry. Why don’t I buy your coffee for the trouble I caused you?” He offered
“No, thank you. I suggest next time you stay in line like a normal person.” I say and before he could answer little me sunshine barista came back with a flirty look and a coffee on the other hand.
“Good-bye.” He says in a silent voice, I nodded at him and then turned my attention at the barista who was still flirting and waving at him.
After the annoying start to my day, I decided to not let it bother me so I dressed professionally in my best pencil skirt and conservative flowing blouse I wait in the living area for any signs of Aunt Brenda. After a few minutes, Aunt Brenda came from the front door and surprised me.
“Aunt Brenda? Where have you been?” I ask
“Robert’s suite. I’ glad you already dressed up. He is on the way to the office and I came back here to fetch you for your interview.” She says taking me off the sofa and on our way.
As we reached the condominium entrance, I noticed a black SUV has parked on the driveway.
“Wow what a car! So aunt Brenda should I get my car? ” I ask
“No dear, that is our car. Robert insisted.” She says amused at my offer.
“What? Really?” I asked with a huge grin plastered on my face. I could get used to this.
“Yes dear, let’s get a move on, Robert is waiting for us.”
Without another minute spared we got into the car made our way to Sleigh Holdings Incorporated for my interview. As we reached the driveway I took a deep breath and readied myself.
“Are you ok?” Aunt Brenda asks
“Nervous, excited.” I reply searching the place.
“Don’t be. Come on.”
Aunt Brenda ushers me to the pristine lobby of white marble floor and floor to ceiling glass curtain walls and hints of black cladded columns stopped me in my tracks. Aunt Brenda gave me a few seconds to marvel in the beauty of the lobby. The elevator pinged and opened for us and we get in. As we moved higher and higher I was getting really nervous I took a lock of hair and started twirling it around my fingers. In seconds we arrived and I straighten up. Aunt Brenda gestures for me to follow her out. We walked though an aisle, on my right was clerks who were smartly dressed in suits and on my left were private cubicles of those in higher position. I kept with Aunt Brenda’s pace until we reached a huge lobby with crisp white sofas and a modern desk where aunt Brenda had place her belongings. In swift movements she took off her coat and hid it in a closet.
“So are we ready?” She asks me as she gestures me to hand over my coat.
“Well, let me warn you. Robert is quite stern, but you’ll warm up to his attitude. No personal questions unless you are required to ask like for example a medical reference.” She briefs me
“And you tell me now that he’s stern? Aunt Brenda you’re going to murder me.” I say more nervous than expected.
“Don’t worry.” She motions for me to stay as she pops her head in the office. After a few seconds she turns to me and beckons me to join her as she opens the door widely.