April stared at her reflection in the computer screen as her fingers tapped out rows of numbers. She worked on the top floor of the educational welfare centre, inputting data. The office was large with five long rows of desks. Each desk occupied by a key tapping assistant creating a chorus of drumming that failed to lull April into a relaxed mood today. The section managers were rushing between computers, swearing between breaths and loosening their tie’s whilst drinking endless cups of thick brown coffee whilst it was still fresh in the pot.
‘Conference room now.’ April’s manager, John, a large man with black rimmed glasses and greying hair said as he passed her desk.
‘Yes sir.’ April said snapping out of her day dream and gulping down the last of her coffee. She’d been in the office since seven, eager to keep her name at the top of the achievement board. John liked her enthusiasm. She was a good worker he thought to himself, above average intelligence and eager to learn more. But most of all she was the prettiest thing in the office. He gave her a thirty second head start, plenty of time to get that seat in the front row, where he could stare at her perfectly toned legs whilst pretending to be looking at the floor.
April practically skipped to the front of the conference room, eager to get the centre seat in the front row before Jeff from accounts. It was the perfect seat to get yourself seen by management. Jeff gave her a knowing nod of approval as he took his seat three rows back.
‘We need volunteers to take on extra work.’ John said suddenly appearing at the front of the room glancing around at the eager faces. April didn’t hesitate. She reached her arm up high and arched her back. The top button on her pink blouse popped open as she knew it would and John smiled handing her a thick yellow binder with a small yellow USB.
‘Croftpark Primary school, April, check for indiscretions, pupil numbers cross matched with the society training programme. Full investigation, by eight tomorrow morning.’ John said.
Jeff smirked, imagining April alone in the office surrounded by paperwork, tearful and frightened with John leering over her shoulder.
‘Yes sir, thank you sir.’ April said taking the folder with trembling hands. It didn’t occur to April until she was back in her seat that Croftpark was the school that her sister, Poppy, taught at. She took a deep breath to steady her nerves. ‘I can do this, I. Can. Do. This.’ She said staring at her reflection in the blacked out window opposite her desk. She watched the way her lips curled as she pronounced each word.
‘Well played April, well played. You done an in-depth yet?’ Jeff perched himself on the corner of her desk blocking April’s view of her reflection.
‘Yes I have.’ April said, wondering if the case study in her first year of training counted.
‘Yeah? I must a been away that week. Pop down for your finance sheets, and hey,’ Jeff said walking away ‘Shout if you need anything.’
‘Sure thing.’ April said taking her mobile phone out from her draw. She called up her sister’s name and started to tap out a message, and then suddenly stopped dropping the phone onto her desk.
Right on cue thought Jeff as April called out his name.
‘What happens if.’ She said looking over her shoulder. ‘There’s a conflict of interest, you know like.’
‘Family? Then you need to buddy up my dear.’ Jeff wasn’t actually sure if that was true, but he liked the way it sounded. ‘You collect the data, and I’ll analyse. Only if you want to, you‘ll take full credit of course.’ Jeff said pushing his hands into his pockets and rocking back on the heels of feet.
‘So you’ll be like my assistant.’ April said. This caused her to smile, a wide beautiful smile that Jeff thought made her green eyes twinkle. Poppy liked the idea of having an assistant, off having Jeff as her assistant.
Karen Hayward* ©2017