I’m still suffering from a virus, so today’s piece is short and sweet. It’s dedicated to all the temps out there who are promised the world, and shown an atlas.

The news shocked her. It wasn’t what she was expecting. Last week, they liked her. Loved her, even… and now? Now she wasn’t so sure. She could hear the words being said, but they are muffled, cotton-wooled. The words didn’t even seem to be in English.

‘… and I’m really angry about it. Sydney has no right to…’

Detached, she watched his lips mouth the words. His fingers drum the table, agitated. His pupils are dilated. Tiny beads of sweat dot his forehead. He’s nervous. Tough conversations were never his forté. She feels cleaved from her body, as if she were part of an audience watching a movie scene play out. She wondered who would play her in the movie of her life. Julia Roberts? Cate Blanchett?

‘… your last day…’

She halts the stream of words, snapped back to reality. ‘I’m sorry. What did you say? My last day?’

‘Yes, Jessica. Tomorrow is your last day. Sydney has stepped in, and they can’t extend you beyond tomorrow. I’m sorry. I tried. I really did. But my hands are tied.’

She oozes disappointment, shoulders sag. This was the one place she had felt truly accepted. They had welcomed her. Loaded her up with responsibility. Handballed her unsolvable problems, which she happened to solve. She had been promised permanency, a rare gift in these unstable economic times. She had not seen this coming.

She watches the platitudes drip from his lips and tries to assimilate what she is being told. Yesterday, he was talking about interviews, and job descriptions and pay grades. Today, nothing. She knows that once Sydney is involved – that convenient third party scapegoat – the decision is made and cannot be reversed. She just wants out of that office, away from claustrophobic news bearing down on her. Who made this decision? Why? How long have they known? Good questions all, but given the intricacies of the politics, she doubted she would ever know.

‘Right. Ok then. I guess there’s nothing more to say.’ She tilts her chin, defiant, dignified.

Recovering, she unfolds herself from the chair, opens the door and exits, head up, shoulders back. She returns to her desk, dodging the sympathetic glances from her soon-to-be ex-colleagues. They knew. She stares at the computer screen, willing it to offer solace, a solution. It doesn’t.

What the hell was she going to do now?

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