“Ms Haldane. My office. Now.” Sam didn’t look at her.

Frank shrugged at her sympathetically as everyone else trailed behind Sam out of the meeting room. Rose hesitated, alone amongst a sea of scattered chairs, paper snowballs and abandoned coffee cups. She glanced towards the ceiling and was thankful her mother was not around to hear her language. She would have been appalled, then she would have asked Rose why she was still working at the Herald if she hated it so much.

The Shepherdess [photo: David Austin Roses]

The Shepherdess [photo: David Austin Roses]

On the way back to her desk she heard raised voices in Sam’s office. May was face-to-face with him, looking down from her superior height, he was shuffling backwards as if he dare not turn his back. You’d have thought it was May’s office, not his. When he spun around he saw Rose standing outside the door, his face was blazing as if doused in shiraz.

“Rosie, I said now and I meant now. Get your arse in here.”

Rose put her hands in her pockets, dug her nails into her palms, and walked towards him, trying not to gag on the stench of stale cigarette smoke from his misshapen green tweed jacket. She passed May on her way out.

He shut the door and didn’t offer Rose a chair. She stood there, wishing she’d never read Desmond Morris.

“Your behaviour just now was completely unacceptable. Completely unacceptable. If it was up to me you’d never write a feature again.  But… there are procedures to be followed and I can’t just kick you out. But be in no doubt, Rosie, if I could I would.” He tapped a cigarette out of the packet on his desk, then put it back in again. “Bloody no smoking do-gooders.”

Rose watched him.

“But… May thinks… May likes your writing style… humph, making something out of nothing, she said. So she wants…” he looked at the folder in his hand, “… 3,000 words. Early menopause. You’ve got three weeks to write it. Here.” He thrust the folder at her.

Rose stepped forward to take it from him. His hand was shaking. So was hers.

“Case studies, expert witnesses, graphs, charts, everything. The facts, the emotions, the tears.” He shook another cigarette out of the packet and this time lit it.

Rose tried to breath through her mouth, hoping the smoke alarm would go off. It didn’t. Knowing Sam, he’d disconnected it.

“This doesn’t mean you’re off the hook, Rosa. Mess this up and your arse’ll be out of here quicker than I can fart.”

‘Fart’ was his second favourite word.

“As of now you’re under review. You know the disciplinary routine. One more mistake, you’re out.”
© Sandra Danby

…in IGNORING GRAVITY #15: Rose fears she’s discovered the reason for Lily’s inability to conceive.

This is the 15th instalment of ‘Ignoring Gravity’ about identity detective Rose Haldane. To start reading from the beginning, please click on the category ‘My Novel: Ignoring Gravity’ in the right hand menu.