Rose didn’t know the disciplinary routine, had never been in trouble, and was mortified at Sam’s assumption that she had been. How exactly would Sam phrase her insult on the disciplinary form?

‘She used foul language and questioned my ability to satisfy my wife.’

 ‘She challenged my authority and ridiculed me in front of my entire editorial team.’

‘She insulted my capability as a man.’

 ‘She said… penis.’

William Shakespeare 2000 [photo: David Austin Roses]

William Shakespeare 2000 [photo: David Austin Roses]

But I didn’t, she almost said aloud. No, she’d just have to wait to read the form to find out. And that’s when she realised this would be on her personnel file forever. Inappropriate language. Insulting her manager. Things you shouldn’t do, things Rose never imagined she would do. People who didn’t know her might read this and think this was the type of person she was, they might make judgements based on these accusations. She felt ashamed and yes, frightened, frightened she might lose her job.

No matter how foul Sam was, no matter how much she was tempted to, she must never insult him again. Even if it meant lying to his face.

“What are you still standing here for? Get out.”

Rose got out.

“And case studies, Rosemary,” Sam shouted at her back. “I want case studies. Excellent ones.”

She went out into the empty corridor and leant against the wall. She had to make this right, and quickly. This menopause feature had better be a Tenner. But case studies? Only three kinds of people wanted to be featured in case studies: self-promoters, liars and madmen.

Oh. My. God.

What a mess, what a chance. Clutching Sam’s folder she walked back to her desk, aware that everyone was moving around her quietly, giving her extra space as if there’d been a death in her family and no-one knew what to say. She was going to write her best feature ever. The folder was stuffed with medical reports and newspaper cuttings. She picked out Sam’s briefing sheet.

Premature Ovarian Failure.
Career women who postpone having babies until their forties are finding out their biological clock stopped ticking in their twenties and they’re prematurely infertile. The punters’ll love it. Don’t make it too graphic, no need to go into gynaecological details. And for God’s sake call it ‘early menopause,’ Premature Ovarian Failure sounds like something wrong with my car.

She read everything once. Then read them again, writing notes. The more she read, the more her stomach twisted inside. One case study detailed a woman who sounded the spitting image of Lily. Rose gazed into the distance, concentrating on how it must feel to want a child so much but be denied it by your body. Is this how Lily feels? For the second time that day Rose missed their mother who had always protected them from pain.

Well Mum’s not here so now it’s my job to protect Lily.

Rose read an NHS leaflet which said the condition was inherited down the female line. The first step was to ask your female relatives about their experience of menopause.

Rose picked up the phone. There was only one person alive she could ask about the female medical history of her family. Rose let the phone ring and ring, expecting Grandma Bizzie to be in the garden, pruning roses or spraying her soft fruit with a soapsuds mixture to deter bugs.

“Hello?” Her grandmother’s voice drifted questioningly high on the ‘o’.

“Gran? It’s Rose. I need to ask you about The Change.”
© Sandra Danby

…in IGNORING GRAVITY #16: Lily’s plan to talk to William about a baby does not go to plan.

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.


  1. Ah, Rose has me now… I was so outraged at Sam’s treatment of her and what an idiot he is. Rose’s unexpected forthrightness was as unsettling to her but amusing to me 🙂