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Short story: <i>Monday morning</i>

Eliza sat demurely at her workstation, waiting for the digital clock in front of her to flick its ugly grey numbers over to read 8:30.

She stretched out her legs under the table, kicking out at her regulation grey footstool with her non-regulation bare feet. Every morning, when she arrived at her regulation grey workstation with her regulation maroon chair, she liked to kick off her regulation enclosed-toe/no thongs, sensible, black work shoes, and wriggle her toes under the desk.

This was at 8:25AM precisely, every weekday morning, excluding some (not all) public holidays according to the regulation daily calender that adorned her, and all of her colleagues', desks. At 8:26 she turned on her computer. The computer was supposed to be more cream than grey, but thanks to overuse and general grime and despair, all of the computers had a sort of filmy grey layer upon them.

At 8:27 she opened the lid of her steaming takeaway paper cup of full cream latte and inhaled deeply. Sure, it was a rip off at $4.25 per coffee, particularly when there was complimentary coffee and tea in the regulation grey staffroom, but the staffroom coffee seemed to have taken on the drab colour and taste of its surroundings. And when Eliza carried in the bright, pink papercup that her coffee came in, it gave her a little thrill, like seeing a rare orchid grow out of desert. Furthermore, she didn't want to leave her workstation to go to the kitchen, or she would be forced to put her shoes back on.

At 8:28 fat Merve, who had the workstation diagonally opposite her, arrived. This, Eliza conceded, was flirting with disaster... if he was delayed for but two minutes, and arrived after 8:30... well, who knew what would happen? It was unheard of, during Eliza's time. But it wouldn't be pretty, she recognised that. 8:28 also meant logging into her computer, and quickly digesting the pertinent stories in the online newspaper she subscribed to. She had only two minutes, which really honed down her ability to speed read. Train accident, arson attack, election called. The usual disasters. At 8:29 she closed the paper and began tapping her regulation unpolished fingernails on her desk, watching the clock and keeping her eyes on the walkway that swept from the front doors past her workstation, up to the big office with the oak door.

Merve got up from his desk at about twenty seconds to, and started lumbering over to the photocopy machine. Eliza fumbled quickly in her tray - if she had to get up that meant shoes - and shoved a photocopy and a smile quickly in Merve's direction, keeping her eyes trained on the walkway.

Ten seconds to... in swept Gina. Her hair was perfect, her clothes were sumptuous and professional. She walked deliberately up the walkway, raising her eyebrows at stragglers and ignoring the little people at their workstations. Eliza quickly ducked her head and eyes and glued her fingers to the keyboard. She stared at the screen and typed in a heartfelt manner, as though she loved her regulation grey job and depended on it for her very happiness and peace of mind. Gina didn't pause, but stalked up to her oak door, unlocked it, and shut it very firmly behind her.

Eliza relaxed.

At 8:51 Sylvia, a little grey lady who had had her name tag affixed to her regulation grey workspace possibly before Eliza was even born, timidly approached Gina's office.

She knocked, twice.

Nothing happened.

She knocked again. Eliza looked around towards the door. So did Merve. So did all the people in that area.

Nothing happened.

Sylvia put her hand on the doorknob, tentatively. Eliza held her breath.

Sylvia opened the door, slowly.

And screamed.

And fainted.

The door drifted open, continuing on its path.

And Merve, and Eliza, and all the people in their area, saw what Sylvia had seen.

Gina, hanging from the ceiling. With her perfect toes pointing downwards, her elegant cream suit still elegant, and her face, blossoming red and purple with suffocation.

Eliza scrunched her toes secretly under the table. Today wasn't going to be a regulation grey day at all.

This is the result of a thirty minute writing exercise. The only constrictions were the time limit and five randomly selected words from the dictionary. Today the words were: sumptuous, recognised, photocopy, heartfelt and election.

Image courtesy of suckamc:.

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