Another of my writing exercises from the How to Write Flash Fiction that doesn’t Suck! I’m sure many people can relate to this woman’s need to find a new job.
The Last Straw
I was just sinking my toes into warm, powdery sand, a cold drink being handed to me by a very fit young man when…”Ann! Are you with us?”
I jerked back to my reality, the boss glaring at me from the end of the conference room table.
“As I was saying,” he moved his glare around the room, “it’s all hands on deck. This proposal isn’t going to write itself. All vacations are hereby cancelled until after the presentations.”
My heart fell and it felt like the room went dark. I’d been planning my South Pacific beach get away for over a year. I already had my plane tickets and hotel reservations for two weeks from now. “But…,” every head in the room snapped around and every eye focused on me.
“Yes, Ann?” He looked at me as though I were an éclair, the fat slob.
“Um, what about the employees who’ve made plans?” I looked around the table for some support but no one was stepping up. “Uh, they’ve bought tickets and stuff,” I finished lamely.
He snorted, “They’ll have to get refunds.” Standing up he continued, “I’ve sent sections of the proposal to each of you. I expect your drafts on my desk in a week.”
I delivered the bad news to my team. Of course they weren’t any happier about it than I was. I felt most sorry for Ben. He was getting married next month and had booked a honeymoon in England, hiking Hadrian’s Wall. It told him we’d see what we could do closer to the date. I thought about my old college friend Mike, who worked in consulting. What a plum job; do a particular project and then on to the next, able to schedule vacations between jobs.
We worked all week on our section of the proposal. At the Friday meeting it turned out everything we wrote actually fit into all the other proposal sections. What a stroke of luck! Maybe I could take my vacation after all.
I spent the evenings going to my hotel’s on-line site, imagining myself on that beautiful beach.
Tuesday, I was working a few details, meshing the proposal plan to everyone else’s when I got a call from Finance. “Hey Gary,” I said into the phone. “Our section of the proposal isn’t over-budget is it?”
“Uh, no, Ann, that’s not why I called.”
I relaxed into my chair. If it wasn’t the proposal, there wasn’t anything else in my department to worry about.
“I don’t know how to say it,” he took a deep breath. “Your bank just failed.”
A week later Ann sat her drink down in the sand next to her, adjusting the sunshade over her head. Speaking into her headset, “Yes, Michael, I’m ready to begin.” Selecting a file from her Ipod, it appeared on the screens of all the other teleconference members. “My section of the proposal is…”
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