by Leanne Adler

Good lord, please start, Gloria thought as her eyes roamed the busy room and she registered the faces of the colleagues she knew, the ones she didn’t and the ones she’d rather not. Three of the latter category were perched on chairs at her table, sipping the coffee that tasted like someone had squeezed the left-over water from and dirty cleaning cloth into the coffee machine. All three of them looked alike, frumpy and in between the four walls of other people’s office, they would be considered trashy. Especially Estelle, Gloria mused. The nasal girl on her right had her hair pulled back into a bun so tightly that if there had been a hint of a wrinkle on her forehead, surely it had been stretched out by now. Forget plastic surgery.

On a table to her left she spotted the “Directors”. A group of middle aged men and women, ready for their first mid-life crisis, who insisted people in France were the only people who understood the expression of grandeur and elegance. And because they would only speak French at every and any occasion, their presence was rendered useless at most meetings. They were there purely for political reasons. Keep the French happy, keep your company happy.

The room, with its tall windows and walls covered in mirrors had a tasteful and classic feel, though Gloria was sure the designers had tried to please both the men and the women with their choice of baby blue and baby pink as decorative fillers. Great for an expensive baby-shower where the happy mommy to be refused to confess the sex of the baby (or the real father).

At the first coffee break the “worker bees” all flocked together at the edges of the room and though normally Gloria had her colleagues with her as a buffer, their recent departure had made her a Fendi in a room full of Vivienne Westwood. The snide remarks about the height of her heels and the line of her pencil skirt were gracefully delivered between the servings of cremation-cake and the synthesizer bird sounds in the toilet cubicles. With her head leaning against the cubicle wall she would wait for them to leave, trot out moments later and whisper around a rumour about Estelle fucking a colleague in the elevator at the office. Life was peachy sometimes.