The Job, Part Seven: Job Satisfaction

A serialized story in seven parts

Ken Preston

31 January 2024

Big heavy books falling from the sky

This is it, the final part.

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7. Job Satisfaction

The following morning, a Wednesday, found Susan back at work in good time to be near the front of the queue. Despite keeping a lookout, Susan could not see Betsy.

Inside the vast space full of cubicles, Susan found her desk with no problem. She sat down in front of the massive book, open where she had left it yesterday. The sounds of the other girls pulling out their chairs and sitting at their desks pleased Susan. She had been early today.

A small surge of pride blossomed in her chest.

Mr. Withershaw would be pleased.

And maybe he would tell Miss Evangeline.

The day passed like all the others and before she knew it, the discordant bell was piercing its way into her consciousness and jolting her back to reality. Thursday and Friday passed in much the same way.

Susan did not see Betsy for the rest of the week.

At the weekend, Susan prowled her tiny apartment like a caged animal. The skin on her hands itched, and she scratched at them alternately, in an effort to calm the sensation of spiders crawling and biting. Her sleep was plagued with dreams of massive, leather-bound volumes hurtling from the sky and killing people.

On Monday morning, she was the first in line, waiting for Mr. Withershaw to open up. Was that a hint of pleasure she spotted on his face as he made a notation in his tiny notebook when she passed him?

At the end of the day, the bell rang, and the women stood up to leave.

Susan noticed a face she didn’t recognize. The woman appeared confused, bewildered.

‘It’s time to go now,’ Susan said.

‘Really?’

‘Today’s your first day, isn’t it?’

‘Yes.’ The woman frowned.

‘I know how you feel,’ Susan said. ‘It’s all a bit odd, isn’t it? But don’t worry, it gets better.’

‘Is it lunchtime?’ the woman said.

Susan giggled. ‘No, it’s home time.’

‘But… it can’t be, I…’

‘I know,’ Susan said. ‘I felt exactly the same as you on my first day. Come on, I’ll show you the way out. My name’s Susan, how about you?’

‘Jill.’ They began walking, following the other women through the maze of cubicles.

‘Bring yourself some lunch tomorrow,’ Susan said. ‘Mr. Withershaw doesn’t really like us eating while we’re working, but he’s never around that much, so you’ll be all right.’

‘Tomorrow?’ Jill said. ‘Oh, I’m not coming back. I couldn’t stand another day of this.’

Susan laughed. ‘That’s what I said after my first day. But I came back, and you will too.’ She paused to look back over her shoulder at the rows and rows of cubicles, and the laughter died on her lips.

‘We all come back to the job,’ she said. ‘You’ll see.’

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