It’s the first day in the new job and Marian is rushing to be on time. She left home when she should have, but even so she ended up running very late. Very late indeed.
She had woken at 6 am, stumbled out of bed and into the shower, where five minutes later she conceded she might be able to face the day. She should be excited, it being the first day in a new job. She isn’t. She doesn’t want this job. Working in an office poring over spreadsheets all day. That isn’t what life is supposed to be about. Her parents had urged her, however.
‘It’s a good salary, secure, and the chance for promotion if you work hard,’ her father said.
He would know. It was what he had done, one of the last people on earth to work for the same company his entire career, rising up the ranks sufficiently to retire on a nice pension.
Marian doesn’t want to rise to be chief spreadsheet supervisor.
‘This will bring you in money until you decide what you really want to do,’ her mother said.
Marian threw out her hands. ‘I have decided. I want to be a famous actor.’
Her mother smiled gently. Once, Marian knows, her mother had the same aspirations. She reached almost-famous standards, she liked to say, with television commercials and walk-on parts in sit coms for several years, before being heaved aside by other talent.
Marian will do better. After all, she graduated from drama school and has done her fair share of waitressing. But while waiting to become a famous actor, she needs to eat and to leave home, which is stifling her, and afford a room in a share house.
So this morning, Marian woke at 6 am and stumbled dutifully into the shower. She left home on time, having gulped a cup of tea and bolted a piece of toast made by her mother. She hurries along the leaf-littered pavement, head down against a blustering wind which will do her hair no good at all.
She’s halfway to the station when she remembers her phone is still in its charger. Damn and buggery. She can’t even get to work without its tap-on-things or wave-at-them ability. She turns around, the wind at her back this time, and scurries back along the pavement.
To find her way blocked by an on-location film unit and a man with a clipboard, scratching his hair with a pen. He looks up as she approaches.
‘Ah, good,’ he exclaims. ‘Only a few minutes late, but won’t hold that against you. After all, first day of the shoot and everything’s a bit loopy.’ He eyes her suitable-for-poring-over-spreadsheets clothing. ‘And perfectly dressed for the part. Won’t need wardrobe, just a bit of makeup.’
Marian opens her mouth to say there’s been a mistake. And shuts it again. And opens it again.
‘Sorry about being late,’ she says. ‘Couldn’t find my script and wasted time looking for it.’ She gives him her well-rehearsed best smile. The one she will wear for the non-smouldering publicity shots. ‘You don’t happen to have a spare on you, do you?’
Find Cheryl’s flash fiction and short stories, including audio versions of some, here!