Copyright © 2013 Mary Hughes
All rights reserved
forward, but attempted to study Cliff with her peripheral vision. He was sitting rather straight . She turned her face slightly, then took a quick glance at him.
started going over what had just happened in her mind. [MH2] She had been right, hadn’t she? He was allowing himself to be corrupted by the lure of the almighty dollar , wasn’t
to turn down a small lane marked ‘private drive’.
The road was lined with large arching trees
, giving it the appearance of a chapel aisle[MH6] . Then, suddenly, the lane gave way to a parking lot surrounded by small ponds , and over
a footbridge was the corporate headquarters for Hawkesclyffe Computers.
As Vickie got out of the car, she saw Tess and Phil come out of the building, and waved to them. They
saw her and [MH8] waved back. She looked at Cliff, wondering if he was going to fire her now or later. Cliff, oblivious to her mood however, was calmly taking her suitcases from the Mercedes and transferring them to her Ford.[MH9]
Phil put his arm around her in a fatherly way and started walking
back. “This is what we’ve always talked about for our team . You’ve got to see the size of the offices !”
Vickie turned back.
Cliff had finished unloading the Mercedes.“Go on
, Vickie. Get used to the place. We’ll talk later.”
Hope rose suddenly in her chest. Maybe he was different. Maybe he did care. She felt like laughing. At least he hadn’t fired her.
Tess and Phil
were right. She did love the inside as much as the outside.
The offices were quiet, well‑spaced and well lit. Everywhere she turned, there seemed to be a window, and the roof was dotted with sky‑lights. There was an abundance of greenery
inside as well as out.
there seemed as fully charged as those who were outside. She found out later that the people outside were not just on break; it didn’t matter where people wanted to work, outside or in.
were ‘the vendor’, they had
been given offices every bit as big and nice as those she had already
“And wait ‘til you see your office!” Tess grinned in excitement.
looked more the size of the conference room they had been in only yesterday. ‘Her’ desk was the size of an aircraft carrier.
Then she got the real shocker.
, carrying a steaming cup of coffee. “Cliff says you like it plain ,” he said, smiling.
She stood there, staring at this polite
, handsome, blonde young man.
She heard Tess gasp, and knew that her friend’s matrimony radar was pinging off the scale, but the only thing she could think of was that Cliff knew how she liked her coffee. Cliff cared about how she liked her coffee. He must care a little about her, mustn’t he? Even if he didn’t care about anyone else?
She realized she had waited too long, and took the coffee from him. “I’m John,” he said.
“And before you ask, I type 90 words a minute.”
“I’m Vickie,” she responded in kind, “and I type 75 words a minute[MH11] .” John smiled at her. She put
her coffee cup down and held out her hand. “Pleased to meet you.”
He shook her hand with a firm clasp, one she returned easily.
“This is Tess, our lead designer, and Phil, our top project manager.” They shook hands all around, and Vickie started to settle back. John was so natural and friendly toward her.
If only Cliff could be, too.
Vickie spent the rest of the afternoon
touring the facilities , oohing over the company gym and aahing over the gourmet subsidized cafeteria[MH12] , then meeting Cliff’s people, and re‑acquainting herself with some of her own people whom she hadn’t worked with in a while.
She was winding the day up in the big office
, and the thought
of Cliff made her wonder where he was. She felt better now
. Maybe she could even face him without making a fool out of herself. She buzzed John. “Could you tell me how I contact Mr. Hawkesclyffe?”
John’s voice came through the phone. “Cliff? He left for
an hour ago. He’ll be gone three months.” England
dropped suddenly in her chest. He had said they would talk , later. In reality he didn’t
say good‑bye. She
very bad, angry and hurt and confused.
just like Ron all over again. She still remembered that day, after one of their ever‑increasing arguments. She had called his office to apologize, to try to work things out. He was gone.
[MH3]I was trained to keep everything belonging to one thought together in a paragraph, and put the stinger at the end.
Fact of the matter is, for speed-readers (who only read the 1st sentence in a paragraph), that stinger will get lost. If a sentiment deserves it, I now pull it into its own paragraph.
[MH5]The first thing I had to overcome to be published, and something I still work at, is what to imply versus what to spell out. I imply here that Vickie relaxes at the sight of the open fields, but that's based on my own commute home at the time. My experience is not universal, therefore I chose to spell out her relaxing.
[MH6]The chapel aisle metaphor was good, but I think wedding chapel pops more. Not everyone will have seen a chapel but most of us will have an image of a decorated wedding aisle, if only from television.
[MH8]This is legitimate but seeing her first is not necessary in my opinion. Cliff seeing her would be charged with more importance but her coworkers can just wave.
[MH9]Another thing I work at is not to have cars, people, or random body parts appear out of nowhere without explanation.
[MH10]I'm an "action" writer--what's going on is more important to me that miscellaneous stuff. I like to drop right into the action of the scene. But setting is important. Think the couple-second establishing shot at the start of most television scenes. So I added this description of HCC. I had fun with it so it may have gone on a bit longer than necessary. I may trim it for the final cut.