The Office by Shanna

The office was not what Jessie remembered, nor was it was she expected.

 

The people were not what she remembered either, Jessie thought, as she stepped off the elevator. She slowly brought her hands down from covering her ears, as the loud and boisterous employees she had road up with in the elevator scurried off to their desks, well-fed and energetic from lunch. Looking up, she was surprised by the new blue walls.

 

“Something else that is different,” she thought.

 

She walked up close to the wall and ran her fingers over the rough texture. The wall was cool and Jessie imagined the color was like a serene pool of water.

 

“Be calm,” Jessie murmured to herself. “Be like the walls.”

 

She glanced back at the elevator doors, hoping she would be able to get back into the elevator when she left. There was some new kind of device in the elevator where you had to scan your employee badge to get to the correct floor. Jessie didn’t remember that being there. She wondered who she was going to have to talk to in order to get a new employee badge.

 

“I hope they still have my picture on file,” she thought. “I hate having my picture taken.”

 

The receptionist was different as well. Gone was the nice older woman who used to smile at everyone and chirp Good Morning. Sometimes she would bring in doughnuts for everyone in the office. Jessie remembered that she always had a picture of her grandchildren on her desk and enjoyed entertaining whoever would stop to listen about stories of their antics.

 

Jessie glanced at the new receptionist from the corner of her eyes as she walked past. The new receptionist looked nothing like the old and Jessie doubted she had ever eaten a doughnut before in her life, let alone bring a box in for everyone to share. There were no pictures on her desk, nothing to indicate who the receptionist was when she wasn’t at work. There was no happy smile or pleasant Good Afternoons. Rather, the receptionist was talking on the phone and frowning. Jessie didn’t like that.

 

“Everyone should be happy,” she thought.

 

Jessie walked into the main part of the office and stopped when something unusual caught her eye. She hurried over to the kitchen area and ogled the new vending machine.

 

“Look at all the snacks,” she thought.

 

There were chips and pretzels and hummus and cheese. There were nuts and crackers and trail mix bars and candy. In the midst of all the candy, Jessie saw an orange wrapper.

 

“Reese’s!” she squealed.

 

Jessie wished there were Reese’s when she was here last. She started digging in her pockets, looking for change to buy the package. It seemed like it had been so long since she had chocolate or any kind of candy. Jessie could practically taste the chocolate and peanut butter and was dismayed when she remembered that not only did she have no change, but the clothes she was wearing didn’t have pockets.

 

She sighed and glanced out into the cubicles, noticing all the changes that had taken place since she had last been here.

 

“That desk wasn’t there before and is that a new window?”

 

Jessie couldn’t believe all the changes. In fact, it looked like a completely different office! The desks were arranged differently and the carpet was a different color. She looked around and realized she didn’t recognize anyone. What happened to Joe who was always chewing gum? Or Susan who liked to hum under her breath? Jessie wondered who all these strangers were.

 

Jessie started to worry that maybe she was in the wrong place.

 

“Jessie!” a voice yelled.

 

Jessie turned and saw Mr. Morris hurrying towards her. She smiled at the familiar face. Finally someone she recognized! She wasn’t in the wrong place!

 

“Jessie you know you’re not supposed to be here. How did you even get here?” he sputtered as he came to a stop in front of her.

 

“I took the bus!” she said brightly. “It’s such a beautiful day outside and it’s been so long since I went out and the bus stops right down the street and I haven’t seen you guys in forever so I thought-”

 

“Jessie,” Mr. Morris interrupted, “You can’t be here. You need to leave,” Mr. Morris said.

 

“Leave?” laughed Jessie. “Why would I leave? I just got here. And the office has changed so much since I’ve been here last. I just have to see what’s new.”

 

“Jessie,” Mr. Morris sighed. “This is the third time you’ve been here this month. I don’t know why you don’t remember.” Mr. Morris rubbed his hand down his face and exhaled loudly. “Look, I’ve already called the police. They should be here any moment.”

 

“The police? Oh you shouldn’t call the police on your employees Mr. Morris. They can be kind of loud in the elevators but that’s no reason to call the police.” Jessie could see people start to look over to where her and Mr. Morris were standing. Some had stopped in the middle of their work and others had hung up in the middle of telephone calls. Many were craning their necks trying to see what was happening.

 

“Yes the police! And the hospital! Did you think you could do what you did and then keep showing up here like it was nothing?”

 

The brunt of Mr. Morris’s words made Jessie’s eyes start to tear. “Do what I did? What did I do?” she cried.

 

“You know Jessie. You know what you did.”

 

Jessie sniffed and looked up at Mr. Morris. She could see in his eyes what she was accused of. The ding of the arriving elevator was faint in the background.

 

“But I don’t,” she began.

 

Mr. Morris shook his head and Jessie began to cry in earnest.

 

She tangled her fingers together, staring at the floor, as two police officers accompanied by two orderlies dressed in white scrubs came around the corner.

 

They nodded at Mr. Morris and told Jessie, “Let’s go”.

 

Jessie looked up and stared at Mr. Morris. “I don’t want to go,” she pleaded. “It’s so quiet there! No one talks or has fun. They just sit around staring into nothing.”

 

The orderly on Jessie’s right grabbed her arm. “You know what the judge said,” he stated as the other orderly walked around and grabbed Jessie’s other arm.

 

Jessie hung her head and they marched her back out to the hallway with the pretty blue walls and into the elevator. She stared at the badge reader and realized she shouldn’t have been worried – she was able to get back into the elevator without having an employee badge. The sunlight blinded her for a moment when the trio stepped outside, but it was soon dulled by the inside of the ambulance.

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About bbcstudiowrites

This blog is me archiving the BBC Studio Writers Workshop.

Posted on November 4, 2015, in Fiction, Seattle, Short Stories. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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