“That bloody woman has done it again,” Ruby spat out as she dug deep in the coffee jar with her spoon. She lifted out a heaped spoonful and threw the coffee granules and the spoon into her giant sized mug. “Why does she have to look at me like I’m an alien from another world? Yesterday, I asked a simple question, I was clear and used simple words, but she said I don’t understand, can you say that again. I swear one day I’ll pour my coffee all over her head.” Ruby had poured hot water into her mug from the urn in the corner of the tiny kitchen. Turning, she threw the metal spoon into the metal sink from four feet away. The loud clatter as it landed made Hailey jump. Hailey could see both sides of the issue. It didn’t bother her, that Verity wanted clarification on some things that were asked of her. Hailey happily repeated anything that Verity wanted to hear again. For an intelligent, accomplished woman, Hailey wasn’t quite sure why Verity stared blankly at Ruby but she put it down to her need to get things correct first time. Hailey could also understand Ruby’s frustration, she was a busy person and didn’t have time for repeating any instructions.
“Hailey, I think it’s time to speak to the boss again about Verity, he needs to know about her incompetence, I just can’t cope with it anymore.” Ruby took a hasty sip of her coffee and bit her tongue, this was immediately followed by a string of expletives that would make a sailor proud.
“Everyone has their individual issues, she hasn’t actually done anything wrong and she’s excellent at her job. You need to relax a bit and take it in your stride.”
Yesterday was a stressful day for Verity, she was at her most confused. After dressing for work, she stood in the hallway and looked at her husband, Stuart. She couldn’t remember his name, so she called him darling as she kissed him goodbye, wishing him a good day. On the way to work, getting on the bus, she couldn’t remember the name of the bus stop she needed to get off at and it took a long time to ask the driver for the correct destination. The tutting and huffing from the passengers behind her in the queue didn’t help her concentration to remember the stop’s name. Sitting at her desk the next day, Verity shrunk back in her seat when she saw Ruby coming towards her. She knew what was going to happen next.
Surreptitiously, Ruby sidled up to Verity and cleared her throat. “Arnold wants to see you, now Verity.” Ruby said loud enough or the whole floor to hear.
Allowing the words to sink in, Verity pushed away from her desk and collected her handbag. The two dozen other office workers were all staring in her direction. She shrank a little into her clothes and reached the door. She blinked a couple of times and turned back to Ruby. She had already forgotten which floor she had to go to but daren’t ask Ruby again. She pressed the metal button next to the door to release the lock, trying to remember. Instinctively she climbed the stairs to the top floor and remembered where she needed to go. Verity contemplated what she would say to the boss. Her anger was building at being sent to a modern day headmaster’s office by the classroom bully. Verity was fully aware that she was forgetful, she tried memory games to improve her capabilities. She wrote as much down as possible, she just forgot to look at the piece of paper. Often, Verity wouldn’t remember that there was a note to refer to.
Yawning and holding onto the rail, it was at the fourth-floor level that she’d wished she’d taken the lift. Her desk was on the second floor and Verity had already tripped twice. She swore that the steps were getting smaller as she climbed the floors.
Into the boss’ office Verity walked while knocking on the door, Arnold was sitting at his desk, which had reams and reams of paper stacked in neat piles. His warm smile eased her anger and she took a seat at the conference room table he invited her to sit at. There was a row of pens lined up in front of her and she neatened them while she waited for him to join her.
Arnold was holding a single sheet of paper and placed it flat on the table as he sat. “Will you pass me the black pen?”
Mute, Verity stared at the set of pens and struggled to work out which one of them were black so she picked up all four and handed them to Arnold.
“Doing better,” he said, “thank you.” Arnold took the pens and smiled. “You asked me when I hired you to let you go when things were becoming noticeable. I’ve had three separate complaints from Ruby, she thinks you’re a pain in the arse and don’t listen, but I know differently.”
Ordinarily, he wouldn’t have been so lenient, but she was different. He was going to look after her. He pushed the piece of paper over to her side of the table and turned it over. “I am going to make you redundant, that way you will have a financial package to fall back on while you’re looking for your next role.”
It wasn’t Verity’s usual reaction to these situations but she burst into tears. She’d been working for Arnold’s company for six years, whereas Ruby had only worked there for six months. “I’m grateful Uncle Arnold, I know I’m getting worse and there’s nothing I can do about it.”
“Now, I wish I could offer you home working but it would mean I would have to offer it to all the staff and that’s something that financially the company couldn’t afford to do. When is your next assessment?”
“Going back to the hospital next week, I don’t expect that it will be good news, but at least they’re taking me seriously. They think I’m doing well, but I’m not so sure.”
“Why would you say that? You’re doing so much better, we’ll just have to find another way for you to adapt. It’s not often you hear about a woman in her thirties suffering from dementia.”
“Every day is a struggle,” she looked around the room, itching to leave. “I’d better be going, Stuart will start to worry if I’m home late.”
“Love, I think you’ll be ok for a while, it’s only 10am. Go on home, spend the day watching movies and eating junk food. You enjoyed the lemon tart you had last week at our place.”
“Lemon tart, really? Did I?” Verity allowed Arnold to escort her from his office, holding her elbow as they entered the lift. He was going to take her back to her desk and drive her home. The last thing he wanted was for her to get lost again.
Grace Harper © 2016
Grace Harper is a British author who loves to write about strong women and the friends and lovers who make them stronger. She adores writing steamy scenes of first encounters and there is always a little twist along the way.
When Grace is not writing, she can be found mooching about in stationery stores, dreaming up tattoo designs or teasing her friends until everyone is in fits of giggles. Grace might have a Maltesers addiction but is not ready to stand up and own that just yet.
If you want to get in touch, please do, Grace is pretty laid back and friendly.
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