Let’s Get Serious

“Come in. Sit down.”
“In sympathy?”
“In the chair will do.” Ms. Jenkins is stern.
“Now…”
“that we found love, what are we going to do with it?”
She tuts.
“I want to…”
“…break free? I can see why you would.” I’m sympathetic. Life in HR can’t be great.
“…begin by saying that we appreciate your contribution to the department. But it seems to me…”
“…you live your life like a candle in the wind? So sad, so sad.”
“It seems to me…” she holds her hand up, “that things have come to a head. Yesterday…”
“…all my troubles seemed so far away?”
Jenkins nods. “Well, yes, actually. Because until yesterday this was just a…”
“…family affair?”
“I’d have said ‘internal matter’ but as we’re one big family here, that works.”
I narrowly avoid retching.
She goes on. “It’s one thing to interrupt every sentence your work colleagues say but when you…”
“…walk through a storm?”
“When you interrupt a client and joke around, how…”
“…deep is your love?”
“How do you think they are going to react?” Jenkins is getting firm now. I’m silent.
“Well?” She’s not happy.
“…well, well, when you’re down on your knees with nothing left to sell?”
“I don’t know that one,” she says. Ha! I’ve got her.
“Dylan. Poetic genius.”
“Whatever. If you carry on as you are, we will be on our knees with everything left to sell but no one wanting to buy because they can’t…”
“…get no satisfaction?”
Ms. Jenkins laughs, in spite of herself. “Exactly that.” She’s serious again. “You know that this is not the first time we’ve spoken about this. You were asked before to stop…”
“…in the name of love?”
“…to stop with these antics. At first, I was…”
“…afraid, I was petrified?”
“At first, I was,” there’s that hand up again, “lenient. You just received a verbal warning but I’m sorry…”
“…so sorry, that I was such a fool?”
“Well, yes. Perhaps…don’t! I do not want to hear Doris Day! Perhaps I should have been firmer the first time…”
“…ever I saw your face?”
“If you want to go back that far, yes. After all, I was the one who employed you. And now…”
“…the end is near?”
“Spot on, again. It’s a shame…”
“…the way you mess around with your man?”
“The way you mess around with your job.” She’s joining in now. That has to be a good sign. “I can’t help…”
“…falling in love?”
“I can’t help thinking that if only you could take things more seriously, we’d…”
“…feel good together?”
Jenkins smiles. “I wouldn’t go quite that far.” Here comes the stern mask again. “It saddens me to have to do this and it really is a tragedy…”
“…when the feeling’s gone and you can’t go on?”
“Yes, the feeling’s definitely gone and we definitely can’t go on. This is like…”
“…a bridge over troubled waters?” I’m pleading now.
Jenkins is silent. So am I. I’ve got nothing to riff on.
She takes a deep breath and exhales. She really should give up smoking. I’m not keen on breathing her nicotine. I’ve got Kate Bush inside my head. But I don’t let her out. Maybe I can make this work.
I break the silence. “Can you give me one last chance?”
“To get yourself together?” Is she playing the game?
“Yes.” I’m playing carefully here.
“OK. Please try not to always be the joker, or we’ll meet again and this time it’s goodbye.”
“Billy Joel, Vera Lynn and Perry Blake. Nice work.”
She winks. “Go now.”
“…before you see me cry?” I leave and slam the door before she can change her mind.

R. J. Kinnarney is an author and tutor. Her first children’s book, Abigail Aces Acting, has been described as ‘delightful, unpredictable and very funny’. It’s currently being enjoyed by children and by adults who’ve refused to grow up. Short listed and long listed in short story and flash fiction competitions, too! Website: rjkinnarney.com Tweets: @rjkinnarney

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