Ella closed the door behind her with a gentle click. She remained on the verandah for seconds, contemplating the dark evening. In the pocket of her jacket, her phone buzzed. She reached for it.
Come back! Call in sick. Following the words was the green-faced vomit emoji.
She grinned, tempted. She tightened her scarf around her neck, smoothed the front of her jacket and stepped into the frigid night air.
Shift work was the pits. If she were honest, the shift penalties was the major draw-card when she signed up. Only two years into her role, though, and she was bored; watching her savings account increase was the reason she continued. As she walked to her car, she tapped a response to the text.
Can’t, sorry. CU @ 7. Heart emoji.
At work, she pulled off her scarf and jacket and placed them, along with her handbag in her locker and moved to the desk.
‘Ella, nice to see you.’ The voice belonged to Tom. ‘Here’s what I’ve been working on when it’s slow.’ He waved his hand over a pile of documents. ‘You’ll work it out, and if it gets busy, then don’t worry about this.’
‘Great, thanks Tom,’ Ella replied. ‘Has it been busy?’
Tom shook his head. ‘No. So I’ve made a bit of headway into the work.’ He paused, rubbed his hands together. ‘Oh, and I need to tell you, at this stage, upstairs has no idea who’s arriving at 6.45 to take the desk.’
‘What?’ Ella asked.
The management team upstairs ceased their work day at 5PM. She doubted very much that anyone from leadership was sorting the issue now, at 10.50PM.
‘You heard me,’ Tom said with a smirk. ‘And you know what it means, too, don’t you?’ He laughed.
Ella knew exactly what it meant. If someone didn’t turn up at 6.30 to take over when she clocked off fifteen minutes later, then she would have to pull a double shift. She crossed her arms in defiance and let out a huffy sigh.
‘Yes, unfortunately I do.’
‘Sorry, Ella, I know it sucks. Happened to me two weeks ago.’
‘Not your fault, Tom. Thanks for the heads up.’
‘Sure.’ Tom gathered a few of his belongings from the desk. ‘Right, then. I’m off. Hope you have a good night.’
‘Me too.’ She watched as he made his way to the staff room. ‘I’ll probably see you at 3,’ she called as he got to the door. He raised his arm in response and Ella settled behind her desk. She placed her phone next to the computer. Tapping the mouse to life, she noticed that Tom hadn’t logged off and as the screen flicked to life, the webpage he’d been looking at appeared.
Ella gasped. How could he have been so stupid? This revelation had to be shared. Grabbing her phone, she called Ronnie.
‘Hey, sorry,’ she said when Ronnie answered. ‘Did I wake you?’
‘No,’ Ronnie responded. ‘Still up, bingeing on Netflix.’
‘You remember Tom?’ She launched straight in.
‘The weird one?’
‘That’s what you’ve always said, yeah,’ Ella said with a chuckle. Her girlfriend’s radar was spot on. ‘You’re right, again, Ronnie. Stupid guy forgot to log off, and hasn’t shut down the last webpage on the browser.’ She paused for dramatic effect. ‘Guess what he’s been looking at.’
‘Don’t tell me it’s porn. Too boring.’
‘It’s the sort of porn, though, Ronnie.’
Ella whispered what she’d seen to her girlfriend.
‘I fucken knew it!’ Ronnie squealed after Ella finished. ‘I knew he was NQR!’
‘He’d paused a video, too. I can’t unsee it. I’ll never be able to look at him again.’
Ronnie laughed. ‘See you when you get home.’
Ella ended the call, logged out for Tom and typed in her own username and password. She would keep Tom’s weird predilection to herself. Management would find out eventually; she was no snitch.