‘Make sure those quarterly reports are on my desk by 5,’ Alexa says. She frowns slightly at Maxine, who skulks out of the office.
Alexa swivels in her chair to face the floor-to-ceiling window, from which she is afforded uninhibited views of the city’s skyline, and the sea beyond. She loves her office; the spacious desk, the round meeting table, the bookcase, and the leather couch. She used to wonder why corporate offices contained couches. Until she’d spent just a few days in here. With so much reading and editing, it soon seemed the most natural thing to kick off her stilettos and curl her legs under her bottom, working in comfort.
At the pinnacle of her career, it’s hard for Alexa not to feel proud. She’s careful to keep smugness at bay, but it creeps whenever her mind casts back to her family. Her parents and brother all scoffed at her youthful dreams; they each told her she’d never make it as a publishing executive. Barry even muttered that she was too dumb to know what an executive does. Well she showed them. At least, she would if they were in contact. She’d cut out her toxic family years ago, when her mentor advised her that they were holding her back, causing a subconscious disruption to her plans of success.
‘Excuse me,’ Maxine says quietly.
Alexa swivels to face the door to her office, glad for the interruption to her thoughts of her train wreck of a family. She pushes her thoughts deep into a box; locks them away and stuffs the into a compartment of her brain, hopeful it stays buried there.
Maxine clears her throat nervously. ‘Sorry to interrupt, Alexa,’ she whispers. Or maybe she croaks. It’s hard for Alexa to tell.
‘What’s the problem, Maxine?’ Alexa replies in a clipped tone.
‘It’s just that these reports…’
‘Well, they’re not due until next fortnight. No one has the correct details, becuz we’re still in the current period.’
Alexa ignores Maxine’s pronunciation of the word ‘because’. It irritates her, but right now she’s overwhelmed with shock and embarrassment at her own mistake. How could she have messed the quarterly reports?
‘Right. Well.’ Alexa flounders for words. ‘Thank you for bringing it to my attention.’
‘Of course.’ Maxine hovers in the doorway.
‘Is there anything else?’ Alexa’s heart races. She can feel her cheeks flushing. Surely she can’t have fucked up anything else.
‘Not work related, no.’
Alexa sees Maxine’s fidgeting fingers; the way she shifts her weight from one leg to another. This must be big. Her staff know not to bring up personal requests with her: everything straight to HR.
‘I was wondering if you’d like to come to my wedding?’
Silence fills the room. Alexa has strict policies on fraternisation. But it’s kind of nice to be asked.
‘When is it?’
‘October 30th. Two months away.’
‘Let me think about it. When is the RSVP?’
‘It’s here, on the invitation.’ Maxine moves towards Alexa’s desk, thrusts an envelope forward.
‘Alright. Leave it with me for now.’
She watches Maxine scurry out of the office for the second time in ten minutes. God, it’s already been one of those days!