#DearValentine Challenge Week One: Office Gossip

5 Feb

Somehow, I managed to miss the beginning of ‘Timony Souler’s new writing challenge, #DearValentineBut although I’m too late to sign up properly, I only missed the posting date of the first prompt by a day, so I decided to participate anyway. This week’s prompt was: a note, a photograph, the docks.


Office Gossip

It’s all that anyone in the office can talk about, unsurprisingly really. Why on earth would Barry, who wears string vests under his suit jackets, chews with his mouth open, and seems incapable of continuing a conversation for longer than thirty seconds, why would he have a picture of a beautiful woman on his desk?

“Maybe it’s his sister?” Someone suggests, but this suggestion is quickly shot down. How could that gorgeous creature possibly be related to Barry?

“Maybe he’s stalking her.” This whisper spreads across the office, and heads nod in agreement. It can be the only explanation.

Emily, the giggly girl who was hired to be the boss’s assistant, but who seems to do nothing but gossip and dispense phony relationship advice, creeps over to the desk and studies the photograph. “There’s a note on the back!” She announces, as the assembled crowd hold their breath. “I think it’s a love letter!”

There’s a collective gasp, some quiet murmuring, and then someone speaks up. “He probably faked it.” The voice is malicious, it belongs to Roberta in Accounts, who hasn’t had a date in thirty years and probably never will again. “He just wants us to think he has an admirer. Why else would he have left it out there for everyone to see?”

More quiet murmurings. No-one likes Barry, but no-one much likes Roberta either, so they’re reluctant to pick sides.

“Well we’ll soon see.” Emily declares, with the expected giggle. “According to this note, he’s meeting her at the docks tonight. If he comes in looking like the cat that’s got the cream, then we’ll know that it wasn’t made up.”

But Barry doesn’t come into work the next day. In fact, he doesn’t come into work ever again. And when, a few weeks later, the body of a fat man in in a suit jacket and a string vest is pulled out of the water at the docks, the whispering in the office quietens guiltily. Only for a day or two, though.

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6 Responses to “#DearValentine Challenge Week One: Office Gossip”

  1. timonysouler February 5, 2012 at 5:49 pm #

    Glad to have you on board Julie! I’ll add a link to your blog on the original post so everyone knows you’re taking part 🙂

    I love how you’ve written this – it all seems so casual and a little bit mean! Love that it’s ‘office gossip’ too. Poor Barry though 😦

    • julieffisher February 5, 2012 at 6:07 pm #

      Thanks for adding me, I’m really glad to be taking part!

  2. Lena Corazon February 6, 2012 at 4:07 am #

    Ohhhhhh, I love this! All the speculation and the water cooler chatter is great, but that twist is definitely fantastic. Poor Barry, indeed!

    • Margaret (charitygirblog) February 8, 2012 at 8:04 pm #

      Poor old Barry… I suspect evil Roberta! Is this a tbc… it could work as either! Great story.

  3. David A Ludwig February 25, 2012 at 8:02 pm #

    Ooo, nice one! I love the recurring detail of the string vest, and it’s particularly chilling that his body turning up only guilts them into silence for a day or two. That does feel like a very quick and clear look into the human condition.

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