posted on May, 6 2015 @ 07:33 AM
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
― Anaïs Nin
Monday afternoon, a full week of saying nothing and hoping for the weekend. Grace finished early on a Monday, leaving with just enough time to pick up
her mother in law’s prescription from the chemist, buy milk and bread then reach school for three o’clock to pick up her children. Every Monday
ritual was the same.
“Lucky you, getting a half day!” Alison had said, smiling with a glint of envy.
“Half day” thought Grace. “What a joke.” As if work stopped when she left the office, as if her whole day wasn’t occupied caring and
cleaning and looking after others.
She sighed and picked up a new letter to type. It wasn’t a bad job – the hours suited her. There was no point looking for a new job, it would be
the same as this one. And this one let her away early three times a week, which she desperately needed. She couldn’t rely on the same generosity
from a new employer. Except, she had realised long ago, this was not granted from the kindness of a concerned manager but from a firm who barely
noticed her existence. She mattered so little that they didn’t care if she was here or not. But she took their apathy and used it to her own
If she started a new job it would be a career, she told herself. Training, learning for something she truly wanted. Imagine getting up every morning
and doing what you loved!
‘No’, she told herself, ‘I can’t imagine that.’
She also knew that these dreams of a career were just an avoidance, a justification for putting up with the monotony of her life, for not making the
change that only she could instigate.
Another letter typed, and already she had forgotten what it had said. She didn’t pay much attention to the tasks apportioned to her. Which was
probably why she had been overlooked for promotion, three times now in the past two years.
Her husband had told her to at least pretend to look interested. ‘Why should I?’ she had demanded to know. ‘It’s boring. Boring and pointless
civil servants making boring rules and boring minutes of boring meetings.’ They argued about this from time to time, but the outcome never changed.
Just stick at it a while longer, he always said.
As life passed slowly by.
“Have you got a minute, Grace?” It wasn’t a question to be answered, it was a summons. Andrea raised her eyebrows behind steel rimmed glasses
and tapped her fingers impatiently on the door. It didn’t seem that long ago that the two of them had worked alongside each other, but not now.
Andrea had laughed at the right jokes, produced flawless reports and never left early to collect milk and bread and prescriptions and children.
“Would you shred this please?” A cardboard box of paper and envelopes were dumped squarely in front of Grace, as Andrea wrestled her ringing phone
from a tweed pocket.
“No problem,” muttered Grace and picked the box up to take next door. Andrea has already slipped into Grace’s chair, and was cooing and nodding
to the voice in her phone.
Maybe I should be more like her, thought Grace. Life might be easier if I just played the game.
Cartlon walked by the open door as Grace switched on the shredder. He ignored her, of course. Years ago he had asked for figures for some project or
other. She didn’t know then and she didn’t know now. She had spent over a week trying to create a chart for him, so that he could look good at a
meeting. She had got it wrong. Luckily Andrea had been there at the last minute to sort it out, but Cartlon had never forgiven her for his
“Oh well, “ Andrea had said as Grace eavesdropped by the door. “She’s probably an excellent mother.” Cartlon and Andrea had laughed.
As the layers of this insult began to unfold in Grace’s mind, she realised that she would never be like them and never wanted to be. But it was too
much effort to change job now.
While she fed the shredder it’s page-by-page lunch, her mind wandered to chemists and mother in law ailments, to unpaid bills and jobs needing done
in the house.
The shredder stopped. Damn. It refused to restart. Damn, damn, damn. She had forced an envelope in and now it had jammed. Urgh.
She pulled out the chewed envelope and vowed to pay more attention. The next sheet had Cartlon’s name highlighted in green, and other names too. She
peered at the page. What was this?
The name of a well known children’s home was written at the top. Why was that a well known name? Why had she heard about it? She stopped for a
minute as she slowly remembered news reports from not so long ago, a scandal of abuse, famous names....
29, 30, 31 pages of names, interviews, dates, places. And signed at the bottom of page 31 by Alan Morrison. The Morrison report.
Alan Morrison had been a prominent minister, found dead in his flat over 6 years ago. The verdict had been suicide by hanging but there were rumours
that this was not the case. Alan Morrison had compiled a report implicating senior figures in one of the worst child abuse cases the country had seen
or could imagine. Many of the victims had children of their own now, and had campaigned for justice but without the ephemeral report there was little
that could be done. The report was missing, presumed destroyed, and many had said it did not exist in the first place.
Heart pounding, thoughts racing, Grace clutched the report. Heels clicked along the corridor outside, and Grace stuffed the report inside her shirt.
Not waiting to see who was coming, she turned and walked out of the room, heading for the exit.
“Grace?” Andrea’s voice.
“Dentist”, called Grace brightly, without looking back.
She knows I have it, thought Grace as the implications of that slowly dawned on her. But if she knows I have it, then she knows it was in the
Grace didn’t wait, and walked quickly outside hugging her chest, terrified she should lose a page. I’ll lose my job, she thought, they’ll know
it was me. The police will take my name, they’ll find out...and the chemist shuts in 10 minutes, there’s no time...
A group of nursery children walking with their teacher stopped her in her tracks. She watched them as they walked in pairs, holding hands. They
chattered together, oblivious to the underbelly of this dark world, happy to be in the sunshine and with each other.
She turned briskly and crossed the road.
Angus ran a tabloid newspaper, a newspaper she never read, but one that ruthlessly churned out lurid headlines with little regard for its victims.
Bursting in through the doors, she saw him towering over a reporter, his red beard peppered with crumbs from a roll he was chewing. An enormous man,
he stood Dagda-like in the centre of the room, laughing raucously at a page he was reading. She ran to him and thrust the Morrison report into his
“Print it”, she said.
He tried to hand it back, and opened his mouth to speak.
“Print it!” she commanded, and turned to leave.
His eyes dropped to the page and as he read, the roll dropped from his hand.
“Holy sh...... Wait. Wait!”
But she had gone.
Turning the corner, the booming of Angus as he barked commands to his team growing fainter, she said to no one in particular:
“Yes Andrea. I am an excellent mother.”