Across the table
a woman dark and attractive
deep blue skirt – to the knee
beige coloured blouse – all buttons closed.
Shoulder length hair carefully arrayed
the loud light suggests a quiet tint
makeup is placid and knowing
understood to be necessary and not bold.
A perfect costume for an audition which
may lead to a permanent role.
Beneath the veneer of assurance
drywall of anxiety and framework of fear.
Unusually for an interviewee she speaks first
to offer apology
for something for which she is not to blame
a trickle of almost impertinence
is followed by a high-pressure gush of thank you.
A pause precedes a waterfall of explanation
a desperate recital of a monograph already read.
The summons to the interview
was delivered by a third party.
A scrambled note to phone this number and ask for
before the urgent instruction can be passed
the recorder receives another call
about an accident at school to a child – hers.
She departs to workplace complete with worry
prayer, hope and a scrawled piece of paper
four days of hospital bedside vigil later
she returned to work and sees the addressee of the note.
Frantic recall, a desperate search
miraculously the message has been hiding in her purse
but now it is Saturday
and requestor of the call available only Monday to Friday.
A week has passed since the summons was issued
Patience blurs. Insolence comes to mind.
at 8:05 a.m. Monday a panicked phone call
apologies offered, explanation delivered, atonement requested.
Her present job is being uplifted
about to be delivered to external contractors
there will be not a single stay of execution
very soon she will have nothing – this would be perfect.
She worries now that it is too late
she is told it isn’t
but we know it is – almost
The concrete of a contract poured. Almost set. Almost irreversible.
By negotiation with redemption, guilt becomes visible
the helicopter of hope was offered knowing it wouldn’t
I wasn’t the first or second most senior person that day
but I still held the power of veto.
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