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Barefoot in the Park (standard:Flash, 954 words)
Author: discopantsAdded: Aug 02 2004Views/Reads: 3227/2144Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A short tale reflecting the numbness of losing your job.

Barefoot in the Park 

Three o' clock on a Wednesday afternoon. I entered Mr Anderson's office
and sat down opposite him. 

"I'm not going to beat around the bush," he began, before I had even had
the chance to settle myself in the chair. "I'm sorry, but we've got to 
let you go." 

"There isn't a problem, is there? I mean...I thought I was doing all

"It's not about you, mate," he replied with an air of over-familiarity
in view of the news he had just imparted. "The company's not doing so 
well- last in, first out. It's all about cutting costs." 

"So when do I finish?" I asked, scarcely able to enunciate my words,
such was my shock at the news. 

"You'll be paid until the end of the week but you can leave straight

I said nothing but instead pushed my chair back and stood up to leave.
Mr Anderson also stood up and offered a handshake. I ignored his offer, 
turned round and exited his office without another word. I headed back 
to my workstation, lifted my jacket off the back of the chair and 
headed for the door. "See you chaps," I called out to no one in 
particular when I was already halfway through the door. 

The company's offices occupied the sixth floor of a ten-storey building.
I took the lift to the ground floor, exited the building through the 
revolving doors and then sat on the steps outside. 

There was much to think about: I had been working for the company, a car
and home insurance retailer (as they liked to be called) for just two 
months. I was a software consultant by trade but the company I had 
joined at the age of 21 and been employed by for the following eight 
years had gone into liquidation about six months back. No I.T companies 
were taking on new staff in the current economic climate. So what would 
my next step be? That was a poser that left me completely stumped. 

I took a packet of cigarettes from my jacket pocket- my efforts to cut
down on the amount I smoked had been going well as I had only had one 
cigarette all day but now was not the time for abstinence. I lit up and 
sat on the steps, allowing a multitude of mixed-up thoughts swirl 
around my mind while everyone else just carried on with their lives as 
if nothing had happened, as though my losing my job had meant nothing 
to them, although I suppose it hadn't. 

At about half past four my meandering stream of consciousness was broken
by one of my former colleagues, Jack. 

"All right Mark? Listen, I heard about what happened. Do you fancy going
for a pint?" 

I exhaled a mouthful of smoke purely for dramatic effect (my seventh
cigarette of the day) and glanced up at Jack. "No, I'm fine, thanks." 

"You sure?" he asked dubiously. 

Yeah, I'm sure." 

He shrugged and then continued on his way, leaving me alone once more. 

I stood up, stretched my arms out and resolved to move on, but only so
that I could avoid any more of my erstwhile colleagues. I walked for 
ten minutes or so until I reached Elizabeth Gardens, a small park 
situated just off the main road on which all the office blocks stood. I 
sat down on the first bench, just inside the entrance to the park and I 
watched the world go by with a sense of detached disinterest. I gave no 
thought to the time or to getting anything to eat or drink and I barely 
noticed the light shower that had been just hard enough to darken the 
park's footpaths. 


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