IGNORING GRAVITY #49 - sandra danby
Rose was first into the office the next morning. The movement of something pink registered in her peripheral vision: a Post-It note stuck to her phone fluttered in the breeze from the portable air conditioning unit. ‘Maggie rang,’ it read. Maggie had been in Italy on a travel assignment so she didn’t know about Nick, the kiss, about loads of things a girl’s best friend should know. They always shared. The first time Maggie had sex, the first time Rose had sex, and the time Hallam Tye knocked Rose off her bike and in recompense had invited her to the premiere of A Sunny Afternoon in the Snow which turned into an exclusive interview for Chill’s film column. What if Susan and Kate were best friends at school like Rose and Maggie ? She logged onto Friends Reunited and clicked on the drop-down index, selected the school then the year. Kate went to school with a lot of Susans. She sent 13 e-mails to the possibles. Each e-mail said the same:- “I am trying to trace a girl called Susan who was at St Augustine’s Primary and then Lady Grace’s School for Girls, Richmond, Surrey, with my mother Kate Ingram during the 1950s and 1960s. You shared a house together in Islington. If I’ve found the correct Susan, then I am delighted and I hope you will be too! If not, I’d be grateful if you could let me know so I can continue my search.” Now all she had to do was wait. This feeling of limbo was common to researching, waiting for someone else to do something, but Rose still hated it. The longest she’d waited for a reply was two months. The feature was for Chill, all the cutting-edge stuff she’d ever written had been for Chill. After almost giving up twice, she’d eventually broken into an animal research protestors group. It was a nasty collection of people who made their point by leaving dead kittens and puppies on the doorsteps of scientists’ homes at going-to-school time so their primary-school-age children would find them. That story had been Chill’s page one lead in a special issue about the ethics of protesting. The theme was ‘How far is too far?’ Rose looked at the advance features schedule pinned to her corkboard – rashes, burns & scalds, nipple discharge, sinus pain and earache were next on her list – and sighed. How far is too far? She checked her inbox. Nothing. Bored, she looked out of the window. It was a sunny morning, the green of the verges, trees and grass of the tiny park opposite the Herald’s building seemed brilliant, full of life, and she longed to be outdoors. That was it, that’s what she would do. There was no reason she couldn’t go to the squat. She sat up straight, excited. She’d go to Islington, to 12 Child Street. Ask around a bit. Be nosy. Check out the house. Perhaps take some photos for visual reference. If she hadn’t gone back for her camera, she would have got away with it. “Miss Holden. I was beginning to think your contract had changed to home-worker. I sincerely hope you’ve got your handbag with you because you’re nipping out to buy coffees for everyone, and not because you’re intending to leave the office for the day. Remind me, what’s the date of your disciplinary review?” Shit, thought Rose, shifting from foot to foot. “Monday, Miss Holdeen. It’s on Monday.” Sam’s upper lip was damp with perspiration. Her feet tried to escape, tapping heel and toe, heel and toe, but she was rooted to the spot by the anger in Sam’s voice. “What’s that noise?” he snapped. Rose pressed all her weight into the floor through the soles of her shoes and the tapping stopped. She so wanted to tell him her name was Rose Haldane. “I want that menopause feature on my desk, and the list of picture requests with Joan, by 4pm. Today.” Rose gasped. She’d just lost 24 hours and the green outside the window looked even more tempting. “And make mine a double espresso.” Sam clapped his hands together. “Listen up everyone, Rosalie is going to Café Blanc for takeaway coffees. Her treat.” Journalists only move quickly in two situations: the sniff of an exclusive story and the chance of a free drink. The lack of alcohol content was academic. At this time of the morning the priority was caffeine. As Rose was surrounded by hacks putting in their latte, cappuccino and espresso requests she watched a satisfied grin spread over Sam’s pouchy jowls. Bastard, she thought, I’ve only got a fiver in my purse. Oh well, I’ll have to put it on a card. And then she had a moment of panic: had she paid last month’s bills, which card had any credit left on it? Five minutes later, with a list of 13 assorted requests for coffee, three teas and two hot chocolates, she hit the ‘down’ button on the lift. “Want a hand?” It was Frank. Thirty minutes later they dished out the coffees around the office. Frank smiled at Rose and she smiled back, grateful for his knack at turning up at the right moment. Like Nick did. Oh God, Nick. The kiss. “Fancy having a glass of vino at Pozzi’s after work?” asked Frank and Rose’s head nodded without her telling it to. Well what the hell. He’s helpful, good-looking if arrogant. The telesales girls always flocked to the coffee machine or the photocopier when he was nearby, giggling, sneaking glances at him from beneath their fringes, pretending they liked the crap coffee, standing with their feet in that V-shape that celebrities always pose in when they’re on the red carpet and want to show off their dress and breasts for the cameras. He was even nice to the work experience trainees who most people ignored. She’d seen him talking that mousey new marketing girl in the canteen yesterday. Sometimes she