Summer had gone very suddenly. No winding up, no gradual handover, no goodbye party. There one day and gone the next. Her sunblock missing from the rest room, her mini fridge vanished from the office. He suspected she had left under something of a cloud. Well, you could see she had; its indifference hung everywhere.
He had been called in several weeks earlier than he’d been expecting. His paperwork was incomplete. Really he needed to talk to her, see the resources, before he could finalise things. But there was no time. He was drinking instant coffee out of chipped mug before you could say seasonal change.
He got to work as quickly as he could. No doubt about it, she’d left things in a mess. Very irregular, though she had previous. He knew she’d had warnings. The public might love her, but he and his team had to sort out the mess. She’d been suspended a few times, but it hadn’t worked; everyone just looked dull and depressed. They couldn’t wait for her to get back.
He sighed. He was getting too old for this. For a start, the accounts, where were they? And the stock cupboard key? He had no idea what was in there. No, not quite true; the water leaking under the door had been something of a clue. He had given the go ahead to pull the lever and let the sluices go without hesitation, though he had deployed some buckets around the place and hoped the roof, which he’d not had time to check, was okay.
It took several days to get the boiler fixed. He noticed that the others were avoiding his eye, and the flip flops they’d been wearing when he arrived had been exchanged for socks and shoes.
He was working to establish some stability, to buy some time while he finessed his plans and got the whole show back on track. He was barely home. His wife was grumbling, but he knew this was important stuff; globally important, he told her. Think of the polar bear. She shrugged and flipped over the calendar to the picture of a Labrador puppy sitting on a pile of yellow leaves.
When he reached the meeting to which he had been summoned by his bosses he knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Their wintry faces across the table made him think of black ice.
They were impatient, wanting quick fixes, political soundbites. He tried to talk of climate change but they weren’t listening. The Daily Mail, they said coldly, had been on the ‘phone every day. It wasn’t long term they wanted to know about, it was now. At the latest tomorrow, not the day after tomorrow. They wanted Results.
Outside the door, he leant against the wall and looked at the ceiling. Three months, then he could hand over. When he’d started all those years ago it had all been so straightforward; fruit picking, following the tractors around the world. He cursed the day he’d been seduced by management into ‘developing his career’. Keats didn’t know what he’d started. The expectations were ridiculous.
This little story was growing at the back of my mind while I was working this afternoon. It probably needs some editing, but hopefully you will have enjoyed it in its raw form.