Friday, July 30, 2021

New Beginning 1097

It was pizza day and there was an uproar in the Cafeteria because the only topping available was pineapple and anchovy. The trainees declared it a tragedy––pizza was the only thing they had to look forward to––while the more experienced caseworkers picked flecks of fish and soggy fruit off their slices and silently cursed the kitchen staff. Amelia Morgenthal alone was unmoved; she’d never really understood the appeal of pizza. 

She sped past the Cafeteria and through the halls, hiding her face in a file. She didn’t think she could bear one more unnecessary question or inane comment, yet she’d have to, since she still had eight more practice sessions to lead today and in decades of doing this job she knew that trainees were never prepared for their first assignment. 

Amelia darted into the relative safely to her cubicle. High-stepping over boxes, she angled herself around the desk, knocking a few loose files onto the floor. She bent to retrieve them and something caught her eye. 

There was a present on the seat of her armchair, wrapped with smudged printer paper and tied with an incongruous purple ribbon. It was obviously from Tad. Amelia rolled her eyes. When will he learn that this crap doesn’t work on me? 

She wanted to toss it straight into the wastebasket, but Tad was her boss and Amelia knew he’d come fishing for a thank you later. The package was heavier than expected. She tugged the ribbon and the paper fell away, revealing a snowglobe. Iridescent flakes settled around a grey plastic mountain; at its peak was a little man, raising his arms in victory. Painted along the bottom in a bright yellow script were the words, ‘You can do it!’ 

Amelia frowned. Why had Tad given her this thing?

She decided she'd just have to go ask him.

Taking the quick route through the cafeteria, Amelia picked up a couple of slices of pizza. A thank you gift in return couldn't hurt, and Tad never turned down a slice, though maybe it wouldn't hurt him to miss a meal...

Tad's office was clean and tidy. No books or boxes on the floor, no papers strewn around. Just today's newspaper in the center of the desk. As she surveyed the privileges of being in charge, a noise in the doorway caused her to turn around.

"Oh," Amelia said. It was Tad's secretary. "I was looking for..."

"Sorry," the woman replied. "You just missed him. He's out until next Thursday."

As the secretary bustled away, Amelia took another look around and shrugged. Oh, well -- a gift is a gift. She wrapped the pizza slices in a sheet from the newspaper and left in on his chair.

Opening: Rachel D'Erminio.....Continuation: ril


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuation:

Two minutes later she was in Tad's office. She held out the snow globe and asked, "What the hell is this?"

Tad leaned back in his chair and gave what he probably thought of as a saucy grin. "That's me giving you the power, darling. Like it says, anything you want to do, you can do it." He wiggled his caterpillar eyebrows and added, "I mean anything."

"Well, thanks Tad. I'm going to take this down to HR now and file a sexual harassment complaint."

"But ... you can't do that!" he stammered.

"Sure I can," Amelia said. "You gave me the power. In fact, I think I'll get you fired and take your job. If you end up homeless, I'll make sure you get a competent case worker."

"You ... can't," he repeated.

"I can," she said, brandishing the globe. "Says so right here. But maybe I won't ... if you get the cafeteria to start serving something edible, and stop being such a creep, and give me that raise you'd promised a dozen times and never delivered."

Tad started to rise from his chair but Amelia drew back the globe and added, "Before you say you can't, let me just go ahead and give you back the power." She threw the globe at his head, where it bonked him between the caterpillar eyebrows before dropping, unbroken, in the plate of crappy pizza on Tad's desk.

As she left the office, the tiny little man on his tiny little snowy mountaintop cheered her on with his arms raised.


Evil Editor said...

P1 et al: No need to capitalize cafeteria." Do you expect readers to like an MC who doesn't see the appeal of pizza?

P2: You might replace "this job" with the job title, unless you're keeping it secret.

P3: "of" her cubicle. Also, an armchair in a cubicle? Not too common, unless you consider armchair to mean any chair with arms. Google images sees it as a comfortable upholstered chair. None of their armchairs wouldn fit into the chair area under a desk.

P5: Most sources consider snow globe two words.

An office seems like a dull place to open the book--but if you give her job title, which includes something about the afterlife (see previous post), it becomes more interesting.

Anonymous said...

From just this, I would think the book was women's fiction, chick lit (is that still a category?), or romance. And even then, I think you might be starting in the wrong place.

If the pizza bit is important to the plot, I would suggest moving it closer to where it's important. If all it is is world building/color, I would suggest moving it to a transition area where the MC needs to walk through the office or removing it entirely.

You might want to try getting to plot, genre interest, or something a bit more engaging sooner.

Congratulations on finishing writing a book.