By Parson Thru
I laboured through the day.
There was a cloud over the whole office - the whole organisation. A steady flow of faces wandered in to confirm the rumour for themselves. There was subdued laughter from a small ex-Army group over in the corner who, doubtless, were dealing with their feelings in their own way - gallows humour.
The unstoppable routine of meetings rolled on, with suitable and appropriate acknowledgements. Maggie would have hated it. Peter and I, having regained ourselves, returned to our desks, but each time I looked sideways at the cardigan draped on Maggie's seat I fell apart and made for the gents' toilet, avoiding the gaze of anyone I met.
This went on until late afternoon. I worked my way through a dispenser-full of toilet paper. Eventually, I accepted that I couldn't concentrate enough to work. Glenn was ahead of me and suggested that I take a couple of hours flexi-time. Peter announced that he was better off working, rather than immersing himself in grief. Gratefully, I logged-off, grabbed my coat and ran down the stairs.
The air outside was fresh and cold. I walked around the corner, out of sight of the building, where I leaned against a high stone wall, pulled out my cigarettes and lit one.
I inhaled deeply and stood trying to slow down my thoughts. It suddenly occurred to me that I didn't believe the news. Absolutely no evidence, other than an empty desk, had been offered to support the claim that Maggie had died in a car crash between saying goodnight on Friday and Monday's return to work.
Surely, something so profound, so permanent, couldn't stand without further proof being offered. My head spun. I threw down my cigarette, turned my back on the train home and started walking towards the city centre.