V is for Vacation



Giving up my job was neither an easy decision nor a practical one.  Never mind I was about to go on a vacation to territories unknown.  The expense of just maintaining a roof over our heads with heat and light was enough despite anything else.  I still had to earn enough money but it had to be from a flexible basis.  The only way I could do that was to go freelance.  I figured I knew enough people in this city to be able to make it work and whilst I wouldn’t get the cherry pickings or the good salary, I should at the very least be able to pay my way. It would be tight but I could do it.

 Having gone through all my expenses I’d realised my  car would  be one of the first things that had  to go, it was too dear to maintain and I could manage with a cheap jalopy to get me around.   I’d also got loads of stuff I didn’t need: nice clothes and shoes, ornaments and pictures and so on that I could sell at car boots or on ebay as extra bonus money.  I’m sure I’d heard that some people had become ebay millionaires.  You never knew.  I’d worked out all the finances on a spread sheet: what I’d need to earn as a minimum and what I’d have to sacrifice so it worked.  I’d done this not just for myself but for Karl so I could justify my decision when I eventually told him.  He’d expect that at the very least.  Having lived with Brendon I was the learning the tactics of being ten steps ahead.

 In order to put my plan into action I decided to put my car in the Autotrader.  Where intention goes, energy flows. 'Damn,' I thought.  I’d better get it washed as it looked like a shed.  I got my keys and made to go to the chaps that ran the hand car wash down the road. Then I stopped and thought about that. No!   If was going to do this properly then every penny counted and I shouldn’t waste or squander on anything.
 “It can’t be that hard to wash a mini.” I said out loud to myself.  Turns out I was wrong.  I couldn’t understand how I’d managed to make more smears than before I’d started and spent for ever trying to rub them away with a chamois leather.  And alloys – they were hellish!  Fair play to the blokes at wash and wax that did this for a living for it was no mean feat and they fully deserved the measly fiver they charged.   The only good thing about the ordeal was that I found a lost bottle of Kenzo flower perfume, seven hair bobbles, an invite to a party and £3.75 under my chairs when I was hoovering the inside.  Still, it looked way better than it had in weeks.  I went and got my camera and took several shots so I could place my online advert.  I put it in the Autotrader for a month and then rang my friend in advertising at the local city newspaper and got it in there for the weekend. Done. 

Now I needed to talk to my boss.

  I drove my shiny new car into the city and all the while kept going through a mock conversation with Colin out loud in my car.

I got to office and saw Johnno at his desk who gave me a big smile when he saw me come through the doors.

“Soph!  I thought you weren’t in until tomorrow!”  He stood up and limped over. 

“Really?  It’s still hurting?” I started laughing.  But inside I felt wretched.  I was hardly ever going to see him or anybody I worked with when I left. These people were like my other family.

“Why are you here? Get bored?  Oh wait!  I got you a present...”  He hobbled back to his desk and opened his drawer.  He put the crinkly package behind his back and came over to me.

I stood there waiting and smiling.  He was so cute.

“There!”  He handed me a box of Waitrose chocolate brownies.

“Ha Ha! Funny!” 

“What?  I heard you liked them? “He stood staring at me with a schoolboy grin on his face. 

“Well, I’m so glad I’ve been the subject of your amusement. “  I took the cakes and slung them onto my desk.  “Now I have to see Colin, I’ll be back in a bit.”  I walked to Colin’s office and felt the fear and sadness rising within and I began to question whether I was doing the right thing or not. 

He was on the phone to Trudie, I could tell. I went to walk away but he looked surprised to see me and nodded for me to take a seat.  I sat there running my planned speech through my mind.

“I can’t Trudie, no.  Babe it’s just not working for me.  I’m sorry, no.  I have to go.” I watched him end the call and sigh.  He shook his head.  “You’d think I’d get better at choosing women wouldn’t you.  Anyway, back early Soph?” He smiled but looked a bit sad.

“Are you OK?”  I asked.

“Ugh..Relationships..difficult women.  The usual nightmare.” He threw his phone on the desk.

  I knew right then and there that Trudie was not going to be a keeper. 

“So, good to have you back.  Get everything sorted?”

Oh God.  I felt sick and like I was going to cry.

“Err..Yes and no. “I said slowly.  “Colin.. I can’t do my job anymore..”  That was not how I had planned to say it but that’s how it came out.

“What do you mean? “ He sat very still and just stared at me.

“I mean, I’m going to have to leave.  I don’t want to but I have to.  Brendon timetable has been slashed due to his antiestablishmentarianism and I have to go in and monitor his behaviour.  If I don’t they’ll kick him out, I’m sure.”  I sighed, letting go of the angst and I felt my eyes welling up.

  “It’s not what I want to do but it’s what I have to do”.  I looked down at my lap because I wanted to hold back the tears and could feel them making a bid for freedom.

“It seems a bit drastic Soph.” Colin said softly. “I really don’t want you to go.”

I looked up at him looking all forlorn and confused. “I know.  I was hoping to get some freelance work from different publications, companies and from here of course. “

“Soph, I’ll throw all sorts your way, if that’s what you choose to do, but you know it’s usually just reviews on restaurants, clubs and shows that we farm out.  Is that really what you want to be doing?  Plus I’d have to fill your position with somebody else, you know that?”
“Yes.  I know that.” I placed the envelope I’d been clutching in my hand that contained my letter of resignation in front of him. “Here’s my notice.” I said weakly.

He didn’t even pick it up. A long silence stretched between us.

“Sophie, I’m not going to even look at this until I leave tomorrow night.  I want you to go home and think it over a bit longer. Take tomorrow off.  If I don’t hear from you by the end of play then I’ll accept your resignation even though it’s not what I want.”

“Ok.”  I stood up quickly. “Thanks Colin.” He watched silently as I hurried out of his office and the tears fell from my eyes.  I saw Johnno stare after me as I left crying.  I couldn’t even begin to deal with that now. I was going to miss this place and these people way more than I could have possibly realised.