The Office – A short story

Look at them all, grey, all grey. No beige, that’s better, beige, totally and utterly beige. It doesn’t matter if it’s green or blue or salmon that you’re wearing, it’s still all beige. Short sleeved shirts and pleat fronted trousers, so many of them. Why? They’re all the same, all predictably doing the same thing day in, day out. All of them in unison, doing the same endless round of stuff, trying to justify why they’re here, trying to imbue it with any sort of meaning. The click clacking of their keyboards makes my core scream. Look at them, huddled around desks, engrossed in conversation about things which don’t matter.

Must make it matter, must make this life count, must justify the reason for sucking every bit of individuality and meaning from the marrow of my bones. This is what purgatory is, the vague allure of compliance, the faux enthusiasm leading to eventual defeat and utter acceptance.

Look at them, planning their team building days and buying cakes to celebrate their own birthday. Bribe people into entering your life, sharing in some artificial joy which you can pretend equates to a friendship, bright smiles hiding years of simmering resentment. Keep telling yourselves you’re happy, that you want this, go on.  Everyone’s gone native.  Perhaps I should envy their naivety, but I can’t. Am I the only one who is awake?

Look at them giggling at their inside jokes. Photos of smiling children and postcards sharing platitudes stare at them from the walls of their cubicles. Pretend you still have a life. A stern face races past me. Late for a meeting, must be on time. A ten second delay is unacceptable. What am I doing here? None of this is real.

I look past my computer and beyond, to the window, to the real world. Beyond the concrete car park I see trees, birds, light. That’s real, that’s life, the natural cycle of survival, eating, sleeping, and procreating. That’s actual purpose, actual meaning, not this endless analysis and intense discussion about the irrelevant. The creatures and plants beyond the concrete wall don’t care if the ring binder is blue or red. The cars below the window are parked in the same bays as they were yesterday and will be in the same ones tomorrow. Having your dedicated bay doesn’t make you special; it doesn’t give you any mystical power. Does it really matter?

Look at you all, doing and saying the right things, persuading yourselves that you know all the answers, that yours is the right way, the only way. We’re all just pretending at being alive. Why? I want to live, to be free, and to be real.  I can’t care about this anymore. I choose not to. It’s pointless, shameful.

How long has he been standing there talking to me? Have I been making the required noises, nodding my head at the appropriate intervals? Why do I even care?  No, I don’t. The veil has been lifted.

I feel myself standing up and turning away from his. His mouth is moving but I can’t hear the words which are coming out. At last, I’m free, liberated. There’s no time to explain it. Every minute is precious, every delay is another moment wasted.

The others look on bemused. I may as well be a bird trying to ride a bicycle. Leaving their confused faces behind me, I silently walk towards the window and open it. There it is. Life. At last you found me.

Breathing in the warm air I feel something I haven’t felt before. The air crackles with energy and embraces me, a warm hug to welcome me into reality, back into the world. The birdsong calls to me and the leaves on the trees move gently in the breeze, waving me over to them.

The world is full of infinite possibilities. I am no longer ruled by arbitrary rules and systems. I am liberated, enlightened, completely in the universes hands. I don’t look back at the faces behind me, back at the collaborators in my captivity. I am not angry at them, I can’t hate them. I feel a solitary moment of pity for them before I turn back to the window, the window into the world. All noise is silenced, all motion is stalled, all burdens and expectations are lifted from my shoulders. I’m free world, I’m free.

Liberated from any constraint I push the window open further, up onto the ledge and jump.

Helen Treharne

I’m Helen Treharne, fiction author an creator of The Sophie Morgan Vampire Series. I live in South Wales with my husband, young son and rescue cat.
My books are available at all major digital retailers with soft back copies also available from Amazon, Createspace and other stores.
When I’m not writing fiction, I blog at, sharing my experiences of being a busy parent jugging working, writing, and more. Follow me there for my personal insights.

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