The Inklings: Chapter 76

To read the story from the start go to:

On Tuesday morning Syafika put some running shoes in her work bag and then became frustrated as she looked through her clothes because she couldn’t find anything that was both suitable for running in, and flattering. In the end she chose comfort over appearance because Anthony ran so fast that she wasn’t in danger of getting close enough for him to be able to evaluate her outfit. Syafika had to power walk to work to make it in time for the team meeting and was sweaty when she arrived.

At the end of the team meeting Christine announced that she and Nelson were interviewing applicants for the jobs that morning. Syafika was so excited that Fanta would be coming into the office that she couldn’t concentrate on her work. Syafika kept looking at the door to see if Fanta had arrived, and it took an email from her old boss to distract her from watching out for Fanta.

Syafika’s old Executive Director Leah had never had much time for her and so when Syafika saw an email invitation from Leah for a coffee and chat that afternoon she was concerned. Syafika realized that Leah must have just returned from leave and wondered what Leah thought of her shameful departure from the branch. Syafika wrote a reply saying she would come to coffee and had just hit the ‘send’ button when she noticed that the elegant woman from the café was walking into the meeting room with Christine, Nelson and a man Syafika recognized as being from Human Resources (She tried to remember his name and thought it might be Douglas).

Syafika started sweating immediately. Not only was the elegant woman competing with her for Anthony, she was competing with Fanta for a job. Syafika forgot where she was and swore out loud. Fortunately nobody seemed to notice because most people liked to wear headphones when they were at their computers. Syafika kept watching the door of the meeting room and in half an hour the elegant woman came out. The elegant woman wore a confident smile as she walked out the door. Syafika decided that she hated her and narrowed her eyes as she watched her go.

Christine emerged from the meeting room not long after and went to get Fanta, who must have been waiting in the foyer. Fanta waved to Syafika as she walked past. Syafika thought Fanta looked nervous, but Fanta also looked beautiful. She was wearing a dark blue dress and had her hair in an intimidatingly complicated layered bun.

Syafika noted the time that Fanta and Christine went into the meeting room. She wanted to know exactly how much time Christine gave Fanta, because she imagined that if the interview went longer it would mean that Christine liked Fanta better than the elegant woman.

Thirty five minutes later Christine and Fanta came out of the meeting room. Christine looked happy but a bit tired. Fanta still looked nervous. Syafika didn’t know what to think. She couldn’t wait to find out from Fanta what happened in the meeting room. Christine walked Fanta out and came back with a man who looked a bit old to be a graduate and so Syafika hoped that he was being interviewed for the team leader position.

Syafika’s phone rang and she was surprised to hear Fanta on the other end. Fanta was calling from a pay phone outside the building.

“How was it?” asked Syafika.

“Mostly good” said Fanta. “Christine and the other two seemed to like me and were talking as if the job was mine until I told them that I only wanted to work two or three days a week.”

“What did they say?” asked Syafika.

“Christine told me that things move fast and that if I wasn’t there every day I would have trouble keeping up” said Fanta. “And Nelson said that nobody else works part time. But Doug said that it was possible to work five hour days instead of fewer days.”

“I hope Doug can convince Christine and Nelson then” said Syafika.

“I guess it depends what the other candiates were like too. Have you seen any?” asked Fanta.

“There was one before you but I don’t think Christine liked her as much as she liked you” said Syafika. She was about to tell Fanta that the other candidate was the elegant woman who had met Anthony in the café, but when Syafika looked to her left she noticed that Bronwyn wasn’t wearing headphones and was worried that Bronwyn was listening to her conversation with Fanta. “I’ll tell you more tonight” said Syafika. “Want to bring your sisters for dinner?”

Two more candidates came and left before Christine, Nelson and Doug stopped for lunch, but Syafika had stopped paying attention. She’d been busy getting work done so she could go to the Botanic Gardens at lunch and still have time for afternoon coffee with Leah.

Syafika knew there were some showers and change rooms in the building but had never been there so she asked Bronwyn where they were. Bronwyn rode her bike to work so she was an expert in the facilities and was happy to take Syafika to see them.

“I saw you wave at the second candidate this morning” said Bronwyn as she and Syafika walked down the back stairs to the ground floor. “Is she your friend?”

“Yep” answered Syafika.

“Which position is she trying out for?” asked Bronwyn

“Graduate” said Syafika.

“Phew” said Bronwyn “Because I applied for the team leader position. My interview is after lunch”

“I hope you get the job” said Syafika. She meant what she said. Syafika thought it would be wise for Christine to give Bronwyn the team leader position because otherwise she might lose her. Who would want to stick around in the team working for another team leader if you’d failed to get the job?

“Thanks” said Bronwyn. “I hope your friend gets the other job. What’s her name?”

“Her name is Fanta. She would be perfect for the job. She’s clever and very wise. But she only wants to work part time. Do you think Christine would agree to that?” said Syafika.

“I think it would be up to the new team leader, actually” said Bronwyn. “They would be responsible for allocating work between members of the team”

“Would you agree to let her work part time if you get the team leader job?” asked Syafika.

“Yes” said Bronwyn. “I like people who know what they want. Most people just copy everyone else. But it would mean interviewing for someone else to do the rest of the hours. We have been allocated a full time position so we’d be stupid to not try to fill both halves of it. It will be a struggle to get projects done on time otherwise. It is a pity Fanta didn’t apply with someone else so they could fill the position together”

“That’s a good idea!” said Syafika. “I wish I’d thought of that earlier. If Fanta doesn’t get the job I will feel like I let her down”.

“Don’t be silly. You can’t think of everything” said Bronwyn. “You will feel better after your run. I need to go and have lunch now, so I’m not hungry in the interview”

Syafika looked at her watch and calculated that she had to be back in 40 minutes if she wanted to have time to have a shower before heading back to her desk. She got changed as fast as she could and was soon jogging up the hill to the Botanic Gardens.

Syafika was puffed by the time she got through the gates of the Botanic Gardens, but it felt good. She stopped to walk for a little bit, telling herself that she was doing this for fun, not for exercise. Syafika wondered where Anthony started his run. She thought it was likely to be the place he’d ended it last time and so she followed the path that led towards Government House. The trouble was that even if Syafika was right about where Anthony started his run, she didn’t know what time he started, or whether he started at the same time everyday or even whether he went for a run everyday.

When Syafika got to Government House she hid behind a hedge and looked out for Anthony. She looked at her watch and saw that she needed to be back at the showers in 30 minutes. She decided to wait another ten minutes for Anthony before giving up and just going for a walk. Ten minutes later Syafika reluctantly stood up and started walking towards the cafe. She thought a treat might help make up for the disappointment of not seeing Anthony. Then Syafika remembered that it was all downhill to the café and decided she may as well run there. Syafika felt silly when she ran. It wasn’t something she was used to doing and she imagined she must look very awkward. Syafika had a laugh at herself and by the time she reached the café she was feeling very happy and very sweaty. A small group of runners was ahead of Syafika in the queue and they all ordered salads for lunch, so when it was Syafika’s turn to order she chose a fruit salad instead of the slice of chocolate cake she’d been thinking about.

Syafika looked at her watch as she left the café and realized she’d have to choose between eating the fruit salad now and running back to the office to make up time, or walking back and eating the fruit salad at her desk after her shower. She decided to compromise and quickly ate a couple of mouthfuls of fruit salad before closing the container tightly and jogging back towards the gate closest to work.

Syafika couldn’t make it all the way back to the gate before she had to stop and catch her breath. Syafika could hear her heart beating but she could also hear something else. There were familiar voices speaking on the other side of some large bushes. Syafika peeped between the bushes and saw Anthony and Nelson. They seemed to be having an argument.

“I can’t change her mind” said Nelson. “Christine doesn’t like Celine”

“But if the other girl only wants to work part time surely that rules her out!” said Anthony

“Not in Christine’s eyes” said Nelson. “Anyway, we have to decide on the team leader first and then the team leader will get the final say”

“I know! What if Celine agrees to fill the other half of the job?” suggested Anthony.

“Ok. That might work. But now we need to worry about what the new team leader wants” said Nelson.

“I’m sure you can sort that out” said Anthony. “You know how important this is!”

Then Anthony ran off and Nelson started walking towards the gate.

Syafika wanted to follow Anthony but when she looked at the time she knew she had to follow Nelson instead.

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