I’ve got a secret. I think I might email to all. No the post isn’t ready for collection. No it’s not: ‘Could the owner of a Red Prius please make themselves known, your lights have been left on.’ I’m afraid to tell you it’s not about scanning the weekly reports and putting them in the relevant folder. Neither is it involving the delivery of a mysterious parcel to reception which may or may not be someone’s holiday clothes they will probably send back.
I might glitter confetti through the air conditioning unit. I might interlace pigeonholes with ribbons of rainbow streamers. Instead of walking today, I might attach helium balloons to my arms and fly. At my midmorning break I might invite the office to a competitive game of sleeping lions; last one standing wins an extra days pay. I’ve got invisible presents under my desk; I’ve carried them in my heart all day; they’re knocking my knees with quiet persistence: ‘go on tell them about us; do it in a most fabulous way.’ There’s a ghost red velvet cake in the kitchen; it’s frightening everyone when they try to pour milk. It’s prodding bellies and saying, ‘I’m empty calories and I don’t exist’, in a cloak of white icing silk.
I’m listening to a song on my iPhone, swapping the words ‘you’ and ‘me’, to make it a mournful Ode. From where I’m sitting I can see the Ocean, I’m tapping my pen with vigour, shouting SOS in Morse code. There is no time for frivolity, I’ve got Franking to do- it doesn’t bode well to dwell, on dreams of water once flowed.
I’ve got a magnificent hat on. It’s one of the most fetching hats I’ve ever seen. It’s sparkly, cone shaped and jazzy; a brilliant shade of green. At lunch, instead of a Mexican chicken sandwich, I’m eating a trough of jelly and ice-cream. I’m going to smear it across my face like war paint and use the cafetiere as a balance beam. Then I’ll play British Bulldog with all the girls’ from accounts; elbows out like an incentive scheme. Then I’ll make a speech, ‘thanks everyone so much for coming; I love you all- truly this is the American dream.’
But let’s pop all the balloons with a sword. Let’s put the champagne on ice. No you can’t eat my phantom red velvet cake; I’m not going to tell you twice. Because it’s my birthday today and most people here don’t know my name. They think I’m called Keeley and tell me so in emails. I’m just here for one week and then I’ll be erased from most people’s minds. That girl who answered the phone occasionally and struggled to reach the blinds.
And everyone seems friendly enough. I hear a lot of laughter in meeting rooms that I book. But I eat my sandwich in the kitchen alone, listening to peripheral company gobbledygook.
‘By hook or by crook if he moves the coffee again I’m done, I’m done, I’m through.’
‘The bridal centre has ruined my whole wedding- I’ve already wrote and rewrote the Yelp review.’
‘Could you possibly keep a lookout for the person that keeps shitting in the disabled loo? The toilet bowl looks like it’s been sprayed with balsam of deep Peru.’
I’ve got a secret. And the secret is dying with me. I picked a bunch of Daisies at lunch to show my love for thee. I’ve placed them in a tumbler right next to the control key. I’ll count down these two hours gracefully and expertly. This morning my boyfriend made me a treasure hunt of my favourite tea. He knows my name’s Becky, not Keeley. He put an infuser teapot in the washing machine. He devised a clue based on the fact I never have any clean knickers. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is. And at 5pm I shall run home to him and shrug off this invisibility cloak and receptionist voice. He’s taking me out to a fancy fish restaurant and I’ll drink several glasses of expensive wine. I’m going to put liquid eyeliner on and even brush my hair. Because for one day a year, everyone should feel groomed and special and loved. They don’t want to match building invoices with see-through delivery notes that are covered in mud. They don’t want to answers phones for people waiting to be transferred to customer care to complain. They don’t want to be on guard for people doing angry, illegal shits in the disabled toilet. They just want love and wine and tea. And to wear daisies in a crown on their head instead of in a glass on their desk. To break down the crystal ceiling and go swim in the sea; instead of opening hundreds of letters, humming sadly : ‘happy birthday to me.’