Monday, November 9, 2020

The Lockdown Book Club - Chapter 3

On Friday, your voting options were:

What does Kate do for a living?

  1. Work for a big company that makes and distributes cleaning products
  2. A receptionist for a dentist
  3. IT Technician in a university
  4. Doctor

    Let's see how you voted:

    Chapter 3

Kate busied the call and carried on typing.

Well why does your date get precedent over mine? You two are already married - this could be my one chance of happiness xoxo

She passed the cigarette back to Aaron and busied another call as a reply from Polly came through.

Don’t be ridiculous. If is the one for you then he will understand family commitments. Especially after everything we’ve done for you…

Kate rolled her eyes, took the cigarette back and busied another call. She shifted her bum cheeks on the cold concrete steps. They were getting that chilled, weirdly itchy feeling that’s unique to bum cheeks left too long on a surface not designed for bum cheeks.

“Shouldn’t you be answering that?” Asked Aaron, and Kate looked over at him.

“Oh probably. It’ll just be Ron Redford.”

“Philosophy isn’t he?” Asked Aaron, scratching the beard he was intensely proud of but that was actually barely distinguishable from the rest of his face.

“Yeah,” said Kate, stubbing the cigarette out under her shoe, “He knows all about the universe but has no idea how to switch on a printer.”

“Who is still printing things in this day and age?” Aaron looked like Kate had suggested he do his homework in hieroglyphics.

“Exactly,” Kate rolled her eyes again, glad that at least one of her body parts was getting exercised today. The gym had failed to beckon her out of the nice warm cosy bed that morning. In fact, so had work. She had snuck into the university well past the time she was supposed to have been at her desk. Luckily no one seemed to notice or care what she got up to, and that was the main reason Kate stayed in the job. “I installed him a digital whiteboard like everyone else has and he immediately wrote all over it in permanent marker.”

“Damn.” Said Aaron, sighing.

“I think he did it on purpose too. We don’t stock those markers: we stock wipeables. He has to have gone out and bought them specifically to ruin it so he doesn’t have to learn how to use it.”

“Old people are weird.” Aaron nodded sagely.

“Yeah.” Said Kate, then realised Aaron probably thought of her as old too. But she was cool old, wasn’t she? How many other members of staff snuck into stairwells to share cigarettes with students? None! Actually, did that make her cool or a mess? The question made Kate think she should probably get up and get on with her day.

“See you tomorrow, yeah?” Aaron eyes were friendly but Kate largely suspected he kept up the pretence of friendship rather because of her supply of cigarettes.

“Yeah, I expect so.” She sighed, having long since given up on the idea that by tomorrow she wouldn’t be a smoker. She pushed the heavy fire door open and finally answered the call that was barking at her.

“Kate Wilcox speaking.”

“Kate! Kate, there you are. Listen… I don’t know what’s wrong with this damn printer but…”

“I’ll be right there Professor Redford.” Kate stifled a yawn.

“It’s Professor Red… oh, yes quite. Ok. Please hurry. I only have a few minutes of this lesson left and I haven’t even been able to hand out the work sheets yet.”

“If you would…”

“Don’t you dare say the words white or board to me Ms Wilcox.”

The phone went Dad and Kate stood in the middle of the campus staring at her phone. “It’s Professor Wilcox, actually.” She mumbled to her phone. Except it wasn’t, was it? That was her mother. And her father. And Polly - not that she used the title. She preferred “Mrs”. Kate had used “Ms” for a while in an attempt to live up to her feminist ideals and for an air of mystery, but had recently reverted to “Miss” and a total betrayal of womankind because she felt like maybe “Miss” made her sound younger.

She dragged her feet heavily across the campus to the Philosophy Department and up the stairs towards Professor Redford’s class. She was about to knock on the door when it opened in front of her and all the students came bundling out, bringing the stale air with them in their excitement to be gone.

“9k for that?” An exasperated voice was saying as she stretched her arms and wiped sleep out of her eyes.

Kate waited patiently for them to leave and then hustled into the classroom.

“Afternoon,” she said brightly, “Where’s this printer then?” Ron Redford looked furiously at her from underneath enormous eyebrows. He was a cartoon of a man: as if, when planning the universe and more specifically Ron Redford, God has said to his second in command “You have 30 seconds to draw a philosophy professor GO” and had then used the very first, unimaginative sketch his angel had sketched out.

“Well there is very little point in me printing out work sheets if I have no students to hand them out to, is there?” Ron Redford gestured dramatically at his empty classroom. Kate tucked her temper between her top lip and bottom teeth and smiled tightly back at his anger.

“I’m sure you would like it working for your next class though wouldn’t you?” She said sweetly.

“If it makes you feel like your life has a purpose, you may fix it.” Redford muttered angrily, “The accursed thing is over there being belligerent.”

Kate headed over to the printer. If it had been a pet it would have been whimpering in the corner, begging Kate to rescue it and take it to a kinder place to live. She looked it over; no sign of life in it at all. Feeling behind it she found the lead and ran her hand all along it until…

“Ah, there’s your problem.” She said, unsurprised at her findings.

“Can you fix it by tomorrow?”

“It’s not so much of a fix as…”

“Oh for goodness sake, what is it going to need? A week’s R&R? A new type of ink? I swear on my life I have never printed anything in Magenta in my entire life.” He stared at Kate furiously, black eyes beetling out from under their shaggy pergolas.

“It just needs plugging in.” Said Kate, in a small tired voice. She pushed the plug into the wall, flicked on two buttons and listened for the mechanical whirring of the printer firing up. Worksheets began spilling out one after another almost immediately. Professor Redford looked apoplectic.

“You said it wireless! Wireless you said!” His arms were flailing wildly, Kate was a little worried he might need a lie down. His job couldn’t possibly be as stressful as his temperament made out, could it?

“It’s wireless from the computer, but it still needs to be plugged in and switched on. I’ll make you an instruction sheet…”

“Laminate it.” Were the only further words out Professor Redford’s mouth as he slammed out of the room, leaving Kate standing silently next to the printer and 200 useless worksheets.


Thanks for reading! If you would like to join in on directing how the story goes from here, you can comment underneath with one of these options ready for tomorrow...


Choose one of these ages in Kate’s life…

  1. 12
  2. 18
  3. 28
  4. 31

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