A Beginner's Guide to Waves
by Cath Barton
Judith was a stunner, though she didn’t believe it. But there was something about the set of her shoulders that day. More determined than usual. I should have thought about it, I really should.
We exchanged the usual perfunctory greetings that morning and then went straight to work. Judith going through e-mails in the outer office and me thinking about how to handle the lunch-time meeting with Bennie. And the public launch. It’s a mite tricky when you’ve come up with an idea as good as mine. I always say that successful presentation is all about polishing the tone (forgive the mixed metaphor). Get it right and you get the recognition you deserve without people getting pissy with you because they wish that they, clever-dicks, had thought of the idea first. When I say people I mean Bennie of course. But where is he? Having to fix outside meetings so you can talk to your supposed co-director is crazy. Unfortunate use of word. Sorry. And the two of them thought I knew nothing about...the two of them. Sorry again. I did, though sadly not enough to help.
It’s nearly lunchtime and she hasn’t moved from her desk all morning. I go out. She looks up from a magazine.
“Judith?...” She doesn’t give me a chance to go on. She’s looking, frankly, manic.
“I’m reading a beginner’s guide to waves. Did you know about the doldrums?”
Before I can decide whether or not it’s a good idea to be facetious she continues.
“It’s an area of the sea near the equator where it can be flat calm one minute and whipped up into huge waves the next, and....”
“Judith! Has Bennie called?” She looks distant.
“Oh, yes, yes...” Her voice trails off.
“He said to tell you he’ll meet you at Jac’s at midday.”
I got what I wanted from Bennie over lunch and sauntered back into the office a calmer man. No Judith. But the alarm bells had no sooner started going off in my head than she walked back in smiling. I turned off the internal alarm. It was the old Judith who’d come back. Or so I thought. I shut myself away and worked on the press release. Didn’t even come out to ask her for a cup of tea. So I didn’t know that Bennie’s wife had phoned her. I didn’t know that for quite a while afterwards. Mr-Oh-So-Clever-Big-Ideas-Me had not thought about the obvious possibility. Let alone the obvious consequences.
I honestly never thought Judith would do anything like that. But the set of her shoulders ought to have warned me. When I eventually cleared out her desk I found that article about waves. She’d underlined a sentence: ‘The word “doldrums” derives from the old English word “dol”, meaning “dull”’.
No,no Judith, you were never dull. Getting you to see that, before it was too late, now that would have been a really good idea.
Cath Barton lives in Abergavenny, Wales, where she writes, sings, walks, gardens and generally enjoys life. Helped by having a lovely husband and two bonkers cats.
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