RUN­NING LATE: Rush­ing down the stairs, putting on her blazer and men­tally cal­cu­lat­ing how long a bowl of cereal would take to make and eat, she sud­denly re­mem­bered that she has a pre­sen­ta­tion at work to­day

The East African - - MAGAZINE - Nadya So­moe, Spe­cial Cor­re­spon­dent

She woke up to a golden shaft of sun­light danc­ing on the wall, al­most like a part of a dream she didn’t want to wake up from. There were lit­tle specks of shim­mery dust caught up in the mes­meris­ing move­ment of the light, and Pam stared at the sight un­til with a start she re­alised that she would be late for work.

Rolling over, she quickly checked what time it was on her phone, “Great, just per­fect.”

Pam moved fast even though she liked slow, mea­sured in­ter­ac­tions with the world. Any­thing too hec­tic, too loud, too much of an in­tru­sion would set her at edge.

Some peo­ple called her brusque, short… oth­ers would say she was odd… but they just didn’t un­der­stand her.

Rush­ing down the stairs putting on her blazer and men­tally cal­cu­lat­ing how long a bowl of cereal would take to make and eat, she sud­denly re­mem­bered that she has a pre­sen­ta­tion at work to­day. She stopped short at the bot­tom of the steps, a tall stat­uesque fig­ure, beau­ti­ful if it wasn’t for the permanent scowl on her face.

She ate her cereal stand­ing, tap­ping her foot im­pa­tiently as she quickly chewed the crunchy, whole-grain mix­ture.

Grab­bing her flask of cof­fee, keys, bag and… oh yes, the pre­sen­ta­tion, Pam stepped into the bright warm morn­ing sun. Slid­ing into her car, she ab­sent­mind­edly made her way to the of­fice.

She squinted in the pierc­ing rays and pulled down her sun visor. Turn­ing left, she did not see how close she came to run­ning over a man who dived to avoid com­ing into con­tact with bumper.

Com­ing to a stop, Pam no­ticed the bougainvil­lea trees in full bloom lin­ing both sides of the road. The colours lifted her mood slightly, tak­ing her back to car rides when she was young…

“News­pa­per, miss?” a ven­dor in the light traf­fic broke through Pam’s thoughts. “Such a good day!” he added, his face crin­kling into a mass of folds as he smiled.

“Yes, that one,” she nod­ded to in­di­cate her choice as she deftly reached into her bag for her coin purse. “It’s not a good day. It’ll be way too hot by mid­day and you’re out here in the open. The rate of sun­stroke in­creases with age, and you…” her

Pam stopped mid-sen­tence as she saw the man’s face fall. Oh dear, she was over-shar­ing her thoughts again. She left him her change out of guilt, shrugged and drove on. She glanced at the pa­per’s head­line, smirked as she won­dered why no-one ever looked good on the front page, then flipped to the busi­ness pages.

She smiled, her face trans­form­ing and show­ing a glimpse of the kind, gen­tle per­son that lurked some­where un­der­neath her many lay­ers of scowls.

She reached for her phone and di­alled.

“Hello Pam, what can I do for you to­day?” Jim was al­ways happy to hear from his star client. She un­der­stood the mar­ket, even bet­ter than he and most of his col­leagues.

“Uhh,” Pam replied, he was her stock­bro­ker why else would she call him? “Sell my shares in…” she be­gan, and rat­tled off for a minute be­fore end­ing with a curt, “okay, bye.”

A large cloud drifted over ,block­ing the sun, cast­ing the earth into shadow and turn­ing ev­ery­thing muted, like look­ing through grey tinted glasses. There

was a calm, cool prom­ise in the air; it was still warm, but you could tell it was go­ing to cool down in a mo­ment. Pam watched the in­tri­cate pat­terns of the cloud as it changed shape.

“Hey you! Move it!” a deep voice rudely in­ter­rupted her thoughts.

Pam frowned at the in­tru­sion, looked in the di­rec­tion of the beefy cop wav­ing her on, had a sud­den child­ish urge to ex­press her­self and so she stuck her tongue out and scrunched up her face at him, stepped on the ac­cel­er­a­tor and drove off.

Turn­ing into the drive­way of the sleek build­ing whose de­sign was more aes­thetic than prac­ti­cal, she drove into the base­ment, ig­nor­ing the con­fused look of the guards as they slowly lifted the bar­rier.

“Could you be any slower?” she mur­mured, as she reached for her phone to tell her sec­re­tary she’d be up in a mo­ment.

Her sec­re­tary could show her col­leagues into the board­room so that they would already be seated when she walked in.

“Ah!” an ex­as­per­ated Pam ex­haled as she pulled into her usual park­ing spot, near­est to the el­e­va­tors. Her phone bat­tery was dead. She grabbed her flask and chugged her cof­fee; she needed to con­cen­trate, no wise­cracks or go­ing off on tan­gents. Sling­ing her bag onto her shoul­der, her large folder in her hands, she made her way to the lifts.

In­side, Pam stud­ied her re­flec­tion, cock­ing her head to one side as if study­ing an in­ter­est­ing piece of art.

“Should’ve worn the grey suit,” she said to her­self, jump­ing a lit­tle as her voice sounded mag­ni­fied in the en­closed space.

She stepped out when the doors opened.

“Morn­ing Miss! What are you do­ing here?” a cheery cleaner called.

Pam ex­haled, rolling her eyes. Ev­ery­one seemed to be act­ing wierd to­day.

Un­per­turbed, he went early, and on a Sun­day!”

Pam’s mouth went dry.


on, “So

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