Beat The Clock!

It was a wake-up call and I was go­ing to heed it, even if I hap­pened to make an en­emy or two on the way…

My Weekly - - Contents - By S. Bee

A tale with a twist

My heart al­most stopped with shock. There, right in front of me, was my grave­stone. This must be some kind of joke. Yet who would be so cruel?

The deep gold let­ter­ing spelled out my name, Brenda Ann Pick­les; my date of birth; and the date of my death in 2020. The word­ing ended sim­ply: RIP. I frowned. RIP? That was a bit gen­eral. I hadn’t mar­ried, and there were no kids or grand­kids, but I’m fully de­voted to my ca­reer. I’ve worked for the same com­pany for al­most thirty-five years. I’d hoped for more than RIP from my close band of col­leagues – this was a last­ing me­mo­rial, af­ter all.

Plus, I have a group of loyal friends. We’d first met decades ago, when we were fresh-faced kids start­ing out.

I’m only sixty-two. I don’t want to die in two years time! I blinked back tears.

Of course, my grave­stone didn’t state the cause of death. I sus­pected a car­diac ar­rest. But there wasn’t a blasted thing I could do about it!

Hmm, I mused. Maybe there was… what was stop­ping me from los­ing weight, cut­ting down on the booze, and vis­it­ing the gym more of­ten? Noth­ing!

I was de­ter­mined to stop at noth­ing to get that 2020 date re­moved.

Three months later, and ev­ery­one had no­ticed the change in me. Thanks to re­duc­ing the fat and sugar in my diet and reg­u­lar ses­sions at the gym, I’d lost weight. I’d stopped drink­ing too.

On nights out, I drank soft drinks. It raised a few eye­brows, yet I felt so much bet­ter for it.

I treated my­self to a sassy cut and colour, beauty treat­ments, and a host of out­fits that flat­tered the new me. My com­plex­ion was glow­ing, my hair was glossy – I oozed glam­our and con­fi­dence.

I re­ally hoped all this ef­fort would im­press man­age­ment. I re­alised my role wasn’t based on ap­pear­ance, yet I hoped a change of im­age would in­flu­ence their ap­proach.

Then one morn­ing I was in a cu­bi­cle in the ladies when I over­heard a con­ver­sa­tion be­tween two new re­cruits. I’d been in­tro­duced to them, yet their names es­caped me. They were clearly talk­ing about me.

“She’s trimmed down, toned up and cut out the booze, but sadly, no health kick in the world can stop the march of time,” one be­gan. There was a touch of em­pa­thy in her tone.

“It’s pa­thetic,” the other spat. “The next thing on her list will be a toy boy. Well, she can keep her claws off my Dan.”

Ah – so the rookie had got close to young Dan, who worked along­side me. With his deep blue eyes, mus­cu­lar frame and dark wavy hair, he’d amassed a fair few ad­mir­ers. Gos­sip was rife here. I as­sumed that’s why Dan had asked Miss Vile to keep their re­la­tion­ship se­cret.

Yet she had no rea­son to see me as a threat. I’ve no in­ter­est in look­ing for love.

“She’s des­per­ate to keep her job,” Miss Em­pa­thy said. “I can’t re­ally blame her, with these ru­mours fly­ing around.”

“They want bright young things,” Miss Vile stated. “Like me.” I imag­ined her preen­ing in the mir­ror. “One day, Marnie, you’ll be in your six­ties too and –” Miss Em­pa­thy was rudely in­ter­rupted. “Oh shut up! Have you fixed your lip­stick? Good. Let’s grab a cof­fee,” Miss Vile in­structed.

I waited un­til they’d left, then crept out.

Ide­cided to sneak back to where I’d seen my grave­stone. It was still there, propped up in prime po­si­tion. It still read 2020.

My blood pumped with anger. This was so un­fair! So I raced to the meet­ing and burst through the of­fice door. “Please don’t kill Brenda!” They looked up, star­tled. “I’ve seen her grave in the props room,” I ex­plained. The TV pro­ducer nod­ded. “We were con­sid­er­ing it. But then the scriptwrit­ing team cre­ated a new sto­ry­line. Marnie’s char­ac­ter will die trag­i­cally in a car ac­ci­dent. And Brenda, as a sexy cougar, is go­ing to be­come in­volved with Pete.” Dan played Pete. I grinned. All that hard work ramp­ing up the glam­our had paid off. Be­ing a soap opera ac­tress is the best job ever!

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