Tag Archive | fiction

Short Story: The Copycats Among Us (Part 2).

(Read part 1 here!).

Bilkisu was the Head of Public Relations, and Elsie was a mere Assistant Manager. No other department had an Assistant Manager present at those meetings.

The MD was making such a fuss because Elsie had written a few good reports. Bilkisu seethed every time she thought about it…and also felt very uneasy. She did not feel so secure in her position in the firm anymore. She had only gotten the job anyway because Big Dog’s wife, Binta was her elder sister.

Bilkisu therefore went out of her way to play down Elsie’s achievements, even though she secretly coveted her creativity in coming up with pitches for clients and the ease with which she wrote reports.

Much to her annoyance, Elsie seemed unaffected by her schemes, and always had a serene look on her face, which Bilkisu really wanted to scratch off with her long nails. She could feel her resentment for Elsie growing every day inside her, and she did not know how to quell it.

Even the mere sight of her was enough to put Bilkisu in a bad mood.

Bilkisu was a self-proclaimed fashionista, and it irked her that the men in their office seemed drawn to Elsie with her simple outfits, barely-there makeup and unimaginative braided hairstyles.

Now she just sat there, staring at her, even smiling.

‘What could be making her smile?’ Bilkisu wondered.

She found herself fidgeting from the intensity of Elsie’s steady gaze. The power had come back on, and the air conditioners were doing a good job of rapidly cooling the conference room, and yet she still felt sweat dripping down her back.

Just as Bilkisu was thinking of an excuse to leave the conference room, Mr. Bala, the MD bustled in.

‘Sorry I’m late guys, let’s start the meeting!’ he said jovially. ‘Big Dog’ had the cuddly physique of a bear and the harmless features of a puppy, but was very astute and shrewd as a boss. No staff member ever thought to underestimate him.

He took his seat at the head of the table.

Bilkisu and Elsie continued to stare at each other, their mutual dislike simmering in the air.

***

‘They say that imitation is the best form of flattery’.

‘I knew that you wouldn’t take this seriously’ Elsie chided Tunji. It was 7:43pm, and they were replaying the events of the work day.

‘I really don’t know why she told me the pitch was her idea’ Tunji mused.

Elsie adjusted her phone, cradling it on her right shoulder as she dished left-over jollof rice from the pot on to a small plate. Her sister Ella had prepared the meal and it looked and smelled delicious, but she only had an appetite for a small portion of food.

‘You know that she really likes you’ Elsie said. Tunji remained silent, and Elsie sensed that he was smiling.

Tunji had wanted to date Elsie since her first week at the firm, but dating a colleague just felt wrong to her. They became friends nonetheless and were very professional with each other at work, but he made it a routine to ask her to be his girlfriend once a month, which amused her.

‘So, what do you advise me to do?’ she asked him. ‘Should I start looking for a new job?’

Tunji thought for a moment. ‘Honestly, it wouldn’t be a bad idea. You are a great PR professional, but I know that as long as Bilkisu works at our firm, you will not see considerable growth in your role’.

‘It also helps that she’s Big Dog’s in-law’. Elsie laughed, even though she did not find the situation very funny.

‘Don’t worry about that. Big Dog isn’t stupid. He knows your value, which is why he insisted you attend management meetings’.

‘Well…I will update my CV and begin my job search again’.

‘Be very shrewd about it-you wouldn’t want Bilkisu walking in on you when you browsing for jobs on nigerianjobs.com’ Tunji warned.

‘I’ll keep that in mind’ Elsie answered. They said their goodbyes and ended the call.

Just as she was leaving the kitchen, a text message from Tunji appeared on her screen.

‘The good thing is that you would finally say yes to becoming my girlfriend if you worked somewhere else. T.’

Elsie shook her head and smiled at her phone. She did not send a reply, and she knew that he did not expect her to do so.

She suddenly had no appetite, and she covered the plate of rice and placed it in the fridge.

Elsie walked back to her living room and sat down heavily on the sofa, suddenly feeling very tired. Ella was out on a date with her new boyfriend, so Elsie had the flat to herself. The sultry vocals of Corinne Bailey Rae’s ‘Put your records on’ played on the radio, helping to put her in a meditative state of mind.

‘I need to protect myself’ she thought. Elsie understood that office politics was to be expected at the workplace, but she knew that she would not win a battle of wills against Bilkisu. She rubbed her eyes, and ran her hands over her face.

A sudden thought came into Elsie’s mind, and she stood up abruptly and walked into her bedroom. She opened her jewelry box which was on top of her dressing table. Nestled among her colourful earrings and necklaces lay her silver ‘believe’ bracelet. She slipped in on her left wrist and stretched out her arm to admire it.

Elsie noted wryly that she was long overdue for a manicure-she had started to bite her nails again and they were in an atrocious state.

She closed her eyes and envisioned herself somewhere peaceful, where the copycats could not get to her.

Just as she started to drift off, her phone beeped with the text message alert.

Elsie picked up her phone and read: ‘Please see the MD by 10am tomorrow. Thanks. Mrs Onuorah, PA to the MD’.

‘What have I done now?’ She thought.

Elsie rubbed her eyes, not looking forward to work the next day.

Written by

©Ivie M. Eke 2017
(Thanks for reading! Part 3 will be posted soon!).

Walking On Eggshells. 

‘Walking On Eggshells’, my short story collection is available on Amazon and Okada Books! 

 

Excerpt from ‘The Green Fridge’.

‘The Green Fridge’ is the last story in my collection, ‘Walking On Eggshells’.

 I wanted to write about a marriage where the love had fizzled out, and where the couple could no longer articulate to each other why they were unhappy. They would rather focus on mundane activities, such as buying a new fridge. 

‘Walking On Eggshells’ is available on Amazon and Okada Books.

Please get your copies and share this post with your friends.

Happy reading!

Ivie.

Short Story: The Copycats Among Us (Part 1).

Elsie stood at the entrance of the conference room, observing the spectacle before her.

It was almost 10am. The executive meeting was supposed to have started at 9:30am but was running late because the Big Dog (a nickname for the MD-which he endorsed) was tied up in a Skype call with their London office.

Elsie had just returned from the restroom and had reached the entrance of the conference room when she heard someone say, ‘…and that’s how I came up with the pitch to expand our market to Lagos’.

Bilkisu, Elsie’s supervisor was the person who uttered these words to her rapt audience of fellow executives at Primrose Management Consulting Ltd.

This statement was news to Elsie because Bilkisu, in the two years Elsie had worked with her, hadn’t come up with a single innovative or original idea.

Elsie stared at Bilkisu, while she was still rooted to the spot. Bilkisu wore a skirt suit which was an eye-watering shade of orange, her hair was slicked back into a Brazilian-weave assisted ponytail, and she wore an extraordinary amount of jewelry. Else usually felt like a dowdy 90-year old woman beside her when they went out for client meetings.

As a supervisor, Bilkisu was very hands-off, barely giving Elsie’s pitches or reports a cursory glance when she presented them. Elsie always felt like she was doing something wrong: nothing she wrote or researched ever seemed to be up to Bilkisu’s standards.

‘Elsie, I’m sure you must be very proud of your Madam’s new ideas’ said Tunji, the Head of Finance.

The words brought Elsie back from her reverie.

She smiled and took a step into the conference room, looking at Bilkisu, who couldn’t seem to make eye contact with her.

‘Yes, I’m very proud of her’ Elsie said, as she took her seat opposite them.

Tunji smiled-Elsie knew that being her friend, he was aware of the true nature of things. Bilkisu had the decency to look uncomfortable.

The air in the conference room was very stale due to the Abuja heat. There was no electricity and the generators had developed an unidentified fault. The windows were open, but very little breeze blew in.

‘Yes, I’m very proud of her’, Elsie repeated, as she used a document to fan herself vigorously. She was glad that she had worn a short-sleeved blouse with her grey trousers. She was also impressed with herself for saying the words with a straight face.

Tunji and Bilkisu continued to make conversation and the other occupants of the room-Brian the Head of Legal and Kofo the Head of Human Resources-continued with a conversation of their own.

Elsie was alone in their midst but she did not mind, she had her thoughts to keep her company.

She observed Bilkisu’s facial expression as she spoke earnestly to Tunji. Bilkisu tended to have a constant look of being constipated; Elsie suspected that it was meant to be her ‘sexy’ look.

Bilkisu was only three years older than her, but you would never know with the way she carried on, Elsie mused. At age 27, this was Elsie’s first job after she had completed her National Youth Service. So far, it was her monthly salary alerts which motivated her to come to work each day, and not the job itself.

A bracelet on Bilkisu’s wrist caught Elsie’s attention-it was silver with the word ‘believe’ engraved on it. Elsie stared at it for a while, remembering when she had worn the exact bracelet about 2 months ago. Bilkisu had asked her where she had bought from, and muttered a disdainful ‘oh, ok’ when Elsie said she bought it from Primark, the U.K. clothing store known for its affordable (or cheap, depending on who you asked) clothing.

Now, staring at the bracelet on Bilkisu’s wrist, Elsie suddenly felt light-headed.

She thought about all the time she had wasted wondering what she was doing wrong, when in fact it now appeared that she was doing everything right.

Why else would Bilkisu take credit for her own ideas, or buy the exact bracelet which she had looked at with disdain when she had worn it, thought Elsie.

No, she was doing everything right.

Elsie smiled.

She realized that she was no longer in awe of Bilkisu.

***

Bilkisu felt cornered.

She had been so absorbed in telling Tunji the story of her “successful pitch” that she had not noticed that Elsie was standing at the doorway.

Why did she walk so damn quietly, anyway? Maybe she was wearing those cheap rubber-soled shoes again, Bilkisu thought.

She saw no harm in taking credit for the successful pitch-it was a team victory after all.

Bilkisu had almost started to believe that the story she told Tunji was true. His face gave no indication that he doubted her; he had nodded and responded politely.

Bilkisu couldn’t help herself: despite Tunji making it clear years ago that he wasn’t interested in a relationship with her, she kept trying to get his attention, to conjure up his interest in her.

The conference room was quiet, except for the sound of muted conversation by their other colleagues. Bilkisu suddenly felt Elsie’s eyes on her wrist. She looked down and saw the ‘believe’ bracelet, the same one she had sneered at when Elsie wore it some months ago.

She quickly covered the bracelet with her right hand, but Elsie had already seen it. Elsie said nothing, but merely stared at Bilkisu, who resisted the urge to squirm.

When Bilkisu had traveled to London for a week-long break the previous month, her first urge was not to take advantage of the warm August weather to do some sight-seeing. Rather, she took the tube to the Primark store on Oxford Street, near Tottenham Court Road. She had walked into the store with single-minded determination and taken the escalator up to the jewelry section, where she picked up the bracelet for herself. It had cost £5.99.

Bilkisu couldn’t explain why she needed to buy the bracelet so badly. All she knew was that after she saw Elsie wearing it, she couldn’t take her mind off it. She knew that she would not rest until she had bought the bracelet for herself.

Bilkisu didn’t know why she disliked Elsie so much. She was pleasant enough, and pretty in an obvious way. However, since Elsie joined the firm as her subordinate, Bilkisu had derived perverse pleasure in being the most unhelpful supervisor that anyone could have.

It was bad enough that the MD now insisted that Elsie should attend managerial meetings.

Imagine that!

 

(Part 2 will be on the blog next week!).

 

Written by

©Ivie M. Eke 2017

 

 

 

My Short Story Collection!


‘Walking on eggshells’ is available on Amazon and Okada Books.

Please make a purchase and share this post with your friends on social media as I work on more stories.

Have a great weekend!

Ivie.