Buy Me, Sir(3)

By: Jade West



I push open the doors at the rear of the canteen. “Maybe we could do it, get ourselves promoted up there.”

She laughs. “Up to floor eighteen? Yeah, right.”

“I’m serious,” I tell her. “Why not?”

She locates the supplies cupboard we’ve been directed to and examines our stash. “Because… well… I dunno.” She shrugs. “Because I guess everyone in this place wants to work on the eighteenth floor. I’d probably sniff his seat if I got a shot in there, then rub one off on his posh-boy desk. Oh, oh… Alexander! Yes! Your mahogany feels divine!”

She looks at me and her eyes twinkle. And then she gives a sniff to demonstrate, and it’s funny, it’s really funny, and it makes me laugh.

I think I’m going to like Sonya a lot.

“Everyone calls me Lissa,” I tell her and hold out a hand.

“Everyone calls me Sonnie,” she says and shakes it. She hands me a bottle of de-greaser and a fresh scrubbing sponge from the pack, and arms herself with an industrial-sized vat of cream cleaner. “Just my fucking luck to get the shitty floor,” she groans. “They fired the last two. Thankless fucking task, the canteen, so they say.”

A rush of horror sweeps through my gut. “Fired? How do you know that?”

She taps her nose. “I love knowing what’s what. Made friends with one of the girls who cleans the IT suite. She told me. Said she used to work this floor, too, until she got promoted. Said she had to work her fucking sweet ass off to get out of this crappy gig. Rather sell a kidney than come back here, she said.”

“Great…”

“Yep. Life’s fucking rosy. Hope we last the month out at least, I got rent to pay.”

Me too, I tell her. I’ve got a little brother to take care of, I tell her, then take a moment to pull out my phone from my apron and show her my screensaver.

“His name’s Joseph.”

“Aww, he’s a cutie, hon. Got your eyes.”

“From our dad.” I take the handset and stare at my little brother. We really do share the same eyes. Big and blue, and cheeky. He has the same pasty skin as me, and the same wisp of mousy hair. Not the dimples, though, he got those from our mum.

I try not to think about it, not now.

She’s weighing up whether to ask, I know it. I save her the anguish, giving her the clipped spiel about how my parents died in a hit and run last Spring.

“Shit, I’m so sorry,” she says, and she is, her eyes are kind. “You having to pay for childcare? That crap gets expensive.”

I shake my head. “I have a friend, Dean. He’s cool. He helps out. I’m lucky.”

Lucky. That’s a joke.

“A friend friend?” she asks, and her eyes twinkle.

I smile. “No. Just a friend. Definitely platonic.”

He is as well. I’ve never seen him that way. Never seen anyone that way, apart from Alexander Henley.

Suited me just fine holding onto my V-status anyway. Getting enough A-grades to one day be his peer was the only thing I was focused on.

I shove my phone back out of view, and Sonnie’s staring at me strangely, as though she’s wondering whether she’s going to divulge some more insider info or not. I hope she does.

“Keep a secret, right?”

I nod, and she hands me her own handset. Two beautiful little girls stare back at me, their smiles the sweetest thing. “I got two little ones,” she says. “But don’t say nothin’. Didn’t mention it at the interview, was worried they wouldn’t take me, single mum and all that, iffy childcare arrangements.”

“They took me.”

She smiles. “Guess you’re braver than me for risking it.”

Braver or too desperate to care.

I shrug. “Having responsibilities doesn’t stop either of us scrubbing their ovens just as well as the next candidate, does it?”

“Better,” she says. “We’ll be better. Coz we need to be. Mouths to feed.”

She isn’t wrong there.

She tips her head at me, and her smile is conspiratorial. “What say we give it a shot?” she asks. “Show ’em that us little minions from floor seven got what it takes to get out of this gig. We could do it, have this place cleaner than they’ve ever seen it. Clean enough to eat your lunch from their swanky toilet bowls. That’ll show ’em.”

“You mean go for promotion? Off this floor?”

She nods. “Yeah, off this floor. All the way up to floor eighteen, that’s where I’m thinking. Hell, I ain’t been one of life’s winners, not up to now, but ain’t much I don’t know about cleaning.”

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