On another dreary London morning, Sarah rolled over to turn off her screeching alarm. The alarm clock read 5-30, she let out a groan, pulled herself out of bed and began getting ready. It was the same old routine; she got in the shower, she brushed her teeth, she put on her outfit, she styled her hair, she applied her makeup, and left.
Sarah had always been cynical. She was a 26 year old assistant at a design studio for Elizabeth Ardell – one of the UK’s top fashion designers – however, the novelty had soon worn off. While it had opened a door into fashion, she had been assistant to Madeline for three years now with no sign of change. When thinking of Madeline, three things would always spring to mind; knee high boots, her trademark scent eau de cigarette, and lastly a scowl that could make anyone question their existence. Spending all day serving Madeline was a daily struggle for Sarah, caught between her career ambitions and her desire to get as far from her office as possible.
As she arrived at work, Sarah composed herself after surviving the smell of the underground and the wrath of the weather. She scurried to her desk, removed her red trench coat and as she defogged her glasses, her colleague Mimi entered. The two shared an office which Sarah was less than thrilled about. Mimi was full of sunshine and smiles; her peppy outlook on life often made Sarah’s eyes roll, no one could possibly be that happy. “Morning!” she squealed in her high pitched voice. Sarah avoided eye contact and mumbled “Morning”, proceeding to sketch into her notepad, attempting to drown out Mimi’s next story.
Careers in fashion are exciting and glamorous. Sarah’s own view on the other hand, took a very different stance. Being a fashion assistant involved constant pressure to ‘out-dress’ your co-workers, as well as being surrounded by models, reminding you of the pizza you ordered last night, and missing the gym this week, and the fact the dress they are wearing would perfectly fit your left leg.
Sarah did not make many work friends. She could tell most people were probably criticising her totally-still-cool-at-the-time flared trousers before she had even left the room. There was one guy, Aaron, who had got her attention before. He worked in the opposite office and had men and women circling him all day long. He was muscular, stylish and had a hint of designer stubble, as well as the ability to make you forget how to form a coherent sentence. There was one flaw – he had less personality than a plank of wood. Sarah had accepted much of the industry was shallow; she was not expecting a fairy-tale. In fact, she was extremely pessimistic and because of this, did not expect what was coming next.
Madeline entered the office pouting, making her usual request of a non-fat skinny soya latte along with whatever food was on trend that week. Sarah grabbed her coat eager to escape Mimi’s babbling and headed to the coffee shop. As she stood in the queue, recognising the same old man with the walking stick and the same girl at the till with the braces, she reflected on how routine her life had become. She reminded herself this is how life goes; many people have jobs that aren’t all they had imagined, made her order and left.
As Sarah made her way back, her mind was distant. She felt a bump on her shoulder and her coffee fell to the floor, splashing her trousers and coat. Of course this would happen to Sarah, this was always her luck. A tall man leant down to pick up the containers; he wore a grey parka and smart shoes. “I’m so sorry!” he apologised repetitively. Sarah was too embarrassed to say anything other than “It’s ok”. She avoided eye contact while he offered to buy her another, but eventually met his blue gaze and replied “It’s fine, don’t worry”. He offered as much as he could before asking to take her out as an apology; “My name is Joshua, here’s my number, give me a call.” He gave her his number and walked away.
Sarah walked back to the office in her coffee-sodden coat, feeling like a scene from a cheesy romantic comedy. This type of thing doesn’t happen in real life she told herself, staring at the phone number and pretending she didn’t want to call him.
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