Zoe James – Deakin University
‘Shit.’ I thought, as the split in my pants grew larger. I was already late for work, but who could blame me? I had to get the bus and it was never on time.
Walking in, I see this place for what it was. A glossy, well-lit open space filled with sparkling jewels in display cases, filled with people in line to buy the newest styles. In the height of its time, the Savvy-Mart, (then ‘Savvy’) was the most popular department store in our town. With high-ceilings, the scent of musk, and most of all, a good reputation, it was the only place to buy trendy clothes. However, what I see as I walk, in is not reality.
The actual inside of the place is grey, bland walls and a smell of rust. The building is old and slowly rotting inside. The store now, is empty other than me and a few other unfortunate souls like me. Few mannequins are dressed preppy in pleated skirts and knee high socks. The fashion left this town with its dignity. But they still look better than those who have stayed in this crummy town.
As he walks in, Mr Jones gives me a nod. He himself was later than me, so he can’t say anything to me about it. Fucking asshole. I think back to the time I had a great idea to improve the store – to organise a fun run or some kind of charity to raise money so we could renovate our store. I told my manager Mr Jones and he blew it off. I remember clearly, he said ‘oh no one would go for that. You know what this town is like.’
It wasn’t just that that made me mad at him, the next day the CEO of our branch came into do the monthly visit, and as usual, Mr Jones was being the biggest suck-up. As I came into work that day, I heard him saying,‘I was thinking about this store, we should organise a fun run to raise money for renovations so we can clean up this once-majestic place.’ And he smiled at the CEO, as if he really cared about the future of this store.
Later on that day, I confronted him about it. He simply said ‘oh you know no one would listen to a girl like you.’ Looking me up and down, he smacked my ass and walked away. That wasn’t the only time he touched me in such a way – it had been worse, back when he went even further, but now there was nothing I could do about it.
On the way home I thought of when he’d gone too far – Mr Jones, I mean. I had been working late doing stock take and he was in the back office, probably smoking or whatever. He came out to say goodbye whileI had been finishing up with the stock.
‘Goodnight sir.’ I was eager to head home.
‘Oh Janice, you have been such a help lately.’ He said softly, stepping closer to me and pushing my hair away from my face.
‘Umm sir I don’t think this is appropriate’, I had said, stepping away, bumping into the counter.
He didn’t listen though. His hand found its way down over my thigh and he roughly felt my crotch. I knew he’d go further if I didn’t take any action. I pushed him off me, but it was s struggle because he was now holding me down, feeling me up in the least pleasurable way. He was so close I could smell his breath, whiskey-filled. I managed to push him against the wall, and I ran to the door.
‘Oh Janice, don’t bother mentioning this to anyone. Everyone knows what you used to be like, and I’ll simply say you seduced me. Or you will no longer work here. But that’s up to you honey.’
He turned away without a further word.
Another day, another dollar. At least this is what I tell myself when I walk into work again. But today for me is a day for change. It is now my time to have control over my life.
Mr Jones, an older greying man, seems like the perfect gentleman. Now, he is showing two elderly ladies the perfume collection, making jokes and using his charm as only a salesman can.
‘Janice, come here.’ he says, gesturing with his right hand.
He pulls me aside and whispers
‘Go clean the car park.’
‘But.. sir. It’s pouring out. And there’s mud everywhere.’
‘Just, do it.’
Just another day. Just another day of absurd work for an asshole boss who can’t manage his stupid store without me. What the fuck am I doing with my life?
I walk outside in the rain and clean every little thing I can see. Itsy smoke butts, gum wrappers. It is no surprise that no one gives a shit about keeping it clean – hell even I don’t care. But it was time to get back to me.
After cleaning the cark park, I ventured back inside in my muddy shoes. I walked around and around the store in my putrid shoes. But this isn’t enough. After years of earning next-to-nothing while my boss keeps everything else, it is time to take control.
I had been working in my job a long time, and I knew the risk I was taking but I had enough. He had treated me badly for too long; and I am only staying because of his blackmailing. I did something I regret in the past. If I leave it will get out. But what does it matter anymore? My life has lost meaning anyway.
So when Mr Jones leaves to check the car park, I lock the door and begin to trash the store. It takes him a while to return, because he’s probably really gone to have a smoke.
By the time he’s trying the door, I’ve made the store even worse than before. If it was the best store in town, now it would be the worst. The walls are now covered in confetti, with slight holes in them and taped bras and lingerie dangling from the ceiling. The glass counter I’d kicked in, with much delight. Just hearing that glass shatter soothed my soul. It was my time to get it back. Glass covered the floor, and just to add insult to injury I also placed the mannequins in the window into compromising positions. Why the hell not? I had to do something else though, I had a plan. In my work locker was a stack of spray paint, so I personally vandalised his office, exposing what he did on the walls. He hadn’t thought of everything, the prick. I also had a small axe too. Time to have some fun.
I went to work on his desk. Pictures of his family first. Ha, like he cared at all for his wife. This was far too pleasurable, and I had to hurry. I smashed the axe into his desk a few times until I was satisfied, and then threw it at the walls a couple times. This should do it. I’ve taken so long, and now the manager is banging on the door, screaming my name to get in. Instead of letting him, I leave through the back door, and run.
* * *
I’m running, running. No one can stop me now. I am flying high on my own little cloud. A cloud called a thrill. Don’t. Stop.
I don’t stop running until I reach my home. Slowing down, I realise what I have done. Well, shit but the bastard deserved it. I could have done much, much worse. Leave home. No regrets. Bags packed. Out the door. No looking back.
Bio: Zoe James is a young aspiring writer from Melbourne, Victoria. She enjoys reading in her spare time, and spending time with her loved ones. She is in her first year of a Bachelor of Arts at Deakin University.