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THE AFTER

Time: 8.30am

The crisp, cold wind was yet another wondrous attribute to Drew’s day. The London morning shows appreciation by chilling his cheeks and rendering them pink. The wind whistling through the taxi window is sweet in his ears. He looked and felt good. His usual shrewd, business-like manner is consumed in admiration of himself. His day will blossom into a sparkling success, yet wrapped up amongst this confidence was an unfamiliar feeling. A feeling he cannot name overshadows his anticipation of triumph.

Drew predicts by 11.00am, he will receive another great financial achievement, which in turn will enrich both his bank account and ever-growing ego.

As Drew’s handcrafted Crockett & Jones shoe touches the pavement, the euphoric feeling within descends to the end of his feet. He looks down at his shoes. Very dapper, indeed – a sign of his taste for the good life, his unrealistic ambitions and his elevated self opinion. Climbing out of the black cab, he turns his head upward to appreciate the place of his employment.

The intimidating building shunts out against its more humble peers. Its glass structure does not hold any distinctive characteristics – it cannot lay claim to any cultural or artful representation.

This over enlarged goblet is an idle piece of modern Lego plonked in the middle of London’s older, more charismatic signature landmarks. It is emotionless but perfect for the souls who breathe life into the business of money making – souls like Drew.

‘Fare!’ The cabbie roars. He awkwardly wrenches his head around to gain eye contact with this would be runaway passenger.

Drew startled by the severance of his thoughts and surprised that the black man in the driver seat did not have a distinguished accent. Drew smiled slyly and handed over the £20 note. Holding his gaze with unnecessary aloofness, Drew bid the cab driver a good day, ‘But not as good as mine,’ Chuckled Drew.

Bemused, Drew makes his way towards the building. The pin-striped suit complimented his tall frame, which represented beauty to the fairer sex and a beast to his fellow men. He was a true ambassador to professionalism.

Now his simplest task lay ahead and there was not an ounce of doubt that the Board of Directors would sign his Custodian Portfolio; to complete the most lucrative deal his company would ever endorse. Life is great. Win, win.

Still there is the little matter of home. His wife Becky is still sore about his slight misdemeanour with a stripper named Kandii. Drew knew Becky would never leave him, and a week away to the Maldives should win her over. A week discussing ‘her’ problems in the marriage will be manageable, if barely. Suffering from her constant bleating on about matters that were of little significance. Her threats of leaving were numerous and hollow. Drew would have discarded her already if it had not been for her parents who had secured her financially.

Drew’s long strides were fitting for a self-assured gentleman who subconsciously parts the crowds of pedestrians conferring with each other.

The entrance, a huge metal and glass revolving system, was in place. With the skills of an experienced Double Dutch jumper, a visitor has to precisely time their ascent and then similarly pay equal attention to their dismount.

Drew graces this contraption with ease and anticipates the sight of his symmetrically perfect features reflecting in the glass. On any other day the glass magnifies his image and cascades it across all the doors. On this occasion there was no such profile; Drew feels a dark uneasiness as he searches in vain for his reflection. It is not there.

He orders any bad thoughts to the back of his mind whilst noticing that the reception area is significantly colder than outside. Reaching his desk he answers the boss’s summons to his office. Grabbing his multi-million pound portfolio, Drew winks at the red-headed temp as he swishes by. He straightens his tie and clears his throat. He knocks and enters. The following conversation behind the heavy wooden doors was never to be reiterated to anyone by Drew. Well not in this lifetime.

Time 9.36am

Drew leaves the room – Minus that portfolio. The only thing Drew can think of at this moment is the need for fresh air. Drew wants the sensation of the morning chill on his face again. He takes the lift to the top floor and makes his way towards to the roof. He climbs the metal stairs to the fire exit.

He opens the door and leans against it. He feels the need to be sick and hopes fresh air will alleviate the nausea. He closes his eyes and starts to walk backwards. The boss’s voice keeps droning in his head. Drew keeps on walking, walking, walking,

until…

Time 9.45am

Gabrielle’s eyes are wide, frozen by the chaotic episode that has just played out before her. Too instantaneous to invoke a reaction, yet the rate at which it unravelled was so slow; it was dilatory enough for her to absorb the sheer horror of what had just taken place.

She lay motionless, her face upward at the sky. Its blueness offers some sympathy whilst subsiding over the dense atmosphere, which contained disarray and tragedy – a calming gesture amidst the panic?

The shattered glass had landed around Gabrielle, catching in her hair, small shards stabbing into her neck…


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