Short Fiction: Shelving My Worries


Today, I bought a shelf.

It was not the wisest course of action.  I had a meeting in the afternoon so I had to take the shelf with me.  It was a corner shelf and the top protruded from out of my smart bag.

I wrapped a carrier bag around it but – being a shockingly bright pink – it didn’t help.  It just meant I had a huge pink triangle emerging like a beacon from the brown leather.

I began to worry considerably about the shelf.  I debated hiding it in the waiting room and collecting it upon my return.  Alas, there were no hiding places.  I considered hiding it under my coat on a chair in the waiting room whilst I went into the meeting room but what if I provoked a bomb scare and they detonated my bright pink parcel?  What if someone stole the coat?  What if someone stole the coat and the shelf?

I cursed my impetuousness, buying a shelf on this of all days.  They had been out of stock on the previous visit.  Joy at finding my shelf had made me reckless.  I had made the purchase without considering the consequences.  What would my manager say if she saw my shelf?  What kind of company representative attends important meetings with DIY products tucked in their handbags?

I sipped mineral water and deliberated.  I had half an hour before people began arriving.  Not enough time to return to the office and offload the troublesome thing.

I began to imagine scenarios.  I would drop my bag and the contents would spill out: one purse, one phone, one shelf, one Stanley knife, one bag of curtain hooks.  I would get back to the office and my manager would spot my wooden disaster and haul me over the coals for my lack of professionalism. I would be required to retrieve something from the recesses of my bag and everyone in the meeting room would watch in hysterics as I laid my shelf – in its pink wrapping – on the table and searched frantically for a pen, business card, letter…

All of these things I considered, fretted about and imagined.  Finally, calmly, I retrieved my files, pen, pad and laid them out ready for my meeting.  I folded my smart coat – as any young woman might during a warm spring day – and laid it over my bag.  I looked at the clock and noticed it was almost time to go in.  Caught up in concern about my inappropriate purchase, I had not had the time to worry about this meeting, the prospect of which – only the night before – had terrified me.  Now the shelf quandry was resolved, I found myself remarkably calm.

I picked up my things and entered my meeting.

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Donna Brown

Ever developing teacher and learner (online and offline!). Avid reader/audiobook listener, fan of podcasts, prone to the odd Netflix binge. Mum to six crazy and incredible rescue cats. Occasional writer of short stories and poetry.
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    1. Thanks – although it's marked as fiction, it did actually happen! But I was a lot calmer about the shelf and less so about the meeting – so I wrote the story as a distraction. It worked!

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