The green words on her computer screen just made things seem worse than they probably were. She had no idea what she was supposed to type next. The keyboard sat intimidatingly in front of her hands. The keys had been worked over so many times that it was now almost impossible to make out what the letters were. Fear gripped her. If she did the wrong thing she would surely lose her job.
That was the reality. The firm would easily slot someone else in, probably before she had left the premises. She had heard me move behind her and turned to me looking for help. I would have but I had never touched a computer before. My job had never needed one and there was no need for the firm to pay me to learn. Shaking my head I mouthed Sorry and moved away. They were watching us, that was not a secret. However they were also listening to us and not many people knew that. Time was money and idle chat costs time.
Moving away to empty the next desks bin, I heard her cry. I couldn’t look back. My mind tried to remember what her name badge had said. I couldn’t.
I was one floor up when I happened to see her leaving the building, head bowed and hurrying along as if on the way to another appointment. If she was lucky, she would be picked up in the next office sweepstake and get another job, hopefully one that she could actually do. Until then, she would find a way to survive. We all did.
That evening, I took my family out to the edge of our housing scheme. The power stations that surrounded this part of the city, seemed to turn the sky a soft green at night. It was one of the most beautiful sights I had ever witnessed. As we stood there, watching the light dim and the neon landscape replace it, I could almost ignore the noise of the mining in the nearby hills. It was better to pretend to not hear it, as the government constantly denied that it was happening. Everywhere there were cameras watching and I had seen that even the slightest sign of discomfort was dealt with harshly.
The cold night air eventually became too much for us and we headed home to our room. We were one of the luckier ones in our scheme. At night we whispered, almost silently to each other, to ensure that did not change.
As sleep began to take me, I could hear it start to rain.