Elizabeth groggily turned off her alarm and rolled out of bed to get dressed for work. Her conversation the day before with Lauren had lifted her spirits more than she thought it would. She’d missed her friend, more than she had realized she did. Talking with Lauren had also brought a bunch of things to the surface that should would have to sort out later. Washing her face and brushing her teeth she tried to mental decide what to wear to work. Dashing out of her bathroom she grabbed an Oxford button up and a cheery yellow sweater. She slipped on her dressed pants and set to work brushing her hair into a ponytail. She all but ran down the stairs and nearly bumped into her father.
Shouting out a “Hi Dad, bye Dad” to her bemused father, Elizabeth grabbed a muffin from the fridge and wrapped it in a paper towel. As she was shutting the front door she heard her father shout back, “Have a good day Speedy!”
She chuckled as she hopped into her car and drove off.
Elizabeth walked into work and instead of the usual smiley-face Barbara usually sported, she was greeted by an empty desk. Confused she walked to her desk, stationed by the large pane of windows and dropped her stuff. Holding onto the muffin she walked to the back where the office kitchen was. Along the way she looked around at her coworkers who were huddled in little groups whispering. When she made eye contact with a couple of them they quickly looked away. Shrugging it off she walked into the kitchen to warm up the muffin.
She had just set the timer when Barbara walked in.
Turning Elizabeth saw a teary-eyed Barbara pulling out a chair from the table. Surprised at Barbara’s expression she grabbed her now warm muffin and joined Barbara at the table.
“Barbara what’s going on? Why are you crying? Did something happen? Is your family ok?”
Barbara pulled a tissue out of her cardigan pocket. “Yeah they’re all ok.”
Elizabeth was puzzled. If it wasn’t her kids or husband what was the problem? She sat quietly and nibbled on her muffin, waiting for Barbara to speak.
A couple of minutes of silence pasted before Barbara spoke.
“I don’t know if you know yet.” Shaking her hand she smirked. “Of course you don’t know. You just got here.”
Elizabeth smiled a little but nerves were starting to dance in her belly. “What going on Barbara? You’re starting to make me nervous. When I came in this morning everybody was huddled together in different corners with their respective cliques whispering away.”
Barbara chuckled but there was no joy in it. “There’s a rumor going around that the company is consolidating several branches.”
Elizabeth made a face and shrugged. “Now Barbara. You know they’ve been talking about this for over a year now. When they hired me they told me it was a temporary position and I’ve been here, what? A year and a half?”
Barbara’s face grew serious. “This isn’t a joke honey. They’re closing this branch.”
Elizabeth couldn’t believe it. She was thinking of something to say when a coworker knocked on the door to get their attention. “Hey guys, we’re about to meet in the conference room.”
Barbara got up slowly and walked towards the door. Elizabeth picked up her muffin and linked arms with Barbara. Together they walked to the conference room and grabbed a seat. Elizabeth’s perfect day was taking a serious turn for the worst.