Loretta Banks was a business analyst at a high profile multinational. Having graduated with the highest grade point average in her class from a respected university, she spent her twenties worrying about data, networking with a false smile and agonising over PowerPoint presentations given to the VP on the latest fashionable management science initiative. She worked seventy hours a week, in glass-walled carbon-copy offices; plush and cold. Hard work was part of her identity. Programmed to be the very best, she was defined by her elevated position in the corporate structure. She had no boyfriend, and no real friends to speak of, save for those colleagues with whom she would share glasses of champagne and lines of charlie before they left her to hit the strip clubs and brothels. No life at all to speak of.
Sure the salary was high, easily putting her within the top one percent of global earners. Her four weeks of annual leave were spent in solitary luxury. She regularly dined on fine foods at the most exclusive restaurants. Foie Gras, truffles, and oysters on ice were all regular features of her diet, shared with people who had long since sold their souls to the god of profit. She knew her fine wines and her designer labels. A frequent flyer, she spent most weeknights in exclusive hotels, all alike regardless of their geographic location, blending together into a haze of corporate hell.
She thought of suicide often. Despite her white collar position and her executive club membership, she could not hide from the truth of her career; that her work was essentially meaningless. If you asked the senior management they would of course deny this, however she was never one to accept the truth as dictated by others. She observed her reality and formed the view that her role was fundamentally useless; it was all hot air that counted for nothing. Her colleagues were all wind-up merchants. They may have acted the part but for all their status and big houses they actually did very little, cared very little, and any impact that they had on the world was overwhelmingly negative. Yet she was one of them, brought up as one of them, merely fulfilling her destiny.
To her horror, at the age of twenty six she had found herself trapped in the proverbial job that slowly kills you. She wondered whether this was all that life could offer. After the excitement of youth, the flirtation, the danger and adventure, was she now condemned to spend her life working towards the KPIs, monitoring output, making and breaking other peoples' income? Her heart was as confined as her legs, restricted in a tight pencil skirt and cruel stilettos, unable to run or to play or to be human.
What happened to the wild child who partied until dawn? Who spoke of travel and love and spirituality? She had tried harder and worked harder than everyone else, but somewhere along the line her hopes and desires had faded and her soul had withered in the midst of bland management speak.
She desperately tried to think of a way out. Yet she was so influenced by years of middle class programming, of societal expectation to be successful, to be rich, and to come first in the race that was life, that it was difficult to see beyond her misery. She stood, wobbly with champagne, on the balcony of the head office’s ninth floor, beside the glass-walled leather-chaired boardroom in which she had so often presented, looking down. Was this all there was? Could there be another way? Might she have a second chance at life?
Word count: 607 (you'll have to forgive the extra 7)