In Search of a Beginning
This is how the story would begin.
It was a very late October day in London. For the 5 senior directors at Emile Johnson, it was also turning out be a very long day at work, practically never-ending. Tomorrow, they would approach the board with their proposal to buy out the firm from the existing shareholders. It would make Rachel and four other executives at Emile Johnson multi-millionaires. At least on paper. Peter spoke very rapidly as he discussed the clauses on the term sheet. He always spoke rapidly when he was excited. The deal was finally coming together and the five folks around the table knew that their lives would never be the same again. John pulled out a cigar and lit it proudly, blatantly casting aside the no-smoking rule at work. Terry fervently went through the legal documents, tooth-combing every sheet, every line, every word. Alex glanced over at Rachel and slyly rubbed his leg against hers under the table. He couldn’t wait to get over this hurdle and then into bed with her. Rachel gently pushed his leg away and rose from the table to make her way to the restroom. Once inside, she let out a huge sigh of exhaustion. From the side closet, she pulled out a glass, a bottle of wine and a packet of sleeping pills. Alex and Co would enjoy the spoils more if they were to be split four ways instead of five, she thought to herself as she emptied the pills and wine into the glass and downed the contents in one hard gulp. Outside the four guys continued to put finishing touches to their proposal. It would be 25 minutes before Alex would break into the restroom, an hour before she would be rushed to the hospital and three days before she would be proclaimed dead.
Alternatively, the story would begin thus.
It was a celebratory night for the directors at Emile Johnson. The firm had bagged the largest deal in its 15 year history and that deal alone would propel it into the big league. Alex was at his gregarious best. He had dreamt of this moment for a long time and finally it had arrived. But he knew this achievement would not have been possible without the support of his dear colleague, Rachel. After the office party, he would take her aside and confess his feelings for her. If she responded positively, he would even go a step further and propose marriage. Meanwhile, the merrymaking continued inside the premises of Emile Johnson. Peter was visibly inebriated, cracking exceedingly vulgar jokes. John invited a couple of female friends who he absolutely insisted were not in the trade. Terry dialled his counterparts at a rival firm and began spewing venom at them. In all this general chaos, nobody saw Rachel slip out quietly, get into the car and deliberately ram it hard into the wall of an isolated office building at the speed of 110 km per hour. It would take Alex 20 minutes to notice her absence, three hours to discover her bleeding body in the car and a lifetime to piece together the events that led her to take her own life.
Sara read and reread both the beginnings she had written so far. Finally she decided that both were unfit and fed them to the bin. She would commence again tomorrow. Tomorrow, Rachel would be in a happier frame of mind and would live to celebrate success and love.
Sona Maniar is a chemical engineer from UT Austin and a MBA from INSEAD (France). She’s currently working in strategy for a large engineering conglomerate. She enjoys writing about the machinations at work in the corporate world. Her short fiction has been published by the Scarlet Leaf Review, Quail Bell Magazine, Tuck and Femina.
Sona provided her own artwork for this piece, thus endearing herself to us forever!
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