Grace always hung back on a Friday afternoon. She needed to clear her head. Which meant clearing her desk. Papers were strewn across and the well-meaning piles were meaningless dumping grounds.
She needed a clean desk ready for Monday. All Grace needed to do was look at Jane’s desk next to her to know what lay in store if she didn’t clean up now. Jane was off at the wine bar already with others from the office. But it was Jane who always misplaced student work, who was frantically searching for this or that.
By the time Grace made it to the wine bar, Jane would be two wines in. And this extra thirty minutes for Grace was her equivalent.
It wasn’t as exciting as listening to the latest gossip or gripe, but it centred her. All she needed to do was recalibrate the piles. Still, to mark was different to throwing away and filing back into the right folders.
Grace recalled a comment Jane made earlier in the day. It had been about Peter. How useless he was. Grace had taken his call before the bell and had thought she’d spoken quietly enough, but Jane had heard it all.
Grace had told Peter he wasn’t allowed in the house. That was the agreement. A brief conversation that, at least from her end, didn’t escalate.
Jane felt the need to provide her running commentary. Even as she left, she turned to Grace and said that a few drinks were in order.
Grace finished tidying up, but not before pulling out random papers from the piles on Jane’s desk to throw away.