Beneath All Of This #14

Tess dumped the foot high pile of documents on Tobias Sinclair’s desk with an almighty and satisfying bump. In the aftermath of their Wednesday afternoon discussion she’d discovered a few things. One, yes PA’s obtained documents, but they were usually given contacts and departments to call on. Importantly though, it was the role of the financial team to collate this information and actually send it to the people dealing with these accounts. Two, the account had already been accepted, Tobias didn’t need any of this information. Three, he already had a rundown of Burnham’s history, because unsurprisingly they’d already told him everything. Tobias Sinclair was trying to irk her, scare her off, she wasn’t impressed.

So when thick documents began showing up on her desk she happily piled them all up, and as the pile grew so did her sense of accomplishment. However, she still didn’t have much to do. To satisfy her own sense of curiosity she googled Burnham’s and created her own little statistical analysis. Well, it was a graph basically. Burnham’s lost money here because WHSmith started selling more chocolate, Burnham’s lost money there because they didn’t go after the back to school market. Instead choosing to branch out into art supplies. It was all kind of interesting and with not much else to do except the occasion call to Tobias about a meeting he was just about to be late for Tess passed Thursday quite happily. But now it was Friday.

They both stared at the pile on the desk. ‘This is what you wanted, right?’ Tess asked seriously. ‘Um, yes’ Tobias said slowly, taking in the huge pile. This was his moment to say something cutting; he didn’t need it, he didn’t want it, the meeting was in two hours, he didn’t have the time to look through it. Instead he just nodded lightly, looked up at Tess and said ‘thank you’. Tess acknowledged him with a small smile and walked out of the office. She sat down quietly at her desk, frowning. She turned to look back into the office where Tobias was staring intensely at the pile of paperwork. He looked up and caught her eye, they both looked away. ‘Well’ thought Tess to herself, ‘that all fell a bit flat’. She was looking forward to a greater sense of self-righteousness but now they seemingly both just felt a bit stupid.

Tess felt Tobias looking at her in the corner of her vision; she suddenly felt quite nervous. She pulled herself up to the desk and began typing an email. An email to no one in particular, it began ‘what the fuck am I doing here?’. She deleted it quickly before she accidentally sent it to Tobias. Like that time she was texting Sarah about a mutual friend and accidentally sent it to the mutual friend. Idiot. Tess sat for a moment, contemplating the computer screen. She looked down at her desk, her Burnham graph was coming along nicely. It was simple, but mathematically correct, and she enjoyed the obviousness of it. It also helped her understand the point of what they were doing at Callahoun & McCormick. She had always been a little bit interested in advertising and marketing, well, the art of it anyway. But seeing these sorts of numbers up close made it a bit more interesting, and she liked interesting. It made her job that much more bearable.

Tess was drawing a clean, more precise version of her Burnham graph when Tobias emerged from the office. He looked sheepish. She wasn’t really sure if it was to do with her or something else. Still, it made her feel bad for him, just a little. He approached the desk, the first time since she’d started on the Monday. Tess sat up stiffly in her seat. Tobias gestured, some papers in his hand ‘so I’m going out for lunch’. She nodded lightly as he looked around, trying to gather his thoughts. ‘I have some papers in my desk’ he gestured toward his office ‘and I notice you like… tidying. So if you wanted something to do this afternoon, that would be helpful’. This sort of felt like an olive branch. A really weird olive branch, but still the thought was there. Tobias paused, looking around, not sure what to do next. ‘Oh’ Tess responded ‘yeah, that’s great. I needed something to do. Anything I should keep in particular, or-‘. ‘No, no, no. You use your own judgement’, Tobias responded quickly.

Tobias seemed distracted, and exhausted. Tess wondered if he was ill, or upset, or something. There was definitely something not quite right. ‘Well, I’ll…’ Tobias motioned back to the office, looking into Tess’ eyes for the first time in the moments since they’d been talking. ‘Okay’ Tess said ‘I’ll take care of that while you’re out’. Tobias nodded and backed into the office. He was an odd man Tess decided. But she sort of liked him. Weird, she could do. Weird, she understood. Later on, while Tobias was out, Tess contemplated how one man, who had all the impression of accuracy and precision could have such a filthy desk. While she looked around for cleaning supplies in the break room she got to talking to a fellow PA named Alice. Tobias, she said, made people uncomfortable. Tobias purposefully drove everyone away. That included the cleaners and Tess’ predecessors. Tess probably wouldn’t last long, Alice told her. Tess considered this like she’d considered everyone’s opinions on Tobias Sinclair. But she decided to stick with her own impressions. To her, Tobias Sinclair was a quiet man who liked his own space. If she gave him that maybe she could stick around for a while and earn a little bit of the security she desperately craved these days.

To read from the beginning go here.

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