Life in the office is mundane. A commonly unproductive reprieve is gossip. A little idle chit chat over some coffee or tea in the staff kitchen. Most Expedians certainly started their mornings that way, in the little space next to the storeroom at the back of the office.
But even before Mr. Mhettle informed Matilda and Draco of their upcoming travel to the city of Axis - "we are just waiting for Jeremy to arrive. Then the three of you can travel back together" he said -
the office was unusually awash with rumours. Clues something was brewing came to Matilda through rumour monger and scarlet lady, Lilith Weether.
"Lets go outside for a talk," she was cordial enough to invite.
Curious and obedient, Matilda was led to a spot near the Rooster cafe; a popular eating place for people working (and occassionally those not working) within the office complex.
"I know you haven't updated your contract and pay since the promotion. With Jeff gone, you should get that done quickly. Otherwise, they'll just use you and not pay up".
'They?' Matilda thought. And why the sudden need to make haste?
"Oooo....okay. But I'm sure everything can be done once the dust settles. After all, Jeff just resigned", she said.
"Sure. I'm just trying to tell you that I'm here for you if you need anything", Lilith said but looked irritated.
Matilda ignored the pretense at kindness. The human resource officer was anything but kind. Lilith was a self centred yuppie, who despised Matilda for her simple ways. It was as father John preached back home, money (or the perception of it) was the reason men befouled their souls and manners.
As the week of travel progressed and the rumour mill churned on, some took delight in the attention it drew to them.
"Do you have a passport?" Draco asked Matilda within earshot of anyone willing to give a hoot.
"No. I need to get one", she replied.
"Me too", he announced, "I lost my previous one a while back".
As for Jeremy Wilde, with Amanda away from the office, his extrovert self was allowed to flourish, and he was chasing after Matilda. After hours, he'd head out just before she did; pacing around the office perimeter, or sitting on a nearby bench, so their paths and eyes, inevitably met as Matilda left the office. It worked. She took notice of him; all six feet two inches of him. They didn't talk, the few times he wasn't striding towards her, and she wasn't walking away as fast as her little legs could carry her, their eyes were engaged; her gaze inquisitive while his intense, as though trying or able to see past her shy wall.
Jeremy's pursuit aside, Matilda was wrought with nerves at the prospect of travelling. Axis, was the furthest from home she'd ever travelled. And the furthest from Ms. Honey she'd ever be.