Short Story Preview: Woken – Sue Hampton
No one saw it coming, apparently. Even Taylor didn’t, not in any 3D sense. Like a dream, the idea held no sequence or shape. It was a Monday in January, which didn’t stop the South African flowers striking an exotic pose in the Partners’ Lounge. Strellitzia, they were: a favourite of his mother’s. Walking in, it had struck Taylor that in all that space they looked a bit like wind turbines in a field. Except that the City law firm’s ambiance was a little more manicured and a lot less real.
Reality had left the building when they carried Col out on a stretcher. Col, who knew more about that building – and everything in it from the water cooler to the central heating to the photocopier – than Taylor would ever know about life outside. Without him the conditioned air felt sterile.
“This is about Colin, isn’t it?” said Graham. “We’re all still shaken but you two were pals …”
“Triggers aren’t the same as causes,” Taylor told him. “Causes have roots.” He had a sense that in his case those were thick, deep and tangled.
“God, it’s tragic,” Harley muttered, a little breathy, with a few shakes of his head that made the expensively styled hair flop and swing. He pushed it back impatiently.
“Of course,” said Serena, removing her glasses to look tender.
“Yes,” said Taylor. “I went to see him in hospital last night.”
Col shouldn’t be there, not at fifty-five with early retirement in sight. Taylor remembered his dad’s story of taking a radio to pieces, confident that he could reassemble it. Fooling himself. It was like that with Colin. He was no longer falling to the office floor with his coffee slapping the desk, but that didn’t mean he was reconnected. And the only good man in the City deserved to outlive it.