Cass shut down her computer screen at 10pm. Others were still working in their pods. Caroline had left at 6.30, because the dog needed her.
Cass walked out of the great glass atrium and her mobile went off. Her heart leapt into her throat. She dug into the recesses of her bag, through the mad hoard of receipts, half used lipgloss and tampax. She finally found the gremlin of her life lurking in between a pair of old laddered tights and a screwed up bundle of bank statements.
Looking at the display, she exhaled with relief.
“Where have you been all my life” Cass answered the phone.
“Selling my soul sweetie, selling my fucking soul” Sam answered warmly. “What are you doing?”
“Going home to sleep. Maybe watch Game of Thrones until I pass out in my clothes on the sofa” Cass said .
“How am I friends with such a geek? You are coming out!”
“Where?” Cass asked tentatively.
“Exclusive underground party. Have to be on the list to know about it.”
“Oh God, please no…” Cass remembered Sam’s last Exclusive, surrounded by half naked sweaty people earnestly reading bad poetry about sweatshops in Bangladesh. Then there was the flash back to the time she was forced to eat food in the dark after the pole dancing lesson. She shuddered.
“I have some disco pills.” whispered Sam.
Walking further away from the office Cass quietly asked suspiciously “Real E or that crap you get from those head shops?”
“The real stuff, only the best for you. My little bro gave it to me as a Christmas pressie.” confessed Sam.
“God bless chemistry students everywhere!” Cass hushly whisper excitedly. She only had a minor stab of guilt. “I think I need some self medication tonight. Bring on the Soma! I deserve a holiday after today.”
“Still in School Uniform?”
“Yeap, need to go back to the flat and change. Thanks for this, you don’t know how much I need a bit of boosty woosty.”
“Seriously you need to get out of there. You know that they are never going to make you partner. You are a woman, within the fertility window. The potential of you crapping out a sprog is too much for their profits. Maternity leave is so much cheaper if you are an Associate.”
“Ever the poet darling! And there are women partners in my firm.” Cass said dismissively.
“Yeah and how many have family?” retorted Sam slightly irritated. Sam knew all too well about Cass’ obsessive character flaws. Sam had seen the cycle before.
Sam was Cass’ friend from uni. They had battled through the horrors the degree, LPC and the beasting of training. Always together with wine and dancing in the little downtime that they could get.
Sam was a five foot nothing pixi cropped “blonde” pocket rocket. Fearless, faithful, with a fierce intelligence. Her perception on people bordered on psychic.
Sam knew where the bodies were buried, literally and metaphorically. She had been there after Cass’ first one night stand shame; provided a place to hide in Cass’ disastrous adventure in lesbianism; and there to pick up the pieces when Jason died suddenly in the middle of their training. Jason was Cass’ fiancee. Sam thought he was an irresponsible arrogant idiot, who should have known better than to ride a mountain bike through London at night when drunk.
Sam was still furious with Jason. Cass could still not say his name without the telltale glisten of grief appearing in her eyes.
Cass decided to ignore Sam justified attack on the reputation of her employer,”When and where?”
“London Bridge at 12.00? It is in some arches somewhere. There will be some other guys, friends from home, is that okay?”
“See you there. Kisses!” Cass rang off and walked home through the streets of the City illuminated by the office atriums and bars.
A few lights were still on in windows, but it was Friday night between Christmas and New Year. The lucky few who had escaped to the bar were drinking too much and having a desperate office grope. Cass walked hurriedly past the multifaceted scenes of humanity from Moorgate to Old Street, through Shoreditch and onto Kingsland Road. Such a short walk but such a lesson in society.