Home > My Not So Perfect Life(2)

My Not So Perfect Life(2)
Author: Sophie Kinsella

“Aargh!” I shriek as the train jolts and I’m thrown violently forward. The girl has been thrown too, and her hand shoots up toward my face and before I know it, my open mouth has landed on the end of her panini.


I’m so shocked, I can’t react. My mouth is full of warm, doughy bread and melted mozzarella. How did this even happen?

Instinctively my teeth clench shut, a move I immediately regret. Although…what else was I supposed to do? Nervously, I raise my eyes to hers, my mouth still full.

“Sorry,” I mumble, but it comes out “Obble.”

“What the fuck?” The girl addresses the carriage incredulously. “She’s stealing my breakfast!”

My head’s sweating with stress. This is bad. Bad. What do I do now? Bite off the panini? (Not good.) Just let it fall out of my mouth? (Even worse. Urgh.) There’s no good way out of this situation, none.

At last, I bite fully through the panini, my face burning with embarrassment. Now I have to chew my way through a mouthful of someone else’s claggy bread, with everyone watching.

“I’m really sorry,” I say awkwardly to the girl, as soon as I’ve managed to swallow. “I hope you enjoy the rest.”

“I don’t want it now.” She glares at me. “It’s got your germs on it.”

“Well, I don’t want your germs either! It wasn’t my fault; I fell on it.”

“You fell on it,” she echoes, so skeptically that I stare at her.

“Yes! Of course! I mean, what do you think—that I did that on purpose?”

“Who knows?” She puts a protective hand around the rest of her panini, as though I might launch myself at her and bite another chunk off. “All kinds of weird people in London.”

“I’m not weird!”

“You can ‘fall’ on me anytime, love,” puts in the guy in the tracksuit with a smirk. “Only don’t chew,” he adds, and laughter comes from all around the carriage.

My face flames even redder, but I’m not going to react. In fact, this conversation is over.

For the next fifteen minutes I gaze sternly ahead, trying to exist in my own little bubble. At Waterloo East, we all disgorge from the train, and I breathe in the cold, fumey air with relief. I stride as quickly as I can to the Underground, opt for Jubilee-District, and join the crowd round the door. As I do so, I glance at my watch and quell a sigh. I’ve been traveling for forty-five minutes already, and I’m not even nearly there.

As someone steps on my foot with a stiletto, I have a sudden flashback to Dad pushing open our kitchen door, stepping outside, spreading his arms wide to take in the view of fields and endless sky, and saying, “Shortest commute in the world, darling. Shortest commute in the world.” When I was little, I had no idea what he meant, but now—

“Move down! Will you move down?” A man beside me on the platform is yelling so loudly, I flinch. The Underground train has arrived and there’s the usual battle between the people inside the carriage, who think it’s totally crammed, and the people outside, who are measuring the empty spaces with forensic, practiced eyes and reckon you could fit another twenty people in, easy.

Finally I get on the tube, and fight my way off at Westminster, and wait for the District line, then chug along to Turnham Green. As I get out of the tube station, I glance at my watch and start running. Shit. I barely have ten minutes.

Our office is a large pale building called Phillimore House. As I get near, I slow to a walk, my heart still pounding. My left heel has a massive blister on it, but the main thing is, I’ve made it. I’m on time. Magically, there’s a lift waiting, and I step in, trying to smooth down my hair, which flew in all directions as I was pegging it down Chiswick High Road. The whole commute took an hour and twenty minutes in all, which actually could be worse—

“Wait!” An imperious voice makes me freeze. Across the lobby is striding a familiar figure. She has long legs, high-heeled boots, expensive highlights, a biker jacket, and a short skirt in an orange textured fabric which makes every other garment in the lift look suddenly old and obvious. Especially my £8.99 black jersey skirt.

She has amazing eyebrows. Some people are just granted amazing eyebrows, and she’s one of them.

“Horrendous journey,” she says as she gets into the lift. Her voice is husky, coppery, grown-up sounding. It’s a voice that knows stuff, that doesn’t have time for fools. She jabs the floor number with a manicured finger and we start to rise. “Absolutely horrendous,” she reiterates. “The lights would not change at the Chiswick Lane junction. It took me twenty-five minutes to get here from home. Twenty-five minutes!”

She gives me one of her swooping, eagle-like gazes, and I realize she’s waiting for a response.

“Oh,” I say feebly. “Poor you.”

The lift doors open and she strides out. A moment later I follow, watching her haircut fall perfectly back into shape with every step and breathing in that distinctive scent she wears (bespoke, created for her at Annick Goutal in Paris on her fifth-wedding-anniversary trip).

This is my boss. This is Demeter. The woman with the perfect life.

I’m not exaggerating. When I say Demeter has the perfect life, believe me, it’s true. Everything you could want out of life, she has. Job, family, general coolness. Tick, tick, tick. Even her name. It’s so distinctive, she doesn’t need to bother with her surname (Farlowe). She’s just Demeter. Like Madonna. “Hi,” I’ll hear her saying on the phone, in that confident, louder-than-average voice of hers. “It’s De-meeee-ter.”

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