Home > My Not So Perfect Life(8)

My Not So Perfect Life(8)
Author: Sophie Kinsella

“Fuck Demeter,” ends Rosa succinctly, and she heads back to her desk, amid even more applause.

From the corner of my eye, I can see Demeter glancing out of her glass-walled office, as though wondering what’s going on. And I almost feel sorry for her. She really has no idea.

For the next hour or so, everyone works peacefully. Demeter is on her conference call in her office, and I get through a stack of surveys and Rosa passes round a bottle of retro sweets. And I’m just wondering what time I’ll break for lunch when Demeter sticks her head out of her door again.

“I need…” Her eyes roam around the office and eventually land on me. “You. What are you doing right now?”

“Me?” I feel a jolt of surprise. “Nothing. I mean, I’m working. I mean—”

“Could you bear to come and help me out with something a bit”—she gives one of her Demeter pauses—“different?”

“Yes!” I say, trying not to sound flustered. “Sure! Of course!”

“In five minutes, OK?”

“Five minutes.” I nod. “Absolutely.”

I turn back to my work, but the words are blurring in front of my eyes. My head is spinning in excitement. Something a bit different. That could be anything. It could be a new client…a website…a revolutionary branding concept that Demeter wants to pioneer…Whatever it is, it’s my chance. This is my wave!

There’s a joyful swell in my chest. All those emails I’ve been sending her weren’t for nothing! She must have been looking at my ideas all along, and she thinks I’ve got potential and she’s been waiting for the most perfect, special project….

My hands are actually trembling as I get out my laptop, plus a few printouts in a portfolio that I keep in my drawer. There’s no harm in showing her my most recent work, is there? I reapply my lipstick and spray on some perfume. I need to look sharp and together. I need to nail this.

After exactly four and a half minutes, I push back my chair, feeling self-conscious. Here we go. The wave’s cresting. My heart’s thudding, and everything around me feels a bit brighter than usual—but as I thread my way through all the desks to Demeter’s door, I try to appear nonchalant. Cool. Like, Yeah, Demeter and I are just having a one-to-one. We’re going to bounce some ideas around.

Oh my God, what if it’s something huge? I have a sudden image of Demeter and me staying late in the office; eating Chinese takeout; working on some amazing, groundbreaking project; perhaps I’d do a presentation….

I can tell Dad about this. Maybe I’ll call him tonight.

“Um, hi?” I tap at Demeter’s door and push it ajar.

“Cath!” she exclaims.

“Actually, it’s Cat,” I venture.

“Of course! Cat. Marvelous. Come in. Now, I hope you don’t mind me asking you this—”

“Of course not!” I say quickly. “Whatever it is, I’m up for it. Obviously my background’s design, but I’m really interested in corporate identity, strategy, digital opportunities…whatever….”

Now I’m rambling. Stop it, Katie.

Shit. I mean: Stop it, Cat. I’m Cat.

“Right,” says Demeter absently, typing the end of an email. She sends it off, then turns and eyes my laptop and portfolio with surprise. “What’s all that for?”

“Oh.” I color, and shift the portfolio awkwardly. “I just…I brought a few things…some ideas….”

“Well, put it down somewhere,” says Demeter without interest, and starts rootling in her desk drawer. “Now, I hate to ask you this, but I’m absolutely desperate. My diary is a nightmare and I’ve got these wretched awards this evening. I mean, I can get myself to a blow-dry bar, but my roots are a different matter, so…”

I’m not quite following what she’s saying—but the next minute she brandishes a box expectantly at me. It’s a Clairol box, and just for one heady white-hot moment, I think: We’re rebranding Clairol? I’m going to help REBRAND CLAIROL? Oh my God, this is MASSIVE—

Until reality hits. Demeter doesn’t look excited, like someone about to redesign an international brand. She looks bored and a bit impatient. And now her words are impinging properly on my brain: …my roots are a different matter….

I look more closely at the box. Clairol Nice ’n Easy Root Touch-Up. Dark Brown. Restores roots’ color in ten minutes!

“You want me to…”

“You’re such an angel.” Demeter flashes me one of her magical smiles. “This is my only window in the whole day. You don’t mind if I send some emails while you do it? You’d better put on some protective gloves. Oh, and don’t get any stuff on the carpet. Maybe find an old towel or something?”

Her roots. The special, perfect project is doing her roots.

I feel like the wave has dumped on me. I’m soaked, bedraggled, seaweed-strewn, a total loser. Let’s face it, she didn’t even come out of her office looking especially for me. Does she actually, properly know who I am?

As I head back out, wondering where on earth I’m going to find an old towel, Liz looks up from her screen with interest.

“What was that about?”

“Oh,” I say, and rub my nose, playing for time. I can’t bear to give away my disappointment. I feel so dumb. How could I have ever thought she’d ask me to rebrand Clairol? “She wants me to do her roots.” I try to sound casual.

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