“The new editor needs you, Julia.” A stern summons from Dolores Stanley leaps over the cubicles and follows me like a panther stalking its prey.
“Just give me a minute,” I beg with a wide smile, sailing by the front office and a row of hunch-shouldered executive assistants. Steaming Starbucks in hand, my new powder-white jacket stuffed in the crook of my arm, I give a quick wave over my shoulder.
I am, after all, late, a bit jet-lagged, and on deadline. A very tight deadline.
A glance at my watch confirms two hours and counting to finish the article. I walk faster. My heart twists a teensy bit.
I don’t mean to get behind. Really, it just sort of happens.
However, that’s all going to change, starting today. I’m going to organize my life, work, home, all of it. I’ll be able to check email on the road, never miss an appointment, and keep up with all of my deadlines.
Just as soon as I can find the instruction manual to my new iPhone. And my earpiece.
Anyway, it’s going to be great!
So great, that I’m not the least bit panicked when I round the corner and see my desk; which, by the way, is wallpapered in post-it notes, flanked by teetering stacks of mail, and littered with random packages. Even my voicemail light is flashing furiously.
Before I can take another step, the phone starts ringing.
In my rush to pick it up, I trip and nearly fall over a pile of books and magazines someone carelessly left behind. A thick travel guide lands on my foot and excruciating pain shoots through my toes. My coffee flies out of my hand and splats on the carpeting. I watch in horror as my latte seeps into the rug fibers.
“Darn it all!” I exclaim, snatching up the leaking cup and setting it on my desk. Other choice expressions shuttle through my brain as I catch the edge of the chair with one hand to steady myself. I frown at the offending mess on the floor. Who in the world?
Until it dawns on me. Oh, right. I left it all there in my rush to make the red-eye to Rome. My fault. I close my eyes, sigh deeply, and the strap of my bag tumbles off my shoulder. Everything—keys, mascara, lip gloss, spare change—falls onto the desk with a huge clatter. Letters and paper flutter to the floor like confetti in the Macy’s Day Parade. Just as Dolores sounds off again, her voice raspy and caffeine-deprived.
My spine stiffens.
“Be right there,” I call out in my most dutiful employee voice. Right after I find my notes and calm down.
As I start to search through my briefcase, a head full of thick silver curls and a pair of wire-rimmed glasses appear over the nubby blue paneling.
“Hey, before you rush off,” Marietta whispers, “how was Italy? Was it gorgeous, wonderful?”
“Marvelous,” I smile broadly at my closest friend and conjure up a picture postcard of Rome, Florence, and sun-drenched Tuscany. Five cities, seven days. The pure bliss of nothing but forward motion. “From the sound of it, I should have stayed another day.”
Marietta studies my face.
It’s the understatement of the year. I hate to admit it, but the prospect of inhabiting an office cubicle for a week intimidates me more than missing the last connection from Gatwick and sleeping on the airport floor. Claustrophobia takes over. I actually get hives from sitting still too long. Most days, I live out of suitcases. And couldn’t be happier!
I’m a travel writer at Getaways magazine. Paid for the glorious task of gathering fascinating snippets of culture and piecing them into quirky little stories. Jet-setting to the Riviera, exploring the Great Barrier Reef, basking on Bermuda beaches. It’s as glamorous and exhilarating as I imagined.
Okay, it is a tad lonely, from time to time, and quite exhausting.
Which is precisely why I have to get organized. Today.
I sink into my chair and try to concentrate. What to tackle first? Think, think.
Third reminder from Dolores. Uh-oh.
Marietta rolls her eyes. “Guess you better walk the plank,” she teases. “New guy’s waiting. Haven’t met him yet, but I’ve heard he’s the ‘take no prisoners’ sort. Hope you come back alive.”