‘Well hello Ms Lillian Ward. Look at that fabulous tan. How was the holiday?’ Damon held his arm against hers to compare skin tones.
‘Don’t call me that,’ Lily snapped.
‘Oh dear. That good?’
‘Sorry. Yes. It was really good. I had a great time. Just a bit, you know…’ She wasn’t telling Damon she was already missing her holiday romance man.
‘Ah. So, I’m guessing you’ve heard the news.’ Damon lifted his eyes to the sky, an exaggerated movement made all the more dramatic by him keeping his head lolling upwards for too long.
‘No. What news?’
‘You must have had an email; they must have sent an email at the very least, though I think a phone call would be more appropriate.’
‘I’m not sure what you’re talking about, but I haven’t been able to read any emails on my phone, my damn password expired while I was away.’
‘Oh well, once you log onto your computer I’m sure you’ll be as up to date as the rest of us. I must go; I need to discuss direct debits with The Europeans.’ With that Damon wandered back to his own desk and flopped into his chair as though talking to Lily had exhausted him.
Lily logged on, updated her password, and waited for her computer to download three hundred plus emails. Her heart sank, even though she knew that many of them would be spam, internal spam or just out of date. She started at the bottom and began the laborious process of sifting through them. If she was lucky she might get it done in an hour. Maybe that was optimistic, aside from deleting the rubbish ones she’d have to create action and immediate action folders. Urgh.
‘How’s it going?’ Damon squeezed himself onto the corner of her desk and smiled.
‘Still wading through.’ Now it was Lily’s turn to roll her eyes to the ceiling.
Damon waited as though expecting more and when it didn’t come he sighed. ‘There is some news that won’t be there, I’m afraid.’
‘Oh. Not sure I like the sound of that.’
‘It’s about Josh.’
‘Oh. Yes. Have you heard from him? How’s he getting on? I saw him down in Devon. Isn’t that funny?’
‘There’s no easy way to say this.’ Damon exhaled then took a deep breath before continuing. ‘Poor Josh has died.’
‘No. How? Why?’ Lily’s heart was beating so fast she felt faint. She’d chatted to him in the post room on his last day a little over two weeks ago. He’d guided her onto the right path when she’d become lost on her way to the beach. How could he possibly be dead?
‘That night. His last day here. He went home, sat in his chair and just popped off. Massive heart attack, or stroke, or something. Anyway he didn’t suffer, just went really quickly.’
‘His last day here. Friday. Your last day before your hols.’
‘No, that can’t be right. I told you, I saw him in Devon.’
‘You couldn’t have. He never got there. His son came up to take him down to Devon on the Saturday afternoon and found him dead.’ Damon leaned in, his voice a whisper. ‘Not very nice, they had to have a post-mortem and everything.’
‘Ah, poor Josh.’ Lily felt a single tear run down her face. She couldn’t understand it. She was certain that she’d seen him on the path in Devon. Absolutely certain it was him. But how could it be?
‘When’s the funeral? I must go.’
‘Last Friday, hun, sorry.’
‘Did you go?’
‘Yes. We had the afternoon off so half the company went. Our department needed it after the morning’s saga.’
‘Haven’t you caught up with your emails yet? What have you been doing? You’ve been at it an hour.’
This is an excerpt from Mermaid Hair and I Don’t Care. This is a first draft so please excuse typos etc.