The time lift

1st chapter of my new young adult novel. Feedback very much welcome.   

The lift of time

chapter one.

Sarah had just got back from visiting her family for Christmas. She always enjoys going home for Christmas but the hassle of travelling back to London through, what it felt like, every mode of transport known to man. Sitting down on her own couch with a hot cup of coffee was sheer bliss. ‘Ahhh’ Sarah sighed revelling in the silence. To Sarah it felt like the calm before the storm. In two days she would be back at work running around in the crazy boxing day sales.
Since the age of 16 Sarah started to get an interest in fashion, following all the latest trends. Well; all the trends that her pocket money/minimal wages could afford. There is a great number of hideously embarrassing photos either online or in her mum’s photo albums to prove it. This interest in fashion changed into a bit of a fascination. Watching how the world changes, along with peoples tastes, who influences different people and how different trends come in circles. This fascination led Sarah to choose a fashion degree at university. After managing to break out of the small northern town she grew up in. she threw herself headfirst into her studies. Three years of blood sweat and tears had gone into creating a portfolio of work a final dissertation of what felt like 3000 pages of improvised crap and a dress built emulating the 1900’s that still hangs from the dress form in the back corner of the living room. Sarah laughed to herself. The amount of times she has jumped out of her skin on her way to the toilet in the middle of the night when she thought someone had broken into the house or she had seen a ghost because of that stupid dummy!
Sarah had finished her degree. By November she had successfully strutted her stuff across the stage at Wembley stadium and collected her certificate. Funny thing is that turned out to be a blank piece of paper. The real degree certificate gets sent to your home address in the post. I suppose it depends on the university you attend. Well after those three years of papercuts, all-nighters in the library and the construction/fabrication room, pricked fingers and hangovers; she was left with nothing. Or what felt like nothing. Sarah still loved fashion and all that comes along with it but no idea of where or what to do next. She loves fashion but not truly loving it so much to have some career in fashion for the rest of her life.
So with no idea of what her next step would be and the need to very much start earning money to pay future rent. Sarah decided to get herself a job in fashion retail. She had been working since the age of 14, doing many different jobs; from serving coffee on Saturday mornings in the local café to fitting school shoes to screaming children. She thought it would be a good way to use here knowledge of fashion and not be stuck at home sat on her arse doing anything and being thrown out of her flat. She applied to the oldest and largest department stores in London.
After passing the interview she was so surprised, she wasn’t sure on how she had gotten a job at a world-famous store but then again, her self-confidence is not the highest. Now after a month of learning the ropes it is the worst time of year for retail. It’s the first holiday season for Sarah to be working in retail. Her first month had been spent running too and froe from the stockrooms. Using her best persuasive skills to help customers to find the best outfits for the specified occasion and helping set up for these boxing day/ January sales.
She was not really looking forward to it. Sarah and her other colleagues all set up the floor, cleaned and polished all the furniture making sure that everything they could do was done in the preparations. Going home for a brief relaxation with the family was just what the doctor ordered.
“Oh my God. What am I going to wear for work?” Sarah asked the dummy. She sat waiting for an answer for a few moments. Until she realised her level of exhaustion from travelling/Christmas celebrations had reached a point of insanity and took herself off to bed.

 

Getting to work on the London tube system has never been something that Sarah had found a problem with. Many of her family and friends from home, being small town people, always said it was scary and intimidating. Sarah always found it simple, with the help of the travel planning apps on her phone there is no way that you could actually get lost in London. Sarah found the tube such an interesting experience, people watching being one of her favourite pass times, the different types of people that you would see on a single trip either too or from work would be captivating. The busy bankers doing their work on their mini laptops on their knees, the school kids being independent and racing to reach the carriage before the door closes. Sarah used to just watch everyone. She didn’t really have the habit expected by people who google the London tube: travellers walking at three hundred miles an hour and with their heads stuck in their phones when sat on the tube. Sarah A: didn’t have that much of a busy social life, therefore didn’t have WhatsApp groups to join in on, and B: was so new to a job that she didn’t have any “homework” to be doing.
Today is oddly quiet. She expected there to be more people being the big sales season. Maybe with the store being located just outside of the central shopping district it wouldn’t be so busy because of the bankers and office workers in the area wouldn’t be coming into London with them being off work? Sarah kept thinking about this as she made her way up the steps to the street level. Sarah took a deep breath as she reached the top of the stairs. There is something about seeing the store all lit up with the Christmas display windows and the sky being so dark and heavy with snow that made the scene in front of her so picturesque.
Ooo; Selfie for my mum! Sarah stepped out of the way of the few other commuters and took a selfie to send to her mum, keeping her up to date with her latest adventures. “It was too pretty to miss Sarah said shrugging to the frowning older gentlemen that had decided that Sarah should move out of his way instead of him simply walking around the other side of the station exit. Smiling Sarah walked down the small street on the side of the store to enter through the staff entrance at the back. As she stepped through the doors, the warm heat of the entrance hit her life a brick wall. Sarah was certainly glad that she wore her new Christmas scarf that her auntie Claire had given her, it wasn’t the most aesthetically pleasing but it sure did keep her warm.
“hey lovely” Sarah turned as she walked through the door to the locker room heading towards the stairs to the shop floor.
“Oh, morning Emily” Sarah replied.
Emily was the first-person Sarah met when she started the job. Well, the only other person apart from her department managers. Emily was such a lovely person. She is 5 years younger than Sarah. Very frivolous, no idea of how to manage money and balancing so many different boys at once it seems impossible to Sarah how anyone could possibly keep it up. But all in all, Emily has a heart of gold. Sarah only worked with Emily a few days of the week as Emily was still doing her degree at university, but when she did work with her it was such a laugh. Keeping up with Emily’s personal life was like watching the latest reality tv show. Emily also looked like she was from one of those shows. Obviously taking these sorts of ‘celebrities’ as fashion inspiration. Today Emily was wearing a skin-tight nude one-piece a denim jacket and a pair of chunky hideous trainers.
“So, how was your Christmas? You went to visit your family, didn’t you? Sarah asked.
“yeah I did. I had such a good time. I got good presents and some money. Even got these new trainers off Charlie. Look.” Emily replied.
Sarah looked down at Emily’s feet. Now I understand that fashion is a personal reference, Sarah thought, but those are extremely ugly. “Oh, they look great, not my choice, but they really suit you. Which one is Charlie again?” Sarah asked
“The rugby player from Australia. You know the one who keeps messaging me.”
“He has sent you those for Christmas even though he hasn’t seen you in person in like 6 months?” Sarah asked astonished.
“Yeah I know I was totally surprised too”
“you weren’t surprised at all; you have each one of those guys completely wrapped around your fingers. I have no idea how you keep up with it all?!” Sarah admitted.
They both laughed.
Now they had both reached the women’s fashion department. After putting her phone and personal items away in the cupboard Sarah made her way to the middle of the floor for the daily briefing. These Briefing meetings were so boring. Every day it was the same thing: the main floor manager would stand in front of the group and explain how yesterday’s trade went, if the store was up or down on target, how much was needed to make the target and what particulars of our job description was emphasised for us to work on for the day. Keeping focused and listening to everything that was explained took all of Sarah’s mental energy, it seemed the few days she spent at home over Christmas had made her lazy.
“okay, today I need you all to be on the ball today” the Floor manager announced. “it is expected to be really busy and a bit hectic today, so please make sure you are giving 110% to our customers and if there is anything you need help with. Don’t struggle just ask for help.”
Once the floor manager had finished her speech the group disintegrated as each group of people walk over to their designated area on the floor. Sarah’s new position was to be a runner and fitter in the changing rooms. This entailed Sarah distributing the clothing that had been tried and discarded, helping the customers make decisions on what items are right for them and running for sizes to the stock rooms. Today being the first day of sales everyone had been given a plan for the day. Telling each member of staff at what time of day they were to be doing each job. For the first three hours of her Shift Sarah was designated to be a runner for stock. This is not what Sarah wanted. To her it was the worst part of the job. Seems silly but the building is exceptionally old, and the lower levels and Basement were not the place to go for someone with such an overactive imagination.
The requests for the different items from the stockroom started to come in thick and fast. After about an hour of doing several trips to the stockroom Sarah snook into the small staff cloakroom and changed her shoes. Usually on her commute to work Sarah would wear a pair of trainers, staying a comfortable as possible before putting on her heeled boots that are part of her required clothing items. The Managers want everyone to be wearing items which could be purchased in store. Luckily, Sarah had already owned a pair of boots from one of the many footwear brands in the store. Thankfully it was one thing that Sarah didn’t have to pay money for, because everyone know that with fashion stores it isn’t often that you get given free uniform, whenever the powers that be want their employees to look a particular way. Those boots looked great with Sarah’s individual style, a little sexy and a little rocky. But god they hurt her feet when she ran up and down so many flights of stairs. The trainers she wore into work that day were significantly more comfortable. They didn’t really go with today’s outfit choice; frayed hem cut off jeans and an aged rock concert t-shirt. She left like an 80’s teenager.
After another half, an hour Sarah was so out of breath that she felt a little faint, she was going to have to ask the Floor managers for some help. She couldn’t keep doing all this work on her own. This made Sarah very nervous. It was the first time since she started working in the store that she would have to speak up, ask the floor managers for something. Being a self-conscious person- Sarah didn’t want to do it. But, her own sanity/safety had to come first. Sarah took a deep breath and left the cloakroom. Walking swiftly across the store to the floor managers office. It was a little like an obstacle course, keeping out of the way of all of the customers ensuring not to meet their eyes so that she could stay on task and not get side-tracked. It took about 3 minutes for Sarah to make it to the door of the floor managers office. Holding back her nerves and standing-up straight Sarah knocked on the door.
It was such a strange feeling walking into the floor managers office. For Sarah she could never shake the feeling, like being sat in the head teacher’s office, every time she saw the floor manager. It’s probably because the floor manager is the highest authority in the women’s fashion department. Or it could be her amazing sense of fashion: the power suit seemed to be the only items of clothing that women owned. It is all Sarah every saw her wearing. Apart from that one time that Sarah came into work way too early and saw her getting into the lift, looking like some famous celebrity: huge sunglasses on sweatpants and obviously no makeup on at all. I must get ready at work, Sarah thought. Today the floor manager was wearing a mint green two piece with a sky-high pair of nude Louboutin shoes, the mint green colour highly complemented her glossy red hair that was slicked back into a tight high ponytail. As Sarah sat down her hear started to beat a little faster, something Sarah wished she hadn’t noticed when she started to speak.
“Hi, thanks for listening to me” Sarah said
“It’s no problem at all, what is it I can help you with?” The Floor manager replied.
“well the thing is… I know I’m new to this environment and I shouldn’t really ask for anything but, like you said this morning. I need some help.”
“okay go on. What do you need help with?”
“it may look like I can’t do my job. But its so busy out there and some of the customers are having to wait ages because there aren’t enough of us working on the stockroom running zone. So can I have some support please? Maybe one of the people that can be spared from another department, but they used to do the same. Having to show someone new to the tasks would also be a total nightmare.”
Sarah let out the breath that she didn’t know she had been holding on to. As any person in any kind of authority always made her stress out. It may be the smallest thing: but Sarah always felt guilty for asking anyone for anything, weather it was some help with a task or to ask for holiday, feeling as if she isn’t entitled to anything.
“Yes of course I can get you someone to help. Why didn’t you say anything earlier? I know just the person. Go back on the floor and ill send them over ASAP.”
The floor manager shooed Sarah out of the office and strutted off down the central walkway whilst feverishly texting on her work phone. Once Sarah had arrived back to her area, she was taken a back by the mess falling out of the bottom of one of the changing room doors. The door was a little ajar and Sarah could see that who ever had been inside trying on the different items had abandoned the clothes and left. This is something, well the main thing that aggravate Sarah the most about working in this store. With all the different people that come from all over the world to visit and shop in the store there would obviously be a difference in customer behaviour. “it’s just a culture thing” Sarah said under her breath whilst bending down and retrieving the clothing left all crumpled and trampled on the floor. Different cultures have a different level of respect for people who work in retail. This customer must have been from a culture where it is okay to dump every item on the floor once it has been tried on and it was perfectly acceptable to walk all over it on the way out of the changing room with dirty shoes on. Sarah shook her head as she took the discarded items and started to hang them up on the rail behind the changing room counter. Where Emily had gone, she didn’t know, she should have been here with the customer. Emily was probably hiding in the staff cloakroom messaging one of her many male acquisitions. This is something she tended to do very often. Sarah didn’t say anything, as flaws go being a bit of a floozie isn’t so bad. She liked Emily and some people definitely have worse vices. Sarah checked her watch once all the clothing had been hung up.
“yay” Sarah made a bit of a squeak, Break time. Just as she looked up Emily waltzed around the corner heading back to the Changing room Counter. Sarah didn’t waste any time; it was only then that she realised how hungry she really was.
“I’m going on my break. I’ll see you in a bit.” Sarah said to Emily as they crossed paths.
“Sure see you in a bit.”

It was such a distance; two floors and four flights of stairs later, you will reach the staffroom. Well you couldn’t call it just a staffroom. It was an entire floor that was cordoned off for staff only. Everything that you could ever need way up here. All the different food that you could want. Stations for every different cuisine: pizza and Italian dishes, English/pub food station, Asian station supplying Indian/Chinese/Thai food depending on the day. A whole wall of different vending machines with coffee machines and one seven filled with fruit. The next section was an island of microwaves; for those people who had enough time in their day to make their lunch before going to work. Finally the pièce de résistance: two branded coffee stations, subsidised by the store. It’s the holy grail and always the first stop for Sarah at the start of her break. Today Sarah decided to go for a pizza for her lunch choice. Not such a healthy option, but her mind was still stuck in the indulgences of the holiday season. Pizza is Sarah’s go to when she couldn’t make up her mind; there was just something about the combination of the slightly spicy peperoni slices and the rich melted cheese that she couldn’t really resist. Sitting down at her table of choice she made short work of the pizza and sat back in her seat with her lovely hot coffee between her hands. What a morning Sarah thought. It wouldn’t sound like much to many people who have no experience of retail. But Sarah had been to the stockrooms about 15 times in three hours carried and pushed several cages of replenishment stock to the relevant areas of the department and distributed it to the right customers. Also assisted a lady who had misplaced her small child, having run out of the changing rooms in a spurt of energy. To some retail doesn’t sound taxing but to Sarah this coffee was certainly needed to get her through the next few hours.
The hour of her break passed Sarah by like a freight train and before she knew It; she was walking back down the many flights of stairs back to the women’s fashion department. When She got back to her section Sarah could see a guy messing around behind the counter. “Excuse me, what do you think your doing?” Sarah asked as she leaned over the counter, trying to see what he was looking at. The guy shot up straight, taken by surprise, knocking his head on the countertop on his way up.
“Erm, sorry. Owww. I’m Morgan. I got sent over here to help you out with all the replen and stuff.” Morgan offered Sarah his hand, which she shook.
“Hi, I’m Sarah. Sorry about making you jump. You alright?”
“yes I’m fine thanks. Don’t worry I’m mad of tuff stuff me.”
That’s when Sarah noticed his accent. She is normally very good at picking out different people’s accents, especially northern ones. Being a northerner living in London she can hear another northern accent form 50 foot away. Sarah seemed to get a weird sense of excitement when talking to another person from the north. She didn’t know why, could be some kind of instant connection? It also dawned on Sarah that a Northern accent seemed to make anyone of the opposite look a lot more attractive. Maybe he was from Leeds, Definitely Yorkshire? Sarah thought. As Morgan stood up, pulling the tablet out from under the counter, Sarah realised that she had been staring in a daze. Pulling her eyes sharply away Sarah searched for Emily. Just in time yet again Emily waltzed around the corner from her usually hiding spot.
“You know that one day someone is going to catch you out” Sarah said to Emily as she leaned against one of the changing room doors.
“Yes I know” Emily stuck her tongue out at Sarah. “Anyway since you’ve been on your break its been even busier. Its been the first time I’ve stopped in the last hour!” Emily turned around and noticed Morgan for the first time. “Who are you? Should you be doing that?” Emily asked Accusingly.
Morgan looked up from the tablet document he was scrolling through. “I’m Morgan. I’m normally working on men’s wear, but I’ve been sent over as reinforcements. I’m just refreshing my memory of the stockholding lists, I used to work here when I first started a few years ago.” Morgan held up the tablet for the others to see. Emily Blushed feeling embarrassed for accusing him. Sarah smiled; it was funny seeing Emily embarrassed. That didn’t happen very often.
“So which part do you want my help with first? I’m not fussed of what I do.” Morgan asked Sarah.
Sarah was taken aback. She hadn’t been working there long and she certainly wasn’t in charge. She didn’t know what to say. “Erm, well I know that those clothes need taking back out” Sarah Said gesturing to the almost full clothing rail behind him. “Then if Em stays on the changing rooms, I’m sure that there will be a pile up of request in the next half an hour?”
“Okay no problem. How about I go round to take the clothes back, so I know where each brand and areas is?”
“sounds like a plan” Sarah admitted, taking the tablet off Morgan as he grabbed a handful of clothes off of the rail and marched off to the far end of the floor.
“Well what do you want me to do?” Emily asked, in a very sarcastic manner. Sarah knew that Emily was only mocking her because she knew that authority made her nervous.
“okay, okay!” Sarah tried to change the conversation, spotting a customer out of the corner of her eye failing miserable to manage the overflowing amount of clothes in her arms. “Why don’t you go and help that lady over there? Ill go and update the tablet with the replen requests before we have to go back down to the stock rooms, and you need to go on your break?”
Emily raised her eyebrow at Sarah’s tone of voice. It was the first time that Sarah had sounded like a manager. “It’s just a suggestion” Sarah returned the look on Emily’s face with a shrug.
Emily laughed “Hahaha okay, just pulling your leg”
Sarah let out a breath and laughed as convincingly as she could. Apart from being scared of anyone with any remote authority she was also completely paranoid about offending/upsetting people. Even when it’s not possible to offend people Sarah would think asking for a bus ticket or help with a simple task could make Sarah’s mind read into the situation way too much. Not that anyone on the receiving end would notice. To most people Sarah comes across as very confident, a very chatty and bubbly person.
Sarah plugged the Tablet into the charging port and opened the product request software. The screen shone bright in stark contrast to the mood lighting that flowed across the floor. It hurt Sarah’s eyes. Looking away for a few seconds to let her eyes adjust to the change in lighting. Wow, Sarah was astonished at the number of requests that had come through. There was a lack of customers on the floor at this moment, the number of requests didn’t match up. Sarah checked her watch; 2pm. That made a lot of sense as an explanation of the lack of customers. Even in the frenzy of sales shopping the customers must have to eat. There was usually a bit of a breather between flows of customers at this time. The rest of the clothing distribution would have to wait till she and Morgan could get back from the lower levels. After scanning through the requests Sarah unplugged the tablet and started scanning the floor for any sight of Morgan. She’ll have to ask him to help her now instead of later. “Emily I’ll go look for Morgan. We’ll have to go back down to the stockroom now, or we won’t be back in time for your break.”
“okay, no arguments from me.” Emily replied as she led another customer to the appropriate changing room.
Sarah walked away looking for Morgan, praying that it wouldn’t be too busy for Emily whilst they were both gone from the area.

Sarah spotted Morgan walking past the winter coat section. She had to sprint a little to catch up with him, he walked surprisingly fast.
“Morgan” she shouted, just a little out of breath. Morgan turned and stopped looking for who had called his name. Sarah stopped jogging and waved for him to come over. She didn’t see any point in moving further in the opposite direction to the one they needed to be going in. Morgan walked over skirting past the different barrages of customers on his way across the floor.
“Everything alright?” Morgan asked.
“Yes it’s all good. I’ve just updated the tablet and we have got loads of requests that have come through. Can you come help me pull them and get them to the shop floor so that Emily can still have time to go on her Break?” Sarah explained with an urgent tone.
“yeah sure okay. Ladies first” Morgan gestured in the direction of the stairs.
Sarah laughed and walking in front of Morgan. She was very taken aback by his comment. In todays day and age it was unusual to hear such a comment, Especially from someone in their mid-twenties. Or she thought he was in his mid-twenties. She decided to discover as much as she could about her temporary work colleague.
After they had walked down the first flight of stairs in silence Morgan spoke first; “So how long is it you’ve been working here?”
“Not very long” Sarah Admitted. “I started as one of the Christmas temps, but I want to stay on. Or at least I hope they let me stay. I’m enjoying it.” Sarah smiled.
“I’m surprised you’ve only been here for a month; you seem to know what you’re doing. I’m guessing your full time then?” Sarah nodded “you really get thrown in the deep end working full time at Christmas, don’t you? I started at the same time of year. It was a total nightmare for me.” Morgan smiled at the memory noticing that the compliment had made Sarah blush.
“how long have you been working here then?” Sarah was happy to find that he was so talkative. Hoping this was a sign of someone who can hold a more fulfilling conversation rather than the celebrity trivia and boy conversations that Sarah got from Emily. It’s not that she didn’t enjoy Emily’s company, its just that for Sarah they didn’t hold much of the same interests and that type of conversation certainly got boring and repetitive.
“I started working here about three years ago. I started the same as you; Christmas temp, while I was at uni. Then when I left uni the money was better here than trying to get a foot hold in the type of career I wanted. Just seemed like a waste to pass it up, when the alternative was to be doing a really intense job for no money to ‘pay your dues’ before I could have a real career.” Morgan explained with a shrug.
Sarah was surprised “Well that isn’t what I expected you to say. I bet you did something like a law degree?”
“I did a degree in finance and business” Morgan smiled.
“Just as I thought, not just a pretty face, then are you?” They both laughed.
“How long have you been in London then?” Sarah asked, hoping in the answer he would give away his age.
“I moved when I was 18 so that’s 6 years now” Sarah had to think about his answer; Why hadn’t he just said how old he is now? Okay so he must be 24, she worked it out.
“your only a few years older than me then. I’m 22” Sarah instantly regretted telling him her age. She knew it wasn’t that she was old, its just sometimes it felt like people expected her to be older. She had quite and old head on her shoulders, or so people had told her.
By now they had made it down the 5 flights of stairs to the entrance to the stockrooms. It was a security door where a store ID card had to be scanned to gain access. No chance of any customers accidentally walking into somewhere they weren’t allowed into. From the door there is a final three flights of stairs that lead to the clothing stockroom. Down in the store sub-basements there are 4 levels, each level leading to a different type of stock. The first two floors are full of the fridges and holding rooms for all of the food that was either sold or used in the stores many different restaurants. The third was the clothing stockrooms and display/visual merchandising stockrooms. The fourth floor down stocked all of the different furniture/paintings and any other interior design stock. Finally the fifth floor down was the vaults; holding all of the crazy expensive jewellery and takings for the store. That floor was totally out of bounds and no one apart for a select few were ever allowed to go inside.
Upon reaching the door to the women’s stockroom Morgan rushed forward, scanned his key card, and held the door open for Sarah before she even had the chance to reach for the door handle. “Thanks” Sarah smiled awkwardly and walked inside the stock room. All this chivalrous behaviour was making her feel a little uncomfortable, it was not something that she was used to. Most boys/men didn’t think twice about being respectful or old fashioned as she would call it. She was also brought up to be a fiercely independent woman by her family. Every time Sarah walked into the stock room; she always took a second to get her bearing a look around in awe. This place a person wouldn’t even know existed from the street level. Now being however many floors underground it seemed impossible for this place to exist. It was huge. There was around 15 different moving shelving units. The ones similar to modern university libraries; with big black handles on the sides to move them from side to side to give access to the relevant shelf. This would not be extraordinary if it weren’t for the height of these shelves. The shelves were about 15 feet high, something the people won’t see every day. For Sarah it seems magnified because of how short she was. Being only 5” 2’ tall, most things in life where physically out of her reach. It was kind of a running joke that followed her through life. Being short others would think that it would be a hinderance to Sarah given the task at hand. All of the different items requested on the tablet could be anywhere in the huge hoard of clothes all neatly folded and stored in the small cubed off sections of the shelving units. But being petite was actually a benefit to Sarah. It meant that she was able to climb up on the shelves, not taking much health and safety into consideration, and search for what she was looking for.
“wow, steady on there spider monkey?” Morgan shouted from the other side of the shelves as he witnessed Sarah scamper up shelves fast as a, well monkey.
“what?” Sarah asked with a huge grin on her face “it takes way too much time to be dragging ladders around in here, this way is so much quicker” She took the dress she had been searching for off the shelf and threw it down to Morgan. The garment hit Morgan square in the face. Sarah took in a shocked breath as she turned to see where the dress had landed. It slid down over his blank expression and landed on the floor by his feet. “Oh My God, sorry!” She scampered down the shelves to collect the dress off the floor.
Morgan looked at her with a sly smile. “Its fine, don’t worry about it. If I didn’t like you, I would think you were trying to kill me today.” Morgan elbowed Sarah in the ribs.
“Hey” Sarah was taken by surprise.
“What?” Morgan looked at her innocently. “Now we’re even”
“okay how about I write down half the items on this paper and you look for those, makes the work twice as quick. Just warn me if your going to move the shelves. I was looking for stuff last week and one of the girls from the jeans area came in and nearly crushed me in the middle.” Sarah suggested. Grabbing a piece of paper and a pen off of the small desk area in the corner she didn’t wait for an answer. She didn’t want to look at him, still feeling embarrassed about the dress incident. “There you go, we’ve got half each.” Sarah handed Morgan the piece of paper.
“Fine then, ill race you!” Morgan shouted as he bolted off to the other side of the shelves nearest the back wall.
“Wait that’s not fair” Sarah shouted in his wake as she ran to the nearest shelf in search of a cobalt blue t-shirt in a size 10.
With in the next 15 minutes both Sarah and Morgan had managed to complete the requests and fill a huge cage full of stock. Both were out of breath and sweating a little. “it’s a draw then I think” Morgan said as he assessed Sarah’s handy work. “Yes I agree” Said Sarah desperately trying to hide how out of breath she really was. I definitely ned to go to the gym more Sarah though as they both manoeuvred the cage out of the stockroom door ad over to the freight lift. For anyone who doesn’t work in a store like this one it would seem very weird that they went down the stairs to come back up in a lift, why not use the lift to also go down? It is one of the stranger rules about the store. The staff are only allowed to use the lifts when they are transporting stock. If a person has no stock, the stairs are the only option. That’s why Sarah usually waited until there was enough of a quantity of requests to enable her to go down to the stockroom and not be empty handed on her return to the shop floor. As they were stood waiting for the life to arrive Sarah took the time to actually look at Morgan. She hadn’t taken much notice of him yet because of being so focused on the task at hand. Now with the task completed she had nothing else to occupy her brain.
Morgan was not one of those breath takingly beautiful types that you see in stores like Hollister. Working in Fashion it would be expected for employees to look like models in some of the public’s expectations. He wasn’t terribly bad looking either. He was just normal. He was tall, well tall compared to Sarah, but that wasn’t very hard to achieve. He had slightly tanned skin and dark slicked back hair. It was obvious to Sarah that he liked to follow the most current trends. He had a hair style like all the other fashionable young men. Short on the sides and longer on the top so it can be styled back in some sort of quiff. Now thinking about it: Sarah established that Morgan’s style must be heavily influenced by that gangster tv show that everyone kept going on about. With his facial stubble all he needed was a flat cap to look like on of the gang. His clothes didn’t match his chosen style of his head. He was wearing a pair of straight cut chinos in a forest green colour, a fitted grey sweater, and a pair of distressed military boots. Not bad Sarah thought.
DING
The lift arrived and Sarah jumped at the noise. It snapped her back into the present and she was hoping that yet again Morgan hadn’t noticed that she had been staring. They pushed the heavy cage into the lift and travelled up to the shop floor in silence each stood on opposite sides of the cage. Sarah quite liked that she had the barrier between them. So she could get over her most recent bouts of embarrassment with out an audience. As the lift grew closer to the shop floor Morgan couldn’t help but notice the awkward feeling that felt like it filled the small metal box.
He couldn’t think of anything to say, also he didn’t bring up the fact that he had seen Sarah in a daze as they were waiting for the lift to arrive. Maybe it was something that she did all the time? Morgan supposed. It appeared a little strange, but everyone had their little quirks, right?

It took only 2 minutes for the lift to reach the shop floor. Sarah and Morgan took the cage out of the lift into the loading area and got all of the items ready to be distributed around the floor. With out saying a word they both took their half of the stock and went off on in separate ways to ensure the clothing got to the correct area. As Sarah was walking around with her arms full of the heavy garments, she felt the air of awkward energy leave her body. She has no idea why she suddenly felt so weird in the lift: it could be her terrible attempt at flirting or the fact that she was accidentally on a mission to damage Morgan today. Having the space away from him helped her feel more like herself. She quickly made her way around the different areas of the floor giving out he requested items and made her way back to the changing room area.
Emily was hanging some of the tried clothes on the rail when she spotted Sarah walking back to the counter: “What time do you call this?” Her hair was falling in front of her eyes and she pushed it back with an air of distress. “Where have you been looking for the clothes? Australia?!”
“Haha no, sorry I didn’t think we had been so long” Sarah looked at her watch, they had only taken forty minutes. “What’s up? Was it really busy while we were gone?” Sarah Giggled slights at Emily’s exasperated expression.
“Yes it was bloody busy! It always seems to happen to me. Every time you go off on your break or to the stockroom every woman and their dogs come in to try the whole store on!” Emily huffed and gestured to the baskets of clothing lined the well opposite the changing room doors.
“oh wow. Okay let’s get this sorted, shall we? Your going on your break, soon aren’t you?” Sarah asked Emily as she took and arm full of hangers and started to neaten up the bomb site of clothing.
“Yes thankfully it’s in twenty minutes. Can’t wait for a cig and some food. I’m starving!”
Emily and Sarah quickly got the area around the changing rooms back into its usual orderly appearance while Morgan, having finished his distribution, aided any of the customers coming in to test out the most current fashions. No-one spoke in what seemed like years when Emily grabbed her jacket that was stuffed under the counter and announced she was going on her break. Emily strutted off to the cloakroom at lightening speed to collect her handbag and water bottle. Sarah Giggled under her breath as she watched Emily leave, Emily was practically sprinting to get to the staff room.
The rest of Sarah’s workday passed like lightening. That always happened when it was super busy. There isn’t much time to think or notice the time passing. Sarah sprinted to the tube carriage when she reached the platform entrance, the doors were just about to close as the high-pitched beeping sound announced. Slightly out of breath at the sudden burst of movement Sarah stood at the carriage doorway and leaned back against the door to catch her breath. As she leaned back, she scanned the carriage for any empty seats. Finding an empty seat after work for the journey home was like looking for gold at the end of the rainbow, something that Sarah wasn’t sure existed, or it was a myth. Sarah spotted that the seat at the far end of the carriage was empty. It was the seat closest to the driver’s cab door. Normally the seat that most people avoid as it is a challenge to get off of the tube in time, the seat usually gets a person pinned into the corner by suitcases prams and a myriad of shopping bags. Today there were lots of shopping bags, but because Sarah had worked the middle shift of the day she had managed to miss the rush hour of shoppers coming out of the stores at dinner time, the carriage was mainly filled with general travellers, only carrying the usual handbag or backpack. She clambered her way through the people and shopping bags, giving the occasional smile and nod to the people who moved out of her way to let her get past. With a huff Sarah sat down in the vacant seat and tucked her bag between her feet. She always liked sitting in this seat, unlike most. Sarah’s stop on the tube was the last one, so she didn’t need to fight through everyone to get off and with there being a wall next to her it was convenient for days like today. When Sarah could be so tired that she would instantly fell asleep as she leaned her head against her scarf on the wall. Not too unlike what people do on plane/train journeys.
The heat of the carriage compared to the outside air made Sarah feel drowsy. Sarah’s mind began to wander as she drifted into unconsciousness. Sarah’s subconscious took her back to the stockroom with Morgan, replaying the events of racing to collect stock and the poor flirting attempts she had made. The chivalrous nature of his actions and the feeling that she felt in the lift. There was no way that Morgan hadn’t felt it? Sarah guessed. He hadn’t because he would have said something? He’s so unusual. He reminds me of the gentlemen characters in Grandma’s stories. Full of generosity and ensuring that a woman would never be put out. Like opening the door and making sure they walked on the right side of the road to stay away from the spray of cars. There’re not many men like that now is there?! Sarah’s mind continued to wander into more obscure dreams. The tilting of the train carriage changed her recollection of the lift into a horror story of being stuck in a lift that wouldn’t stop. Falling and falling, being thrown around like a rag doll. Clothes hitting her in the face and body, Morgan’s shouts off somewhere in the distance, but she couldn’t see through her dishevelled hair to find him. Hoping that he was okay. She almost started to scream when she woke up with a start. Almost throwing herself of her seat in the process. The tube had come to its final stop. Sarah could only assume that the movement had caused her to smack her head on the wall of the carriage because she was starting to get a bit of a headache. Wow, what a crazy dream. I didn’t realise I was that tired!

Sarah walked through the barrier and onto the street. The cold air felt like walking into a brick wall, instantly woke her up from her foggy state. Wrapping her scarf tighter around her neck Sarah started the 20-minute walk from the station. Her phone buzzed; Emily messaged her. What do you think of this Morgan guy then? Sarah didn’t reply straight away. It was strange but she had to think about her answer. Well he’s quite fit, isn’t he? Hehe. He knows what he’s doing and he’s easy to get along with, Sarah replied. Emily must have been waiting for her reply as Sarah’s phone buzzed again straight away. Yeah, he’s so fit! Maybe a new prospect? I stopped talking to Jason today, so I have space. Emily said with the accompanied smiley face. It took Sarah a few second to place the name; Jason he been the guy who had taken Emily to a really fancy restaurant and hotel, possibly the richest of her ‘prospects’ as she calls them. Emily had admitted that she didn’t really like him, to look at or to talk too. But the evenings out to the nicest place in town made up for it. Oh you’re a nightmare. Leave to poor boy alone, you’ve only just met him. He seems to nice for you. No offence. I wonder if he will be working again with us any time soon. I think it will only get busier until new year? Sarah asked secretly hoping that he would be. He intrigued her in a way. She certainly wanted to get to know him better. Emily messaged back; Yeah, he is. The floor manager came across after you left and said that she had spoken to his manager, asking if he could be a support for our area for a few days. So we will be seeing him tomorrow, I think. Sarah smiled at the thought, her wishes had been granted. Oh great it will be good to get to know him a bit more, also he is a great help. Anyway love I’ve just got in. ill see you tomorrow. Night X Sarah replied, probably cutting the conversation short. It wasn’t that she didn’t like talking to the girls from work in her own hours, but when she got home from a long day, she didn’t like the distraction. Being more of an introvert having her own space was the best feeling for Sarah. Being social and bubbly at work was exhausting for her. She took her coat and scarf off hanging it on the hooks next to the door, whilst kicking her trainers off and putting her favourite fluffy slippers on.
She flicked the kettle on and stood watching the world go by from the window. The view from this window is what she liked best about her flat. She didn’t live in the nicest area of London, one of the more cost affective places. This also meant living in one of those multi storey buildings with temperamental lifts and gross stairwells and graffiti on the walls outside. She wasn’t proud of living here, in fact she hated the building. But she was proud of still maintaining self sufficiency after university. Were others from her course couldn’t manage without a student loan so went living back at home with their tails between their legs. The flat was positioned on a corner, so lots of windows, from the kitchen window she could see a faint outline of the London skyline. Not really being able to pick out the buildings but she knew it was there. At this time of the day, with the sun setting so early everything was just a bunch of yellow/white lights against the pitch-black sky. She did like seeing the lights of all the cars and public transport run by through the closer streets to the flats. The kettle clicked off and Sarah made herself a cup of decaffe coffee. A hot drink and some dinner before bed. Sarah yawned for the fifteenth time since falling asleep on the train. It wasn’t even late but all the running around of the day had truly tired Sarah out. The thought of working with Morgan again the following day had Sarah grinning as she drifted off to sleep.

For the next week Sarah, Emily and the girls had help off of Morgan. As Sarah had predicted the store got busier and busier as it got closer to the new year. It got to the point that they all just kept passing each other, hardly having time to speak a word. Weather they were running off to the stockrooms, helping the customers find the perfect little black dress for a New Year’s Eve party, or sneaking off to their break. It was the day before NYE, and it was so busy that Sarah didn’t even have the chance to go on her dinner break. She had spent 4 hours with a customer called Sophie. She was a young mum going out for the first time since having the baby and she didn’t have any body confidence at all. Sarah ran around every different brand from Maje to Needle and thread in an attempt to help the lady. It first started in trying to persuade her into making a choice to ensure Sarah was the one closing the sale, but after the first hour it became obvious that the poor woman was so distressed with making a choice. Sarah ended up doing her best to help Sophie keep herself together and not ending up in a crying heap on the changing room floor. “Hey, do you want me to take over?” Morgan made Sarah jump as she was picking through the last few options of dresses on the rail. “No I’m fine. I feel like she really will give up if we change over. And having a man staring at her I don’t feel will be any good” Sarah replied. “okay no problem. Have you bought your ticket to the NYE ball yet? Its tomorrow, remember. It’s fancy dress and everything.” Morgan asked. Sarah had completely forgotten that she had purchased her ticket from the stall in the canteen two weeks ago, it was pinned to her cork board in her bedroom. “Oh yes I have. I bought it so long ago I completely forgot. I don’t have anything at all to wear?! What’s the theme again?” Sarah asked. “It’s the 1900, because of it being the anniversary of the store opening. Don’t tell me you are such a bad employee and forgotten when the store was opened?” Morgan said in a sarcastic tone. “My arse anyone who works here actually remembers that?!” Sarah exclaimed. Just as Sophie popped her head around the door squealing; “I found it !!” she had tears running down her cheeks, obviously relieved that her quest to find the perfect dress had come to an end. Sarah let out a big sigh. “See I told you, we would find you something. You look beautiful.” Sarah encouraged. “let’s not waste any time, your baby will be waiting for you at home. Take it off, I’ll get it all ready at the tills and you make your cross when your dressed” Sarah ushered Sophie back into the changing room. She did enjoy her job but customers like that seriously grated on Sarah’s patience. Two seconds later the dress came flying out of the changing room door. Sarah picked the dress up off the floor. “I didn’t expect her to actually throw it.” Sarah whispered to Morgan, he laughed “Do you mind covering while I sort it out?” Morgan nodded as he tried to not let Sophie hear his laughter through the door. Sarah marched off to the till points and packaged the dress ready for Sophie to make her purchase. She crossed passed with Sophie as she headed back to sort out the changing room she had just used. Sophie walked away with a huge grin on her face. Sophie although mentally exhausted she loved the feeling of accomplishment when a customer walked away happy.
When she reached the changing room Morgan was stood hanging all of the dresses up on the rail. “Thanks, but you didn’t have to do that.” Sarah thanked Morgan. “It’s okay, you deserve a medal after helping her. I thought she would never leave!” “I know tell me about it. I’ve never met anyone so indecisive in my life! If that dress wasn’t going to be right, I was going to tell her to go home and wear her favourite onesie, if she couldn’t find anything. I thought she was going to hang herself with the dresses, she was getting so stressed out.” Sarah took a deep breath. “I feel like my brain has melted out of my ears” Morgan took her by the shoulders and turned her from side to side. “I don’t see anything” Morgan said with a grin. Sarah started to laugh “your funny” Sarah told Morgan. “I try, I try” Morgan replied with a grin. “Now you said that you didn’t have anything to wear for the ball tomorrow?” Morgan reminded Sarah. “Oh crap yeah. I totally forgot all about it. I don’t think id be let in in my usual skinny jeans/ fancy top ensemble, will I?” “Somehow I don’t think they will no.” Morgan admitted. It was only then that Sarah had realised that Morgan was still holding her by the shoulders. The heat from his hands felt like it was seeping through her skin. It had calmed her down very quickly after the farce with her last customer. She didn’t want him to let go, and obviously he hadn’t noticed that they had been stood together like that for a little too long. Emily appeared around the corner “hey guys! Everyone ready for tomorrow?” Sarah quickly shrugged off Morgan’s touch “I’m sure I’ll find something.” Turning to Emily she smiled “I’m excited for it. Are you ready?” Sarah Asked Emily changing the conversation. “Yes, I’m so excited! I’ve rented a costume from the national theatre. Well my dad rented it for me. You would never believe how much it costs to get a decent costume!” Emily exclaimed. “Well it depends on how seriously you’re taking it. You could make something form stuff in Primark and still get through the door” Sarah replied. Starting to feel very conscious about the state her outfit will be once she finds the time to sort one out in time for the ball tomorrow. Looking at her watch Sarah was taken a back by the time. 6pm and she hadn’t been for a pee in four hours. “I’m sure you’ll both look beautiful no matter what you wear.” Morgan added in. “Smooth Morgan, very smooth.” Said Emily with a laugh. Morgan grinned and took a bow. He’s got such a strange sense of humour, Sarah thought. “You’ll fit in well tonight ,1900’s and all” Sarah commented. “right I’m going to pee, then maybe go home? I feel like today has lasted a year!” Sarah said Emily and Morgan laughed as she walked away. Sarah started looking through all of here photos on her phone of past nights out while sat on the toilet. Maybe I could use something I already have and adapt it? Oh that’s a thought! Sarah stopped on the photo of the model wearing her creation from her final production piece. Well it is of the right era; it wasn’t terribly well made but it could hold up for one night. No I can’t I’ll look ridiculous! Sarah let out yet another exasperated breath as she took her time walking back to the changing room counter. “Guys come on, help me with suggestions” Sarah said to both Morgan and Emily as she leaned across the counter. Emily was sorting her hair out in one of the changing room stalls, yet again leaving Morgan to tidy up after the most recent customers. “Jesus, I thought you’d been swallowed by the toilet!” Emily jibbed, cheeky smile shining through from the mirror she was looking into. Sarah did a fake glaring look. “I’m just going to have to give my ticket to someone else.” Sarah said turning her back to both of them in a childish sulk. “I’m sure you’ll look great in what ever you wear” Morgan piped up. Sarah turned and smiled. “thanks” Morgan nodded with the smile reciprocated. “Go home and get some rest. You can wear what ever you like, with in reason. But huge eye bags won’t look so good, will they?” Emily said walking across handing Sarah her jacket. “Oh you cheeky cow! Just because your younger than me!” Emily spun Sarah around by the shoulders and pushed her towards the cloakroom coaxing Sarah to leave. “Fine I’ll keep looking when I get home. See you tomorrow” Sarah waved as she walked across to the exit stairs.

She just didn’t have the energy to go looking for an outfit this close to the event. Yet again with the day being so challenging the trip home from work passed Sarah like lightening. With in no time she was sat on her sofa with her slippers on, awaiting the doorbell to ring. This pizza order is taking too long, Sarah was so exhausted the thought of cooking after the day she had experienced was insurmountable. As she sat waiting her eyes kept being drawn to the dress form, her dress hung there looking all ethereal in the moonlight. I suppose it isn’t so bad, Sarah considered. It ticks all of the boxes for being almost authentic: S shaped bodice, wide neckline, floaty sleeves and a long-ish train. Sarah remembered how long it took to painstakingly attach all of the beading and embellishments. She was truly proud of what she had created, not sure if the had the confidence to wear it in public. If I look terrible, I can blame some internet auctions site. Sarah decided, hoping that she hadn’t put any weight on since she made the dress, even though it was an adjustable corset she still wanted to be able to breath. She took one last look at the dress as she finished devouring her final piece of pizza now slightly regretting the extra few slices she had eaten.

 

© Gingi93 2021
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