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All Ears

Putting the Zoo in Zoom…

By Caroline CravenPublished 12 months ago 4 min read
Top Story - March 2023
30
All Ears
Photo by Johnson Wang on Unsplash

I knew I was in trouble as soon as the email flashed up on the screen: “My office. 2pm sharp. Bring Ellie with you.”

Chewing on my bottom lip, I peer over the top of my computer and click my fingers.

“Veronica wants to see us in her office in 15 minutes. I don’t think it’s a good sign, do you?” I gulp, pushing my half-eaten cheese roll to one side.

“Chillax, what’s the worst she can do?” said Ellie, leaning across the desk to pinch my sandwich. “What? It’s not like you’re going to finish it.”

+++

As I elbow Ellie in the ribs to stop her snoring, I flash a weak smile at Jenny, Veronica’s PA, and ask if she’s got any exciting plans for the weekend.

The woman spins round in her chair and glares at us through her thick-rimmed glasses. Before she can reply, her desk phone rings, and she snatches up the handset.

Her scowl transforms into a wide beam: “Veronica, hellooooo! Yes, they’re here.” She turns to look at us, her eyes narrowing: “I’ll send them straight in.”

“Well go on then,” snaps Jenny, replacing the phone. “They’re waiting for you.”

Jumping up, I straighten my jacket and adjust my tie, before holding the door open for Ellie. She lumbers into the room and plonks herself down at the polished mahogany table.

I hover in the doorway, hopping from foot to foot, until Veronica glances up from her laptop and points to a chair. She’s flanked on either side by Pauline Jacques, the accounts director and Graham Davey, head of HR. I feel quite sick.

Slamming her laptop closed, Veronica flicks through the stack of paperwork next to her. “Presumably you know why you’re here Joe?” she said, fixing me with an icy stare.

Mumbling, I bow my head and look sideways at Ellie who’s munching on a chocolate hobnob. How can she eat at a time like this?

“Let me refresh your memory,” begins Veronica. I feel the words wash over me… ‘flagrant abuse… undermining company policy… subverting…”

I open my mouth to protest but close it as soon as I see Veronica’s clenched jaw.

“… but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s start at the beginning,” she said, tracing her finger down the page. “So, for World Superhero Day, you ‘allegedly’ dressed as the Invisible Man, but not a single person saw you in the office…”

I hear Ellie scoff: “That was the point!”

“Then you stole a cartridge of printer ink from Jenny’s locked stationery cupboard and took it on your walking holiday. I don’t think she’ll ever forgive you for sending photos of you and the magenta ink cartridge from the top of Ben Nevis.”

I squirm in my seat.

“And who can forget the time you switched the labels on the coffee jars? Poor Amos from IT has only drunk decaf since 1998. We had to peel him off the ceiling at 10am after he’d consumed five regular cups.”

“Genius,” Ellie chuckles.

“And talking about switching things, Katy from graphic design is still furious. I’m guessing it was you that substituted the photograph of her newborn baby for a picture of Yoda? I must admit, the similarity is striking, but even so…”

I sneak a look at Ellie. She’s grinning from ear to ear.

“And finally,” said Veronica, “Even though you knew we had a crunch meeting with the management team from head office, you released a remote-controlled snake into the boardroom! I can’t begin to tell you…”

“Ha! I don’t want to blow my own trumpet, but that was also my idea,” interrupts Ellie.

“Indeed,” said Veronica, scowling. “Which brings me round nicely to the elephant in the room…”

Ellie looks up: “Hey, you can’t pin anything on me... Oh, are you eating those?” she asks, her trunk reaching across the table to scoop up the rest of the biscuits.

I shake my head when Ellie offers me one of her chocolate digestives. Out of the corner of my eye, I watch Veronica’s face flame crimson.

“And whilst I accept it was the monthly Bring your Pet to Work Day, what made you think it was okay to have an elephant come into the office with you?” said Veronica.

Stammering, I say: “Well, it didn’t say anywhere that I couldn’t so…”

“And then, you twisted the words in the company handbook and had Ellie classified as your emotional support elephant…

“… EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ELEPHANT,” she yelled, banging her fist down on the table. “Exactly how does she help you, Joe?”

“She’s got a great memory and… helps me to remember things…” I trail off, not daring to meet Veronica's eyes.

My boss breathes in and out several times. Massaging her temples, she says: “Well I’m giving you the perfect opportunity to put your memories to the test.

“I’m making you both responsible for compiling a detailed history of our office. It’s for inclusion in the centenary edition of the company-wide yearbook.

“Now get back to the marketing department before I change my mind and sack the pair of you.”

I mumble my thanks and shove Ellie through the door as she starts to say: “Technically, I’m not an employee so…”

As the door slams shut behind us, we turn and glare at one another.

“I can’t believe we’ve been lumbered with such a boring assignment. I’d rather have been fired! I will never forgive you for this,” I hiss at Ellie.

“And I’ll definitely never forget,” said Ellie swiping an apple from Jenny’s desk and charging out into the corridor.

exotic pets
30

About the Creator

Caroline Craven

Scribbler. Dreamer. World class procrastinator.

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  2. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  3. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  1. Masterful proofreading

    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

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Comments (19)

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  • L.C. Schäfer2 months ago

    This made me laugh, can't believe I missed it til now 😁🤣🤣

  • Donna Fox (HKB)10 months ago

    Can we just talk about how great the image you chose is?! I love it and this story of yours only got better from there! You have some real talent! I can really appreciate that you have a knack for descriptive language that plays on your senses, sets the scene and pushes the story along. I love that you have this natural sense of when to add more detail but not so much that it distracts form the story. Having Ellie as a sort of comedic relief is a really nice touch! Especially in some of these tension filled scenes. I must also add that in NO WAY was I ready when you revealed that Ellie is an elephant! That was genius and such a great twist! Also love the name, so fitting for an elephant! This is my favourite piece from you so far Caroline, and I’m just getting started! 💜

  • Hannah Moore11 months ago

    This is so fun, good work.

  • Jay Kantor11 months ago

    Hi Caroline ~ You certainly are 'In our Face'...Love it! I've written several pieces on my blog with similar rants. But, my (3) minute article on behalf of - Pet Haven Minnesota - Titled: "Rescue" brought a lot of attention to their so dedicated cause; that's a good feeling. I will be following you! Jay Kantor, Chatsworth, Cal 'Senior' Vocal Author

  • Michael Delaware12 months ago

    Good job! Love it.

  • Babs Iverson12 months ago

    Woohoo!!! Awesome tale!!! Congratulations on Top Story too!!!💖💖💕

  • Gerald Holmes12 months ago

    Well, that explains the Elephant in the room thing! Loved it. Congrats.

  • Loryne Andawey12 months ago

    Round of applause to you Caroline! This was a delightful story and a very strong contender to the challenge 🤗. ❤'d and subscribed!

  • Melissa Ingoldsby12 months ago

    Congratulations on your creative top story!!!

  • Ahna Lewis12 months ago

    Haha, this was great! It had me laughing out loud a couple times! Adds new meaning to the phrase “elephant in the room.” 😆

  • Sonia Heidi Unruh12 months ago

    Love it! And I didn't see Ellie coming (though I guess she should have been hard to miss). The characters, the pacing, the dialogue all make for a very engaging story!! But now I want my own emotional support elephant ... Who wouldn't?

  • Test12 months ago

    Delightfully cheeky, witty, and straight up hilarious. The elephant in the room is literally his Emotional Support Elephant – just brilliant, Caroline! Ellie is such a naughty, endearing character. So well-written and enjoyable to read. Loved it! Congrats on a well-deserved Top Story and good luck in the challenge! I'll be keeping an eye out for this one on the winner's list. x

  • Heather Hubler12 months ago

    Ah, that was such fun!!! I loved the pranks and the banter. This was wonderfully written. Congratulations on Top Story!

  • Cathy holmes12 months ago

    This is great. Congrats on the Top Story

  • Kendall Defoe 12 months ago

    I like this one, and I will never forget it... 🐘

  • Donna Renee12 months ago

    Congratulations on top story!!! This one was fantastic 😁❤️

  • Quincy.V12 months ago

    The humorous dialogue and antics of the characters in this story make for an enjoyable read.👌👌👌👍

  • Donna Renee12 months ago

    I love this one, Caroline!! 😁🤣

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