“I don’t know how you can work in here,” said Glenda, surveying the chaos of her sister Molly’s spare bedroom which she used as an office.
“Just leave it, Glen,” said Molly. “We can’t all be neat-freaks like you. Thanks for dropping in Mum’s order. See you at Mum and Dad’s for dinner on Sunday.”
Molly closed the door behind her sister with a sigh of relief. But later in the day when she was desperately searching through piles of paper for Mrs Thompson’s order Molly had to agree that Glenda had a point. The trouble was, she was self-employed and had two jobs, whereas Glenda worked in some department of the local authority, sitting in a swanky office all day with modern technology at her fingertips. Whereas when it came to computers and suchlike Molly hadn’t advanced any further than opening a Facebook account and sending the occasional email.
Being a water aerobics teacher involved only a minimal amount of paperwork, but being an Avon representative generated quite a bit of paper. So Molly decided it was time to take action. She drove into town and trawled through the stationery department of a popular store. She picked up a concertina file with separate compartments for each letter of the alphabet. That would help her to file papers for her Avon clients. Then she bought a couple of box files, one for water aerobics and the other for her personal papers. Then while queueing at the till she decided another concertina file might be better for her personal filing, so she left the queue and swapped her purchases. That way she could file the council tax card under ‘C’, the water rates card under ‘W’, and so on, and not have to turn the entire office upside down each month when she needed to make a payment. Of course a really organised person would have direct debits from her bank account for such things, but as Molly’s finances were in a constant state of flux she preferred to make the payments in person. Then, on a whim, she decided to buy a shredder. Glenda was always going on about how risky it was to throw papers in the bin these days. There were people out there desperate enough to search through rubbish for details of names, addresses and account numbers in order to commit fraud.
As she reached the till she decided, as it was Thursday, to buy a ticket for Friday’s Euromillions lottery. The top prize was over a hundred million pounds. She chose her own numbers, using a combination of birthdays and other special dates as she always did when buying a lottery ticket. Walking back to the car, Molly fantasised about what fun she would have with just one million pounds.
Back at home Molly set to work. It took a couple of hours, but by the time she had finished her office was spotless. Not a single piece of paper was visible. And she’d sorted out all the papers and receipts that she didn’t need and shredded them in her new shredder.
The following morning Glenda dropped by on her way to the gym before going to work. Molly was still wandering about in her pyjamas.
“Here’s that book you wanted to borrow. Wow! Have the fairies paid you a visit?”
“No. There’s no such thing as fairies, Glen. I had a bit of a sort out in my office last night.”
“Ooh, and you’ve bought one of those fancy cross-cut shredders. It reduces papers to confetti. Handy if you ever find anyone to marry you.”
Molly could have risen to the bait and pointed out that Glenda was also a spinster, but she decided to let her sister’s barbed comment pass. And within minutes she was gone. It was always a blessing when Glenda departed. You could choose your friends but not your family. Glenda had been difficult to live with when they were children, as from birth the two girls had been complete opposites. But Molly was thankful for this, as it had prompted her to move into her own flat as soon as she could. Oddly enough, Mum and Dad had encouraged Glenda to do the same, and shortly after downsized to a one-bedroom apartment.
Molly switched on the television on Saturday morning. A newsreader announced that the Euromillions top prize had been won by one person living somewhere in England. She opened her wallet, looking for her ticket. But it wasn’t there. She looked on the kitchen table. She went into her pristine office and looked hopefully in her concertina file under ‘E’ and ‘L’. Nothing. Then she remembered shredding some receipts that had been in her wallet. `
Molly returned to the television and used the remote control to search for the winning numbers. She knew her own numbers off by heart. And there they were, the five main numbers and two Lucky Stars. Or Unlucky Stars as they were in her case. She felt sick with dread. Returning to her office, Molly sifted through the bin of the shredder and, sure enough, found tell-tale scraps of pink paper among the debris.
Molly decided to keep the terrible news to herself. She kept busy for the rest of the day to keep her mind off her unfortunate loss. There was no point in crying over spilt milk or shredded Euromillions tickets.
The following day she presented herself at Mum and Dad’s. Glenda was already there, and looked as though she’d been crying.
“I’ve been made redundant, completely out of the blue. It will probably take me ages to find another job, and I’ll never find anything as good. If I don’t find work soon I’ll have to give up my flat. Any chance I can come and stay with you, Mol?”
by Karenne Griffin
Last Modified on: 05-11-2015