The Original Opening of What Happens in New York

Sometimes, no matter how attached we are to a piece of writing, we have to sacrifice it. This piece is incredibly fun to read, but it just doesn’t set Hollie up as well as I’d like.

It was raised in workshopping that her boss isn’t set up as enough of an arsehole, and some people could sympathise with him more than Hollie, especially given her temperament. I’ve since hyped up the anxiety and her boss’s controlling ways. The premise has remained the same, but there’s more build-up and less stock taking.

It pained me to rewrite it, but it’s important to not get too attached to your writing as you have to do what’s best for it, not what you’re most emotionally attached to.

I’d love to know what you think in the comments below! 🙂

You can also check out a video of me reading the below scene from What Happens in New York at the final Restless Minds anthology event!

What Happens in New York, by Kristina Adams, is out now in ebook and print.

Stock taking. Is there anything more boring than stock taking? 

Hollie sat in the empty staff room eating her ham sandwich. She couldn’t think of anything worse. Except for maybe a ham sandwich. You’d think having a best friend who was a cook would’ve rubbed off on her, but obviously not. The convenience of a classic was far easier than faffing around before work.

She stretched, rocking back on her chair and looking up through the filthy skylight. Covered in bird shite. She could just make out the blue sky and a few clouds. What a lovely day to be stocktaking.

The cheap plastic chair buckled under her weight. She fell backwards, her head hitting the vinyl floor. The few mouthfuls left of her sandwich flew across the room and under the ancient cooker.

‘Fuck sake.’

She clambered up, shoving the chair under the table. Her head throbbed. She put her hand to the back of it, but didn’t find any blood.

The wall clock above the bookcase said her lunch break was almost over, so she kicked the chair and went back downstairs. 

Her boss stood at the customer services desk, flicking through the stocktaking book and chewing on a biro. She walked over. ‘Hollie, you need to work on your handwriting,’ he said, putting the pen and stocktaking book on the counter. 

‘Why?’

‘It looks like a spider ran across the page.’

Your handwriting looks like a drunk spider ran across the page, she thought. She didn’t say that, though. She did what her nan had told her to do when someone annoyed her—she stood with her hands together and stared at him.

‘You’re only halfway through this. We need to get it done by the end of the week. That gives you two days and there’s still this floor and another one to go.’

‘That’s impossible!’

‘That’s what needs to be done.’

More staring. 

‘Hollie?’

‘Mm?’

‘I’ll have less of that attitude as well.’

Several of Hollie’s coworkers were now listening in from the white goods section nearby, their necks craning but heads turned away. A middle-aged couple pretended to read a washing machine label in the next aisle. 

‘You sound like my mum when I was a teenager.’

‘I beg your pardon?’

‘Shit! I mean…’

‘Hollie, I want you to want to be here.’ He paused, lifting his glasses and clutching the bridge of his nose. Lowering them, he gestured around the room. Colleagues turned away, pretending to be engrossed in their own conversation, whilst the couple moved on to the washer on their right. ’There are lots of people out there who would love to be in your position.’

Hollie’s cheeks turned a shade of red that no amount of foundation could conceal and that rivalled the colour of her freshly dyed bob. ‘As a sales assistant in a department store doing the monkey work for minimum wage and a boss who’s never once uttered the words, “Thank you”?’

‘Hollie!’

Hollie clasped her hands over her mouth. What was she saying? ‘I’m sorry. I’m…you know what, actually? I’m not sorry. I’m so sick of your shit. You’re condescending, you talk to me like I’m a twelve-year-old girl who hasn’t got a fucking clue, and you assume all female sales assistants know absolutely nothing about technology and everything about washing machines! You know what I can do with a washing machine? I can wash my clothes. I don’t give a shit what the rest of it does. I am so over you and your attitude. You can stick your fucking job because I’ve had it.’ She stormed towards the staffroom, her foot catching on her opposite heel as she was a few feet away. She stumbled. A small handful of her pride left, she regained her balance, power walked to the door, and slammed it behind her.

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