Second bash at this. 750 words count and this was the remit:
With her faded dress and worn shoes, she knew she couldn’t go. Penelope looked in the mirror. She looked exactly what she was. Poor! Since Doug had walked out on her and the children, things had been tough and money was tight. That was nine months ago – she’d neither heard from him nor had a penny in maintenance. She now had to find a job and pull her life back together. Her parents had been very supportive and had sold their cottage in the Peak District to move closer and help her out. They’d moved in around the corner last week and were picking Jo and Jake up from school every afternoon. This freed her up to attend job interviews. Today was her first but, looking at her faded dress and worn shoes, she knew she couldn’t go. No-one was going to employ someone who couldn’t even dress smart for their interview. She sat on the end of her bed and wept. Would she ever have a normal life again?
Heather Burnside looked at the list for todays’ interviews. She hated this part of her job. Trying to appear interested as she listened to interviewee’s waffling on, trying to impress her, more often than not, making it up as they went along. Didn’t they know that most companies already knew who they were offering the job to and that the other candidates were only there to make up the numbers! Looking at the list again, she could see that Rosemary Gardiner was the most experienced of the four. Some would say it was just a receptionist position but Heather knew a good receptionist was vital to every company. They were the first point of contact for clients and they had to make a good impression. Companies could lose business if they had the wrong person greeting them on the phone or at the desk. She looked at her watch – time to get going, Rosemary Gardiner was due any minute.
Penelope stood outside the towering glass structure and looked up. Did she really believe she had the right to walk in and ask for a job? She would be the proverbial fish out of water. Catching her reflection in the window in front of her she sighed. She had polished her shoes to within an inch of their life and they didn’t look quite so bad. The dress was mostly hidden beneath an old jacket she’d found at the back of the wardrobe. With her hair twisted up in a neat bun and some lipstick on, she looked nearly presentable. Pulling her shoulders back, and lifting her chin, Penelope’s attitude was ‘Sod ‘em!’ – she deserved this job as much as the next guy. With determination in her steps, she walked in through the front door. She could do this.
Heather Burnside let out a sigh. Three candidates later and what a let-down they’d all been. That Rosemary Gardiner had looked much better on paper, the arrogant mare. She’d really fancied herself. Within five minutes Heather had already crossed her off – the braying voice alone would’ve had their clients running a mile. She looked through the CV of the last candidate who was on her way up to the meeting room. Penelope Weston. Her CV was very thin, not much experience there at all. It looked as though she’d be phoning the agency after this.
Heather listened as Penelope spoke. She had a lovely voice – not too soft and not too strident. The outfit was unusual for a City interview which made Heather suspect there was more to this than met the eye. She had an inkling what it might be.
“When did he leave you?”
Penelope stopped talking, shocked at the question.
“Err, nine months ago. How did you know?” she asked.
Heather thought for a moment before answering. “My mum had the same look on her face when my dad walked out. I’ve never forgotten it. She lost it the day she got a job – she told me it was replaced with pride and she didn’t need some bloke around, she could look after her kids herself.”
Heather looked at Penelope again and came to a decision. “When can you start?”
Looking shocked Penelope replied “As soon as you need me to.”
Heather smiled as she replied “Let’s say Monday shall we?”
“I can do Monday,” answered Penelope, her wide smile transforming her face.
“Great,” said Heather. “Now, if you’ll just follow me, let’s go and sort out your uniform.”