My name is Emma and, unlikely as it seems, I have just whacked my boss with a heavy reference book.  He was taken unawares and he stumbled and hit his head on the edge of a metal bookshelf.  I think he’s dead.  I haven’t seen a dead person before but he doesn’t seem to be breathing and has gone a funny colour.  There’s a pool of blood on the carpet too.  It definitely doesn’t look good. 

If you knew me I’m sure you would realise I’m not the sort of person to kill someone − let alone my boss just after we’d locked up after a routine day.  For a start, I’m a small person, only five foot four inches in my stockinged feet and skinny too.  My boss is over six feet tall and certainly weighs 15 stone, maybe more.  (Should I be saying was?  I’m not sure. He looks the same height and weight as he did when he was alive. )

Not only am I physically small, I’m also a quiet, unassuming person. The sort of person who wouldn’t say boo to a goose.  I went to a co-ed school and the teachers were always telling me I shouldn’t be so meek and mild, should assert myself.  The only time I took their advice I finished up being humiliated.  In assembly one day the head teacher asked us what  MP stood for.  My dad was in the army so I knew the answer was military police.  My hand shot up and I shouted out the answer.  Everyone laughed and the head teacher told me I was wrong; the correct answer was member of parliament.  But how can that be right?  Member of parliament would be MOP wouldn’t it?

I suppose I ought to do something about my boss.  Cover him up or something.  Or ring for an ambulance?

I’ve always found men difficult.  I’ve got two brothers, both older than me, Bill four years older and Chris two.  I was the baby of the family.  My dad, an army sergeant, used to hit my mum but he left home when I was ten.  Just said he was going to get petrol and never came back.  During their teenage years my  brothers grew huge, both finishing up well over six feet tall.   They were keen on sports and played football for the local club.  I wasn’t at all sporty.

For as long as I can remember my brothers teased me.  When I was 13 they used to show off their muscles doing push ups and hanging from door frames dressed only in their underpants. Sometimes, when my mum was out, they’d show me their erections just to shock me.  I knew I shouldn’t react to this, just ignore it, but I’d get upset and lock myself in my bedroom. They’d just laugh and hammer on the door.  I never told my mum about this.  I was too embarrassed.

My secondary school was co-ed but I’m glad to say, because I was small for my age and a bit of a swot, boys mostly ignored me.  Most of the girls in my class had grown breasts and wore short skirts. They were always giggling about their exploits with boyfriends. But I was a late developer and boys never chatted me up.  I wore glasses too.   

I left school with good GCSEs and A levels and went to work in the local library to train as a library assistant.  You’d think a library was a calm place but not with a boss like mine.  He was always uptight, finding fault with everything.  Even though I was usually blameless, he’d pick on me as the most junior member of staff. Nothing I did was ever good enough: books put back on the wrong shelves, fines not collected, the kitchenette untidy, customers making a noise when I was supposed to keep them quiet, people stealing books − all my fault.  It didn’t help that the council kept cutting the budget and threatening to close the library and sell off the building. 

I don’t know why I’m sitting here so calmly typing this on my laptop. A displacement activity I suppose.  Perhaps I should phone 999?  But that would raise the alarm and people would come and make a fuss.  It’s so quiet in here, exactly the way a library should be.  Just lots of books, me and my boss lying still just over there.

My dad was a big bloke too.  He was always shouting at my mum, complaining about everything.  If she answered back he used to hit her.  After he left my mum had to go out to work.  So things weren’t easy at home and my two brothers were untidy and never did enough to help.  They used to step out of their clothes and just leave them in a heap on the floor.  Same with their football kit. The bathroom was always a mess too with towels not hung up and the floor left soaking wet after they’d had a shower.  I did my best to help my mum with household chores and my brothers called me a goody-goody.  

The mobile phone belonging to my boss has just pinged.  He’d left it on his desk.  I  had a look and it’s a text message from his wife asking when he’ll be home.  I’ve sent a reply,  ’Sorry, but something’s come up and I’m working late.  I’ll let you know when I’m on my way’.  I was tempted to say, ‘Hello, it’s me. I’m afraid your husband is dead. He was a bad tempered bastard and I hit him with a book’.  But I thought better of it. 

I was sure that working in a library would suit me.  I’ve always loved books and reading and I did a lot of swotting for my A Levels in my local library.  It got me out of the house and away from my noisy brothers. So coming here and getting harassed was a nasty shock. Not at all what I’d imagined.  I didn’t even have a honeymoon period.  He picked on me straight away, yelling at me in front of volunteers and customers.  I never answered back, just tried to do things better and reduce the criticism.  But my boss was never satisfied.  Kept on and on.

Come to think of it, this is the first time he’s stopped getting at me.  Killing him has certainly led to a dramatic improvement in his behaviour.  An hour of blissful silence so far.  Funny thing was the book I hit him with wasn’t that big − Encyclopaedia Britannica, volume 8.  I’ve put it back where it belongs between volumes 7 and 9.

Hang on, his mobile phone is ringing now.  I suppose I’d better answer it……….

 

                                                *************************

 

A month has passed, rather a busy month as things turned out!   It was his wife on the phone and I told her that her husband had met with an accident  and that I was about to phone for an ambulance.  She asked me if I was trained in first aid.  I said not so she told me to stay put until help arrived.  She got to the library before the police arrived  and, in the circumstances, I thought she was admirably  calm.  Just took one look at her husband and then asked me if I was alright.  Of course the police had lots of questions but I didn’t tell them that I’d hit him, just that he’d fallen and hit his head on the metal shelving.  The post-mortem found he’d had  a massive stroke. 

So, to cut a long story short, I’m back at the library reporting to a temporary boss while a new one is recruited.  They told me I needed to get more experience before I could be considered.  I’m booked to do a first aid course and  my new boss is a vast improvement: kind, considerate and appreciative.  The funny thing is that the other day, when he was passing the reference section, he remarked that Encyclopaedia Britannica was a waste of space now that everything was on the internet. I didn’t like to tell him how volume 8 had transformed my life.  

  

 

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