Supernovae (English edition) - Elga Frigo - ebook
Opis

On the eve of her first working day, about herself she mainly knows the goals, to emerge, and the flaws: geek and hard worker, rigid and perfectionist, angry and proud, short-sighted and naive, poor but not selfish, anything but stupid, indulgent with others, too severe with herself. So everything goes wrong, except one thing, maybe two. That first day she meets a boy who seems perfect for her, desiring her, the synthesis of all her dreams, a mix of joy and possibility, even malice and cunning, even the distraction she’s afraid of. What to do? Someone under the same roof helps her to understand her best, the one it’s time to give light, thus exploring also his dark personality, as deep and passionate. Will she make to focus what she wants more? Sense or sensibility, love or fun, light or darkness, charming prince or black angel? And at work? She will find her way among chaos guided only by her honest determination? To know more, look for me on Facebook.

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Contents

The End

The End

-10

Just dust

Friday, 19th February 1993

Monday, 1st March 1993

Tuesday, 2nd March 1993

Wednesday, 3rd March 1993

Saturday, 6th March 1993

Monday, 8th March 1993

Friday, 19th March 1993

Friday, 26th March 1993

-9

Globule

Monday, 5th April 1993

Wednesday, 14th April 1993

Thursday, 15th April 1993

Friday, 16th April 1993

Saturday, 17th April 1993

Monday, 19th April 1993

Wednesday, 28th April 1993

-8

Lump

Saturday, 1st May 1993

Monday, 3rd May 1993

Saturday, 8th May 1993

Thursday, 13th May 1993

Saturday, 15th May 1993

Thursday, 20th May 1993

Friday, 21st May 1993

Saturday, 22th May 1993

Wednesday, 26th May 1993

Thursday, 27th May 1993

Saturday, 29th May 1993

Sunday, 30th May 1993

-7

Mass

Friday, 4th June 1993

Sunday, 6th June 1993

Friday, 18th June 1993

Saturday, 19th June 1993

Sunday, 20th June 1993

Thursday, 24th June 1993

Friday, 25th June 1993

Saturday, 26th June 1993

Sunday, 27th June 1993

Absolutely nothing

Monday, 28th June 1993

Thursday, 1st July 1993

Friday, 2nd July 1993

Saturday, 3rd July 1993

Sunday, 4th July 1993

Monday, 5th July 1993

Wednesday, 7th July 1993

Saturday, 10th July 1993

Sunday, 11th July 1993

Monday, 12th July 1993

Friday, 16th July 1993

Sunday, 18th July 1993

Friday, 23th July 1993

Saturday, 24th July 1993

Sunday, 25th July 1993

Wednesday, 28th July 1993

Friday, 30th July 1993

Hidden density

Monday, 2nd August 1993

Friday, 6th August 1993

Saturday, 7th August 1993

Tuesday, 10th August 1993

Sunday, 15th August 1993

Wednesday, 1st September 1993

Monday, 6th September 1993

Tuesday, 7th September 1993

Wednesday, 8th September 1993

Thursday, 9th September 1993

Friday, 10th September 1993

Saturday, 11th September 1993

Sunday, 12th September 1993

Wednesday, 15th September 1993

Thursday, 16th September 1993

Friday, 17th September 1993

-6

Flashes in the darkness

Friday, 17th September 1993

Saturday, 18th September 1993

Sunday, 19th September 1993

Saturday, 25th September 1993

Wednesday, 29th September 1993

Thursday, 30th September 1993

-5

Star, but not for ever

Monday, 11th October 1993

Tuesday, 12th October 1993

Wednesday, 13th October 1993

Friday, 15th October 1993

Monday, 18th October 1993

Tuesday, 19th October 1993

Friday, 22th October 1993

Saturday, 23th October 1993

Sunday, 24th October 1993

Monday, 25th October 1993

Friday, 29th October 1993

-4

Unstable light

Friday, 29th October 1993

Saturday, 30th October 1993

Friday, 5th November 1993

Saturday, 6th November 1993

Thursday, 11th November 1993

Wednesday, 17th November 1993

Friday, 19th November 1993

Saturday, 20th November 1993

Sunday, 21th November 1993

Monday, 22th November 1993

Tuesday, 23th November 1993

-3

Giant and dangerous

Tuesday, 23th November 1993

Wednesday, 24th November 1993

Friday, 26th November 1993

Saturday, 27th November 1993

Sunday, 28th November 1993

Monday, 29th November 1993

Wednesday, 1st December 1993

Tuesday, 7th December 1993

Wednesday, 8th December 1993

Wednesday, 15th December 1993

Thursday, 16th December 1993

Friday, 17th December 1993

Saturday, 18th December 1993

Tuesday, 21th December 1993

Thursday, 23th December 1993

Friday, 24th December 1993

-2

Shocking beauty

Friday, 28th January 1994

-1

Last celestial moments?

0

Saturday, 5th March 1994

Forever

Thank you

To my dear mum and dad,

who taught me three important words:

sorry, please and thank you.

“If it can go wrong

it will go wrong.”

Murphy’s law

The End

The End

Some say the world will end to nothing, as the energy freed by the Big Bang is immense but not infinite; others that it will be forever, because the universe stubbornly tries to renew itself and sooner or later it will also succeed to overcome its own limits.

One or the other is not so important, as my end will come however first. And perhaps the destination is the same for everyone and it’s just the scale of matter and time to change. I heard several times scientists saying that, I’ve also some vague scholastic memories: the less the mass of a body, the greater the speed it can transform itself, but the laws determining its destiny are almost always the same.

The key of everything then seems to be the mass, the true essence we’re all made, whether living beings or not is not so crucial, after all only that dark depth counts.

So the solution of the mystery doesn’t lie necessarily in the sky, even looking at something nearer and easier could be enough. Maybe using a telescope, a microscope, or just nude eyes is not so different, what really matters is just the honesty we let go in looking at.

So those who say it will end to nothing are right.

Or maybe not.

Because there are also supernovae, grandiose phenomena taking envy from the Big Bang, sources of energy and mothers of new heavenly bodies, able of subverting the rules already written, up to affirm new ones, until to trace new boundaries and with them new life possibilities.

Randomness governing the cosmos is at the end the greatest of certainties, everything can still happen.

And if it’s true that universe doesn’t know the faith, for sure it remains a place pervaded by boundless hope.

-10

Just dust

The beginning is never promising.

On the contrary disordered and seemingly inconclusive, chaotic, better, entropic. Maybe even competitive.

Beauty and elegance are widely missing and there’s no clue suggesting any evolution for the better.

Inside interstellar nebulae, big clouds made of dust and rarefied gases, mainly poor and light chemical elements, especially helium and hydrogen, there’s a great ferment but the chaos dismantles matter faster than it can put it together. Attempts and attempts leading to nothing, simply saturating time and space.

It’s unknown how long this phase dominated by apparent nowhere could last, probably something that, if evaluated according to human myopic metrics, looks like an unsustainable eternity.

But inert matter and dark void don’t suffer the wait, though prolonged to infinity, since they have no conscience about it.

Here’s another skilful stratagem at the basis of the casual evolution of the universe, only patience is rewarded.

Friday, 19th February 1993

"She’s not bread & salami. She’s water & soap.

She’s an intelligent and sensitive person, notable presence and education. She’s introverted but I don’t think weak. She has a particular personal story; she has also a legally protected status, we’ll save money if we hire her and..."

But how it’s possible that a woman working as a personnel recruiter in one of the largest multinationals in the world forgets to close the door while she’s introducing his colleague to the candidate’s profile he’ll have to meet in a matter of minutes and who’s sitting in the waiting room only a few meters away?!

That wasn’t all, my smart interviewer had a tone of voice sounding like a trumpet blast; the semi-open door could therefore be an intentional choice, since with such a voiceprint she’d have however broken the sound barrier. Also my pessimistic side wanted to contribute to the debate suggesting that, when companies of that size are looking for an insignificant temporary worker, confidentiality isn’t so important; doors open or closed it doesn’t matter, better to save energies when they are really needed.

After that encouraging beginning my potential boss completely sealed the only way of access to his thoughts, a clear sign that my scepticism that time had a bit exaggerated. While their conversation were going on towards unknown destinations, I reviewed what furtively heard: ‘water & soap’? Strange, but I liked it, as not being considered a salami sandwich; even on my character they did a pretty good job. I interpreted those words as a certain predisposition to hire me, confirmed by the fact that, because of my past still present, I was available at a discounted price.

While I was navigating through all those considerations the door suddenly opened and a big man dressing a refined blue suit appeared in front of me in a hurry, panting; he stared at me from the top of his bulky size, the long arms lying on the soft hips and the prominent belly almost touching my nose.

I got up too.

"Good morning” he told, frowned forehead and thundering tone of voice.

"Good morning” I replied equally determined.

"Please, come with me."

I followed him until a meeting room at the bottom of a long corridor, after having dodged two open little wells full of uncovered cables, where some technicians were at work; I avoided also an open ladder positioned under a false ceiling, for sure recently installed, where an electrician was putting some spotlights. Last, I greeted a sweaty and smelly painter stacking different paint buckets in preparation of who knows what a pictorial masterpiece.

"Please, sit down where you prefer."

I took off my coat and I instantly obeyed.

"Would you like a coffee?"

"No, thanks."

"Anything else, water?"

"No, thanks."

I was serious, ready for the duel, maybe he was having fun in those seemingly innocuous questions.

He returned after less than a minute.

"Sorry for the chaos but we just moved and there’s still a lot of work to do."

The echo of a drill swinging on the wall behind me gave more truth to his words.

In the meantime he had already guzzled his coffee, sinking without grace into a leather armchair, where his relaxed abdomen struggled to find the space needed below the crystal oval table. He made a gesture getting me curios: he grabbed the edge of the shelf, inches on the upper side and the rest of the big hands semi hidden under its satin surface; that firm and steady grip suggested me aggressiveness. Better to be careful.

"Well, would you like to tell me something about you?"

I still obeyed, telling him the little information available on my CV of university student, economics faculty, looking for a title for her graduation thesis. My exposure lasted a little, I had immediately the impression he wasn’t listening, the more he was watching, me. He hadn’t brought a copy of my profile with him, I was just a nuisance to quickly get rid of.

Another drilling noise reopened our conversation:

"May I ask you a question?"

I was ready, it wasn’t my first job interview. The most probable curiosity he had to satisfy was my strengths and weaknesses, or career expectations.

"What was the most difficult moment of your life?"

I felt a pain on my chest, but I had already heard that question too several times; without further hesitation I replied:

"No one in particular."

He was still investigating me, as if he weren’t satisfied of my answer. He didn’t ask more but it was clear he was still working on the subject on his own. I was still serious, too much, almost impenetrable; when I thought again about it, I got sorry about my closed attitude, at the end that man didn’t deserve it.

The gong starting our next round took the form of an hammer blow.

"Well, now I'm going to tell you something about us and the job offer you applied for."

Did I apply? For sure not.

Anyway I nodded, he prepared himself for a long prose.

"My name is Miguel, Miguel Dominguez, CEO Italy of this casino. Born in 1951, forty-two years old, unmarried, not separated or divorced, no children but many vices” then he looked at me smiling. I returned with a sunny expression.

"I came to Italy last year to manage this business project; I’ve Spanish origins, surely you’ve already understood from my accent."

I didn’t comment but the more he spoke the more I relaxed, certainly he noticed.

"The company, as you already know, produces software, more precisely, it’s the world's first producer of software for personal computers. The business is rising so fast, the nineties will be remembered as the era of home computers and therefore the demand of applications for supporting hardware is every day increasing, both for companies and privates.

The business philosophy is to explore all the possible development areas, without neglecting anyone. We sell many products, our top are the operating systems, but we’re leaders also in home and office applications and programming languages. Very promising is the video game industry and also the hardware sector could be of our interest, especially the mobile market, but not immediately. We believe that the digitization will have an exponential development over the years, radically changing not only our way of working but also living; shortly there won’t be around a piece of paper, as well as a picture or a movie.

Being a young market and thus partially unknown, there’s a lot of mistrust during the purchasing phases, especially by privates, to change is not an easy mental process. Trying to overcome these barriers we heavily invest in marketing. Motivation and skills are mainly given by the headquarters, our marketing department is the envy of our competitors, who try every day to steal us our most promising guys offering them hyperbolic salaries. We cooperate a lot also with universities, we want best brains choose us. We have won several awards for our innovative capacity, we’re not only the industry leaders but more generally of the communication market. My marketing manager is the best in Italy and not only here; from the headquarters they’ve tried several times to convince him to work directly for them but I opposed and I’ll never stop doing. Now he’s necessary above all here.

The headquarters are located in the United States, Silicon Valley, California, but several years ago several branches in France, Germany and England were opened, specializing them for sales in the European market. Ireland was chosen as the first manufacturing site outside United States. In Italy we’ve been working for ten years with two locations, Milan and Rome, for a total of about two hundred employees, with an average age less than thirty-five. Today I’m the oldest and you the youngest.”

Another short smiling look between us.

"The growth has been realized recruiting new staff, but also through mergers with promising companies already operating on the sector; all this has contributed to increase the internal pressure level. It’s told around we’re a very attractive company, especially for young people, and we’re also competing for an important prize as the best place to work. Truly, if today you’d ask here, maybe my guys would give you a different answer, because with these growth rates the structure is constantly under stress. My philosophy is clear to everybody: first we grow, then we hire, not vice versa. Those who disagree can go to work for our competitors, blowing up like spumante stoppers one after another. This is a volatile market, with high technological and economic development rates; a wrong investment and in a short time we risk to go belly-up."

Coal expression, mute and impetuous, almost threatening, then a new dive into the narration:

"That's why we're looking for business analysts or controllers; the Italian market is demonstrating a more conservative attitude than expected regarding technology and sales are struggling to take off, therefore it's important to have always in mind the right figures before moving any step and also from the US are putting us a lot of pressure regarding money expenditure. Until today I’ve personally taken care of these analysis, in cooperation with the marketing director; whoever will cover this position will have also the lucky to work close to us from morning to night."

The lucky, yes. He told me that long story without distracting neither for a second, at the same time not taking care of my reactions. While he was going on with his interminable speech, sometimes I nodded trying to interact, to show him I was following his words, that I was interested, all this useless; he was completely absorbed by his words and fully unaware of my intellectual and emotional feelings.

My brain talked me about an intelligent and passionate man, at least as much as egocentric; it was evident from the way he moved his hands and articulated the messages, from the expertise applied to mix glances, words and breaths.

Mr. Dominguez, however, was all but beautiful: his ink hair was uncombed, as well as his olive complexion marked by various overtime wrinkles; I counted at least four on his forehead, also some thick crow feet beside his black eyes. When he spoke his face sagging to the sides didn’t transmit fineness or courtesy, his eyebrows curled, and occasionally he used to clear his raspy voice, making my veins shake. Though it was early in the morning, his light blue shirt was already crumpled and the knot of his blue tie white polka dot copied to Berlusconi undone. As regards his evident desperate need of fitness lessons, I think it’s more appropriate to say no more.

The most similar likeness found no comfort as usual in the zodiac, but in the animal kingdom: something between the bison and the gorilla.

It doesn’t matter: first of all he resulted to me ‘bravo’, my inexperience banally classified him so and according to that first instinctive judgment all the rest of my person moved.

I left him a few seconds to recover, although he didn’t seem to need them; indeed:

"So what do you think about it?"

"Undoubtedly very interesting, both for my thesis as well as future working perspective."

Maybe he was expecting some compliments more, but unfortunately I wasn’t that kind of person, it was important he understood it immediately.

"So are you interested in our proposal?"

"Yes, absolutely."

"Well, then see you on Monday, March 1st, internship until September, then we’ll see."

As he was speaking, he stared at me, then he got up to reach the other thousand tasks surely waiting for him beyond the exit. Unfortunately I was going to displease him, making him loose other precious time:

"I'm sorry, but the internship doesn’t interest me."

He widely opened his jaw and his eyebrows almost touched, I continued to expose my reasons:

"The university spoke me about a temporary work, no internship."

He was annoyed, he’d have soon invested me like a fully loaded TIR. He immediately shifted into gear:

"You can do nothing."

"I understand, but considering my private situation, the one we’ve just talked about, I can’t afford to work for free."

"This is your problem, not mine."

"This is you who contacted me through the university, not the contrary."

Just to be precise.

"We contact dozens of candidates every day."

"I know, but I’m the only one with an average marks of 108/110 before the thesis. You’re right: I can do nothing, but I can quickly learn. And I’ve a legally protected status, you’ll benefit of a significant saving on my social contribution, so I’ll cost you however less than another candidate.”

That was the maximum I could say not crossing the courtesy area, the final decision remained to him. It wasn’t natural for me to act so presumptuously, but unfortunately I had no choice. I tried that speech more and more times at the mirror, to be sure to recite it in the right way at the right moment.

That multinational company certainly didn’t lack the money to honour my miserable salary; furthermore my subconscious was perhaps already carrying out a subtle ideological battle: the work must be paid, little because not qualified, but it must however be paid. Really a market leader: fake ethics artfully disguised with the conspiracy of the marketing. Luckily I had chosen the finance world, figures are more difficult to camouflage.

Mr. Dominguez was upset; it was clear it wasn’t his habit to discuss again decisions already taken, especially at a such low level. His poorest resource however didn’t seem to be money, rather time; we were both standing, his hand on the handle of the door, uncertain about what to do and at the same time already projected towards who knows what vital appointment.

"As you wish."

He told me that with an assassin look, certainly the kind of man who doesn’t like to lose, even the most ridiculous challenge.

"Many thanks."

"I hope it's worth it. Goodbye."

I had already won, I didn’t comment further.

Another loud hammer blow sealed the conclusion of our first meeting.

*****

Still on my bike I crossed the arched entrance, dodging several hens flying around the courtyard and after having greeted the neighbour hanging the laundry I headed towards my door house, the one located at the ground floor.

Given the winter rigors still under way, the fireplace was on and the room welcomed me with the classic burnt woody aroma. Exactly at that moment mum was feeding the flame with new logs; while I came in she immediately turned:

"Ciao, how did it go?"

It was almost two. Her voice expressed curiosity and nothing else; she was always so when she woke up after the night shift, tired. In a corner of the kitchen also grandma looked at me, anxiously waiting for the answer.

"Well, I'll start on March 1st."

Their faces lit up, especially grandma’s one; mum as usual read my thoughts:

"Aren’t you satisfied?"

"They pay me a little. Helping you and grandma in sewing jobs I’d gain more."

"You must be patient, it always begins so."

Being patient, me?! I was twenty-four, twenty-four springs during which those women non-stop supported me and didn’t seem displeased by the perspective to do it more. Working as two steamrollers they financed my academic project; mum, factory worker, opted for a three shifts job, to collect more money staying at the assembly line at night. It wasn’t enough, when she was at home she helped grandma, fiscally undeclared dressmaker at the service of the whole country. Mum paid the rent, grandma the university fees, with the rest was spent for other necessary things, usually coming around zero at the end of the month. That's why I was so good with figures, I made a lot of necessary additions and subtractions since my childhood to survive.

When I finished the high school I wanted to find a job, like many of my ex-companions by the way, but they didn’t even want to hear it; they hadn’t even allowed me to find a stable job during university years.

‘School or work', so they often repeated in tandem.

My female parents allowed me only occasional jobs between an exam and another, when I helped grandma with the sewing or I gave extra lessons to the students of the neighbourhood. And on the weekend, if I had really accomplished all my homework, I could distract myself with something more.

I was their main investment, always protected and never held against; mum and grandma had nothing to envy to Miguel Dominguez’s alleged managerial skills, nothing but welfare.

The count of my university exams hadn’t been the classic one, but a non-stop countdown; just a few days before I came to zero and I was unsettled like a crazy horse. The only thought of taking again a book on my hands gave me the nausea and every day still lacking to the economic independence made me sick to death. Not so easy my temper, similar to mum’s one much more than I could admit.

Mum Lucia is Capricorn, while I’m Virgin, it’s not a matter of education or wickedness then, it’s simply the zodiac against us. Both of us are land signs but we react to planetary influences in a completely different way; I become fire while her ice, but how could we argue with two personalities so different? Indeed we don’t and often we don’t talk, that is, I always have to do as she commands.

Better to forget then that proverb she tirelessly recited every time new sparkles arose between us:

'A good knowledge, a good silence',

like a compass stubbornly always pointing to the cold north.

Grandma Tea has a completely different character, she’s Aries. Less rigid, more solar and passionate. When mum exaggerated with her stiffness, I took refuge in Tea and finally found comfort, but never changes of direction comparing to Lucia's military orders. There has never been confusion of roles in my all female family: the general was mum, grandma the second commander.

Grandma got widow when I was just one, I don't have any memory about my life with grandpa and maybe it's better. Born in Emilia-Romagna, grandpa Anselmo enrolled as a young man in the army where, perhaps mainly thanks to a rare notable appearance which it’s told I had largely benefited, he entered in the private guard of the king. During that period he met grandma, in those days dressmaker and lady-in-waiting of a countess nearby Venaria. She told me that the beauty of his bright eyes, tall stature and blond hair, reached her to the opposite side of the ballroom where she was, as she saw him entering during a gala evening reserved to nobility. For him it was the same love at first sight, maybe; he invited her to dance and after a few months of gallant courtship they got married.

At the end of the second world war, after the exile of the royal family, my progenitors moved to Lombardia, where was offered to grandpa a job as a guardian of an imposing structure of the province, an old Napoleonic villa located in the northern suburbs of Milan. The villa, which over the years experienced decadence, was surrounded by a large park after abandoned; on the sides of the main building there were several houses once hosting its staff, modest residences known by all as 'the court' but in fact all but a palace, where my closest relatives settled as renters, sharing courtyard, henhouse, vegetable garden, and all the rest with other public employees, similarly veterans of the war or other misadventures, in any case all but wealthy.

Grandpa Anselmo, notable appearance apart, wasn’t made of sugar and honey. Monarchic fighter before, old-fashioned parent after, austere in the conducting of the family life, often uncompromising; mum and grandma didn’t talk much about him, but from the few words exchanged I realized that sharing the same roof with a fallen count wasn’t an easy business for them. Perhaps that was the reason why his sons moved abroad so soon looking for a job, perhaps for the same motive mum searched for new opportunities so young. His early departure for infarction surely procured them a lot of pain, but it also preserved them from what they should have suffered if he had been still present until a more venerable age. In addition, grandpa, still living surrounded by the illusion of a monarchic luxury actually completely dissolved, loved to spend more than he earned, especially on card games, and at his death left several debts to my family, already so hardly challenged by my premature birth. My aunts periodically sent us money for the debt payment, but the most remained on Lucia and Tea's shoulders and therefore on mines too.

That past by the noble outlines conditioned also my childhood and adolescence; my education was grandma’s responsibility, who, with uncommon grace and loving commitment, taught me most of the etiquette and all good manners typical of high ranking ladies. And not only that, unfortunately.

"Eat, or it gets cold” mum said.

"But it’s not too much that pasta for her Lucia? Indeed, at her age she shouldn’t eat anymore, it finishes all on her bum."

Grandma Tea indeed inherited from the fascism a controversial concept of hegemony of the Aryan race and body cult, better to overcome then her level of tolerance of ethnicities different from her one, if not racism however snobbery. Coherently, overweight has always been considered a criminal offense, redeemable only through immediate adherence to the hardest fasting.

Between daughter and granddaughter a glance, but we knew it was better not to answer. And I had more important things on my head:

"Mum, it's only for six months. You can stop with night shifts."

"I go on for a while, money will be necessary now you’ll start working. Is it distant?"

"No, I’ll get there by train."

"And how do you go to the station?"

"By bike. Down in the morning and up at evening. I'll do some fitness, useful also for my growing bum."

She smiled a bit, then new questions:

"And what if it rains?"

"Now the beautiful season is coming and we haven’t to think about it, later I'll look for a car."

"I’ll ask at the factory if someone has a used one to sell."

"Other expenses, but since now it shouldn’t be the contrary? By the way, by when do we have to pay the rent?"

"Next week, we're fine."

"Did you tell them upstairs there are some water infiltrations from the roof and when it rains the ceiling gets wet?"

"Yes, but you know, these are old houses, their administration is now so confused. I can never find someone to talk to."

"Yes, but the money for the rent, you know, we always know where to send them, and in advance!"

She added nothing but her silence resembled a rebuke.

I calmed down, meanwhile other food on my plate was served. I quickly ended up eating, mum was already washing the dishes and only mines were lacking for closing everything and going to rest. Grandma and I greeted her as she was climbing the stairs leading to the bedroom. I peeled an orange leaning on the kitchen, while grandma continued to work under the natural light filtering from the window. Out the weather was still undecided, a bit like me in that same period.

"You’ll need new clothes to go to work."

"Okay, grandma."

"Okay? Well-educated people in Italy say that's fine, thank you."

"That's fine, thank you grandma."

My monarchical inheritance indeed implied other extravagant habits, especially anti-American ones. For instance, never seen at home neither a drop of Coke, only national Chinotto and only on Sunday, for lunch. Under our roof also all the other symbols of American consumerism were looked with great distrust; never chewed a chewing gum, at least at home, or used hair gel, and for having the first pair of jeans I had to tack one of the most draining post-war negotiations.

"Later I’m calling Ines. I already told her you’d have started working and you’d have needed new clothes; she must have already put aside something."

Ines was a wealthy widow living in the city centre, habitual consumer of grandma's tailoring services. Our top customer had a lively social life and she often liked to involve also grandma, in the same way a great lover of ballroom dancing. Ines, lucky her, had an huge classy wardrobe, allowing her never disfiguring in that urban life made of abundant sociality. Ines loved dressing up and despite the years had a tonic body permitting her to show off apparel incidentally exactly of my same size, so frequently contributing with her fake scraps to the enrichment of my more modest fashion collection.

"Skirts or pants?"

"Grandma: pants, have pity on me."

"Pants? But you’re not a man."

"Grandma, please don’t restart this conversation. Do you see me going to the station by bike with the skirt?"

"I always went to work to the factory by bike, and with the skirt. What do you believe? And a woman must always remain a woman, even at work."

"Grandma, times have changed” I kindly reproached her.

"Yes, they've changed, for the worse."

I tried to accommodate the situation:

"All right, then please ask to Ines if she has some skirts too. And thank her from my side. I'd like to visit her, it’s a long time we don’t see each other."

"Saturday we’ll go dancing, why don’t you come with us?"

"Me? No, please."

"It's a shame, there are always such handsome men."

"Perhaps for you."

"No dear, also for you. If only you let me doing every now and then."

I didn’t comment further. And thankfully she changed topic:

"And have you got shoes?"

"Yes."

"Anyway, I’ll ask to Ines if she has some pairs she no longer uses, maybe high heels. With the skirt they’re absolute necessary. I saw it also the other day in the news on TV."

"News? What are you saying?"

"Yes, the weather presenter dressed a long skirt and a pair of high heeled shoes so beautiful. It's a pity her hips are so wide."

"Grandma!"

"It's the truth, she should be immediately on a diet if she wants to go on working on TV. If I notice it, let alone the others."

"Maybe she's the best in her job and nobody cares about it."

"Impossible, everyone notices those things, especially men."

Grandma Tea was so, sincere until to offend. I often spent my time with her that way, chatting over and over, scoffing for the flaws of the whole humanity without really never hurting it. Even that ugly afternoon I felt in the same habit; I changed my clothes, I took a chair, wire, needle and glasses, and I started working in her company.

*****

After the dinner the doorbell rang, Fiamma.

She carried ice-cream and two tablespoons, I invited her in my room upstairs.

"It’s cold here, why?"

"Maybe, the heater is off."

"Didn’t you pay the bill?"

"Don’t be so funny, now I'll turn it on."

I left her for a second for executing, she took advantage of the situation for commenting more:

"I should have carried an hot chocolate, not the ice-cream."

"Do you want us to go at your place?"

"Are you joking? Don’t you remember I share my house with other five people? In the evening when there’re all at home my ears blow up. At least here there’s silence."

Actually it wasn’t really true. In the apartment beside mine our neighbours had just become parents and the new born creature, female, screamed like the firefighter's siren. I ever hated little children, so much noise and little satisfaction.

"So how's it going today?"

"Well, they hired me. I’m starting on March, 1st.”

"Great! And what's your job?"

"Sincerely I didn’t understand. However I’ll start then I’ll see. Meanwhile I can work on my thesis, so I’ll finish the university."

"Do they pay you well?"

"A misery."

"Then it's like me at the supermarket."

"Worse."

"Is it far?"

"No, I’ll go there by train. I’ll take the northern line."

"If you want I can take you to the station in the morning, we go in the same direction. At least when it rains.”

"Thank you Amy."

"And how is it there? Nice guys?"

For a moment I saw Mr Dominguez, tremendous shattering gap.

"I don’t know, I hope not."

Because Francesco left me just few months before, without calling me anymore, without worrying to know how I was or if I needed something, for instance legitimate comfort. We were the same age and spent the last university period together; once graduated and found a job he migrated towards new unknown lids.

I liked him, it was the first thing coming to my mind whenever I was asked about him.

"Don’t think to him anymore, you're worth more than that damn selfish. He used you."

"It's not true Amy, it’s also my fault."

But perhaps Fiamma wasn’t completely wrong. Francesco wasn’t particularly talented, but he compensated that lack with great dedication, even with me he behaved in the same way. I passed him my notes and summaries, trying to support him as much as possible, to the point he overtook me without turning back, reaching in a lonely escape the degree, though with marks far below mines. Once finished the university he found a prestigious job in the city centre. After that, he changed attitude and friends; even when we stayed together he acted as a presumptuous, he didn’t have enough time to see me, maybe just a revenge for my past behaviour. Mainly we spoke at the phone, in the rare pauses of his upcoming career.

"Your fault? But how?"

"You know, I've always studied and worked. I don’t know how many times he asked me to go out together and I replied him I couldn’t."

"So?"

"I don’t know, maybe he was right. Girls like me, it’s better if they stay single."

Francesco was Capricorn, like mum, the evident proof astrology can’t always help to better understand reality. Lucia was a rare woman, but she certainly loved me very much, while with him the concept of goodness sometimes faded into careerism, until to turn itself into dangerous cruelty. When we were at the end of our love story, maybe to get rid of me easier, he threw against me a bit of everything; for example I was accused of being too planner, morbidly attached to money. He even had some visions about me: adult and single, living in an extra luxury home, lying on a trendy sofa, facing a fake marble fireplace, in my hands its remote control and a plush cat for consoling myself about my miserable loneliness of career woman. Difficult to understand what burned me most: to have lost him or the fear his sad prophecy came true.

Fiamma, zodiac sign Lion, passionate and sincere, didn’t like to see me so unhappy. She passed her hand several times in the copper tuft, then she spoke again:

"Those with money use to talk without restraint. And to judge who’s not in their same condition, but they use them every time they can. Get them some bills to pay and you’ll see how they get off!”

I didn’t comment.

"You’re the only one of us who has made it, that one day will go away from here. And if you’ll become rich even better. Who has never lived like us can’t understand, let it go."

"I feel a loser."

"Because you are."

"Amy?!"

"You're talking to a girl named Fiamma because her mother before the delivery dreamt of saving herself from a fire. You can’t win against me!"

Better to laugh, then a final comment of my horoscope:

"You’ll see, since now everything will be fine."

Monday, 1st March 1993

A charming young black woman accompanied me in a small meeting room, the clock on the wall marked 8.45 am. Compared to the previous weeks the situation wasn’t improved so much; several men were still working on that different floor of the building, but at least the traps on the floor had been closed and covered with a new carpet, made of slate squared geometries.

After a few minutes from the open door I saw a boy speeding; the woman escorting me deposited also him in the same room. Once there, he took off his vest still out of breath, then he chose to sit next to me. Perhaps to shorten the wait, he began to look at me, then, exhibiting a perfect and whitish teeth, approached me with great ease:

"I think we had the same idea this morning!"

"Ah, yes” I replied more timidly.

He realized too we were dressed in the same way: grey suit and light blue shirt, flat shoes, no make-up, but he was a man and I was a woman, but his dress was probably new while mine as usual a kind concession of Ines.

"Do you start today too?"

"Yes."

"Ciao! Samuele, Sam."

"Ciao, Giulia Molinari."

"The surname is important? Do you want to know also mine?!"

No, I wanted to know his zodiac sign but it was a premature curiosity.

"Are you afraid?"

"A bit. And you?"

An half smile, then he continued to study me with his beautiful face already spring dressed. That unexpected encounter was already a first answer to Fiamma’s question:

'Are there nice guys?'

The same evening I’d have made her a detailed report.

While I was fantasizing about him, the same black woman invited us to follow her in another meeting room nearby, wider and dominated at the centre by another oval crystal table. 'Venue Room' recited the label outside the entrance.

"Please, sit down. There’s a few minutes to wait. Tea, coffee, something else?"

We refused, impossible for both of us to swallow any solid or liquid in that epic moment so full of suspense. She took the opportunity to introduce herself:

"Nice to meet you, I'm Vanessa."

She energetically shook our hands, mixing it with other spontaneous happiness; that girl inspired non-stop will to live, perhaps Mr. Dominguez put her there on purpose.

"Will you work with Marco or Fosca?”she asked with sincere curiosity. We both raised our shoulders shaking our silent head; it was the pure truth, neither of us knew his end, better, his beginning.

"Good luck my dears, see you soon” she said, then our new friend left us alone, closing the door behind her.

Sam acted as a gentleman and before he let me sit, then he chose again the chair next to mine. He was anxious like me but he was doing everything to hide it.

Our wait lasted very little. We heard an increasing noise of hurried steps and after a few seconds the door opened wide. I recognized Mr. Dominguez, behind him a woman and a man.

"Good morning!” he cheerfully and energetically said, then they all sit in front of us, like the examination board during an university graduation session.

"This is Fosca Landi, finance manager, and Marco Consonni, marketing director. In front of us we have..."

Before he looked at me, I immediately answered the call:

"Good morning, Giulia Molinari."

Then it was up to Sam:

"Pleased to meet you, Samuele Ferrari."

Mr. Dominguez made the summary of our tasks, plus a series of considerations I forgot immediately after.

What I’ll never forget was the rest.

First she looked at Sam then she turned to me. Inexpressive and tense, perhaps even disappointed about what she was looking at. Short black hair and round steel glasses, filtering irises equally metallic, a little French nose so perfect that it didn’t seem real, unsuitable red fire lipstick and long nails coordinated. Small and slim, Italian size maximum thirty-eight, forty years old and maybe more; squeezed inside a tiny beige satin dress, over a close-fit jacket of the same colour. A classy outfit but sometimes also smile makes elegance.

My instinct suggested me only troubles, but a possibility should never be denied to anyone, so I tried a friendly expression.

She didn’t return.

Later I repeated, other refusal came.

She seemed a bundle of nerves ready to explode, of hunger or disgust it was impossible to know. Even when Mr. Dominguez tried to involve her in the conversation, she didn’t give any sign of humanity or even life, limiting herself to a flat nodding. And the zodiac sign? Certainly something close to the snake.

As I was overthinking about her, a dark green blade hit me, not my eyes, my soul. I followed the glow until meeting a penetrating and deep look, impressing me up to make me feel spied. High and protruding forehead, pronounced cheekbones, hollowed cheeks, linked by lips however full and vital. Short hair and a light beard framed that oval so strong but so delicate. An hard and cold figure, like a statue finely chiselled in the abalone, precious as fragile, a completely colourless vision, only softened by that warm shade which didn’t stop staring at me, made even more intense by the contrast with the smooth ivory skin and the thick as tidy eyebrows.

Even in clothing he didn’t concede to himself any vanity: an anonymous black round-necked sweater outlined the broad shoulders, then a pair of jeans equally dark.

His body confused itself with the back of the armchair, legs crossed, immobile and inscrutable, as if without breath and beating, however dense of passion. His left hand was leaning on the shelf in the pose of a pale fist; he wore a thin white gold wedding ring, brilliant but not adherent, as if he got slimmer after wearing it for the first time. Even the dark circles surrounding his eyelids, by the long and thick curved lashes, suggested me a tired physicist, like a melancholy body.

He was certainly younger than his colleague and their common boss, but I didn’t know how much. His tall thinness spoke me about a boy but his hidden bitterness was the one of a mature man.

I didn’t think to the zodiac after having observed him, an impossible exercise with such a mysterious creature. Even if serious he didn’t want to hurt me; I felt it since the first look and his next gestures confirmed it. When Mr Dominguez passed him the speech about the importance of the marketing for a company like the one they worked for, he didn’t stay in silence like Miss Landi, but immediately took the torch, showing great firmness and professionalism.

Even the closure of his mini talk wasn’t bad:

"Welcome."

Mr. Dominguez approved enraptured, while Miss Landi looked at him badly, perhaps realizing not to be the author of that little obvious idea. But at the end he was the creative director of the company; from her for sure the company didn’t expect imagination, rather monotonous precision and constant respect of the rules.

At that point Mr. Dominguez spoke again:

"Well, both of you are hired as business analysts.

Giulia will work with Fosca, Samuele with Marco. I still haven’t clear ideas about the correct positioning of the role, whether under the finance bubble or with the head into the business from morning till night. We'll see. Because if things won’t go right, we’ll go home soon, everybody, no distinction of role!

Giulia and Samuele, I recommend you: don’t become too much friends, because one of you at the end won’t be confirmed.

And now let’s go to work, it's late!"

Late? Nine and thirty minutes.

Miguel quickly disappeared; Fosca and Marco followed him, than Sam and me.

"It seems you've been luckier” I softly said to my new friend.

"I think so, however I'm going to get you for lunch."

"And do you really think they’re used to take breaks?!"

*****

"Wait here” Fosca ordered me with imperious voice.

So I stood outside her office, coat on my hands and backpack on the shoulder, waiting she revealed me my destiny. Meanwhile, several guys, noticing my presence there, stopped asking if I needed something and as soon as they heard her name, they run away.

My boss came back ten minutes later, with the first orders:

"Follow me."

We entered a long and spacious rectangular open space, with at least ten coupled desks, large windows on the street side, the right one. That noisy area hosted the entire finance department headed by Fosca; the phones were furiously ringing and there was frenzy of super work in the air. And it wasn’t even ten. Crossing the central corridor, once at the end, Fosca stopped and talked to me again:

"These are your colleagues, Eleonora and Romina."

Then she disappeared directed who knows where.

The two young gentlewomen didn’t even stand up to greet, barely looking at me; they only emitted a weak ‘Ciao’, having nothing to do with the education so much recommended by mum and grandma even that crucial morning going out.

They showed me the coat rack, then a desk, differently from theirs located on the internal side of the room; the table was full of messy paper and other stuff randomly thrown on the shelf, then a strange phone, a printer, and a fax noisy working. I wondered why I had to stay there, in front of me there was a pair of empty clean desks next to theirs.

Once accommodated, the eldest of the two, Eleonora, reached me bored.

"Now there’s no work for you. But there are the phones to manage and now we'll pass you also the switchboard. Then there's the door phone above you, you’ve to answer to the calls, the couriers and all the others."

So that strange appliance was the switchboard. The door phone, on the other hand, considering the anxiety of the moment, I missed it. So I had to manage both of them, then there was the paper on the desk, piles of accounting documents waiting for months my enthusiasm to be finally properly filed. Eleonora with annoyed voice and listless eyes told me how to organize everything and I, full of adrenaline but without block-notes and pen, mentally memorized the most possible.

What followed until lunchtime was worse than the worst hell. A bombardment of ringtones alternating each other without giving me respite; calls to be forwarded to the various addressees, suppliers and related materials to be delivered, waiting taxi-drivers, visitors to welcome at the entrance (three floors lower, that day the lift was out of service for maintenance), to carry in the meeting rooms, to be announced in the correspondent offices.

Meanwhile, my not smart colleagues laughed behind my shoulders, limiting the necessary information with mastery, to test my ability to resist, so breaking the boredom of their otherwise monotonous working day. Perhaps around noon the head of marketing came nearby, because I felt a dark presence at my side, but I was too busy to survive to recognize him distinctly.

Exactly at one the pen of my colleagues fell on the desk, abandoning the open space and me too, without asking if I’d like to eat with them, but drawing at their inexhaustible tank of rudeness they announced:

"We’re going out."

My self-esteem got wrecked, thankfully Sam came to collect my remains.

He wasn’t alone, with him a boy more or less of our age, frizzy red hair and freckles, unpleasant face and too many kilos, popping out under the waistcoat, third piece of a blue navy crumpled suit, to complete the disaster an obscene fantasy tie. Between him and Sam there was an abyss of everything.

"Luca, Miguel's personal assistant."

And the courtesy formulas? Where did he leave them? He accompanied those words with an inopportune top-down view, not only because I was still sitting while him already standing, but above all because it was evident he really believed to be above all. And what did I have to answer? Was he interested to know who I was or it was enough? I took the risk of decanting at least my name.

In the meantime Sam watched me satisfied, his morning had been certainly more motivating than mine. We reached a nearby bar, Luca has a speedy and curious tongue:

"Where do you live?"

"Northern suburbs."

"Do you get here by car?"

"No, train. It's better, I live close to the station."

"Trains are always late. And if you’ve to work until late in the evening, you risk to get stranded. This is not the place where you leave at six, did you notice?"

Any response seemed to me useless, so I went on chewing my miserable sandwich.

"Where did you study?"

"Cattolica. But I'm not graduated, I still have to write and discuss the final thesis."

"Their faculty of economics is not renowned, Bocconi is better. I studied there, you did too Sam, right?"

He nodded, then he winked at me, as to suggest however good humour and relax. What an handsome boy.

"And your marks?"

Again? I tried an evasive answer:

"Good."

But with him it was impossible:

"How much?"

He heard the answer, Sam too. Luca, however, resumed first:

"Are you just a geek? What do you like to do? To travel?"

"Yes, in the future I’d like to."

"And until today where have you been?"

I tried to let his inadequate question fall. Sam rescued me:

"Did you travel a lot?"

Stupid people like to talk about themselves, self-adulating, why didn’t I think to that? I started to understand better why Sam had been assigned to the marketing instead of me.

After several minutes of Luca's solitary conversation, Sam spoke again:

"For us it’s time to go."

On time as a Swiss watch, another point for him.

I got in line to pay, he reached me again.

"Let me offer you the lunch. Welcome to the crazy carousel, dear Giulia!” then he honoured me with another mischievous smile. Meanwhile Luca kept talking, who knows with whom.

Climbing the stairs to get back to work, the thought of what was waiting for me beyond the entrance was enough to make me feel a stabbing acid pain at the stomach. Sam seemed to interpret my lost look; he waited Luca left, then, once alone on the last landing, he talked:

"Giulietta, do you want me to pick you up after? I got here by car, but if you want we can go out together."

"Thank you Sam."

It was the first of many times.

That day I couldn’t know how much grateful I should have been towards him during my stay in that company.

*****

Before coming back to the torture desk I went to the utility room located in the directional area to take at least a block-notes and a pen. Immediately adjacent there was Fosca’s office; the door was half closed and just by coincidence I heard everything, this everything:

"They hired a teenager, before she learns something it will take months and at that point Miguel will have already sent her away” she mumbled.

"But why didn’t you hire a senior?"

"Miguel didn’t want, cost saving policy."

"And how are you doing now?"

"It's not my problem, she’s on her own. I won’t lose my time with such an ignorant little girl. I put her with the others, let's see what she can do by herself."

At that point the door opened, I took it almost on my teeth. Fosca went out first, then other middle-aged women, expensive but questionable fashion preferences, sales women joining the company after a previous merge, exactly like Fosca, someone told me after.

When they saw me they pretended to be indifferent, so did I. Before returning to my desk however I went to the bathroom.

There I cried a few tears, then I thought of the great women waiting for me at home and like them I tried to be strong. A wash to my face and again at the battle station.

*****

The afternoon went better, never despair.

The switchboard and the door phone were calmer and I started to organize the archive; first I put that mould away, faster I’d have used my time doing something better. Eleonora and Romina meanwhile spied on me without speaking, I pretended they didn’t exist. Method ‘mum Lucia’ in short.

Later Fosca came to my desk, accompanied by Marco. She was anxious and didn’t stop talking, he barely listened to her.

"Marco would like to have some talk with you, since he didn’t meet you during the selection phases."

Ah, and she did that?

I left my glasses on the desk and I followed him.

Fosca, Eleonora and Romina in the meantime were staring at me grim.

*****

"Please, sit down."

He did too, then he tried to simulate some order on his large desk, creating a gap in the centre, allowing him to have a complete view on me; I watched him at work, ironically summoning the image of Moses separating the waters of the Red Sea. Substantial difference, there was nothing majestic to divide: scattered sheets and badly stacked files, crumpled newspapers, gadgets of various kinds, samples packaging of different shapes and colours, in precarious balance one on top of another. And the small round table next to the main one wasn’t better.

Creatives are always messy; only the chaos generates stars, everyone knows. That's why I never had a lot of fantasy, because mum educated me from my earliest age to be very tidy.

On the main desk a lamp on and a frame, but from my seat I could see only its back. On the coat rack a black leather jacket, motorcycle style; on the windowsill several small fatty plants by the coloured pots: fuchsia, yellow and orange, then an ashtray full of butts.

Then I came back to him. He seemed to be very tired, yet his gaze had the same sharp liveliness of the morning; I still felt myself under siege and without defences. Being caught up by some shivers, I instinctively crossed my arms on the chest.

"So, how was the first working day of your life?"

I bitterly sighed, then I tried to recover objectivity:

"It was hard. I think it's normal."

"Did you like what you did?"

What did I have to answer? If I had lied he’d have immediately noticed, but even complaining didn’t sound good to me. I just shook my head, probably my broken expression reinforced the concept.

He understood everything but preferred to change subject:

"Would you like to tell me something about you?"

As requested, I recited the poem, while his restless face didn’t leave me neither for a moment.

"Congratulations."

Eh? About what?

"I imagine you worked hard to get such results. You did a very good job."

Was it really a compliment what I was listening to?

"However it's not easy to make you talk."

His mouth creased, something like a smile. I couldn’t modulate any sound, he didn’t seem to be bother about that.

"May I ask you a question more?"

"Yes, sure."

"If you think to yourself about ten years, what do you see?"

"Ah, I wouldn’t know. I’ll certainly be more experienced than today, more autonomous, I believe."

His head slightly bent, got positively curious, it seemed to me.

"Argue it more."

"I don’t know, the content of my job is still undefined and therefore evaluating what professional perspectives it will grant to me it’s not so easy. For sure I’m curious, full of enthusiasm for novelties, I like to observe, listen, learn. Perhaps this will allow me to grow more than I can imagine now."

His enigmatic face held back another funny fold.

"So it was at the university?"

"Partially yes, I think so."

"Do you know anyone who has high marks like yours?"

"No, I don’t."

But where did he want to go?

"In your opinion, what could happen if you applied the same commitment put in the study in the work?"

Realized his intent, I replied:

"At the university individuality counts, there’s a direct relationship between commitment and outcome. Probably much more is needed here: ability to deal with others, to influence their opinions, in short, propensity to human relationships, leadership attitude."

"Sure, all uncommon qualities."

Difficult to interpret his severe gaze, however my answer contributed to arise inside him new desires of inquiry:

"Always in your opinion, how old am I?"

What an embarrassment.

"Thirty, I think."

"Thirty. Are you sure you don’t want to try again?"

"I think to have already done enough damages, thank you."

He laughed again on his own, then the verdict:

"I'm thirty-one, that's seven years more than you, right?"

"Yes."

"Is it so much or not?"

"Oh, I don’t..."

"Are you afraid to tell me I'm old?"

"No, no, absolutely not” I clumsy replied.

"Lucky me then” he said relaxing on the armchair.

Then there was a long pause, as if he was expecting a few comments more. Which didn’t come. My neurons, on the other hand, didn’t stop studying him, inexplicably attracted by that sad but sweet image, beautiful though so full of hardness. He wasn’t just fatigued, even suffering; in those moments of waiting I realized it more. He felt spied too and tried to protect himself bringing again the centre of the conversation to me:

"Let's talk about your thesis. I prepared you some paper: various presentations and other info we normally use in our communication campaigns, it should be enough to start. If you need more, don’t hesitate to ask."

"Thank you” I said, surprised; he noticed and his temper hardened more, why?

"Now you can go home. It's after six."

"But I didn’t finish."

"Tomorrow everything will be still there waiting for you, don’t worry."

'Don’t worry', even mum often told me.

I couldn’t keep my mouth shut, just the only time I had to:

"Luca told me those who don’t stop after six have no hopes."

He surly stared at me, then dialled a phone number, opening the speaker; he let it ring for a long time, then he hanged up.

"Have you seen? Luca has already gone. Usually those professing hard working are the first to disappear."

He smiled at me as Monna Lisa, I returned more openly.

I got up and I headed to the exit, still feeling his eyes on me.

"Once out, could you close the door?"

I executed the command, then I started again to breathe.

As soon as I turned, I recognized the boy with the eye colour coordinated to the shirt, the one met that same morning, the same who was waiting for me.

"Shall we go?"

“Yes, just a moment I take my things."

"How did it go with Marco?"

“I don’t know Sam, he's ten meters over me."

"Exactly like I felt. With Fosca it was different."

"Did you meet Fosca?!"

“Yes, after lunch. She wanted to see me for half an hour."

Better let it go.

Tuesday, 2nd March 1993

The next day I arrived early. I tried an anticipatory strategy, before the switchboard and the door phone devastated me. Even before, however, I wanted to satisfy my curiosity, having a fast solitary exploration of the company rooms still deserted, just to get confident at least with the playing field.

Obviously, neither Fosca nor her henchwomen did it with me the day before, as I didn’t have the pleasure to be introduced to my new colleagues, not even to the closest ones; I discovered the indispensable that morning in a rush, hitching a ride to an incoming IT colleague, who spontaneously offered himself as my guide after seeing me wandering alone for the corridors still out of lights.

The open space where I had been brutally discharged played the role of connection point between the two main areas of the floor, which had a sort of symmetric ‘L’ plant, stairs and lifts located in the middle of the two long and spacious arms.

In the west side, there was the main entrance for employees and external visitors. There were also the meeting rooms, located on the street side, and the executive offices on the other one, in order: royal bathroom and utility room, the offices of Fosca, Miguel, then the housing of his numerous servants. The west side ended with ‘Mars room’; its entrance was at the bottom of the corridor, an impressive meeting room, not by accident dedicated to the god of the war and still in progress, intended to welcome the plenary sessions of the corporate management, fierce day and night clashes, so my dear companion with even six months of seniority told me.

On the opposite side of the floor, the east one, worked the equally chaotic commercial and marketing departments, distributed according to the same logic of the directional area; first of all the secondary entrance, then on the internal side the bathroom, the management offices, that is marketing manager, commercial director, then several rooms for minor but similar roles. On the street side of the corridor there were two open spaces for a total of more than twenty desks, the first for the marketing staff where there was also Sam’s desk, and another one, mainly for salesmen visiting the floor.

The reception was elsewhere, that is on the ground floor, as result of Miguel’s indispensable desire to have the most possible silence around. He guarded the west side, Fosca included, my new friend said winking, while the east area was monitored by the equally tough marketing director.

The open space finance was a place as messy as strategic; those wishing to move from one area to the other of the floor had two options: to cross Fosca’s soldier camp, allowing his tenants to be always the most updated employees on the ongoing managerial dynamics, or going out and taking advantage of the two twin entrances. That same landing was used by smokers and lazybones; it wasn’t uncommon that Miguel's sensitive ear looked angrily in the doorway, immediately demanding the maximum respect for all the colleagues at work, but above all for himself.