Karen, from Accounts, holds the knife at Joy’s throat. The receptionist’s eyes are wide, fearful. We watch in silence. I see a single tear well, and then roll down Joy’s left cheek. The knife point presses hard, but there is no blood. Steve, from warehousing, stands close to me. I feel him move – just a bit. He is going to intervene, to say something. I put my hand on his arm. I don’t want him to interfere: this is perfect.
“You are going to die, you bitch!” Karen says, spitting the words into Joy’s startled face. Her voice is strong, powerful. For a moment I almost forget that this is a woman normally more comfortable with spreadsheets than people. I had wanted to be the one holding the knife. But, I admit, Karen is a better choice.
The canteen door hits the wall as it swings open. We all jump at the sound. Mr Jennings stands in the doorway.
‘What the hell is going on in here?” he asks, looking at Karen and Joy and then to me. Karen lowers the knife. Joy smiles. They break character in unison.
I cough. “Rehearsal for our entry in the Inter-Office Amateur Dramatic Competition, Mr Jennings. We thought it would be alright if we rehearsed in our lunch hour.”
Jennings stares at me. His eyebrows, always bushy, pulsate with anger.
“What have I said about this, Evans?” he says.
“The workplace is no place for drama, sir,” I say, almost singing the words.
“Quite right,” he says, and leaves.
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