Coffee Break Time- Flash Fiction "The Abyss"
As I reached over the edge of the sinkhole that dropped at least a hundred and seventy feet the hand that grabbed mine was Beth’s. How ironic that she should be hanging on the edge of the abyss waiting to be rescued.
I’d worked for Beth when she had nothing and built the business up for her over the next fifteen years. She was always self-centred and arrogant but when I helped the company make its first million she turned even more sour. Jealous of my intellect she talked over me in meetings, passed off my ideas as her own, dumped more and more responsibility my way until I said if she didn’t hire more staff I’d end up having a breakdown.
Beth was unsympathetic; said the business needed me full time especially with the move to the new premises. I advised her not to build on that particular site, it was unstable and knowing a thing or two about geology I was confident in my recommendation for an alternative; we argued but Beth knew better and pushed on with the project.
Eventually I couldn’t take any more; if I didn’t cut my hours, the pressure would cut me back permanently. When I told Beth she fired me, just like that. No notice, no severance pay, no reference. I was left with a family to support and bills to pay, hanging on the edge of the abyss, metaphorically speaking.
Ten years later, I’m successful, happy and my children are thriving. I’m also a volunteer rescue worker which is how I ended up here today.
Beth’s building collapsed like a house of cards into a deep sinkhole, just as I had predicted. Beth was on the seventh floor when it happened, others had not been so lucky. Had I still been working for her I’d have been one of the dead at the bottom.
As she dangled on the edge, I looked into her brown eyes and recognition of whose hand held her fate dawned on her. She was too weak to pull herself up, it was my hand between her dropping to the depths of the pit and most probably dying as her body was dashed against the rubble, or survival.
‘Please Ann.’ Beth said, her eyes full of tears.
Had she cared about me all those years ago when I’d asked her to give me a few weeks to find another job? With a husband and baby twins to feed, my salary the only source of income in our household.
‘Please Beth.’ I’d said as she’d turned her back.
My hand was sweating, my grip slipping, should I reach out my other hand and pull her up, or should I let her fall?
I remember saying to Beth that a person’s actions said more about them than their words.
This was the moment that determined what sort of person I was. Could I let her drop to her death? I don’t know.
I looked at her one last time….