Pen

The Best of Times Short Story Competition


August 2009 Results




Fiorella (a Fractured Fairytale)

Copyright © Chris Blackford 2009


Once upon a time there was a lovely, warm-hearted girl. Her name was Fiorella.

Fiorella worked in the city for a large brokerage firm called Dow and Jones.

Her boss was Mr. Finch: a kindly gentleman. But alas, Mr. Finch had a very bad day on the stock market and jumped ten stories to the concrete below.

So a new CEO was hired: a Ms. Abernathy. She was an ill-tempered, cruel and jealous woman. She hated Fiorella and made her work from dusk ‘til dawn, weekends and public holidays, not adhering to the enterprise bargaining agreement set down by Mr. Finch three months prior to his untimely appointment with the pavement.

“Finish those reports, Fiorella,” Ms. Abernathy would shout. “I want them on my desk before you leave.”

Whilst Fiorella toiled, Ms. Abernathy sat at her desk primping in front of her compact mirror saying, “Mirror, mirror in my hand, who’s the most powerful in brokerage land?” She smiled a mischievous smile and kissed her reflection.

One day Ms. Abernathy got a special invitation to an important conference in Geneva on 'The Elemental Factors Concerning Superannuation and the Unemployed.'

Fiorella so wanted to go to the conference, but Ms. Abernathy refused, laughing wickedly and saying, “Your place is behind the computer. You must get everything ready so that I wow them at the convention.”

When all the reports were typed, printed and bound, Ms. Abernathy flew off to Switzerland in the company jet.

Fiorella sat weeping. Tears flowed into the computer hard drive.

Suddenly a flash of light engulfed the room. Fiorella threw a glass of water on the sparking terminal. (Unfortunately Fiorella had missed the Workplace Health and Safety Course and didn’t know that you don’t throw water on an electrical fire.) She shuddered uncontrollably as 240 volts passed through her body and her underwire bra began to smoulder. As she lost consciousness, she fell off her chair and was thus saved from becoming cindered Fiorella.

The room was spinning as she opened her eyes. Suddenly, an angel with red gossamer hair appeared. “I’m your Fairy Godmother,” she said. “Tell me your wish and it shall be granted.”

Fiorella’s heart, fortunately still beating, leapt with joy. “I want to go to the conference in Geneva, but I have no way of getting there.”

The Fairy Godmother waved her magic wand and a gold American Express credit card appeared. “Here Fiorella, use my laptop. Get on to the internet and book a seat on Swiss Air – first class. And on your way to the airport, stop in at Gini’s Boutique and kit yourself out with a new wardrobe. Your invitation will be waiting for you at the hall. But whatever you do, make sure you’re back by Friday. On that day, at midnight, the credit card expires."

***

The crisp click-clack of stilettos sounded on the tiled floor. All heads turned when Fiorella entered. Her finely tailored Country Road suit hugged her vivacious curves.

“Who is she?” they all whispered.

The president of Dow and Jones, Mr. Prince, was wonderstruck by her beauty and the size of her...briefcase.

Ms. Abernathy’s eyes shot daggers as Fiorella took the seat vacated by the handsome Mr. Prince.

When the conference ended, Ms. Abernathy took out her compact, opened it, and found the mirror broken. Snapping it shut, she turned on her heel and stormed off to the bar.

As Mr. Prince looked into Fiorella’s eyes, shards of light flooded the room and her head began to swim.

***

Fiorella woke. The sun was shining through the curtains - unfamiliar curtains in an unfamiliar room.

Remembering her Fairy Godmother’s warning, Fiorella looked at the calendar on the unfamiliar wall.

A door opened and in walked a woman with red gossamer hair flowing beneath her white cap. She smiled. “Are you feeling up to having visitors, Fiorella?”

Before Fiorella could answer, Ms. Abernathy and Mr. Prince entered.

“My prince!” Fiorella shouted.

Mr. Prince looked at Fiorella. “What? It’s Mr. Prince to you.”

“My prince. My darling, get me out of here. Take me home. I’ve stayed too long and the magic credit card has expired. Please I must get back ... I must..."

Fiorella began to drift off as the drugs the nurse had injected took affect.

Ms. Abernathy looked at Mr. Prince. “I just want a quick word with poor Fiorella before she falls asleep.”

As he left the room, Ms. Abernathy bent low and whispered into Fiorella’s ear. “You shorted out every computer in the office. Dow and Jones lost millions. You’re fired!”

***

The moral of the story: when there’s smoke... you’re fired.