Short Stories / The Red Dress

The Red Dress – Chapter 3 – Catherine

Chapter 3 – Catherine

When Catherine had broached the subject of her new job with her parents, they had automatically assumed that she was requesting their permission, permission they were begrudging about granting. They were completely wrong. Catherine was leaving whether they liked it or not. She was grateful for their hospitality, and felt huge waves of guilt wash over her when they suggested that she had not been grateful enough, but she knew she had to try something different, to give something her all while she still felt she had it in her to try. At 25 she wasn’t exactly old, but she wasn’t exactly young either. There’s a distinct change in tone from people’s line of questioning at 24 from that when you turn 25. What was once polite encouragement towards ‘finding the right <insert appropriate subject> job/house/man” with an undertone of ‘all in good time’, became accusatory interrogation about why she was still “here/living at home/single” almost overnight. That was the case with everyone in fact, except her parents. They were only too happy to have her still at home every evening, in a way that made her feel uncomfortable and extremely guilty all at once. It was like they were holding on to her as a way of holding on to each other, as if when she left, there would be nothing tying them together any more. They didn’t fight, they’d have to speak to each other for that. In fact, sitting them down at the kitchen table together to tell them that she’d handed her notice in and she had 4 weeks to find a flat share in North London before starting her new job was the first time she’d seen them talk on the same subject in years.

And so, she found herself here, in a double room in Islington, lying on her back on the bed, consumed with questions around how she was going to find the right dress in the right brand before Naked Media’s third birthday party. She had been lucky to find a double bedroom in her price range. She had weighed up the fact that she could walk to the office from her flat, and therefore reduce commuting costs, to justify the extra money. It was airy, with high ceilings and tall windows, even if the floor space was a little limited. Her flat mates were nice enough girls; Harriet worked in an upmarket boutique close-by but seemed to have quite a lot of financial assistance from mummy and daddy, like she was trying real life as her Gap Year. Stephanie had studied journalism at city and was 18 months in to a 6 month internship at a right wing broadsheet newspaper. These places took the piss, knowing that if the bank of mummy and daddy could sub their darling offspring for an extra 12 months on the promise of a position at the end of it, then they were sufficiently wealthy to continue to peddle their angle without too much resistance, and so the next generation of ‘news’ was born. Catherine kept herself to herself for the most part, her northern accent seeming to grate against their plummy tones and she felt a bit guilty of having landed a paying job when Stephanie was still putting in the hours for next to nothing.

Catherine woke up with a groan, partly at the fact that she still felt in need of another 3 hours of sleep, and partly because it was only Tuesday. The thought of seeing Ben was the only thing that motivated her in to the shower, other than the threat of getting sacked for being late, again. Naked Media was a start-up by two sisters who had seen a gap in the market for ironic feminist advertising that would be welcomed by equally ironic online news and media outlets. The ‘Naked’ part was a play on the almost constant and consistent use of female sexuality to sell products, but despite its best intentions, and the demand supplied by hipster focused news outlets, she found it a touch too try hard. However, Catherine’s short essay on this subject as part of her application was what had secured her the role, and overall, she was really enjoying the job, despite the hours sometimes being unsociable, unsociable if you socialised outside of the media crew that was. As Catherine still hadn’t made contact with Sarah at this stage, therefore having no friends outside of the office, she was able to socialise very frequently with her colleagues, and this is how she came to understand Ben.

When Catherine had broached the subject of her new job with her parents, they had automatically assumed that she was requesting their permission, permission they were begrudging about granting. They were completely wrong. Catherine was leaving whether they liked it or not. She was grateful for their hospitality, and felt huge waves of guilt wash over her when they suggested that she had not been grateful enough, but she knew she had to try something different, to give something her all while she still felt she had it in her to try. At 25 she wasn’t exactly old, but she wasn’t exactly young either. There’s a distinct change in tone from people’s line of questioning at 24 from that when you turn 25. What was once polite encouragement towards ‘finding the right <insert appropriate subject> job/house/man” with an undertone of ‘all in good time’, became accusatory interrogation about why she was still “here/living at home/single” almost overnight. That was the case with everyone in fact, except her parents. They were only too happy to have her still at home every evening, in a way that made her feel uncomfortable and extremely guilty all at once. It was like they were holding on to her as a way of holding on to each other, as if when she left, there would be nothing tying them together any more. They didn’t fight, they’d have to speak to each other for that. In fact, sitting them down at the kitchen table together to tell them that she’d handed her notice in and she had 4 weeks to find a flat share in North London before starting her new job was the first time she’d seen them talk on the same subject in years.

And so, she found herself here, in a double room in Islington, lying on her back on the bed, consumed with questions around how she was going to find the right dress in the right brand before Naked Media’s third birthday party. She had been lucky to find a double bedroom in her price range. She had weighed up the fact that she could walk to the office from her flat, and therefore reduce commuting costs, to justify the extra money. It was airy, with high ceilings and tall windows, even if the floor space was a little limited. Her flat mates were nice enough girls; Harriet worked in an upmarket boutique close-by but seemed to have quite a lot of financial assistance from mummy and daddy, like she was trying real life as her Gap Year. Stephanie had studied journalism at city and was 18 months in to a 6 month internship at a right wing broadsheet newspaper. These places took the piss, knowing that if the bank of mummy and daddy could sub their darling offspring for an extra 12 months on the promise of a position at the end of it, then they were sufficiently wealthy to continue to peddle their angle without too much resistance, and so the next generation of ‘news’ was born. Catherine kept herself to herself for the most part, her northern accent seeming to grate against their plummy tones and she felt a bit guilty of having landed a paying job when Stephanie was still putting in the hours for next to nothing.

Catherine woke up with a groan, partly at the fact that she still felt in need of another 3 hours of sleep, and partly because it was only Tuesday. The thought of seeing Ben was the only thing that motivated her in to the shower, other than the threat of getting sacked for being late, again. Naked Media was a start-up by two sisters who had seen a gap in the market for ironic feminist advertising that would be welcomed by equally ironic online news and media outlets. The ‘Naked’ part was a play on the almost constant and consistent use of female sexuality to sell products, but despite its best intentions, and the demand supplied by hipster focused news outlets, she found it a touch too try hard. However, Catherine’s short essay on this subject as part of her application was what had secured her the role, and overall, she was really enjoying the job, despite the hours sometimes being unsociable, unsociable if you socialised outside of the media crew that was. As Catherine still hadn’t made contact with Sarah at this stage, therefore having no friends outside of the office, she was able to socialise very frequently with her colleagues, and this is how she came to understand Ben.

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