Suyin has been writing fiction since before she could introduce herself without feeling uncomfortable. She first realized that writing came naturally to her when she won multiple prizes throughout her High School life in Malaysia. She attended college in Kent, Tokyo and London, each of the places teaching her a little more than the last. When in low spirits, she turns to writing articles on Medium. She currently lives in Kuala Lumpur with her family, and their sausage dog, Olive.
On paper, Morgan has everything a millennial could want. She doesn’t pay rent, doesn’t stress over bills, and had a job at a reputable company handed to her without so much as an interview. But what she wants isn’t comfort or to be spoon-fed – it’s independence. She not only wants to live alone, but also to get a job herself and most importantly, stop relying on her family. Thrown into the deep end at work, Morgan has to learn to cope in the real world. She then learns that no amount of support from her family can prepare her enough for it.
I’ve Got This
The one perk about working in advertising is that nobody really cares if we come in at ten, or even ten-thirty. Eleven is kind of where they draw the line. Sharon, my boss, is the only one on my team who is seated at her desk before nine and never forgets to water our dying office plant. I’m not sure how she manages to do it. I asked her about it once, and she responded with a ‘You know, early bird!’ and made a wriggly worm gesture with her index finger. Also, someone has to tell her one of these days that misting the leaves of plants just isn’t going to cut it. I’ve always wondered why our plant still seems to be dying, even after her consistent boasting about how often she waters it.
She doesn’t seem to mind that everyone else comes in late, though. Probably because she takes significant cigarette breaks pretty much every twenty minutes. This includes walking thirty feet away from our building to the nearest smoking area and back. She doesn’t even bother trying to hide the fact that she’s always off smoking. Not that she’d be able to, since her curly hair that looks like uncooked instant noodles traps all of the cigarette smoke. We’re usually able to pick up the smell of smoke before she even walks by. No-one really says anything about it, though. Sharon’s brother is on the board of directors, so nobody wants to rub her the wrong way. She’s pretty much allowed to smoke all she wants. She also takes significantly long toilet breaks sometimes, especially after lunch.
We also know that she has a lot on her plate. Moving over to Los Angeles from Toronto with full custody of her kid couldn’t have been easy. Though, despite being a mom to a seven-year-old boy, she’s always making the clumsiest mistakes.
Once, she brought her dead laptop to a meeting and left her charger at home. Another time, she dropped her son off at school but brought his backpack to work with her. I’ve always expected single moms to have their shit together. Not anymore. Sometimes I wonder how bad her ex-husband must’ve been for her to have gotten full custody. Maybe he ran back to Cancun or got deported? None of us ever asked. Most of the time at work it’s fine, since she usually manages to clean up her messes. But one time, I had to explain a project to her three times for about an hour because she was playing Candy Crush during the client briefing. She had an hour of infinite lives and absolutely could not waste it.
‘So, guys.’ Sharon looks up and stops chewing on her already-chipped nails as soon as everyone’s arrived and seated. Zoey the last, as usual, stepping through the heavy glass doors at exactly 10:53 AM. Her big, bug-eyes are glued to her phone, probably editing a picture of herself on Instagram with ten different filters on it. I’m constantly in awe at how she manages to churn out any amount of work at all. She spends most of her time at work looking at makeup looks with too much blush and outfits with too much pink. It’s pretty obvious that she thinks nobody knows what she’s doing. But her huge, round glasses reflect everything she looks at on her full-brightness phone. She also seems to always have a piece of gum in her mouth. I’ve yet to go a single day without seeing her chew gum, but never once caught her putting it in her mouth. It’s always just there.
Sharon stands at her desk and claps her palms together, and it looks like she’s about to make some big announcement. Nobody likes making a big deal out of nothing more than Sharon. If she had a glass or mug on her desk, there would not be a doubt in anyone’s mind that she’d start smacking it with her pen. She’s on a juice cleanse now, though, so no coffee mug in sight. I know this because she walks in every day with four plastic bottles of different coloured juices and takes up an entire row of the communal fridge. She gets them delivered at around 11.30 each morning and has to go downstairs to get them. I’m not even sure anyone’s supposed to drink four bottles a day.
We turn from our desks but she brings up both her hands as if she’s hugging air, signalling for us to gather around hers. I hear Gary sigh from the seat in front of me and resist letting out a laugh. In my mind, I can already picture him pushing his overgrown hair back in annoyance. We’re the same age, but he’s been around for about three months longer than I have, and is next-in-line to be promoted to Senior Executive.
‘As you all may or may not have heard, someone has filled up the Product Manager spot over at Summit!’ She looks around the room, probably expecting some sort of dramatic response. Gary turns to look at me and squints his hooded eyes at me while shrugging a little. I know immediately that he wants to say ‘Who cares?’, because it’s pretty much all he says to anything anyone ever tells him. Sometimes it’s ‘Who fucking cares?’, depending on his mood. If I had a dollar for every time Gary said any of those phrases I wouldn’t be stuck at this shitty job. I still can’t get used to someone like him cursing so much, especially since his voice sounds like those voiceovers for insurance ads. Or like the movie theatres with those ads telling people to keep their cellphones on mute.
‘And they will be introducing him to us in next week’s WIP meeting!’ She adds in a weirdly pitchy singsong voice after it starts to get uncomfortable. They say that four seconds is how long it takes for a moment of silence to turn awkward.
‘I’ve heard pretty great things about him,’ Lucas, our Senior Copywriter, says while bringing his right hand up to his chest, mimicking a Southern accent. Nobody knows why he does that. He’s the type who never shuts up about his boyfriend who works in the bank. He’s always delivering the clients’ ‘hot goss’ to us. Lucas is great at what he does, though. He’s creative, quick on his feet, and rational. But ever since I told him that I’d wanted to gain experience in copywriting while working accounts, he’s become a lot more reserved. Once, I saw him minimize a tab in panic the moment I’d gone over to his desk to talk to him about a project. God forbid I learn anything from him. He’s also the guy I will never again go to for life advice, because he had me sat there for forty minutes while I could only focus on my bladder threatening to explode.
‘Great things? Really?’ Sharon says, her obviously tattooed eyebrows arching up so high I think they’d touch her hairline.
‘Yeah. He’s a cutie apparently,’ Lucas says without hiding the smugness in his voice.
‘Can’t fucking stand him,’ Gary whispers from next to me. We have a piece of paper pinned up on our desks, on which we add a stamp every time feel like we want to stab Lucas. Then, the next time we go for drinks, we put it to good use. It used to be one shot per stamp, but after we got completely shit-faced the first time and almost hooked up, we came to a mutual agreement to reduce it to one shot per three stamps. He really isn’t my type, and looks too much like a white version of Noah for me to go there, even drunk.
‘This totally deserves two stamps,’ I manage to say before Sharon shoots me a look.
‘Well, cute or not,’ she says after clearing her throat, signalling for me to shut up. ‘I hope we can all work together without too much flirting?’ She’s looking at Zoey now, who has the tendency to openly flirt with clients who clearly aren’t interested. It’s both amusing and painful to watch. Her go-to strategy is to flip her strawberry-blonde bob from side-to-side. I’ve yet to see it work on anyone, so either she’s been successful elsewhere and is super confident in her technique, or is still trying it out. Either way, it’s something that keeps us entertained. Once, Gary caught her ‘accidentally dropping’ her glasses so that some manager would pick them up for her. He almost stepped on them, but at least that got his attention. ‘I am so psyched for you guys!’ Lucas says while fishing his phone out of his skin-tight jeans with only his thumb and index finger. We know immediately that he’s about to text his boyfriend.