This is Part 11 of our fictional Lockdown Short Story series. The next and final instalment of our weekend Solo Lockdown Short Stories will be published tomorrow (Sunday) completing our 12-part fictional short story series following Solos during the lockdown.
Shiloh settled down to work with coffee in one hand and a strawberry pastry in the other. His laptop, which hardly saw any use when he was at home normally, glowed in the overcast afternoon light. It had been weeks since he was forced to work from home, and yet the novelty of working to his own schedule hadn’t worn off.
If he wanted to sleep until noon and then work until late into the night, who could stop him? Especially when plenty of clients worked in different timezones anyway. As long as the work got done, it didn’t matter how or when.
Inhaling the bitter, slightly sweet scent of his coffee, Shiloh got to work. He opened up his emails, scrolling through the mass of spam to find something actually important. There were three new inquiries, a request for changes, and that one client who always caused a fuss.
Back when Shiloh first started, he had worked in a tiny little office with three other people. The company had made it clear he would have to work hard to climb the ranks, to get noticed – and from the very first day Shiloh knew he wasn’t going to enjoy the office environment. He smirked at his past self, wondering just how horrified he would have been to know he was working from home now – but only because of a pandemic.
Yet working from home was nice, even if it was too quiet in the big, empty house. At least there was no one to disturb him, or complain about every little thing. He could break whenever he liked too, not having to worry about his boss monitoring every second he was away from the desk. The more Shiloh thought about it, the more he realised how difficult it was going to be to go back to his office when this was all over.
Shaking his head, Shiloh snapped back to reality. Right, he had stuff to do. Frowning slightly, he set down the coffee and got back to work. Emails to answer, websites to make, clients to appease.
As the hours ticked by, Shiloh became so engrossed in his work he didn’t even notice the time. Not until his stomach growled, and he frowned, glancing at the clock. Time to break. Maybe he would just check Facebook before he ate.
As usual, there was nothing interesting on his feed. He scrolled for a few minutes, ignoring the countless posts about family members complaining, friends wishing they could go to the pub.
Until his eyes landed on something different. It was just an advert, one of those ones supposedly tailored to the individual. Usually they advertised pointless things Shiloh had no interest in – holiday packages he couldn’t afford, random items he’d never shown interest in. Yet this time, as he clicked on the link and opened up an attractive website, he wondered if Facebook had got it right.
A job application. On the surface it looked like his own job, nothing special; but as he skimmed through, Shiloh was hooked. The thing that got him? Work from home. He had never worked from home before, but he had to admit despite it all, this lockdown had its merits. Namely, no office.
Despite knowing it was silly – and impulsive, especially given the circumstances – Shiloh applied. It was simple, just typing up his information and sending over a CV. The company promised to get back within a week, with the opportunity for an phone interview if he was picked. Fingers skimming effortlessly over the keyboard, Shiloh sent off his application.
Was it stupid? Probably. He had the experience, sure, but he hadn’t worked at his current company long. Not to mention this was the worst time to be changing jobs. He wouldn’t have anything to fall back on if everything turned into a disaster.
Chill, he told himself, what’s the worst that could happen – you don’t get the job? Then you stay where you are and nothing changes.
Laughing to himself, Shiloh closed the tab. He still had work to do, and there was a week to wait. As he often said to his sister, Penny, there was no point worrying about something he couldn’t change.
So he got back to work, pushing the application from his mind to focus on more urgent matters. After all, he probably wouldn’t get the offer anyway.
Shiloh dragged himself out of bed on Friday morning, forced himself to shower, and then trudged downstairs to his office. He didn’t even check his phone, and so he had no idea what lay in store until he booted up his laptop.
Emails came first. He clicked through them with no real interest, deleting the spam. Then his eyes landed on one email unlike the rest. For one, it was addressed to his personal email and not his work one. Humming quietly, he opened it up. Eyes scanning, he couldn’t help but grin.
I am pleased to tell you your application has been accepted. You are booked in for a telephone interview on Friday the 29th of May at 2:30pm.
His heart skipped, eyes darting to the clock. Ah, it was only eleven in the morning. Yet he couldn’t help the grin that spread across his features, or the jitter of his restless legs. It had been an impulse really, something he didn’t expect to go any further. Yet here he was.
Here he was. He cast a glance at his screen, where the email still called to him. Actually, Shiloh realised, his excitement was dimming. Was it smart to change jobs so impulsively? Penny definitely wouldn’t say so. What if the novelty wore off, and he decided working from home wasn’t so good after all? What if-
Ugh. This was getting him nowhere. Overthinking had never been something he indulged in, but it seemed he didn’t have a choice this time around. Sinking further into his cushy office chair, Shiloh groaned. Messy blond hair fell in his eyes and he brushed it away with a huff.
He’d worry later. For now, he had work to do and an interview to prepare for. He’d have to see if he was offered the job first, So, forcing the thoughts from his mind, Shiloh settled in to get some work done.
Unsurprisingly, he had limited success. Most of the time was spent tapping his fingers, relaying the email in his mind. Worrying about what to do if he was offered. Worrying about what to do if he wasn’t.
The hours simultaneously passed in a flash and somehow crawled by. By the time two twenty-five rolled around his neck was stiff from sitting, his leg tired from the restless bouncing.
Then his phone rang, and he all but leapt from his seat. Snatching it up, his palms were already sweating. What was wrong with him? Clearing his throat, he answered.
The woman on the other end was pleasant – young, by the sounds of it, and cheerful. She introduced herself as Dana Barkley and said, “Mr O’Reilly, I believe we sent you an email about a telephone interview? It’s a generic email we send to everyone, but we’ve decided it isn’t necessary in your case. Your CV is outstanding.”
Outstanding. He wouldn’t have said that – but he also wasn’t about to contradict her. Brows furrowed, he sank into his chair and said only, “thank you, Miss Barkley.”
“Because of that, we’ve decided to offer you the job.”
Oh. Oh. His chest skipped, and sweaty hands slipped as he moved the phone from one ear to the other. That was… unexpected. He had hoped for more time to decide at least – but Shiloh couldn’t ignore the giddy excitement pooling in his stomach.
Cheeks flushed he said, “sorry, I’m still here. I… thank you. I’ll take it.”
“Excellent. Unfortunately due to the circumstances, we can’t have you in person for an induction, but someone will phone you on Monday morning with the details.”
And just like that, Shiloh had a new job. He and Dana passed pleasantries as she gave him the information he needed, and then she hung up with a chipper goodbye.
Shiloh let his phone thud onto the table. Had that really happened, or was he dreaming? Fidgeting, his eyes drifted down to his black phone screen. His mind was reeling, and his palms were so sweaty they left marks on the wooden table. Really, he wouldn’t have been surprised if this turned out to be a hoax.
Now he had to break the news to his boss. The excitement dimmed at that, replaced by a heaviness in the pit of his stomach. Yet it couldn’t erase the giddy feeling in his chest.
Grinning like an idiot, Shiloh phoned Penny. She was always the first to know everything, and hell if he was keeping this to himself. Dialling her number, he waited.Maybe this was impulsive and reckless – but then again, Shiloh was known for that. It was difficult to believe this was really happening. But maybe, just maybe, this whole lockdown thing had its merits.