Saturday 14 January 2023

Saturday Sample: Forbidden Colours by Nicole Fitton, spring water


Katzuko Yates eyed her daughter thoughtfully. A sense of apprehension gripped her. Those years in Japan were long ago; she wondered if she could be clear with her explanation. Even though buried, her memories continued to breathe under the mountain of life she'd lived. Dare she even speak of them? Could she speak of them? Their place of residence had become an unmarked grave in her history. Her family had a right to know, after everything that had happened. His world was dark and full of shadows; where would she begin? For over 25 years she had told no one. Now she was being drawn back into his world. It was a time she wanted to forget. The tie that had been bound to her so tightly was about to be broken.

Staring from the window, she hoped to find the words she needed. The right words to explain, at least in part. Autumn was coming. The leaves on the trees were now in full transition. A kaleidoscope of seasonal colours danced outside the window. A procession of translucent red and orange flares, delicately framed, melted in and out of the landscape across Central Park. The last drops of sunlight polished the trees before becoming woven into a tapestry of cyclical splendour. Autumn was a special time. A nip in the air followed by a sharp intake of breath, it reminded her of those first few autumns in England. A long time had passed since then. The season would bring about change. It had been Autumn when she had met him and it had been Autumn when she'd escaped. It was Autumn once again. Now it was time to explain.


One Year Earlier….


Midori Yates had graduated from Kings College London with a 2:1 in Biomedical Science. What had seemed an all-consuming three years was now over. She could finally get her life back - but back to what? She had absolutely no idea what to do now. Pretty soon she would have to leave her digs. Moving back home didn’t really sing ‘career woman’. If she didn’t find a job quickly she'd be out of options. She had concentrated more on completing her dissertation than finding a job. Coffee in hand, she scanned the web. She wasn’t fussy, any job would do. She uploaded, amended and hit send to anything that had ‘graduate’ in the title. Living in London was not cheap, and she was running out of reserves fast. Three years at Uni and still no bloody job, she thought. The future was not bright, but it very well may end up being orange. At this rate she’d really end up working in a bloody phone shop. How could life already be this hard? She was 23 and felt as if she was carrying a basket of bricks towards the edge of a cliff, with no way back. She had stopped counting applications at number fifteen. Her personal statement shone brighter than silverware from Tiffany's, thanks to her university tutor. It resembled an entry for the Nobel Prize, minus the all-important medal and prize money. Two cups of coffee and an almond croissant later she was ready to embark on another soul-destroying round of “pick me”.

Weeks of silence followed. Of those courteous enough to respond, their rejection spiel gave no insights into why she did not get the jobs. From what she could see it boiled down to probability. 'Due to large a volume of applications' or 'an overwhelming response'. No one said 'your application is rubbish', or 'you don’t have the right skill set'. Maybe the bright orange phone shop back home in Somerset was as good as it was going to get.

She would give it until Friday. After Friday all bets were off, and she would accept defeat.

Midori listened to the rain hammering at her bedroom window. The continual beating of the large rain drops against the window panes summed up her mood perfectly. She felt foolish, dejected, and almost beaten. She had given little thought to her future. Her rose-tinted spectacles had stayed firmly in place over the previous three years. Optimism to the point of blindness, her mother called it. Her mother's observations stung like hell but she knew she was right. She’d been so focused on getting her degree, the job bit had got caught up in the washing and was now going round and round in circles, hidden in with the sheets. The analogy of the one odd sock that no one claims said it all. Each day as she waited for the post, a sense of anticipation rose within her. Her spirits lifted to the ‘what ifs’ and ‘maybe todays’.

As she sat quietly staring at the computer, the familiar thud of the post landing softly but resolutely onto the door mat signalled its arrival. It was a sound she greeted cautiously. Flicking through the takeaway menus and double-glazing leaflets, she spied two plain typed envelopes that spoke of rejection. Rejection letters had their own special air about them. Without a ripped envelope between them they managed to convey their contents. Maybe it was the uniformity of the typeface or the blasé air of ‘open us or don’t open us, we don’t really care’ that she subconsciously breathed in. If nothing else she was becoming adept at guessing the contents. She wondered if she would be able to do the same with luggage? Now there was a job that did exist – who needed an x-ray machine! A large manila envelope caught her eye. She had almost placed it in the rejection pile but something about it differed from the rest. It was bright and sharp, and for manila that was a difficult feat to achieve.


Dear Miss Yates,

Thank you for your application. We would like to invite you to attend an assessment centre on Thursday October 8th at 11am. Please bring with you 1 form of photo ID and your national insurance number. A map giving directions is enclosed. We look forward to meeting you on the 8th.

Yours Sincerely

M Day

HR Director

KLD Pharmaceuticals


She wasn’t even sure for what or when she had applied. In fact, she wasn’t sure she had applied at all. Anyway, what did she care, she needed a job and she would do her absolute best to get one. The lease on the flat was due to end in three weeks. Right now, preparing for her interview with KLD would get her undivided attention.


Midori didn’t know too much about the workings of drug companies but judging by their offices they were doing well, despite the recession. Sitting in the corridor alongside five other hopefuls she felt small and inferior. Floor to ceiling glass coupled with ultra-white walls made her feel as if she had entered a space age waiting room. KLD’s Buckinghamshire offices were sited on the Green Shoots business park. Green Shoots was the equivalent of Monaco in the business park world. You had to be a certain kind of wealthy to even rent space. To be able to afford state of the art office space was one thing, but KLD had a state of the art research facility tagged on behind the swanky offices to boot. Everything shouted out ‘new’ and ‘au courant.’

The elevators had amused her the most. There were no buttons, only a symbol that, despite her best efforts, she struggled to understand. She stood confused for an age until she realised the symbol represented a listening ear. It was as simple as saying the floor number you wanted and then, as if by magic, you were transported to the correct level. She had to admit she was impressed. If the technology was cutting edge in the elevators what did that say about the serious stuff?

The interview had been tougher than she had anticipated. On reflection, she could have answered the questions set by the panel more fully but, overall, she was happy. She was still not sure what the job was. It would have been downright rude and inappropriate to ask during the interview: no, she would cross that bridge as and when.

The assessment had consisted of three parts – an interview panel of three, who had nodded in the right places, a written test akin to twister for the mind (an aptitude test by any other name), and a scientific paper she had to assess and summarise. Who turns up for an interview not knowing what to prepare? She was kicking herself. The more she saw of KLD the more she wanted the job – whatever it was! Not for the first time in her life, she was winging it. Midori had spent the weekend searching through her recent job applications but had drawn a blank. Not surprising really, usually she deleted applications after a month of not hearing back, they were too depressing to keep. A panel of three would now decide her fate. All that was left was to enjoy that elevator one more time, she may never get another chance, she thought.

'Ground floor', she said rather too loudly.


About the author

 Nicole Fitton is a short story and novel writer based in Devon. Her second novel 'Forbidden Colours' is a contemporary medical thriller with a large splash of romance. Her first short story collection is due to be published this year. She is currently working on her third novel.

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