"You've never been in my office, have you?"
Della shook her head and tried not to stare. The room was light and airy, with a view over the park across the street. Reproduction Impressionist paintings hung on the beige walls, and a fish tank burbled in the corner. The room didn't match the messy office space next door, with its narrow windows and flickering strip lights.
"Relax, Della. You're not being fired. No, we've got a new initiative going on here and I wanted you to be part of it. You see, it's all about the demographics," said Mr Shuttleworth.
He launched into a speech about 'the youth', 'generation X' and other terms that Della thought were outdated five years ago. As he talked, Della looked down at her feet, her toes hidden by the desk. Red glitter coated her new shoes, glinting as the metallic flakes caught the late morning sunlight. Her boss droned on, and she caught phrases such as "team building" and "unique selling point". Della didn't really care; she was more interested in the play of light across her shoes.
"Della, are you listening to me?"
She looked up, eyes wide. She nodded, praying Mr Shuttleworth wouldn't ask her to repeat the last things he'd said. That always caught her out.
"This is an important time for the company, Della. You do want to be part of that, don't you?"
"Of course I do, Mr Shuttleworth."
Della didn't care one jot about the company but Mr Shuttleworth didn't need to know that, just like he didn't need to know about the amount of time she spent at the window in the kitchenette, finding mythical creatures in cloud formations when she was supposed to be filing invoices. Whenever the photocopier started banging and whining, she imagined the sounds of battle. The hiss of the old lift became that of a grumpy dragon, intent on swallowing her whole.
"Good. Now, as I was saying..."
Mr Shuttleworth launched into another monologue about focus groups and annual targets. Della nodded a few times to look interested but her mind wandered back to her shoes. They'd arrived that morning from an eBay seller in Basingstoke, listed as 'used - like new'. Apparently their previous owner needed to move house and was selling things they didn't need. Della couldn't imagine not needing such beautiful shoes.
She looked up at Mr Shuttleworth. He'd swivelled his chair to the side, and was gazing into the middle distance while he babbled on about whatever jargon he'd found on the internet that morning. There would be no stopping him now.
Della slid her feet together, pressing the toes against each other. She clicked the heels together and stifled a giggle. She sneaked another glance at Mr Shuttleworth and found him deep in conversation with himself. Thinking hard of her little flat, with its secondhand furniture and deep blue walls, and she closed her eyes and clicked her heels together again.
She counted to three, opened her eyes, and smiled.