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The Big Boss looked at Caroline, who was stood in front of him.

“Thank you for conveying the message,” said The Big Boss. “But can't you bring her here to say it herself? She is your daughter,”

“The girl refuses to come,” Caroline said. “Partially because she's always on Portal 2. I think she's obsessed with the game,”

“Honestly,” The Big Boss said. “Youngsters these days. But you are her mother,”

“Yes,” Caroline said. “But when life gives you lemons, make lemonade,”

Unknown to the Big Boss, Caroline had played the game as well, and it had only been since the beginning of the holidays since her daughter had had access to the game, because she went to a private boarding school in South Wales. It was also because of playing Portal 2 that Caroline had taken up a new nickname, but the Big Boss had no idea of knowing this.

“What does that mean?” asked the Big Boss.

“Never mind,” Caroline said. “The fact is the message, Mr Parker,”

“Why won't you bring her down here so she can say it herself?” the Big Boss asked.

“Because she is under no obligation to do so,” Caroline said. “And she doesn't want to speak to you. She's been a bit, well, depressed since the beginning of the holidays, and when Portal 2, Cake Wrecks, and new software don't bring her out of this mood, well, nothing can, and I don't want to put any extra pressures on her head when this happens. So, either you'll have to wait until whatever has happened or is happening has died down. And I don't think it's going to happen soon, not when it's really deep,”

“Teenagers. Honestly,” the Big Boss sighed. “Probably just sulking over some jealous spat with a friend,”

“You don't know her,” Caroline said. “Or her friends. She never gets upset over just anything. It's probably something really, well, big. And she doesn't sulk, well, not really. The only times in which she gets near sulking is, well, when she's working far too hard, otherwise it's just, well, flare up and cool down shortly after. No, this is, well, large, big, massive, Oh hi, Jean, how's Lizzie?”

“She's fine,” said Jean. “Straight A's for her GCSEs. A* in Maths,”

The Big Boss scowled. He had been tricked by the clever Lizzie into paying all of her fees, including Cello and Clarinet fees, and full payment for her to have a year in Switzerland. Furthermore, he had been tricked, as had the school, into believing that she was bad at Maths. Last time she had come, two days ago, she had revealed all of her tricks to him.

“Anything happen at the school?” asked Caroline. “Sorry, no-one's said anything,”

“Relatively normal term, as per usual,” Jean said. “She knows something happened in Lower, but she was caught up with her studies, like the rest of her form, so they never really knew what was going on. She knows the whole thing ended overnight, literally. No-one knew what happened,”

“Nice,” Caroline said. “Anne, how's Skye?”

“Oh,” said Anne, sighing. “She's convinced that she'll be a prefect. I don't think she will be. In fact, by her report, I'm sure she won't be, which is good. She intimidates the younger pupils and turns them livid towards her. She would be no good as a prefect,”

“And she's convinced she'll be a prefect?” said Jean. “Well, it might happen. There aren't really many people in that form suitable for prefectship, my friend Ru says. A lot of them would be too feeble. It's possible she might be considered as a last minute resort. Cross our fingers?”

“Of course,” said Anne.

Caroline nodded in agreement, crossing her fingers.

The Big Boss sighed. All of these women having a gossip in the middle of the office, run by him, when he only wanted to speak to one of them. This was a bit much.

“Jean, Anne, go back to your work, I'm only speaking to Caroline. Just, do some filing or something,”

“Oh, I like that,” Anne said. “Caroline, here's the card for Tony's birthday, and the money,”

“Tony?” asked Caroline. “Which one is he? I don't know him,”

“Everyone has to make a contribution,” Anne replied. “Sorry, Custom,”

“Okay,” said Caroline.

She signed Caroline. PS, I don't think I actually know who you are, and put a bit of spare change into the money bag.

“Okay, come on, Jean,” said Anne, and she dragged Jean out of sight of the boss, leaving Caroline and the Big Boss alone once more.

“I've said, well, all I have needed to say, Mr Parker,” Caroline said.

“I feel just like having a chat,” the Big Boss said. “My name's Carl,” he added.

“Carl?” asked Caroline.

“Yes. I was one of twins. My sister was called Carla. She's a teacher, but I'm not sure what she's doing. Our parents objected to her teaching. They wanted her to become a nurse,”

“Okay, Mr- I mean, Carl,”

“Good,” said the Big Boss. “Now, tell me about what your daughter's been doing these holidays,”

“Oh, well, mainly been on Portal 2 or Cake Wrecks,” said Caroline. “All as normal. She got fed up with Word 2007 because, well, she got an error message all of the time, meaning, well, one of her documents wouldn't open. It's happened, well, to a couple of her docs now, and, well, she's tried a lot of online tips, but they, well, didn't work. Other people have complained about it, too. So she, well, downloaded OpenOffice,”

“OpenOffice?” the Big Boss said.

“Yes. I don't really know it, but I know, well, that she really does prefer it to Word,” Caroline replied. “I don't, well, really know much, I'm afraid,”

“That's alright,” said the Big Boss. “How's she communicating to all of her friends, then?”

“Mainly by email,” said Caroline. “Although some of them phone up, and another few send letters. She's got an inner group as well. They're the only ones, well, who have her mobile number,”

“Right,” said the Big Boss. “Who talks to her on there?”

“Oh, Ellie, Mary, and Amber,” said Caroline. “She's usually, well, talking to Amber on there, though. I don't really know why. All I've heard of the pair so far, they're acquaintances. Form-mates. That's all,”

“Okay, Caroline,” said the Big Boss.

“May I leave?” asked Caroline. “It's the end of my hours, and I need, well, to get Soph from the crèche, and alleviate the person we've just been talking about of the responsibility of twin boys and a young girl,”

“Yes, Caroline, you ca-, well, you may leave,” the Big Boss said. “Oh, and I need the report by tomorrow,”

“What report?” said Caroline.

“Oh, wait, I gave it to Miss Gordon,” said the Big Boss.

“Okay, Kate will do a good job,” Caroline said, smiling. “Goodbye, Carl,”

“You remind me of my sister,” the Big Boss said. “Goodbye, Caroline,”

Caroline smiled and left the office.



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