This story does have some bad language in it – sorry about that. I was told to write a complete short story and title it. This is called The Fuck Off Fund and was inspired by the Observer article The Story of a Fuck Off Fund, which you can read here, if you’re interested!
Becoming a Writer – Week Five
Isabelle left the thrift shop with only one bag. She had needed to replace a shirt that had ripped beyond her capabilities to repair. All of Isabelle’s clothes were second-hand, except for her two suits she had for business meetings. She used coupons to buy food, rarely ate out, lived in an economy apartment, and used public transportation to get everywhere she needed to go. Most people thought she was very poor, but nothing could be further from the truth. Isabelle was a scientist, working for a big pharmaceutical corporation; she was paid very well to synthesis the same formula every day. Isabelle hated her job. But she stuck it out. It allowed her to stay close to her boyfriend, her sister and, most importantly, consistently contribute to her “fuck off” fund.
Isabelle’s sister graduated college, moved in with her boyfriend, and quickly became stuck in a low-paying dead-end job. Her boss and co-workers wouldn’t leave her alone and her boyfriend became abusive, but she couldn’t leave because she had no money. Eventually she moved back in with her parents, but she lost everything she had. She also inspired Isabelle’s fuck off fund.
Almost every day now Isabelle’s thoughts travelled down this familiar path. Her work was monotonous – she could do it in her sleep – but the employees were discouraged from talking to each other. The last time she had gone out for drinks with her co-workers, Jeremy, who worked two stations down, had spiked her drink. The bartender made sure she didn’t drink it, but that didn’t help her feel safer. Then she had made the mistake of telling her boyfriend, Chris, about it. He had been so angry, he broke two chairs and a mirror. He wanted her to move in with him so he could keep a better eye on her, but Isabelle wasn’t sure that was what she wanted. She wasn’t really sure what she did want anymore.
“Hey Isa, what are your plans tonight?” Jeremy whispered in her ear. Isabelle jumped, almost knocking over her competed serum. She hadn’t heard him approach her.
“Jeremy. Oh, um, I have plans with my boyfriend tonight. Chris.” She dried her sweaty palms on her jeans before looking at her watch. It was fifteen past five; she should have already left. She hurriedly cleaned up her lab bench and walked to her desk to collect her purse.
Jeremy followed her like a second shadow. “I’ll see you tomorrow Isa.” He grinned as he turned away. Isabelle couldn’t tell if he was trying to be creepy or not, but he was definitely succeeding. Shaking her head, Isabelle told herself to ignore Jeremy for now, and she ran off to the subway station.
Walking in to her apartment an hour later, Isabelle started water for her shower and laid out her dress for the evening. Chris was taking her to a very fancy restaurant, and said he would pick her up at 8, so she had an hour and a half to get ready. She quickly checked the mail she had grabbed from the lobby before getting into the shower. Between a bill and a takeout menu for a new Chinese place was a manila envelope with a return address in Geneva, Switzerland.
Isabelle dashed to her computer and opened up her email, clicking through every folder, trying to find the email that had to be there somewhere. After a few minutes frantic search she found an email from the World Health Organization Human Resources that had, for some reason, been sorted into her spam mail. She skimmed the email as fast as she could. They were pleased with her application, she had made a wonderful impression during her skype interview, she could be expecting an offer letter via post within the next five to ten business days. Isabelle ripped open the manila envelope, both impatient and anxious to see what she was offered. It was more than she could have imagined: a 50 percent raise, adjusted to Swiss Francs, and assistance with getting a work visa. Isabelle wanted to jump up and down and dance around her apartment, but she jumped in the shower instead, realizing that she only had 45 minutes before Chris showed up.
Halfway through her shower, Isabelle’s euphoria began to wear off a little. She realized she would have to pay the moving costs herself, and find a place to live. She would be leaving all her friends, her sister, and Chris behind. She would be ecstatic to leave her job, that was why she had been applying for jobs in the first place. She applied to the WHO as an impulse, rather than thinking she would actually get the job. But then she got an interview. Instead of considering what it would mean for her life if she got the job, she put on her best suit and her most dazzling smile, and did her best. She knew how competitive the position was; she never expected to get an offer. But she had, and now she needed to make a decision. She weighed the pros and cons of accepting the job all evening, barely noticing when Chris picked her up, where they went, or what she ate.
Try as he might, Chris couldn’t capture her full attention. He got more and more frustrated until, when he had walked her back up to her apartment, he suddenly asked her how Jeremy was.
She was pulled from contemplating how much it would cost to move by his question. “What?”
He snorted and ran his hands through his hair, looking agitated. “You’ve been thinking about him all night, haven’t you?”
Worried, Isabelle tried to count how many drinks he had with dinner. She couldn’t remember. She quickly denied that she had been thinking of Jeremy at all, which was true. She almost told him about the job offer, but decided to wait until he was more calm and less drunk. Instead, she told him that she had been thinking about her apartment.
“It’s a piece of shit. You should just move in with me.” Chris kicked the coffee table as he walked toward the bedroom. Isabelle winced as the table collapsed. She would tell him soon. She would have too.
Chris gently shook Isabelle awake the next morning, to tell her goodbye and apologize about the table. He told her there was breakfast in the kitchen. She stumbled groggily toward the kitchen. Next to the plate of bacon and eggs that he left for her, there was a note. Chris wrote that, instead of replacing her table, he had convinced the landlord to terminate her contract early without a fee. He was going to send the movers later in the week. Isabelle was going to move in with him.
Isabelle suddenly felt nauseous. Chris had been getting more and more controlling lately, but this was going a little too far. She knew this was what he wanted, but they had talked about it before, and it had never felt quite right. Now, with the opportunity she was considering, it felt completely wrong.
Isabelle jerked herself out of her reverie to check the time. Oh no… No no no! She was already late for work. She frantically ran around, getting ready for work, tripping over the broken table. When she finally did get to work, she was immediately told to report to her boss. He lectured her about punctuality; he was very concerned for her, and if things didn’t change soon there would be consequences. Red-faced, Isabelle mumbled something about trying harder, wanting nothing more than to escape that office.
“There’s one more thing, Isabelle.” He looked at his desk, as if embarrassed to be the one relating this information. “You’re being cut back to part time. Unfortunately we just don’t have enough demand for the serum you synthesize.”
Isabelle’s mouth fell open. “What? So give me something else to do!”
“Sorry Isabelle, but it was recommended that we not do that”
His eyes flicked toward her work station. “I can’t tell you. I’m sorry.”
Isabelle nodded, mumbled something about needing to get to work, and stomped over to her lab bench. She collapsed into her chair with her head in her hands, until a hand on her shoulder caused her to jerk upright.
Jeremy pulled his hand back. “Sorry Isa. I heard you got pulled back to part time. It sucks that someone would have recommended that… But maybe I could fix it for you? A favour for a favour.” His smile suddenly looked a lot more like a leer to Isabelle. Jeremy was probably the one who had recommended she be put on part time. That way he could “save” her. She hadn’t realized how angry she was until she started seeing red, but she snapped when Jeremy tried to put his hand back on her shoulder. She shoved him away. “You know what? Fuck off.”
Isabelle gather her things, stopping in her boss’s office long enough to snap “I quit” in his shocked face, and stalked out of the building. She tried to call her sister for some perspective, but there was no answer. Isabelle went to the nearest park and walked around until her anger was spent, and tried to make a decision. She wanted to take the job with the WHO. She already quit her job and her relationship with Chris wouldn’t survive much longer if he kept trying to control her. He had even given her a way out by convincing her landlord to terminate her contract. But she didn’t want to leave her sister.
Isabelle’s phone rang; it was her sister, calling her back. “What would you say if I moved to Geneva?”
Her sister laughed a little, startled. “What, are you serious?” Isabelle’s silence answered the question for her. “Well I would miss you, little sister. But maybe it would be a good thing for you.”
Isabelle let out the breath she had been holding. She thanked her sister and hung up with the promise of another call soon. She sat down on the nearest bench and made her choice. She would take the job with the World Health Organization. She would break up with Chris and move to Geneva. Maybe she would even take a trip first. Isabelle had never been so happy to have her fuck off fund. She knew she could do this.