Emma, was a tomboy, she was age 23, with short, dark hair and a fresh complexion.  She always wore jeans and a t-shirt with her favourite Doc Martens.   She was desperate to work with animals.  So, she studied Zoology at University and obtained a Bsc in Animal Science.  She was devoted to animals, she didn’t really have a social life.  She doesn’t drink, smoke or have any other vices.

She could be a little tedious when engaged in conversation, only feeling comfortable in the company of animals.  People are too difficult to understand for Emma.

She was very proud of her knowledge and ability and would tend to correct anyone, even her superiors, if she suspects they are wrong.

She goes for an interview at Bristol Zoo and is quite impressed by the Director, who questions her.  The Director went to the same University as Emma, in Essex and strikes up an immediate relationship based on their shared experiences.

Emma waited expectantly for a response from Bristol Zoo, checking the post every morning.  After two weeks, with no news, she is convinced that the meeting didn’t go as well as she thought.  She must have given the Director the wrong impression.

Finally, after two long weeks and three even longer days, a letter arrives.  Emma tears open the letter, excited and nervous at the same time and is delighted that she was successful and is being offered a job, starting at the beginning of next month.

The next couple of weeks fly by, packing up her belongings and arranging a new flat in Bristol.   She makes the move west a week before she is due to start at the Zoo.  Settling into her new place is both exciting and challenging for Emma.

She receives a message from the Director of the Zoo, asking her to come along to a birthday party for one of Emma’s new colleagues.  It would give Emma a chance to meet the people she would be working with and although she was apprehensive about attending, she plucked up courage and went along.

The evening went by in a flash of names and different faces, as Emma was introduced to everyone.  She recognised her own social ineptness in several of her new friends, which made her feel more comfortable and left her very excited about starting her new role at the end of the week.

Finally, the day came and Emma rose early, she showered and ate her breakfast.  Suddenly, she had a thought.   Where do I need to go when I arrive, who do I need to ask for?  She thought she had prepared everything, so in a flurry of activity she searched her new flat for the offer letter she had received a month ago.

Just in time, before she had to leave to catch the bus, she found the letter.  Clutching it in her hand, she left the flat in a hurry and ran to the bus stop.

Finding a vacant seat on the bus, Emma re-opened her offer letter and stared at the contents in dismay.  When she first read it, she had only seen the first paragraph, offering her a position and the start date.  She had failed to read the second paragraph, where it specified where she would be working.

‘Please report to Alan Hynes, Head of Entomology’ the letter said.

Entomology was the one thing Emma disliked at University but to be more precise, her arachnophobia was so severe that she would sometimes faint or throw up when she saw large spiders.

At 0845, Emma reported to Alan Hynes, he greeted her warmly, having met her before at the birthday party.  He showed her around the staff area and then said “Let’s take you through to meet your new charges.  You will be responsible for all their daily needs, but you can always ask for help from me or your other colleagues.”

He opened the door with a flourish and said “Here you are Emma, meet your new best friend, Terry the tarantula and his family.”

“HELP” thought Emma.

679 Words  Sandy Bryson

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