This is Fluff’s entry to the Doris Gooderson’s contest: A short story on any topic with no more than 1,200 words.
Susan adjusted her glasses with one finger, noticing with irritation that she had a new email. She allowed herself a quick sip from the cup of tea that rested on a brown coaster on her desk before going through the content of the message. It was an internal round mail about Peggy’s last article for the company’s blog. Peggy had picked the clichéd line, ‘It’s that time again’ as a subject. Susan rolled her eyes in annoyance. What time it was exactly, she didn’t know but she naturally assumed that it was time for her to get incredibly annoyed again by poor writing skills. Peggy’s to be precise. She hated everything that Peggy published on the blog. It was nothing but a tasteless, vomiting pit of banalities. Susan had been trying for years to inject a little sanity into the company’s blog but nobody would ever go as far as reading her articles, let alone publishing them, which was a pity because she remembered a really good one she had written a few months ago about how to remove grease stains from your carpet.
Susan sighted and clicked on the link that Peggy promoted as a life-changing experience. A page with a giant photo of Peggy’s podgy cheek squeezed against a notebook opened. The title screamed in large font, ‘How Bullet Journaling Changed my Life for the Better’. Then followed an emotional explanation on how writing down goals, motivational quotes, and grateful thoughts each day helped her become a better person. Susan glanced over the screen to look at the girl at the other end of the office, laughing proudly as colleagues buzzed around her desk presumably to discuss the life-changing article. ‘Nope’, she thought to herself, ‘that idiot looks just as unbearable as ever.’ Needless to say that Susan resented her for her role as preferred office blogger, but she liked to believe that she would have disliked Peggy nevertheless anyway. Her spectacled eyes returned to the article with a newly found interest. She had just noticed something that changed everything: Peggy described her life goals and how a journal helped her on the journey. Now that Susan thought about it, her nemesis did look a little less chubby, which would have been meaningless except for the fact that Peggy had been a chunky marketing assistant for years, despite having tried every single diet on the market. The bullet journal had somehow had better results than the expensive keto diet plan that she had discussed in a previous article.
‘To conclude, believe me when I say that bullet journaling can make your dreams come true.’ Susan checked again on Peggy’s silhouette at the other side of the office, then for the first time ever, she decided to follow Peggy’s advice. Later than day, her favourite cashier raised a quizzical eyebrow as he scanned a thick, squared notebook and a pack of colourful pens along with Susan’s gastro pie and chocolate cream for the evening.
Only when she sat down at her kitchen table, surrounded by an empty pot of chocolate cream and a medium size notebook, did Susan realize that she didn’t have much of a clue about what on earth one was supposed to write down in those journals. But she pretended otherwise by spending the next half an hour preparing a neat first page that stated her name in bold letters to anybody who would dare open it. That is to her only because Susan believed that journals, bulleted or not, should be for the eyes of their owners only. The next page, she remembered from the infamous article, was the index, which she left blank for the time being. She then moved to build her life plan page, as Peggy had called it, the page that summarized who you wanted to be. The picture at the bottom of the article had displayed a large pie like chart filled in different colours that seemed to refer to Peggy’s aspirations in kindness, generosity, intelligence and a handful of other platitudes that Susan had chosen to ignore. Her own life plan was easy: She wanted to be the company’s blog writer. Under Susan’s neat handwriting a list of names appeared on the paper, relating everyone who stood in her way to becoming blogger en chef. She gave herself until the end of the year to fulfil her dream. She carefully proceeded to place the journal at the bottom of her handbag and forgot about it until weeks later when Peggy invited everyone to her departure party after work. She was leaving the company.
Susan then remembered the journal, and, opening it for the first time since she had bought it, realized that she had written Peggy’s name on her life plan to become the company’s blogger. She picked a red pen and crossed the name out. That’s exactly when the simplicity of it hit her. Susan was one step closer to her dream. One name less on the list. A handful of others remained though. That was something she knew she could handle if she used the journal as a motivational guide, just like Peggy suggested in her article. But she wasn’t quite sure how exactly she should handle it.
Her chance came a month later when she was asked to organize lunch for a meeting in the office. Susan dutifully considered the dietary requirements of each guest and recognized one name from her list. She surprised herself as she made sure to order a peanut butter based sandwich for her colleague with severe nuts allergy. She would have never thought herself capable of it, but she was pleased to discover that she had found her inner strength with bullet journaling. Unfortunately she couldn’t be around to call an ambulance later that day. She was hiding in the toilet, a pen in her hand and a journal open on her lap. Another name was crossed out. Susan thought to herself that Peggy had been right all along: Progress did look better in a coloured pie chart.