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Author Topic: Story: Plain Jane  (Read 7923 times)

Offline braces37

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Re: Story: Plain Jane
« Reply #30 on: 25. November 2021, 10:26:28 AM »
The orthodontia has arrived! I'm interested in seeing how this will affect Jane.

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Plain Jane
« Reply #31 on: 25. November 2021, 21:13:22 PM »
Chapter 11


Jane was feeling quite positive when she arrived at work the day after: having the day off on the Tuesday had given her the chance to spend some time with, and talk to, her mum & dad. She was actually a bit early, and the first one in.

She put her bag, along with the tins she's brought in with her, onto her desk, switched on her laptop, then went to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee. The kettle had just boiled, and she was filling up a cafetiere with hot water, when her boss, Brian, walked in.

"Oh, hi there Jane! Good to see you!". Jane wasn't quite sure whether he was being nice, or a bit sarcastic.

"Good morning Brian!" she replied

"Ah, yes... Jane... when you're ready, can you come into my office - and bring your coffee with you!"

"Ok!".

Jane went and logged into her laptop, checked to see if there were any important emails - there weren't, apart from one saying that there would be a short departmental meeting at 10am. Next she took the picture, in it's frame, out of her bag - it was a nice picture of Peter that she's got printed yesterday - and put it in pride of place on her desk. She didn't know why she hadn't thought of doing that before.

Finally, Jane picked up her cup of coffee, and went to Brian's office.

"Close the door, and sit down" said Brian as she entered.

"Am I in trouble for yesterday?" asked Jane

"No, of course not - thanks for the text by the way: you clearly had a bit of a late night! Sarah reminded me what it was all about. Look, if you need any more time off, it's not an issue. Anyway, I need to talk to you before the 10am meeting"

"Yeah, I saw about that, what's happening?" asked Jane. Jane knew that these meetings usually meant that someone important was leaving. Or joining. Or being moved around in the organisation

"You know, I realised yesterday that I've never really taken a good look at your HR record since I joined the company 2 years ago, so I took the opportunity to do so. You joined us 10 years ago, on the traineeship program, didn't you? Then moved into IT. And you've have been progressing amazingly well ever since. And you're still with us. Have you ever thought about leaving, moving on to something different, something more interesting?"

"No, I haven't. I enjoy working here: the people are good, and the job keeps me interested."

"From what I read, I get the feeling you're ok with change, with challenges. You've been responsible for coming up with several of the ideas for new things that have helped improve things here"

"I.T.'s moving fast, and we need to keep up with what's happening out there, change is going to happen, if we like it or not. If we don't keep up, none of us will have a job"

"Yes, very true. 'Very business aware' I seem to remember it said in your HR record! So, the question is whether you're going to be ok with some more changes around here?"

"You're not leaving are you, Brian?"

"No..."

"John?" (John is Jane's 'Team Leader')

"No...."

"Ok, what then?"

"Over the last couple of years, you've probably noticed that the size of the Cloud team has been slowly growing, and I've been talking to John about it. We've decided we need to split the team into two. One, headed by John, will mainly manage and maintain the existing setup, and the other team will be responsible for managing the major updates, developing new applications, and looking at new technologies"

"Ok, so I guess that means you have someone new joining us to head up that team?"

"Actually, no..."

"So who?"

"Jane, you really do underestimate yourself...."

"Pardon?" 

"How would YOU feel about heading up that team?"

"Me?"

"Why not? Technically you are *more* than capable. I've seen you working with others out there, helping them to understand new stuff, helping them work out what they need to do to make something happen. Plus I've had some great feedback from some of our end-users about those 'how-to' guides you've been doing. You are also very good at searching for new technologies that might help us, so that's something we want to actually include as part of your job role."

Wow... Jane was shocked, but in a very positive way! "You really think I'm ready to be a Team Leader?"

"Absolutely. Ok, I suspect you will need some training on the 'leading teams' side of things, but that's no different from what John needed when he got promoted... he can probably suggest some suitable courses. Look, there's no actual 'man management' in the job, that's what I'm here for, it's more about taking on a technical task, and getting the team to deliver it for us. You, and your team, would be working closely with John and his team, and I have no doubt occasionally you'll need to borrow people from each other. So, what do you think?"

"Ummm..."

"Oh, I forgot one thing - you're going to have to take a slight pay rise! Look, if you need a day or two to think about it, that's fine...."

Jane took a very big breath, then exhaled. "No, that's ok.... I'll do it!" she replied with a big grin on her face. In fact the big grin revealed her crooked teeth, but for once, Jane didn't really mind.

"Great news, thank you Jane! I have no doubt you'll cope very well with the changes! Look, I'll be telling everyone about what's happening in the meeting at 10, so can you keep it under your hat till then?"

"Yeah sure"

"And Jane.... thank you, you're a great asset to the company!"

Jane was on cloud 9 as she came out of Brian's office. It was 9:30, so she had plenty of time to send out the email to her colleagues that she had been thinking about yesterday, and in fact, what had just happened made it even more relevant.


"Good morning all" the email started. "Sorry about making many of you you feel a bit awkward on Monday afternoon. But don't worry, I understand that it's often hard to know what to do in such circumstances.

Many of you will know what happened last year: my brother was killed - we found out at 4pm, a year ago to the day on Monday. Peter and I were very close, and it hit me hard... this last year has been hard for me at times, but having such a great team to come to work with every day made it all a LOT easier, so thank you all very much for being so understanding! The good news is that things seem to be getting better for me.

One of the things I do to help with my stresses is to cook, so you'll be happy to hear that I spent a bit of my day off yesterday cooking you all some Bakewell Tart - so please go get a coffee and grab a piece, it's in the kitchen!

You may have also noticed I just put a picture on my desk: it's a picture of Peter, my brother. Please, come across and take a look. Come and talk to me. It doesn't need to be about him, you can talk about anything. Even about old episodes of Red Dwarf, if you must! Just please don't just ignore me - I'm still a part of the team!

Love to you all!

Jane
xxx"


Jane double-checked the email, and hit 'send'. Then she took the tins of Bakewell Tart into the kitchen. When she got back to her desk, Sarah was there.

"Nice picture" said Sarah. "... and good to see you back in the office!" she added, giving Jane a quick hug.

"Thanks" said Jane. "And thanks for last night too"

"So, what were you talking to Brian about in his office? Something to do with the 10 o'clock meeting?"

"You'll have to wait till the meeting..."

"Oh, come on..."

"Don't worry, it's nothing bad...."

-------

"Oh wow, Jane, I'm SOOO pleased for you - you deserve it!" said Sarah after the meeting was over.

"Thank you" replied Jane.

"So who's gonna be in your team then?"

"Oh, come on Sarah, I only got the news myself less than an hour ago! I don't know! But here's a question for you: which team do you want to be on? And if you were in my team, would you be ok with me being your boss?"

"First question first.... I'm kinda torn between the two. I like stability, but new things can also be interesting. As for the second question: I have no problem with that at all!"

"Hey, Jane... well done" said Sunil, one of her other colleagues that she had spent a lot of time working with: she had no doubt that he would want to be part of her team, he loved trying out new stuff.

The short meeting caused a lot of chat and speculation, and many of her colleagues came over and chatted to Jane, both about her email, as well as to congratulated her, and fish a bit about who would be in her team.

Later in the day, Jane, John and Brian had a short meeting: they decided that they needed to have a very short chat with each person in the department to find out if they had a preference for which team they wanted to be in. Without much thinking, there were 3 people that Jane knew would want to be in her team, they all loved new things, but they would still need to be formally asked. Similarly, there were people who preferred working with the existing systems, and they would therefore be better working in John's team.

Jane also spent some time with John, talking a bit about the responsibilities of being a team leader, plus finding out about suitable training for her.

It was very clear to Jane that her life was about to start changing, and that she needed to change with it. Yes, Jane was ok with technical change, she'd proven that at work. She was still a little less certain about her personal life though - if only she could talk to Peter about it all, he would know what she should be doing, but that wasn't an option any more was it, so it was really going to be up to her.


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Plain Jane
« Reply #32 on: 28. November 2021, 18:35:00 PM »
Chapter 12

Jane had left work a little early: she was in a pleasantly good mood. Today had been a really good day... she and mum and dad were talking, plus she'd got that promotion. Maybe her life was actually changing for the better? Well, she decided that she was going to have a bit of fun tonight, for band practice, which required her popping into the shops on the way home.

"Someone looks very happy today" said Jane's mum as she arrived home and walked into the lounge.

"Yeah, yesterday and today have been *very* good days!" teased Jane

"Did something good happen at work?"

"Something VERY good happened at work today: I've been promoted to be a Team Leader!"

"Oh, Jane, I'm so proud of you!".......

"Thanks mum. Look, I need to go up and do something, I'll be back down in about... hmm... an hour" said Jane, taking the bag she'd bought upstairs with her. 55 minutes later she came down again.

Her mum was in the kitchen, getting dinner ready. She turned and looked at Jane.

"Oh my, not seen you like that for a while!". Jane had coloured her hair black (rather than her normal browny - reddy colour) and it was parted to the sides. Plus she was wearing a dark T-shirt, a black skirt with black tights underneath, and some dark makeup, along with some dark red lipgloss - just like she used to in her late teens. Oh, yeah, she had put on her old pair of DMs: Jane was dressed as a goth!

"Yeah, I think I need to mature my style a bit, but I thought I'd like to dress up like this one last time! So, do you need any help with dinner?"

"You could lay the table if you like" suggested her mum

----

It was just on 8 o'clock when she arrived at band practice.

"Wow, Jane, that is amazing! It certainly brings back a few memories!" said Jimmy, one of the guys in her band, when he saw Jane dressed as a Goth. "Mainly good ones, I hasten to add!"

"The 'new Jane' is it?" asked Ruth.

"No, very much the OLD Jane" replied Jane. "I think it's maybe time to move on with my life, and I thought it would be fun to dress up like a goth just one last time...."

A few minutes later Josh arrived: he was their drummer. "Good evening all... oh, nice one Jane!" he said in greeting.

"Hi Josh..." Jane replied.

"Hey, what are we all up to on Saturday night?" he asked them. "I just had a call from Brian, at The Anchor: one of their two bands can't make it on Saturday, he wondered if we were up to stepping in. It's about time we went and performed again, so I vote yes!".

They chatted for a few minutes, and decided that yes, it would be fun, and yes, they were ready (more specifically, Jane felt that she was ready) for performing again... or would be after a good evening's rehearsal: for the first time in ages, they had a real reason to actually rehearse.

"Hey, guys, if Jane fancies dressing up like this again on Saturday, why don't we all dress up retro as well?" suggested Josh.


--------------

Jane was in a very positive mood when she got back home: she'd not only had a good day at work, but things with her parents were a lot better, plus they had had a really great evening rehearsing what they would be playing on Saturday.

She went to the kitchen and made herself a drink, then sat in the lounge for a while to wind-down after the comparative excitement of band practice. Dad had already gone up to bed, but mum was still there, watching the end of a TV programme: after it finished, Jane had a nice, but short, chat with her mum.

Her drink finished, she went up to her room. She took off her glasses and hearing aids, putting them on her dressing table, then removed her goth clothes, smiling: it had been fun to dress up like that again. In fact, she was very tempted to dress like that for work tomorrow.

Rehearsal had made her a bit hot and sticky, so she went and had a shower (where she was also able to remove her makeup), then came back, and got herself ready for bed. It was odd, she felt pleasantly ready to go to sleep tonight - she didn't even feel that she needed the pain of biting her arm tonight.

It was somewhere between 8 minutes and 8 hours later (dreaming is like that, a minute can be an hour, or an hour a minute): Jane was riding her bike along the road. Yes, that bike, that road. Behind her, she could hear the sound of a big truck, getting closer. She looked around to check: yes, it was THAT huge truck again, chasing her.

'What? AGAIN? You gotta be kidding me!!' thought Jane. 'I'm getting REALLY fed up of this!'. I think Jane had finally had enough of these nightmares, and was about to do something about them. Rather than trying to cycle faster like she normally did, she moved out from the kerb, and into the middle of the lane, and even a bit further over in the lane: there was no way the truck driver could NOT see her today. Then she started to slow down, then she finally stopped. She heard the hiss of the air brakes of the truck as it stopped behind her.

Jane got off her bike, and looked up at the truck driver. 'I've really had ENOUGH of this!' shouted Jane out loudly. 'Stop following me, will you.... Just go away, go on, GO AWAY!!' screamed Jane. As she looked at the truck, it started to fade away, being replaced by the rather nice views from the top of a hill, out in the countryside. The sun was shining, and Jane turned to look around her.

'Peter?.... Peter!' shouted Jane as she saw her brother standing there.

'Hello Jane....' said Peter. They embraced.

'Peter, I thought you were... dead?'

'I am, but I'm still alive in your heart and in your dreams. I'm here whenever you want me...'

'I've missed you so much!'

'I know you have, but you don't need to worry about me, I'm ok. And I think you are too, aren't you? By the way, I do like the goth look, it's been a while since I've seen you like that! But maybe it's time you finally moved on. You're an adult now. An intelligent lady who people look up to' continued Peter. 'Oh, and well done on your promotion - you deserve it, and you're ready for it, I think!'

'Yeah, you're right, I do need to move on. I just fancied being a goth again just one last time...'

'You ought to dress like that to work tomorrow: show them that you are in charge of your own life now, that you don't really need their approval! You know, if only you'd stop putting yourself down, you'd feel a lot better - you're not bad looking you know. Look, Jane, no-one is perfect, it's just that people get good at hiding things, or ignoring things. There's nothing wrong with you.... well, maybe you could do with getting your teeth fixed, but apart from that, you're fine.... You just need to be more confident in yourself.'

Jane held Peter close, and closed her eyes, enjoying the feel of his arms around her once again.

Jane opened her eyes again, and found she was in her bed, in her bedroom, hugging her pillow tightly. For the first time in a long time Jane felt really calm. Relaxed. Happy. Dry. Had she really just met Peter's spirit, or was it just her sub-conscience remembering him? I guess it didn't really matter, as Peter had just pointed out, he was still very much alive in her heart, and clearly also in her dreams.

Jane looked at her phone, to see what time it was: she still had 15 minutes before her alarm went off, and she spent those 15 minutes remembering the many good times she had spent with her brother.

Life was starting to look a lot better for Jane.


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Plain Jane
« Reply #33 on: 30. November 2021, 16:54:01 PM »
Chapter 13

(Thursday)

Jane was not at all apprehensive as she boldly walked into her office, dressed in her goth outfit. Like last night, she was all in black, with dark eye-shadow, and heavy dark lipstick, not forgetting her old DMs. There were probably only 2 people in the office who would remember that Jane sometimes used to dress like that, and that was about 7 or 8 years ago: a lot of things had changed in that time!

Eyes turned to look at her, and the place went almost silent. Jane smiled back at them all.

"Respect, Jane, you look pretty amazing!" said one of the guys.

"Ah, going for the alternative look now you're a team leader, eh?" said another, very clearly joking.

"Jane, not seen you dressed like THAT for a few years" said Sarah. "It actually looks pretty good!"

"Probably the last time you'll see me like this too... it's time for a change, but I wanted to have a bit of fun first!" replied Jane. "Oh, by the way, what you and Simon doing on Saturday night?"

"Um, not sure, why?"

"My band is playing at the Anchor.."

"You kept that quiet!"

"It only got arranged last night, it was very much a last minute thing"

"You're in a band? I never knew that! And you're PLAYING at the Anchor? Cool! What's the band called?" asked Jim, one of her colleagues.

"It's odd, but we don't actually have a name.... and yeah, I play bass. Come along if you like rock stuff"
 


Jane was in the kitchen a few minutes later, making herself a coffee, when her boss Brian, walked in. Needless to say, he stared at Jane: he'd never seen her dressed quite like this before.

"Don't worry, Brian, it's just for the one day, something I need to get out of my system...." explained Jane.

"And there was I, thinking it was your new 'Team Leader look'!" joked Brian

"Hmm, don't tempt me" replied Jane. "Hey, Brian, you gonna be ok if I work short afternoons today and tomorrow?". Jane's company worked flexible hours, so it wasn't as if she was actually taking time off, she knew she had plenty of time banked. It was more out of politeness that she asked.

"Yeah, sure, that's fine...."

By leaving this afternoon at about 4, she would have an hour or so to go visit a hairdressers, and discuss what she could do with her hair. She also wanted to go and have a word with that girl about makeup tutorials.

You may be wondering why she's not spending that time looking for an orthodontist... well, whilst Jane is feeling quite a lot better about herself, she's not yet feel THAT much better. The idea of going to see an orthodontist still worries her. I don't know WHY, I guess it's like some people don't like going to the dentist. Or to school. Or to work for that matter!

Jane had done a bit of checking about the three main hairdressers in town. It was very clear that one was aimed much more at 'the older lady', and of the other two, one was getting good reviews. She rang them, and asked if it would be possible to come in and have a short chat about what she'd like doing with her hair: that was not a problem, and could she make about 4:15?



"Good afternoon, I'm Jane Smith, here to see Amber" said Jane to the receptionist, as she arrived at the hairdressers a few minutes early. We have to remember that Jane was dressed as a bit of a goth, but the receptionist didn't seem to care, clearly she had seen all sorts of looks in her time!

"Hi Jane, Amber is just finishing with a client, so please take a seat, and I'll let her know you are here"

"Hi Jane, I'm Amber, would you like to come with me?". She was lead to one of the cutting chairs, and Amber brought a chair over and sat next to her. "So, you are looking for a restyling then? Staying with the same look though?"

Jane explained that the goth thing was not her normal look, it was just for a day or two, that she needed to 'move on with her life', and felt that it was time that her waist-lenth hair was gone.

"So how short would you like to go?... hey, let me get a couple of books of pictures, to give you an idea". She opened the book that showed a model with very short hair, and passed it to Jane

"Oh, no, definitely not THAT short...".

"Ok, how about this then?" suggested Amber, showing her a couple of different bob cuts. "Ok, how about this one?": Amber showed her a cut that was just above the shoulders.

"Oh, yes, that's nice, yeah, that sort of length..."

"Ok" said Amber, picking up the other book, and turning to a page partway in. "Have a look at those, see if anything inspires you. Oh, you thinking about a fringe? There's several there with a fringe, if you're interested"

Jane took a look through the pictures. The idea of a fringe did appeal, but she was worried that it was a pretty drastic step: if she didn't like it, it would take a while to grow out again. While she looked through the pictures, Amber brushed Jane's hair, trying to feel what it was like.

"You have nice hair, what's your natural colour then?"

"Ah, yes, I'm a browny-reddy colour. I just fancied going black for a bit, to go with my goth look - it's one of those 'lasts a week' ones"

"So, you wanting to reverting to your natural colour when I cut it? Or want to stay black?"

"I need to stay black for a couple more days - I'm playing a gig on Saturday, and I was planning on it being my last outing dressed like this!"

"Ok... so you decided about the fringe?"

"I really don't know, I mean, would it actually suit me?"

"Want a quick preview?"

"What do you mean?"

"I can pin your front hair back, and give you a sort-of fringe, so you can see what it looks like.... if you don't mind me trimming the hair a tiny bit"

"Ok....". Amber brushed her hair straight at the front, then took the front hair, and folded it and clipped it over the back of her head, using the ends to create a fringe, which she trimmed. Jane looked at herself in the mirror. "So, what do you think?" asked Amber.

Jane smiled: she actually liked the look. "Yeah, lets go for the fringe!". She spent a few more minutes looking at pictures and chatting with Amber before they worked out what Jane wanted doing. Then they walked over to reception together.

"Can you make 3pm tomorrow?" Amber asked jane, "I seem to have a nice slot just then"

"Yeah, why not, let's get this done!"



So, Jane left work on the Friday at just before 3, and went to have her hair cut: first a shampoo, then a wet cut, then a gentle blow-dry. She was dressed rather more normally, with very little makeup, as she wanted to be able see what it would look like normally, and she wasn't disappointed: her normally reddy-brown hair - currently still quite black - was now just above her shoulders, plus she had a fringe. With the weight removed from her hair, it now had a bit of a wave to it. Jane thought back: she'd not had hair this short since she was at primary school! And she'd never had a fringe before.

"You look happy with what I've done" said Amber

"Absolutely, and thanks! It's even better than I thought it would be!"

"I've tried to do it in a way that you should be able to do yourself" explained Amber. "Just give it a good brush out when you've washed it, and either let it dry naturally, or use a hairdryer whilst brushing it. You should find it a lot easier to look after now it's a lot shorter"

Jane was really pleased with her new look, and it had the added bonus that her hair felt so much lighter!

"Hey mum.." called Jane, when she got back home a little later.

"In the lounge" her mum replied. Jane walked in to the lounge, but said nothing. Her mum looked up at her... and stared, then a big smile appeared on her face. "Oh my goodness, I wasn't expecting that.... but it actually looks rather nice on you. I bet it feels strange, you've had long hair for so long"

That night, Jane went to bed feeling good with herself. She had chatted with her mum and dad a bit more this evening, and she was taking small steps to allow herself to move on with her life. Once again, she was sufficiently relaxed that she didn't feel the need to bite her arm. If only the bad dreams would just go away, Jane could really start to move on with her life.

"I love you Peter!" she said as she closed her eyes. Moments later she was fast asleep....


Offline annasun251

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Re: Story: Plain Jane
« Reply #34 on: 01. December 2021, 19:32:44 PM »
such an interesting story!

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Plain Jane
« Reply #35 on: 01. December 2021, 22:16:30 PM »
such an interesting story!

Thank you for your feedback, it's always nice to hear people are enjoying the story! You've probably spotted that I'm currently posting every other day, which seems to be about the pace I can write, although that might drop next week, as I'll be a bit busier. So another chapter for you all tomorrow!

Offline acornjohn2001

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Re: Story: Plain Jane
« Reply #36 on: 02. December 2021, 08:43:47 AM »
Great work as usually, Sparky!

Offline braces37

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Re: Story: Plain Jane
« Reply #37 on: Yesterday at 01:21:43 »
It's good to see things looking up for Jane. I always look forward to your postings.

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Plain Jane
« Reply #38 on: Yesterday at 18:07:32 »
Chapter 14


There were two bands playing at The Anchor on Saturday, and they would be on first, at 8pm, playing for an hour, so needed to be at the pub a bit before 7pm so they could get themselves setup and do a quick soundcheck (the other band had been there in the afternoon to set themselves up). The Anchor was actually a good place for small bands to play, because not only did they have a house PA system (with a guy who ran the PA), they also had a set of guitar amps, and even a drum kit, if you needed that. However, Josh preferred to take along his own electric drum kit, which he would plug into one of the amps. Otherwise, all they needed to take along were their own guitars and guitar leads!

"Oh, wow, amazing, I do like your hair!" commented Ruth, who was already there when Jane arrived. "It actually goes better with your goth look!".

"Thank you" replied Jane, "although I'm not planning on keeping the goth look beyond tonight. I feel that it's just time I did something with myself: I still dress quite a lot like I did as a teenager, but I'm in my twenties!"

"Well, I don't know what you think, but I think black hair actually suits you, you should keep it"

"Yeah, it's growing on me too, so maybe I will"

Ruth herself looked pretty good, dressed in a flowery short 60s style dress. Soon after, Jimmy arrived, dressed up in a very 1970s polo-neck shirt and bold checked trousers. Finally Josh got there: he was in an old flowery shirt and yellow bell-bottomed trousers. A strange set of stage outfits, but it wasn't about trying to be over-professional, it was really about having fun playing their music.

-------

It was 7:45. The setup had been easy, only taking about 10 minutes, and the PA sounded good. Jane had spent the last few minutes putting on the rest of her goth makeup, but was now feeling a bit nervous. She was currently sat in the loo, partly to do what you might normally do in a loo, but partly because it was quiet. She sat there with her eyes closed and was now trying to relax. The main reason that she was feeling nervous was because they hadn't played live for over a year, and more specifically, Peter had always been there when they played before, but obviously he wasn't there tonight.

'Oh, Peter, I so wish you were here tonight!' thought Jane, in the quiet of her cubicle.

'But Jane, I AM here, you know I'll always be with you..' said a soothing voice in her head. 'Don't be worried, Jane - you can do this!'. Hearing his voice seemed to help a lot. 'But I'll tell you what, isn't it time you actually had a name for your band?'.

That last thought made Jane smile. Yes, they really DID need a name, and suddenly one came to mind. A bit of a strange one, but it just seemed to somehow fit.

Jane took a couple of deep breaths, then left the loo, and went into the small room where the band was.

"Guys... we've been together now for what... seven years? Or is it eight? I think it's time we had a name for the band!" she said.

"Ok....." said Jimmy, ".. and I'm guessing you have an idea for a name?"

"Yes, I do. I hope it doesn't sound too narcissistic though. I was thinking about 'Peter's Sister'...". There was a short silence as everyone thought about the name.

"You know" said Ruth, "I rather like it....."

"Yeah" added Josh, "I'm ok with that. After all, you're the one that originally got us together, and Peter helped us a lot too. What do you think, Jimmy?"

"Yeah" replied Jimmy, nodding, "let do it! 'Good evening everyone, we are Peter's Sister!'... Yeah, that works. A bit strange, but so are most bands names these days!"

"Thanks guys! And guys, thanks for all dressing up tonight, you all look quite amazing! Hey, I was thinking, can we change the way we start the set tonight? No introductions to start with, just straight into the first song, then I'll do the intro's after that?". Everyone seemed happy with the suggestion.

A few minutes later the guy who ran the PA came through. "You guys ready?" he asked.

"Yup. PA all set? We're going to go straight into our first song, and do the introductions after..."

"Ok, that works for me".

While he returned to the mixing console, Jane, Jimmy and Ruth grabbed their guitars, and Josh grabbed his drumsticks, and they all walked out onto the small stage. The three of them plugged in their guitars once again, quickly strumming them to check the volumes were right. Josh tested the level of his drums, then pressed the bass drum pedal thee times, then hit the snares a couple of times: the rest of the band joined straight in. As she played, all of Jane's stresses disappeared: she was really enjoying herself.

At the end of the song, they got a lot of applause. Jane could see several of the guys from work had come along, as had both Sarah and Simon.

"Hi everyone! I'm Jane, that's Josh on the drums, and Ruth and Jimmy on guitars. So, it's only taken us seven or eight years, but we finally have a name for our band: we are 'Peter's Sister'! <crowd applause> It's actually really good to be performing live again, it's been far too long - maybe if tonight goes ok, they'll ask us back sometime! I recognise a lot of faces out there from work: thanks for coming along guys, hope you all enjoy the evening! So, here's a song you might recognise, it's one we stole from Darkest Knights....". Jane started playing on her bass, then everyone else joined in.

By the end of the hour, Jane was soaked in sweat, partly from the playing, partly because the stage lights were quite hot (the pub still used those old incandescent lights, they hadn't upgraded to LED ones yet!), ans partly because there were so many people watching them, all warming the room up. They finished their last song, then unplugged their guitars and walked off the stage. However, it appears that the band had gone down very well, and the crowd had other ideas, and were calling for 'More.... more....', something that had never actually happened to them before.

They each quickly grabbed a towel, and wiped themselves down. "So, I guess we need to play one more.... any suggestions?" asked Jane.

"How about 'I predict a Riot'?" suggested Josh, half joking, half serious

"Yeah, good choice!" said Jane, smiling. "Everyone ok with that?" asked Jane. They walked back onto the stage to applause. "Ok, because you all asked so nicely, we'll slip in one more. This is one made famous by 'The Kaiser Chiefs'..."

With their set finally completed, Ruth helped Josh get his electric drum kit out of the way, so the other band could play their set. "Guys, that was such fun! I'd forgotten how good it was to play to an audience! Thank you all so much!" said Jane with a huge grin. After wiping herself down again, and then cooling off for a few minutes, she went with the others out to to the front of the stage, and joined the audience.

"Hey, Jane...." shouted Simon, to get her attention. "Well done! That was really good!" he added, giving Jane a nice hug. "There's a pint over here for you!". Simon was with Sarah, and several guys from work, including Jim.

"You know, I can't help but notice, but your hair looks quite different today...." said Simon. "You wearing a wig?"

"No, I got it cut yesterday: what do you think?"

"Well, it's certainly a bold change, but yeah, it suits you... I like it..."

"So THAT'S why you left work early yesterday!" said Sarah.

Jane sat down with the group from work, also persuading Ruth to join them.

"So how did you actually end up in a band then?" asked Jim from work. Jane explained briefly how she started to play bass, how she joined a band, but how they then all left, so she set up her own band. "The other day, when you said 'your band', I didn't realise you actually meant YOUR band! You are actually pretty amazing, Jane!"