The Lady and the Tiger

Leilanie Stewart © 2018

The glass tower block called The City, shone before me in the morning sun. I popped a mint in my mouth and took a deep breath, then climbed the front steps and walked through the revolving doors into a wide lobby. My interview letter said I had to go to the thirtieth floor, so I made my way to the lifts to the left of the reception desk.

I pushed the button and waited. The doors opened and I saw a smartly-dressed woman in her mid-thirties, wearing a tweed jacket and pinstripe trousers. Next to her, on a leash, was a Siberian tiger.

“Are you getting in?” she asked me.

“Really? Is it safe?” I replied.

She smiled. “Sure. A lady can’t be a lady without her tiger. And a tiger needs a lady for balance. Up or down?”

“But- aren’t we on the ground floor?”

She shook her head. “No, it gets much lower than this. Rock bottom.”

I wasn’t sure what she meant, but I got in and stood with the tiger to my right. I raised my hand towards the panel on the left side, but noticed that the numbers only went as high as twenty-five. The doors closed, but the lift didn’t move.

“How do I get to the thirtieth floor?” I asked her.

“You take the lift,” she said.

I frowned. “It doesn’t go up there.”

“Up where?”

“To the thirtieth floor.”

“What about it?”

I paused, not sure if she was playing a game with me. “I need to get to the thirtieth floor.”

“Do you?” she said, smiling.

I could feel my blood rising; in a new place, with no help, being toyed with by a lady and her tiger.

“Can you tell me how to get to the thirtieth floor?” I snapped.

“You take the lift,” she said.

I pushed the button to open the door and shook my head as I walked out. On the right side of the reception desk, I spotted a door that I had not seen from the entrance. A tall, handsome black man opened the door and came out.

“You must be Cara?” he said.

“Yes, I’m here for an interview. But it was supposed to be on the thirtieth floor.”

“Not yet,” he said smiling. “Ms. Leading will see you first.”

~END OF EXCERPT~

(November 2022: This story will be included in a short story collection soon to be published in 2023. Check back for more soon!)

About Leilanie Stewart

Leilanie Stewart is an author and poet from Belfast, Northern Ireland. Her writing centres around protagonists who are on a journey of self-discovery and who explore their identity by overcoming adversity. She began writing for publication while working as an English teacher in Japan, a career pathway that has influenced themes in her writing. Her former career as an Archaeologist has also inspired her writing and she has incorporated elements of archaeology and mythology into both her fiction and poetry. In addition to promoting her own work, Leilanie runs Bindweed Magazine, a creative writing ezine, with her writer husband, Joseph Robert. Aside from literary pursuits, Leilanie enjoys spending time with her husband and their lively literary tot, a voracious reader of construction vehicle books. CONNECT WITH ME ON SOCIAL MEDIA: https://mailchi.mp/17e6ca162ff3/leilanie-stewart-author

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