FICTION: Learning from Hawks by Elaine Desmond

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The usual middle-aged men with their grey suits and matching nine-to-five pallor are assembled around the boardroom table. You hear the hum of their voices when you open the door. A few glance at you as you enter before looking away again quickly – then they all fall silent.

The air in the boardroom is stifling and adds to your mounting panic. As you sit, you re-arrange your brightly coloured skirt and focus on your breathing. At the head of the table, Herr Mueller, your boss, rises.

‘Good morning, gentlemen…and lady.’ He casts you a non-smiling glare. ‘Now that we’re all present, we can begin.’

A number of the men look pointedly in your direction. You were only just late – perhaps a minute; five at most. You’ve a familiar urge to run but force yourself to remain seated.

Rolf Mueller is the George Clooney of this boardroom. As well as being Chief Executive of the organisation, he’s also a commander in the Swiss army. All of the men here have completed their compulsory military training under him. The fact that he is a big deal has been inculcated into them during years of team building exercises in the Swiss Alps.

You, on the other hand, relocated from England a year ago. A year ago to this very day, in fact. The complex bonds and rivalries resulting from the army experiences of these men are still only vaguely understood by you. At 31, you’re younger than them -and terrified of them – though you won’t admit to the latter. Yet you’re here to face them today in a battle of your own – and one which you know you can’t possibly win. But then, you’ve realised, it all depends on how you define winning.

As Herr Mueller begins to speak, you look at the cerulean sky beyond the large window in front of you. The cloudless expanse is spread out like an inviting ocean. As you gaze at it, longing to dive into it, your hawk appears. You say your hawk – in reality, you’ve no way of knowing if it’s always the same one. You just find it comforting to think that it might be.

Your hawk has been a constant companion throughout these tough months. Something about it always captures your attention – its floating grace instilling a silent sense of awe and intrigue – so much so that you’ve carried out some research to try to understand more.

You’ve discovered that hawks have no natural predators. Unlike foraging animals who suffer from the sensory overload of being both predator and prey, hawks do not have a pre-determined hunting motion. Instead, they scan their environment randomly as they move freely across the sky. This allows them access to a far broader perspective than that made possible through the automatic and blinkered behaviour patterns of those who must watch for their own survival while securing their prey.

The bird hovers, caressing a breeze with its majestic, feathered wingspan. Now, it draws closer to the window and you hold your breath. You can almost see the lively, black eyes skimming the room. It steadies for a moment, then wheels around, heading for the distant mountains, seeming to dismiss these men. For you, though, their menace is very real.

Herr Mueller is unique in the boardroom in sporting a tanned, healthy face. He is tall, with a stately bearing. The shoulders are broad, his moustache well-groomed and the silver-grey hair thick and shining. You envy his vitality, confidence, balance – all aspects you feel you lack.

As he clicks the mouse with steady fingers, a series of pie-charts appear on the projector screen. The graphics proclaim what you already know – the company is in chaos.

‘And I’m sorry to say this, Frau Davis,’ he says, as you knew he eventually would. ‘But we cannot overlook the contribution of supply problems to this situation.’

His management team mutters angry remarks under their breaths.

‘Constant delays are losing us customers. Resulting in this.’ A small red dot from a pointer in his hand flutters over the lost market share graph.

Unlike the stilted Germanic stiffness of the English accent of his colleagues, Herr Mueller’s fluent English has a relaxed American twang. It accentuates his suave charm. His closely-set blue eyes lock onto yours and you feel your breath tighten as everyone turns to look at you.

‘Your sales colleagues are dealing with angry customers daily. As Head of Supply, have you anything you wish to say on that?’

You clear your throat. Today, you will not make your usual meek apologies. Because, today – finally – you have nothing to lose.

You would stand but doubt your legs would support you. If you expose the least vulnerability, you know these men will bring you down like a hunted animal.

‘Firstly, salespeople are not the only ones dealing with angry customers.’ Your voice quivers. ‘I do, too. Daily, too, in fact.’

Some of the men look at Herr Mueller, shaking their heads.

‘And zis is relevant how?’ Herr Friedmann, shirt straining to cover his stomach and remaining strands of hair straining to cover his large, pale head, is indignant.

Again, you clear your throat.

‘It is relevant, Herr Friedmann, because we need to remember that this is a merger. It is not a normal state of affairs.’

There’s more disgruntled mumbling around the table, but you press on.

‘We’re trying to bring together two enormous supply chains with separate IT systems, processes, ways of working. In supply sites all over the world. It’s an enormous undertaking and one that can’t possibly happen overnight. But we all work for the same company now. We should be pulling together, not trying to apportion blame.’

You take a sip of water. You sense the mounting antagonism towards you and your hand shakes as you return the glass to the table.

‘I know there are cultural aspects which make understanding difficult,’ you continue. ‘But -.’

Herr Züber – sharp-faced with bad skin and a bulbous nose – interrupts. He’s capable of smiling only in disdain or sycophancy – you’ve, of course, only ever experienced the former.

‘Forgive me, Herr Mueller, but I do not have time to listen to zese…excuses.’ His voice rises. ‘Frau Davis does not do a good job, even her team says so. She does not learn our operating system, our language, our customs.’ He counts these failings out on his fingers. ‘She -’

You interrupt back, ignoring his glare.

‘With respect, Herr Züber, I’ve been focussed 7 days a week on dealing with supply problems. Those issues that you and your colleagues here seem to believe you have the luxury of simply complaining about.’

The collective intake of breath creates a vacuum. The men jostle in their chairs, faces outraged – but they remain seated. Herr Mueller raises both hands, palms downwards, urging calm. They quieten…slowly – and you seize the opportunity to continue your onslaught.

‘Just one more thing, if I may, Herr Mueller – and that’s regarding my own performance. Let’s be very clear here.’ Your voice is becoming stronger. ‘I’ve worked in middle management in the UK for the past 5 years. During that time, I recruited and managed successful teams and have always had glowing performance reviews. That’s why Herr Mueller recruited me. Unless you’re questioning his judgement?’

There are more angry mumbles around the table.

‘No. So, the fact is, gentlemen, that, like it or not, without my efforts, those lost sales would be significantly worse than they currently are.’

Even you are amazed at your new-found courage. But, while it’s a pleasant surprise to you, your boardroom colleagues clearly find it otherwise.

You think briefly of your marriage break-up – how badly you needed to leave England. And the debt you were in, how the relocation lump-sum had felt like a godsend. Coming here hadn’t involved a decision – you’d had no choice.

And if you’d given up within this past year, it would all have been for nothing. You would have lost the relocation payment – that was the deal. But these men weren’t aware of what they’d consider to be your ‘personal problems’. Nor, you suspect, would they care.

‘Come, Frau Davis,’ Herr Mueller says. His smile is deceptively amiable. You’re aware that his tactic of choice for diffusing the anger of his senior management has been to undermine you. ‘You can’t deny that these problems should have been sorted by now. People are frustrated, they -’

‘I understand that, Herr Mueller,’ you interrupt. He flinches and a rare flash of anger tightens his face.

‘Don’t you think I feel that, too? I mean, I’m the one who, along with many others not present here, has been fighting fires in this company for months now.’ You look around. ‘But you cannot place the responsibility for all that is going wrong on me. I simply won’t accept that. Not anymore.’

There’s a silence as Herr Mueller hesitates, trying to assess his next move. You’ve altered your strategy of apologetic acquiescence, so he’s going to have to adjust his, too.

‘We must remember, of course,’ he says now, addressing the men directly, ‘that Frau Davis did not recruit her team. They’re not good workers – never have been.’

He’s offering you an opt-out – save yourself by blaming your team. You know too that, if you take it, it will be relayed back to add strain to already tentative employee relations.

‘My team were demotivated before I arrived, that’s true. According to them, they had very real grievances with management that were never properly addressed.’

‘They would say that, Frau Davis.’ Herr Mueller’s voice has become cold. ‘You were new, knew nothing of the history or the characters involved.’

‘But surely ongoing concerns about their competence should have been dealt with by Herr Jaeger before I arrived.’

Herr Mueller glares at you in disbelief. Everyone knows that he and your predecessor, Herr Jaeger, were close army friends.

‘Now who is doing ze blaming?’ Herr Züber asks, rushing to Herr Mueller’s defence. But your boss glares at him, as if warning that he will pursue this in his own way. You leave the meeting feeling like you’ve been branded with a target on your back – and it is firmly in Herr Mueller’s sights.

You return to your office in the building across the paved courtyard. Even the physical layout here mirrors the hierarchy. Senior management share the building with Herr Mueller while you and your team form part of the lower-graded operational functions that are housed separately.

The divide reflects the idea that exposure to the messy politics and problems that comprise your working life would compromise the overview of senior executives and affect their ability to strategise effectively. So, you’re the go-between – responsible for telling them only as much about the business realities as their delicate sensibilities and patience can bear. In the current mayhem, the set-up has left you unsupported, your relocation from the ‘other side’ meaning you are being held solely responsible for the global supply issues of a complex nightmare of a merger.

The location of your office on the third and top floor indicates that, in your building at least, you have status. A move from here could take you only to the hallowed premises across the way – or eject you into the sky itself.

In keeping with your position, your office is large. It’s dominated by an impressive dark-oak desk covered with papers, an overflowing ashtray and partially emptied plastic coffee cups. A round meeting table with padded orange chairs are positioned in one corner.

You open the window which dominates the back wall and a blast of cold air whips into the room. You see the white ridges of the Alps beyond the snow-covered fields. You long to be out there – this office has always had the feel of a snare.

There’s a knock on your open door and you turn.

‘So. How was it?’

Jenny, your assistant, breezes in. She’s from Namibia but has been living here for 15 years. Unlike you, she speaks fluent Swiss-German and is one of the few colleagues that you trust.

‘Depends how you look at it, I guess.’

You close the window and take a seat behind your desk. Jenny sits at the other side, takes a cigarette from her pack and hands you one. You both light up.

‘Let’s just say the sharks are still circling.’

She tuts, annoyed on your behalf. ‘God! What a bunch of prats.’

‘Oh, don’t worry. I’m just deciding when and how to start swimming.’

‘Good for you.’

Your phone rings and she looks at you as if to question whether you’re taking calls. You shake your head as she lifts the receiver.

‘Frau Davis’ office. Good morning.’

There’s a pause as she listens.

‘I’m afraid she’s out of the office right now, Herr Mueller. Can I take a message?’

She looks at you, grimaces.

‘Yes, Herr Mueller. I’ll let her know.’

She hangs up.

‘He wants to see you. Immediately. He didn’t sound happy.’

‘No,’ you say, inhaling. ‘I don’t expect he did.’

As your heels clip across the courtyard, it starts to snow – swirling flakes that tickle your face before dissolving. You need to let all this wash off you just as easily, you tell yourself. Because none of it’s personal – it’s just business. That’s what you’re constantly being told.

You give a few twirls in the empty space, allowing your head to fall back and your skirt to fan out like a colourful tutu. For a moment, you feel uplifted, free. Then you look at the drab brick buildings on either side of you and become tense again. You walk on.

You take the lift to Herr Mueller’s office on the fifth floor and knock on his door. When you hear the familiar ‘come’, you open it.

He’s standing at the window, watching as the snow becomes heavier and the sky darker. His office overlooks the courtyard and you’re suddenly aware that he may have seen you walking here – maybe even witnessed your impromptu twirls. An inner heat of embarrassment burns your cold cheeks at the thought.

The snow has settled like dandruff on your green velvet jacket. You wipe it off, then re-arrange your skirt, noticing its looseness. You’ve been losing weight, have hardly slept for months. Securing this pay-out has taken its toll.

Herr Mueller’s office is enormous and smells pleasantly of aftershave. His oak desk is tidy and stylish artwork decks the walls. A circular meeting table – a scaled up version of yours – takes up one corner of the room and an expensive jacket hangs neatly on the back of a plush chair.

He flourishes here and you do not, you think now. It’s as simple as that. But, then again, he has established himself in a far more solid position in Swiss society than you could ever hope to.

‘You seem to have the same problem with snow in Switzerland as we have with rain in England.’ You laugh, shaking your dark, damp curls. The attempt at humour is an effort to relax yourself.

But Herr Mueller doesn’t laugh; he doesn’t even look at you. Instead, he presents you with his profile – a long, straight nose and sharp cheekbones in a noble, watchful face.

‘Take a seat, Frau Davis. Please.’

You sit and, finally, he turns his direct gaze on to you. He leans to sit back against the window-sill.

‘I must say, you’re a formidable woman.’ He nods to the window. ‘I was just thinking that I don’t know many women who would do what you have – move country alone without speaking the language, take on such a tough job, deal with -’

‘Yes, Herr Mueller.’ You interrupt, making it clear that you know his flattery is not the reason you’re here. ‘But, as I said this morning, you recruited me. You surely had some faith in my ability to deal with the challenge.’

‘Maybe I underestimated its difficulty.’

There’s a pause as you consider this.

‘How long have you been here now?’ he continues.

‘One year. A year to this very day, in fact.’ You stop yourself, blushing, knowing you’ve revealed too much.

‘Aha. I see.’ He signed the contract – he knows the deal. ‘My congratulations. Your relocation package is safe. This is indeed a big day for you.’

He comes to take a seat across from you.

‘Well, I must say you’ve earned it. But you never really intended for this to be long-term, did you? I mean, this morning’s meeting – you were intent on burning bridges. And Herr Züber was right – you haven’t tried to learn German, to make friends, to settle…’

You feel your frustration mounting again. ‘I have been rather busy, Herr Mueller. It’s only in recent months that I’ve had a few weekends off.’

He shakes his head. ‘And still nothing improves. That must be tough. On you as much as anyone.’

He looks at you like you’re a mystery he’s trying to unravel.

‘And then there’s your team. They tell anyone who’ll listen that you communicate badly.’

Your team – that singularly misnamed group of individuals. The smallest points in meetings descend into major issues to be debated ad infinitum. The only thing they seem united on is that they don’t want you here.

‘Oh, I’m sure complaints about me have found any number of willing listeners, particularly among your management team.’ You laugh at his raised eyebrow. ‘Look, I’m not saying I haven’t made mistakes. But the truth is my team’s fluency in English is varied. Up until the merger, they spoke Swiss-German, then overnight they’re told they have to speak English. It’s not surprising there are communication breakdowns, especially when things get as crazy as they have been.’

He looks thoughtful as you continue.

‘Then there are others who – well, as you said this morning – struggle with their jobs.’

He nods. ‘A polite way of putting it.’

You shrug. ‘They fear being exposed by a new boss so they try to cover things up. And I don’t always have the time to be tactful when I’ve got customers shouting at me for answers. Having said that, I would never criticise them openly in a high-level meeting as you did.’

Herr Mueller looks at you, makes a steeple of his fingers beneath his chin.

‘No. Your censure was very clear. I admired the loyalty, even if I found it misplaced.’

‘They’re my team, Herr Mueller. You don’t ditch on your own.’

He looks down, smiles to himself.

‘You know, Frau Davis, you’ve confronted me more times today than I can remember happening in the past – maybe – 20 years.’ You know your self-assertion is provoking him, but you realise it was always going to have to. His authority was always going to challenge you. ‘Your…bluntness…to superiors, in particular – it’s just not the Swiss way.’

‘No. But it seems they’re pretty blunt behind their superiors’ backs,’ you reply and his face flinches at your sharpness. ‘Look, I’m sorry, but maybe the hierarchy here is part of the problem. It doesn’t allow trust, compassion…any sense of…I don’t know…a common humanity.’

There’s a brief look of surprise at your outburst – then he leans back, puts his hands behind his head and laughs.

‘You really are determined to rock the Swiss boat today. Is that because you feel it’s time to leave it?’

‘I didn’t come to rock boats, Herr Mueller. I came to do a job. Perhaps you were looking for a scapegoat, not a Head of Supply.’

He takes his hands from behind his head and leans towards you.

‘Come now. You allowed yourself to become a scapegoat. I couldn’t save you from yourself. You failed to seek allies, to ask for help – insisted on doing things your own way. As a strategy, it left you isolated.’

You meet his steady gaze.

‘It sounds like it’s you who has decided it’s time I left this boat.’

There. It was said. He sits back.

‘We were born leaders, Frau Davis. It’s not easy but there’s nothing we can do about it. It’s our destiny. And part of leadership means knowing when to withdraw the troops. There’s much about you I admire but -’

‘But my position here is untenable?’

‘I’m afraid that, after this morning’s meeting, I believe that to be the case. Yes.’

You look at him. Out of all of them, he has intimidated you the most – but your fear of him has slid from you, like the shedding of a skin. There is nothing he can do to you anymore.

‘And I don’t have a problem with that. Really. But where do we go from here? I mean, you can’t fire me – I haven’t done anything wrong. As evidenced by the excellent performance review you gave me just a few weeks ago. ’

He lays his large hands flat on the table.

‘I don’t want to fire you. You’ve built a good career in this company, are well-respected elsewhere in the organisation. What I propose is a relocation.’

‘So, the same thing can happen all over again?’ You shake your head. ‘No. Look, the truth is being here has changed me, whether your colleagues see it or not. I don’t feel like I belong in this company anymore. I’m ready to go. All I ask is that you respect my contract – meaning that my relocation package is secured, and I’m guaranteed a full salary for 3 months with all expenses paid to wherever I go next.’

‘Fine.’ He nods. ‘If that’s what you want. I’ll just need you to sign a non-disclosure agreement. I’d also ask that you leave at the end of the week, without a word to anyone. I’m keen to avoid any bad feeling around this.’

‘Ok. Done.’

You shake hands. You know your mysterious absence will mean that he’s free to say anything he chooses about your departure – and that his account is likely to enhance his own reputation at the expense of yours. And you tell yourself it really doesn’t matter anymore. Yet, somewhere inside, you know that it does. It still does.

On the Friday morning – your last day – you receive the official letter from Human Resources. It confirms your discussion with Herr Mueller; it doesn’t, however, mention his request that you leave without explanation.

You cross the courtyard to return your signed copy to HR, then ring Jenny and ask her to come to your office. You close the door.

‘Look, I want you to keep this to yourself for now, but I’m leaving today.’

She puts her hands to her mouth. ‘You’ve been shafted. I knew it. They got what they wanted after all.’

‘It’s not like that, Jen. Really. I got what I wanted, too. Look, let’s have a drink later and I’ll explain. Just ask the team to come here at 4, would you? And keep it casual – say it’s for a quick update on something.’

She places a box under your desk so you can begin to pack discreetly.

At 3.55 precisely, the 6 people who comprise your team take seats around your meeting table. Helene and Gerhard – both close to retirement; good at their jobs, but slow. Mattheus – middle-aged and a steady worker with a kind heart; Silvio – 21, bright, but with absolutely no interest in what he’s doing; Vreni – your age; good but wanted your position so has been deliberately obstructive; and Gustav – a few years younger than you and a hothead – terrible at his job and continually anxious that he’ll be found out. Jenny sits in the chair in front of your desk while you rest on the edge of it.

‘Firstly, everyone, thanks for coming. I know you’re all keen to start your weekends so I’ll keep this brief. I just wanted to let you know that today is my last day.’

They look at each other in astonishment. Gustav is the first to speak.

‘I hope you know it was nothing I said.’

The statement seals his guilt. You note the looks of frustration that the rest of the team throw at him. You also note that he assumes you’ve been fired. That is, no doubt, what everyone would have thought when your office was empty on Monday. And you’re guessing there would have been little in the way of formal clarification. At least, you’ve set the record straight – it’s in the interests of good communication, after all.

‘It’s my choice to go, Gustav. Herr Mueller thought it best I leave quickly once I’d made that decision, and I agreed with him. Nonetheless, I wanted to thank you all for your efforts. I know it hasn’t been easy dealing with a new boss at a time when so much else was changing. And a foreign -’

The phone rings and Jenny answers it.

‘It’s Herr Mueller,’ she says, having pressed the Hold button. ‘He wants to see you. Now.’

You look at her.

‘Then tell him he should come here. To my office.’

She stares at you. It’s not accepted practice that Herr Mueller would ever come to this building. You see her visibly quake.

‘I can’t say that,’ she says.

You lean across and take the receiver from her. She releases the Hold button so that he can hear.

‘Rolf, hi,’ you say. ‘Katy here. I’m really sorry but I’m afraid I’m wearing heels today and the courtyard’s extremely slippery. Is there any way at all you could come to me?’

‘I will come.’ His voice is cold. He’s clearly not impressed but he’s too well trained in Swiss gallantry to refuse.

You finish the meeting quickly and leave your door ajar. You can almost hear the static in the air as Herr Mueller is spotted crossing the courtyard. You understand enough Swiss-German to recognise the shouts of ‘Herr Mueller kommt’ that reverberate around the stairwell. Employees who were winding down for the weekend rush to turn computers back on and grab phones.

He arrives at the door of your office as you’re returning with a coffee.

‘Please,’ he says, allowing you to enter first.

‘Thank you,’ you reply. ‘Would you like one?’ You nod to your cup.

‘No. Thank you.’

He closes the door behind him and you take a seat at the table which your team has recently vacated. Herr Mueller joins you. He dwarfs your office, making the chair and table appear as though they were designed for children.

‘I just wanted to say goodbye, Katy.’ Your name sounds strange on his lips, like he has mistaken you for someone else. He smiles, also seeming to find it uncomfortable. ‘And to say sorry. I know how hard you tried. This isn’t how I would have wanted it to end.’

You nod, suddenly afraid you’ll cry. You look at your hands.

‘Maybe my approach was wrong for Switzerland. But, then, maybe Switzerland was wrong for me.’

You look up at him but he’s not watching you. Instead, his eyes are trailing something beyond the window and you turn to see what has him so enthralled. It’s your hawk. It’s wheeling around the sky as if performing somersaults. You’re filled with a buoyant sense that this is where it has been leading you all along.

‘This has been a learning experience for me too, you know,’ Herr Mueller replies. He reluctantly withdraws his eyes from the display outside. ‘They do say we learn the most difficult lessons in the most trying of circumstances.’

‘Well, they’ve certainly been that.’

You smile at each other and you realise that you find it impossible to dislike him.

‘The truth is I’m not used to women like you,’ he says. ‘Maybe this is something I need to overcome.’ He looks at his large signet wedding ring.

‘I’ll take that as a compliment.’

He laughs.

‘And I wish you all the best for your future. I’m sure you’ll be a great success in whatever you do.’

He stands. You imagine he’ll click his heels, salute you – but he simply shakes your hand.

‘Oh, and by the way,’ his eyes twinkle as he turns his head back to look at you, ‘keep up the dancing.’

After he has left, Jenny arrives to help finish your packing. She has diverted her phone on to yours. It rings now and she answers it, listening for a moment.

‘Yes, Herr Mueller. I’ll let them know.’

She hangs up.

‘What now?’ you ask.

‘He wants to see your team in his office immediately.’

‘Well, they’re not strictly my team anymore. They’re all his now.’

‘I’m not sure how happy any of them will be about that. The team aren’t impressed at the way he’s sending you off like this, you know. They’re saying it’s like you’re in disgrace.’

You smile. ‘It’s a bit late for loyalty now.’

‘Oh, the Swiss have their own sense of etiquette.’ She rolls her eyes. ‘Believe me, as a foreigner you’ll never quite get it.’

She dials a number.

‘Gustav, can you get everyone together, please? Herr Mueller wants to see you all in his office right away.’

There’s a pause as she listens.

‘Are you sure that’s a good idea?’

Silence again.

‘Look, if that’s what you all decide, then one of you will have to inform Herr Mueller. I’m not getting involved.’

Another pause.

‘Ok. I’ll let her know.’ She hangs up and you glance at her.

‘I don’t believe this.’ She’s biting her lip and shaking her head, seeming unusually touched. ‘Gustav is going to ring Herr Mueller.’

‘Ring him?’ You’re busy sealing your box, but you stop. ‘I thought he wanted to see them?’

‘He does.’ She reaches for a cigarette, passes you one.

‘They’ve decided to tell Herr Mueller that if he wants to meet them, he’s going to have to come here, to their building. They wanted you to know.’

You look at her, incredulous, and begin to laugh.

Out of the corner of your eye, you’re aware that your hawk is still there. It’s scanning the white, open fields in search of prey. Its head moves freely as its wingspan trails the currents, ever alert to the faintest of movements on the ground.


Elaine Desmond


Elaine Desmond is a full-time writer based in Cork, Ireland. She writes both fiction and non-fiction and enjoys experimenting with ideas and styles.

She has written a play called A Footprint of Roses which was performed throughout Ireland, the UK, France and the States. She has also received a number of awards for her short stories, including being short-listed for the Bridport Prize in 2018. One of her poems was long-listed for the Fish Poetry prize and she has also written articles for newspapers and magazines.

She is fascinated by people. She holds an Master’s and doctorate in Sociology, as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Business. She also has a Certificate in Creative Writing and has taught English as a foreign language – most notably, to a former Russian Finance Minister. She has travelled a great deal and had many jobs – including building and running a wild foods restaurant in New Zealand.

One of her favourite experiences – swimming with dolphins in Mexico.

Favourite hobby: ballet.

Best compliment: ‘It was a pleasure to be taught English grammar by you’ (said with a deeply sincere Russian accent)

Elaine has published a number of academic articles, as well as a book based on a year’s research work in India. She is currently working on her first short story collection, View from the Outside – due out this year – as well as another play.

She can be found here:

Her play, A Footprint of Roses, is available online at:

Details of published books:

Academic book entitled Legitimation in a World at Risk: The Case of Genetically Modified Crops in India.

Edited collection, Social Theory and Asian Dialogues, featuring her chapter ‘Critical Theory and Communicative Action: The Challenge of Legitimation in a World at Risk’

Anthology Nothing Is As It Was featuring her short story ‘Ophelia Rising’

If you enjoyed ‘Learning from Hawks leave a comment and let Elaine know.


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1 comments on “FICTION: Learning from Hawks by Elaine Desmond”

  1. Really engaging story, great tension in the boardroom. Reminded me of Peggy in Mad Men. Nice to see the second person narrative for a change as well.

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