My First Job by A. M. Linton

“I’ll be leaving tomorrow after you leave for work,” I said to my mom, who was sitting opposite me in the small living room.

“Honey, you don’t have to do this,” my mom said, shaking her head, “just give it some time; you will find a job where you don’t have to leave home right now.”

Her red and white eyes appear to have shrunk an inch or two deeper into her head since I last saw her this morning. She had also lost some fat on her face.

She needs to rest, I thought.

“I know I don’t have to, Mom, but this will be the best thing for everyone,” I replied, “and besides, I’ll be back home every weekend. It’s not as though I’m moving out.”

My mom bit down on her lower lip.

“Please don’t worry about me, Mom. I’ll be okay,” I said, smiling slightly.

She gazed at me from across the room.

“Oh, Honey,” she said, tears gathering.

“Please don’t cry, Mom. You’re the best Mom I could ever ask for.”

“Then why don’t I feel like it,” she replied, bursting into tears.

I quickly covered the short distance between us and wrapped my arms around her shoulders. She was crying in her hands.

Tears also gathered in my eyes and tumbled down my light brown cheeks.

“You’re the best, Mom,” I whispered, making her cry more.

After my mom left for work the following day, I packed my backpack with two pairs of jeans, three shirts, and a few other personal items and left for the live-in job I found online. The post, under the heading Live-in Job, read, “Looking for a young person to help new mom during the week.” The pay was a little above medium wage. So, I called the number in the ad, and after one in-person interview with the mom, she hired me.

Several days before, I waited until I got the job before telling my mom about it. She had just returned home from cleaning offices at night and into the early morning hours. She was wearing a light blue and white dress. It was the company’s uniform. She worked with them twice weekly and in a dry cleaner on other days. 

“Thanks,” my mom said after I placed a cup of steaming tea on the five-piece dining table in front of her.

“I found a job,” I said, sitting with my cup of tea. I was still wearing my red and white sleeping clothes.

“You did?” she exclaimed as a smile appeared on her tired face.

“Yes, and the pay is really good.”

“Tell me about it,” she said.

So I did, and I watched as the smile disappeared from her face.

“I don’t know about this,” she said, rubbing her forehead.

“It’s perfect, Mom. I’ll have a place to stay, food to eat, and I’ll be making money.”

“But, you already have a place to stay and food,” she replied.

“I know, Mom, but I’m eighteen now, and we need the money.”

“I know, but not the live-in thing. You’re too young for this.”

“I know. I know. But we are already two months behind with rent and three with the water bill.”

“I’ll take care of it,” she said.

“I know, Mom, you always do, but I can help now, and I want to help.”

In response, my mom picked up her cup and drank some tea, and I did the same.

“What will you say to your siblings?” she asked.

“I’ll just tell them I’ll be gone during the week and be back by the weekend. It will be as though I never left.” I replied, smiling.

My mom tried to return the smile, but it faltered.

“With them being busy with school, the week will fly by for them.”

“Let’s hope so,” she replied, and that was the end of the conversation until the day before I left home.

About a month later, the doorbell rang, and my employer, who was closer to the door than me, called out, “Can you get that?”

“I’m feeding the baby,” I called back.

The doorbell rang in rapid succession.

“Who is ringing my doorbell like that?” my employer exclaimed before marching over to the door.

“Where is my daughter,” I heard.

“Mommy?” I whispered.

“Pardon me?” my employer asked.

“You’re pardoned and excused me,” I heard before my mom called out my name. 

“Mommy,” I called, and within seconds, she was standing in the living room where I was feeding the baby. She was wearing her cleaning uniform.

The sight of my mom weakened me, and the baby bottle jerked in my hand, and I took it out of the baby’s mouth. My mom swayed slightly.

“Give her the baby and go and get your things. You’re coming home.”

“You need to leave here before I call the cops,” my employer, wearing a white bathrobe and her hair still in large curlers, exclaimed.

“Lady,” my mom said, in a low and hard tone that I’ve never heard before, “if you know what’s good for you, you will take your child and leave mine alone!” 

“Look, you can’t come in…” my employer began but stopped and ran to where I was now standing because my mom had advanced to her with her right hand in the air as if to strike her.

“Get your things, Honey,” my mom told me after my employer took the baby.

I ran to the small bedroom that was mine for the past month and grabbed my belongings, and when I was leaving, I kicked at the double-sized mattress on the floor.

“Did she pay you for a month of work without a day off already?” my mom asked.

“No,” I said, shaking my head, “she has not paid me anything since I got here.”

My mom turned to look at my employer.

“I was going to pay her today. Let me get my chequebook,” she said, hurrying past us with the baby in her arms.

“No, no, no,” my mom said, “cash, now, or I will be calling the cops on you for holding my daughter here for a month and not paying her.”

A few minutes later, I had more money shoved into my hand than I had ever had at one time.

We then left the house.

“How did you get here?” I asked my mom when we were outside.

“I took the bus and then walked the rest of the way.”

“The nearest bus stop in this area is about thirty minutes walk away,” I exclaimed.

“Really, hmm,” Mom said, “I didn’t realize it.”

We started to walk through the quiet residential neighbourhood.

The End.

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