The hardest days for me to work are the Sundays, because these are the days I leave my child into the reluctant care of his father, and today was an extra bad one in terms of work pressure. As I was nearing home my heart sank further when I saw the car of Jackie’s “boyfriend” parked in front of the house. I simply despise the man; I find him vulgar, impolite and simply stupid. On one occasion, not even my closed door hindered his imposition, and unfortunately whenever I tell him directly what I think of him, he laughs it off as an attempt to hide my weakness to his physical charm, or should I say his impressive physical attribute which he never ceases to speak about. I was not looking forward to an evening of listening to his vulgarity, which somehow amuses Jackie.
There was more crap waiting for me behind that closed door, however, but mercifully I did not know that, and when my cell phone rang I took the call just outside the house. I remember looking at the afternoon sky when the real estate agent told me breathlessly that she sold our house in Gonubie. My heavy heart began lifting a little when I asked her for the details. She told me that she brought me the price I was aiming for after her commission, and promised to fax me the offer to sign early on Monday.
I did not get to tell Jackie my good news because when I entered the house she met me with that silly “boyfriend” in tow, there was also another friend of hers present. I saw her smile while she told me that Petey had left a present on my bed, and indeed the room smelled of it. I was just too angry to speak for a few minutes as I raced to peal off the sheets of my soiled bed, and tried to clean up the mess and the smell before my son arrived. In one moment I knew that I had enough, I have had Petey for three years, and not once had he done this, not even while he was crippled from his fall out of my third floor window. I just knew that he only did it this time because he was locked in the room, and was not used yet to getting out of the window. As I snatched the dirty sheets, and steeled by the knowledge that my days of penury are almost over, I blurted it out: Look, it is not because of this, but I cannot stay here anymore. I am moving out in two weeks, when she asked me what I meant I told her I am moving out and that she should put that in her pipe and smoke it. Jackie took this very hard and hurled accusations at me, attacking my integrity and implying that I deserved what my ex did to me because I lacked decency. It was not composure or good manners that kept me silent, it was just shock, she went on and on about notices, contracts and money for electricity that I “owed” her. What about paying these? she said, I just answered we will see, and kept on topping my avocado toast. I marvel now at how cool I remained, but I simply had no recourse against her poisonous tirade.
In the middle of all that my ex dropped off my son, so we took a break from the fighting, but then I heard Jackie speaking to her mother on the phone and I asked to speak to her after she finishes, because she was my landlady like my dear friend Jackie pointed out. I wish I could say that the mother was harsher on me than the daughter, but it is not true, we only get hurt from those we care about. Mrs L pretended that she did not know the story, so I told her that I found another place and will be leaving in two weeks. I was more or less prepared to her line of argument: The contract I signed (the piece of paper I insisted to have in order to apply for my own phone line coming back to bite me), and how supportive they all were of me, etc. The only thing that unsettled me was my landlady’s claim that she gave me her maid Lucy. She said that Lucy will no longer be allowed to look after Robert, and this was something I was not prepared to think about since Lucy’s help was central to my ability to show up at work. I was shaken, but I managed to keep a clear mind. I went immediately after this conversation -while Jackie was busy in her room with her friends- and fished out the “contract”. My copy was the only copy available, and I could not trust keeping it in the house, so I just shredded it to pieces and flushed it down the toilet.
Soon after this I took Robert out and walked with him to get the anger out of my system. But before I left I called Lucy and asked her to meet me opposite her daughter’s place. Lucy has been good to me always, I told her everything, and she calmed me down and told me not to worry. She said that Jackie’s mother cannot prevent her from working in her own time in the afternoon, and if she insisted on preventing her then she has to pay her whatever I pay her. We both knew Mrs. L well enough to know that she would not do that. Speaking to Lucy felt good and I was calm again.
I remember coming back to a darkened room and having to put my boy to sleep on a blanked on the floor to avoid contact with the still soiled mattress.. As my little baby snuggled against me to have his evening snack I felt so empty, drained and abandoned and the only thing I thought about was phoning my ex. I had nobody to share the joy of unloading the house, or the pain of losing a friend. As I explained to him what had happened my voice chocked and I cried. I do not know what I expected from him, but old habits die hard, and after the ugly argument with Jackie I had nobody else to talk to.
When Robert slept safely in his crib. I cleaned up the mattress and washed out the worst dirt from the sheets. I asked Jackie for new sheets and she gave me some. We talked somewhat, and she tried a more conciliatory tone with me this time. She claimed she cared about me, and there were a few tears shed from both of us. My tears felt cold on my cheeks, they weren’t the hot tears of remorse and healing. They were tears of calm acceptance, something has been irrevocably broken.