I took a deep breath and held my head high as I walked up the garden path to the Jones’s front porch.
This is only temporary, I told myself. This is just until you get back on your feet, there’s nothing to be ashamed of.
I raised my hand to the doorbell, and just as I was about to push it, the front door opened. I forced a fake smile onto my face, and drew in a breath to say hello as Mr Jones looked back at me with a critical stare.
“You’re late” he said before I could even utter a greeting. It was true, I was late. I was supposed to be at their house for 7 PM. According to my watch the time was now one minute past. I fought a strong urge to roll my eyes as Mr Jones continued to fix me with his menacing gaze.
How the hell had it all come to this? Three weeks ago I had been a web designer in a large marketing firm in the city. Although my career was only in its infancy, I knew that I was going places! I absolutely loved my job and I took pride in the work I did.
But, when the company suddenly went into liquidation, without any prior warning I was left stranded, without a job. Sure, they’d given me a redundancy package – but that was barely enough to keep me going and as a result I had to take desperate measures. I found myself babysitting for my neighbours!
I was in my late twenties, college educated and with a good few years of commercial experience under my belt. And yet here I was, struggling to make ends meet and taking on a job that would definitely have been more suited to a ditsy high school student.
It wasn’t just the job that made me feel low and substandard. It was the way that Mr Jones had begun to treat me since I had lost my position as a designer.
I could tell that, up until now, Mr Jones had always been jealous of me and my husband Rob. Rob and I earned a decent living, and with our incomes combined we could afford each to run a sports car, take multiple holidays and even have a pool installed in the backyard.
While the Jones’s weren’t exactly poor themselves, they did have two children to look after, and send to a very expensive local private school, so I’m guessing that when it came to disposable income, the Jones’s had none.
Mr Jones would sneer when he saw me pulling out of my driveway, and I have to say that it give me sense of triumph and satisfaction. He wasn’t a pleasant man, and I revelled in the fact that my success had seemed to cause him so much displeasure.
But all that was over now, and the tables had turned. When I lost my job, I lost Rob too. It was without a shadow of a doubt the worst week of my life. Rob had decided that the optimum time to tell me that he’d been having an affair with one of his work colleagues would be the same week that I lost my job. I just couldn’t believe it! A part of me thought the he saw an opportunity to break the devastating news to me when my defences were down, and I wouldn’t be able to put up much of a fight.
He was right. When he first broke the news to me I didn’t even cry. Under any other circumstances I probably would’ve cried, smashed up the house and broken his nose too! But not then. I just told him to pack up his things and leave.
That left me with a house to pay for, a car to run, bills to pay – and no money to do it with. I suppose that’s why, in a moment of madness, I found myself walking over to the Jones’s house and asking them if they had managed to find a full-time babysitter, like I knew they had been looking for.
The look of triumph and delight in Mr Jones’s eyes as I explained my situation to him and his young wife Lisa was sickening. Lisa, on the other hand, was utterly sympathetic to my situation and offered me some work there and then.
Lisa was over 10 years younger than Mr Jones. They’d only been married a couple of years and a lot of the time I found myself feeling sorry for her. She’d taken on a man in his 40s, who was obviously entering the midlife crisis, and his two children as well. I could tell that the fact that they went out to dinner together twice a week to fancy restaurants did not make up for the fact that they had absolutely nothing in common.
I often found myself wondering why she married him. She was warm, bubbly and carefree. Quite the opposite of Mr Jones. It wasn’t as if she married him for the money or anything, I thought anyway. From our infrequent talks while we were both mowing the lawn or watering the garden, I learned that Lisa had been a photographer before she married Mr Jones. She specialised in weddings mostly, but she told me that every now and again she would get hired to shoot lingerie or swimwear catalogues.
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