“She’s a terrible communicator, and very lazy,” Anitha whispered.
“Oh. Wow,” said her interviewee in surprise.
“And she was awful with Serena…very unkind. Not loving at all.”
As Anitha continued to rant about how Annabelle never did any work around the house, she shifted her body a bit closer to hear a bit better. When she did, a floor board squeaked, betraying her position. The whispering between the two women stopped.
Anitha sat up and moved off the topic of Annabelle.
“How do you feel about soda?” she asked.
“Well, I try not to drink too much of it,” the woman replied. “I prefer juice and water.”
“Good, good!” Anitha exclaimed. “We try to keep it healthy around here, and not do too much sugar. It’s just not good for you.”
Annabelle chuckled to herself. That was a passive aggressive jab at her. Her one indulgence was the bottle of Coke she kept in the fridge. She was not going to bend and let Anitha take that away from her! Annabelle lost interest in the conversation and went back to her bedroom. Nothing else was being said about her, and the two women’s natural speaking voices were so loud that there was no longer a need to eavesdrop.
“When can you start?” Anitha asked.
“Some time after the New Year,” the woman replied.
“No, no. I need you to start sooner than that,” Anitha wailed. “Like next week.”
“Well, I have to tie up some loose ends before I can come…”
“Can’t you tie them up while you work here?” Anitha asked, cutting the woman off. “What are these loose ends?”
The new nanny explained that she was living with someone, and couldn’t leave them with the bills so unexpectedly. She also needed time to transfer some things out of her name. Anitha seemed uneasy, and tried again to press the woman into starting the following week. It was left undecided when the new nanny said good bye. Annabelle lay in her bed and chuckled to herself. She couldn’t care less. That day after tomorrow, she’d be leaving, and none of this would matter.
When Annabelle entered Serena’s room the next morning to get her dressed for school, she was assailed by the stench of stale urine and poop. Serena, to her credit, was sitting on the toilet, attempting to use it on her own. The bin beside her was full of used toilet tissue, which she’d used to wipe herself and not flushed.
“Serena,” chided Annabelle, “the toilet paper goes into the toilet so that you can flush it, not the trash!”
“Well, Momma says I have to put it in the trash can.”
“No dear. You have to flush it.”
“Moooommmmaaaa!” called Serena. “Miss Annabelle says I have to put the toilet paper in the toilet when I’m done! Can you tell her I have to put it in the trash?”
“I’ll talk to Miss Annabelle about that later, sweetie,” her mother replied tersely.
Nah, man. You don’t have to tell me nothing. Tomorrow morning, I’m outta here!
Annabelle cleaned Serena up and got her ready for school. She felt a wave of peace wash over her as she drove the child off for the last time.
The next morning, Annabelle went about her duties, saying very little to the family. Her spirits were high, as she anticipated leaving her gilded prison. As she scrubbed the kitchen, humming to herself, Anitha came down and greeted her.
“Good morning, Annabelle.”
“Sorry for the phone ringing so early this morning, if it disturbed you…”Anitha went quiet and let her voice trail off. Annabelle had learned to speak her language, so she knew this was her cue to ask what was wrong. Anitha rarely paused when speaking.
“Is everything alright?” she asked non-committedly.
“It’s my mother in India. She’s had a stroke.”
“Oh dear. I’m sorry to hear that.”
“Yeah,” whispered Anitha. She brightened up suddenly. “Well, the good thing is, we have a family full of doctors – like me – so she’ll be well taken care of!”
“Yes, Anitha. I’m sure she will.”
Annabelle went back to cleaning. Just a few more hours.
At 5 pm, with all her bags packed, Annabelle stood by the entrance of the door, preparing to depart. She sent Anitha one last text, to bid her good-bye.
I’m leaving now. Thank you for the opportunity to work here. I wish you and Ravi well!
She hit “send” and put on her jacket. As she zipped up, she heard footsteps pounding on the stairs.
“Wait! You said you would give a two week notice!” Anitha objected breathlessly.
“Umm…I did. You said I could use last week as part of my notice.”
“What? Umm. No. No! That’s not what I meant at all. I need TWO weeks from you.”
Annabelle just stared at the woman.
“Well, you know my mother in India is sick, and I have so much going on here….”
Annabelle put up her hand to stop her. Then she did something she hoped she would not regret.
“I can stay another week, Anitha, if you need it.”
“Oh good! Okay!”
Anitha spun on her heel and went back upstairs.
My mouth was agape when I heard this.
“Annabelle, you DO realize she just asked you to stay because she hadn’t replaced you right?”
“Yeah, I know,” she admitted.
“You DO know if that woman was able to start this week, she would’ve kicked you out of her home, right?”
“Yeah. But I could do with the extra money. Besides, what’s one more week?”