“Over here Mariam!”
“Ugh, not this again.”
I was beginning to think about receiving this week’s paycheck, knowing that Sebastian would ask if I worked hard enough and then create another unrealistic fantasy where we are the kings and rule over all the little people in the world like I am one here today. Eleanor hands me a slip filled with words I don’t want to read. She tells me that the slip is going to dictate if I am going to drive the Hartley’s BMW this week and what kids I am going to drive around. I hate nice cars. I hate the artificial smell, the fake leather on the seats. Nice cars make me feel out of place and fake. I would take real over rich anyday. I begin to crinkle the paper in my hands as I notice that I have James’s name on my sheet five times. Anyone but James. I already have Sebastian and Henry to talk my head off all day.
“Mariam! Mariam!” I hear Evan run up behind me with panic in his voice. He seems disorganized. There is no gel in his hair, and he isn’t wearing a collared shirt under his sweater vest. Before he talks, he swallows long and hard. “Jam..Jame..James” he barely mumbles out.
“What is wrong with James?” I am in no mood to deal with either of their issues. The kids never realize that I have issues of my own, or I have an existing soul for that matter. “James has a problem,” He says smugly. I want to tell Evan that James can solve the problem himself, but that would be like telling a group of teenage girls something. The story becomes embellished. It starts with “James can fix the problem himself,” to “James is a snotty little twerp who couldn’t solve a problem if the answer was right in front of him.” Besides, if words like that got back to Madam she would have my job filled faster than you could say “Supercalifraglisticexpiolodocius.”
“Just give me a minute Evan” I say. “Now!” he stammers back. Evan isn’t usually this intense so I use my better judgement and follow him to James. As I walk, I hear the maplewood floorboard squeak, yet the house still feels quiet. I am never able to get peace and quiet in my own home. Henry is always talking, even when I repeatedly tell him that mommy is busy. I just hope that he doesn’t grow up like these boys. I doubt this, because a nanny’s salary has a different effect on the well-being of a child than of someone who owns a motor company. Henry’s father, Sebastian, is a good man. I know I screwed up his life. He had so much potential but one stupid night left him with a distressed woman telling him that he is the father of her baby . We never got and still aren’t married, but we still have a very close relationship. I tell him that he can pursue his dreams as an artist and leave our dysfunctional family, but he demands he wants to have a part in raising Henry. Henry is almost five and his pj’s go up to his knees because neither mine nor Sebastian’s salary can buy much better. Sebastian has picked up work at a local restaurant while he “waits” for me to get a job that provides more money than a nanny. I tell him that he is a dreamer but he just smiles and laughs. The last time I attended school was in tenth grade. I liked school, I liked numbers. School is also the place where I met Sebastian. His smile stood out in front of the rusty books and old chalk that made up my high school. I remember the way I felt when I talked to him for the first time and I want to feel this way about him again, But so much has happened along the way, that even Sebastian has lost some of his sparkle. I am suddenly taken out of my “day dreaming” when I hear James’ harsh scream.
“James, what in god’s name do you think you are doing?” I see James balled up in the corner of the bathroom. He has only got one sock and he still has on his pajamas, which is strange. James gets out of his curled up position and I begin to get a glimpse of his bright pink face. “Teeth?” yes, they are all there. “Eyebrows?” Eyebrows! I look at James’s right eyebrow, or what is left of it anyway. I know that if I was to begin yelling at James he would begin to yell back at me, and before you know it everyone in the house will assume we are about to be murdered. I decide to take the calm yet sly approach to the situation. “James, your eyebrow, it seems that it has gone on a little trip?” I chuckle, amused at my attempt to make light of the issue. “Miriam, it is not what you think, he says. The boys at school were teasing me saying that I had a unibrow, and I decided to take matters into my own hands.”
“Well how did that go?” I say back with anger. I am not fooling around anymore. James and I have a relationship mostly full of hatred, but yet I feel as though he is the one who relates to me the most among the kids. We both consider ourselves better than others, and carry this little bomb inside of us that is just waiting to explode on someone.
Before James begins his elaborate explanation for the eyebrow massacre, Madam walks in, purse in hand, with enough red lipstick to wipe off with your finger and write an essay. Oh dear. Madam begins to talk and I am already drowned by her bitter tone. I hear a scream louder than a tornado siren. “Your Face! James sweetheart, what happened?” James begins to open his mouth, but like before, he is cut short. Right when I am about to have a change in heart about Madam, believing that she would be taking the initiative to do some scolding of her own, she turns her wrinkled old face toward me. I notice that she has both cheeks tensed right above her lip which is something she only does when she is incredibly mad. “You, this is all your fault! I knew it!” I am a little confused about where Madam is going with this but I let her continue, not like I have a choice. “ The first day you came in here I knew you were…Off.. There were other nanny’s that I liked better than you, you know. You came in here with your little snotty attitude and approached me as if I were the one who worked for you! The mistakes, the mistakes, they kept building up! First you forgot to pick up Evan from school, then you lost James’s math assignment, and now this. You know what, you are fired!”
My face is red. This is not because I am embarrassed, but because I am furious. I am furious with myself, I am furious with Madam, and I am furious of the mess I have made of my life. I don’t know what to do. Madam has finished talking, but it feels as though she hasn’t. I can still feel her harsh words ringing in my head. I feel a tear dripping down my cheek. I am not usually one to get emotional, but this makes me feel such betrayal and heartbreak that I have never felt before. Even though I never thought much of Madam or anyone in the household, I always prided myself on the fact that I am the type of person who is always able to make things a little better, even if I can’t fix the problem completely. I thought Madam had noticed that ,but by her vulgar words, I am guessing not. I quickly bring my attention back to the task at hand, mostly because I can feel Madam’s ghostly eyes staring down mine. I calm myself down and think over the situation thoroughly and carefully. Now is my time. I can tell Madam to get over herself, leave the building without another word, never see these snotty kids again,and go off with Sebastian and Henry and try to start this life thing over once more. I am very tempted to do this, but I know that my witty exit will probably lead me scurrying back to Madam begging for my job back, in hopes that I can regain the $8.50 an hour that I use to put Henry through daycare. I then begin to think of my other option. I can bluntly tell Madam “Ok, I understand your decision, see you soon,” wave goodbye to the children and gently put down my stuff all with a straight face, in the hopes that this will lead Madam back to me. I have spent weeks, even months , dreaming about this day. Not the day where I am startled to death by the shrill scream of Madam or the day where I realized that James could not be any dumber than he already is, or the day where Evan doesn’t put on a perfect entrepreneur's look, but the day where I am finally able to leave this job, on my own terms.
I couldn’t imagine in a million years being fired from this job. I decide to take my second approach to the situation. I calmly put down my stuff, wave goodbye to the kids, pick up my last paycheck from my storage space and leave the 7500 square foot mansion without talking or looking at any one of the other frantic employees of the household. I hear the faint whispers of Todd, a former colleague of mine as of a minute ago, who is stressing about the car being late for Madam. I grin. I am done stressing over others, I am ready to stress over myself. I look down at my dark black shoes. These are the shoes that Madam gave to me the first day that I took this job. They matched perfectly with my dark black shirt and black button down, and putting on this uniform was the only thing that made me happy about this job. I manage to reach my car in record time mostly because I have not realized how fast I am pacing. I sit back on the torn up seat and start up the half dead engine. This is me. I open up my cracked flip phone, that I am somewhat surprised still works noting that I bought it three years ago at a Flee market. I scroll my finger across the names of my contacts and stop on Sebastian’s. I give him a call, nervous and anxious to tell him the news, which I am not quite certain yet is good or bad. “Sweetheart?” I say. I hear his rough but reassuring voice on the other end of the line. I also hear telephones in the background ringing hysterically. He is at work. I contemplate how I want to break the news to Sebastian, but knowing him, the best way is to talk with him is to be upfront. “Babe, I got fired from work today.” I swallow long and hard after I say this. This is the first time I have talked out loud about me being fired and I begin to feel ashamed. I wait what feels like an eternity to get a one word response back from Sebastian. “Good” he said. I can feel him smiling through the phone, which feels like the same smile he gave me on the first day of tenth grade.