Gina checked her watch as she opened the gate. 7:14pm. She took a deep breath and braced for the earful she was about to received from Mrs. Greene. Again. As she approached the door, she rummaged through her purse for the cash and timidly called out “Miss G!”
After a few moments she heard shuffling and the familiar murmurings of the old lady coming from inside the house. She moved her handbag over to her other shoulder in preparation to take Aubrey and toyed anxiously with the bank notes in her hand.
Despite her best efforts to push the thoughts away, her mind kept racing back to the interview she had earlier that day. She was glad it was over. She knew she represented herself well, at least for the most part. There was no doubting her qualifications and experience. Her recommendations were strong. She had spent an entire hour in front of the mirror that morning ensuring that she concealed her lack of sleep, and highlighted her cheekbones (which were now more prominent than ever). She was in her element… At least she was until the sole woman on the panel asked that question.
“And what about your newborn, Miss Daley? Should we select you as a candidate for this programme, do you have a strong family structure here to care for him in your absence?” the woman had asked.
“Of course,” Gina had croaked as a thick lump started to form in her throat. She hoped that would have been enough. But they had continued to stare expectantly at her, forcing her to stutter a series of fragmented phrases in the affirmative.
The darned woman was unrelenting. “Your marital status on the application form is single. With whom would your son reside? You mentioned that your mother passed away, right?” she prodded.
Gina had rambled on in the most convincing voice she could summon for her bare-faced lies. Yes, his father was very involved in his life and they co-parent well. How progressive. She had several close family members who she could rely on to help care for her baby. Of course. She would have no desire to try to emigrate Aubrey into the states while on the programme. Oh no. She would simply return at the end of the two years. Easy.
She was torn from her thoughts by Mrs. Greene, who was waving the money at her face.
“Where’s the rest? You were late three days this week. That’s another $1,500.”
“Oh, sorry. Can I put that on next week’s fee? Things are a little tight this week,” Gina murmured.
Mrs. Greene handed over the sleeping infant like a sack of potatoes, hobbled back into her house and shut the door.
“Thank you,” Gina said to the wall before turning around and beginning the 10-minute trek up the dirt track to her house. Guided by the moon and her memory, she skillfully evaded the largest rocks along the path as she continued to replay the interview in her head.
Brownin, the mongrel dog who had assumed sovereignty at her door step for the last two years, lazily let out a salutary yawn as she fished for her keys with her free hand. As she stepped inside her home — the one bedroom and bathroom that her mother had been able to complete before she passed away — Gina knew that her back was against the wall. She had no choice but to do exactly what she’d sworn she’d never do again since the day in court.
She would visit father’s house tomorrow…