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Bedtime Stories for Adults - Edwin
The Single Dream Magazine
I thought the opportunity was meant for me as the letter arrived at the best moment of my life. I had long waited for an answer; I remember I applied for the job two years prior I received the invitation for an interview with the magazine Broken Hearts' manager. After waiting with expectation for a year and a half without receiving an answer, I forgot about this job application.
My own heart was broken by those days as I lost my job after a terrible misunderstanding at the office where I used to work. I used to write short stories about single mothers from all backgrounds. I traveled to visit the women that contacted the magazine willing to talk to us about publishing their real-life stories.
I always considered that listening to their stories was very supportive. We gave them a voice within a non-judgemental community. We also hosted single mothers and mothers-to-be at the end of every month for free motivational speeches, given by experts who encourage them with ideas for organizing their lives around a not easy new situation. I used to love my job.
We were 25 journalists covering a specific topic regarding motherhood experienced by single women. My department covered the stories about women who escaped from their houses to be able to keep their children, in a time when some of them were still forced to give them into adoption. They often were not from our city, and they mostly worked as domestic workers regardless their abilities and status; they were like citizens without legal or moral rights, who were soft targets for abuse and humiliation. They could not expect fair salaries or dignity, as their shame was so evident. They often came with a ring on the finger, telling stories of a faraway husband who could not send them money anymore. Stories to protect those who hire them, from moral conflict, rather than to cover themselves, but also to be able to keep their children. We never used real names in our stories, and sometimes we never got their names either, however, they all, became part of our family in many ways.
The founder of this magazine was a man with a wonderful wife who had traveled enough. She had seen the pain of other women, within societies far stricter than ours. She was a foreigner who also had been a lucky single mother. Her parents did not force her to leave their home or give up the baby. She kept her, and they all, move to a distant city located in a more liberal country when the girl was a five years old child.
She went to the university first and then worked as an interior designer for several years until she met her husband and formed a family of her own with her daughter. He gave the funds to open this space of grace and hope for so many; this act moved her so much that infused a lot of passion inside our hearts despite the opinion of our society.
She used to tell us about women who sent to lifeless institutes for becoming pregnant out-of-wedlock. They were also forced to give their children away as punishment and deterrence.They suffered the rest of their life.
There were also places where people simply shunned them and prohibited them from participating in studying, working, socializing in the public sphere. The whole society worked as an army for their shame, although outside of those confined places that functioned in other countries, not any better. Their homes sometimes supported them, but most of the time not, being expelled from their nest forever. They lived with the burden that no men would like them for a serious relationship, with no money, no status. They had to adapt as they were removed to the outskirts of society, a corner of discrimination and desolation.
My disgrace came one evening when I was asked to cover the situation of a young lady that could not work anymore because she developed post-birth depression. I was tense at once, without knowing exactly why, although I thought that was just because I Just could sense the situation of a young woman that risked everything to be able to have her baby and now she is battling with depression.
I was summoned to a coffee shop to talk to her, but instead of a young distressed lady, I saw an elderly woman coming to my table, which had the conveyed sign for recognizing me. I asked politely, what I could do for her. She said that she was there to talk to me about the lady that called me.
"She cannot come today. She is crying and not been able to leave the house."
I kept silent as I knew that these cases were tactful for the people who hired them almost as much as for the single mothers. She sat and asked for a cup of coffee and offered me one as well, which I accepted. I was curious and sad at the same time; my words were not flowing at ease and I had to remind myself that this was my job. to be able to keep my emotions under control. I waited until the woman started to talk. She was apologetic about hiring the lady as she knew that she was indeed one of the single women that escaped from their fates in remote towns. I nodded like accepting the apology, but my words still did not flow. Then the lady looked at me saying:
"I want that baby for my childless daughter who lives very comfortably with her husband. They would take care of him very well. She could even join them to help them nursing the baby." The lady stopped her pledge as she manifested that did not know what to do legally.
That was her last sentence. I dare to ask her if her daughter and son-in-law knew about all of this.
Yes, was her answer. I was sad to inform her that I could not give advice, as it was forbidden in our code at the magazine but that I would still like to speak with the young woman. I was happy at this moment because the old lady knew about the problem and she would not be ashamed to accept me in her house. So she was also happy to bargain with me about just a wish in exchange, of course asking the young mother if she wanted to give in adoption the baby. I nodded as that is one of the questions we touch in our interviews.
Her house was neat and decorated tastefully. I could see that she had resources for a comfortable living as well. She took me through a corridor until we reached the bedroom of the young lady, which was next to a beautiful big kitchen. We found her there, very pale and crying. I greeted her and at last a smile came to her face.
"Hello"– I said.
"Good afternoon, I am very sorry I could not come to the coffee shop, it seems I am not able to do anything anymore…"
Then she started crying again.
"I know how you feel and I want to say, that you have been brave enough to reach out for help."
"It was not me who call you but her... she has been very good to me. I used to work gladly for her, but now I cannot do anything, anymore. The baby was my sole motivation, and now I feel nothing for him."
"You would get better if you could go to a doctor. I just want to tell you that you are not as alone as you believe you are. I usually write a story about the woman who calls me, but you did not call me. Do you still want to tell me your story?"
The two women looked at each other, and then the old lady smiled timidly before looking at me, expecting me to ask the question. The young lady also looked at me like expecting me to ask her…the question. I felt like they both knew what they wanted, and although I did not think too much, I did not see the old lady wanting to take advantage of the young mother. I also knew that this was not an appropriate time to take such a decision. However, I also knew that she could not work in her condition and I did not know what was the disposition of the old lady to support her in such case.
"She told me that she would like to support you. You can give your baby into adoption to her daughter and if you wish you can go with them to nurse him"
They both blushed, I also did. I felt that I was the word that was missing to open their conversation, to break the odd situation of knowing what we should not know and how to express it. Then the old lady said to her:
"I will help you to see a doctor if you accept, and you can recover either here with me or there with my daughter."
The young lady, kept silent, smiled and cried again. She did not say anything else and slowly fell asleep.
"She is not in the right mindset to take a decision; you know? She could say yes now and regret it later. She could blame you for taking advantage of her situation or even if she does not she can turn her resentment at us."
"I just want to help my daughter and also this young lady. I realize I cannot just tell her to go, not like this, I do not have heart for that."
"I really appreciate it. I would like to write a story about your relationship with her, and even to follow up about what happens to you as a family…"
"When I saw this young lady I knew that she could help my daughter, that is why I have taken good care of her, it was kind of selfish you know, but at the same time, I have learned to appreciate her as a person. I was very lonely before she came, someone that was looking for a maid recommended her to come here and ask for work."
"Do you want me to write the story? We do not publish names or such personal details, we focus on the story and the emotions and situation around the single mother. Our cause is to give voice to women in these situations, like you and her"
"Yes, you can write the story. I will help her until she recovers, we will see what doctor wants to help her…"
"We know a couple that would not mind to help you."
I left the place with a clear conscience and a story. We seldom wrote about the hosts of the single mothers, and I had to work the story to make clear that this is a not so bad case, but that other ladies face less fortunate experiences. However, when I went back to the office there was an uproar, my peers were looking at me with some anxiety except one lady that was crying and looking at me angrily.
"If you do not have stories, you do not have to steal mine!" - She screamed at me.
Our director told me that she reported her folder as lost and that it was found on my desk.
"I do not know why you found it there" – I replied. "I did not steal it for sure! I have enough stories and I would not have been a fool to publish hers. We have our own assignments and styles…you would have known it."
We did not like each other, I do not know why. Everybody knew it, even the director, and she managed to keep us apart in our endeavors. Both of us had good relationships with all the other workmates. The director looked at me saying:
"Someone saw you coming from her office with something in your hands. She cannot claim if it was the folder, but for all of us is very odd that you went to her office as you are less than friends."
"I was not feeling well yesterday morning, I just got confused and went into the wrong door…but what I had in my hands was my folder."
"If you wanted her to lose her folder and her job it is bad, we do not tolerate such behavior here, it is really against all of what we are! Do you understand?"
-"No, I did not do it"
"It looks like it, we tried to keep things easy between you two."
The director was very careful of the environment in the office. She fired us, both of us. She considered all the options in the case, first me attempting to damage my peer, second, my peer intruding my office to spark a rattle and even she thought of some else trying to make things hard for everyone. She would stop the three possibilities at once to keep the order and the spirit towards our mission and not towards petty personal clashes. I thought it was very unfair, I did not do it, even perhaps my not-well-liked peer did not do it. However, we could not do much, nor we wanted to go out and damage the work of the magazine that went far beyond publishing stories. It was supporting women with real problems. I was heartbroken.
A Broken Heart
I did not follow up my last case, I handed over to another peer. I did not want to know anymore.
I spent my time redecorating my bedroom and helping my mother with the house, just cleaning for a week. I cleaned all those hidden corners, the ones that no one sees. I felt I was cleaning my soul, those dark corners that no one can see, not even me. They always are full of dust; it cumulates there for years until you have time to slowly go through some deep cleaning. My days were indeed very slow paced, I got up at 9 a.m., made some coffee for me, read the news and clean some parts of the house. Then, there was the garden, a place that my mother had neglected as her workload had been very heavy for the last two years.
My mother was divorced, she and my father were friends but we did not see him often as he moved to another city. My grandparents are still upset with them, but my mother is still trying to warm their hearts to accept us as the family that we are. She got a witty humor and certainly, she helped me to recover my self-esteem. She usually came back from her work in the evenings and she was very pleased that at least we were eating much better after I lost my job.
"So, when are you starting to look for a new job?"
"I do not know mom; I do not feel like writing again. I just feel good enough reading and cleaning the house while I think about what to do next."
"Start journaling, it helps a lot. Do not spend so much time cleaning the house."
"I am enjoying it, mom. I feel like I am going through my all dusty memories."
"It is ok then my child."
It was then when she started smiling, I know she was thinking about a joke again. I looked at her with expectation, until she said:
"You could also go after the fathers that left women and children and then you start your own magazine."
I tried to hold my laughter, but I could not. I just sparkled with laughter. It was no funny that these men escaped their responsibilities, but it was the unexpected twist that my mother did in our conversation. I was after this day that I started feeling better. I started dreaming again, planning what to do next. I did not to write but I started journaling. It was like washing the hard dirt of all those corners of my soul. I reflected on my life, my childhood, my parents’ relationship and my ex-boyfriend. My friends are still my friends; I did not include them in my writings.
One morning, like two months after I was fired and few days of my mother’s sarcasm, I saw the garden with new eyes. It was blooming and colorful. The grass was growing disorganized but the verdure was inspiring. It was large, it had a small kitchen for cake and tea that we used to warm with our presence on especial occasions. I thought that I wanted to start my own business: A nursery. I dreamt of it full of exotic plants, big and small. A lot of roses and camellias. The tea kitchen will be a cozy coffee shop and my sacred place of renovation. I had a couple of very nice plants already in my mother’s garden, so that was the start. I pot them in several small containers and they grew. They grew beautifully and after few months of working in the garden and some administrative errands, I opened the nursery. My friends came to visit and help with the shop each time they could, it was a wonderful experience that I still enjoy today, as the business grows by the day.
After two years, my heart was broken no more and I was feeling like writing again, so I went to the interview. The place was wonderful, the decoration was art-deco, red, yellow and orange. I was expecting the place to be pink, violet and blue. I made the comment to the manager and she laughed while explaining that we need a cheerful heart here to encourage our readers. She introduced me to my office-to-be. It was a fair size room was a window to the main street, a neat desk with a typewriter and a box full of letters from the readers.
- I saw your Curriculum-Vitae and I think you would fit perfectly here at The Broker Heart Magazine.
- Thank you! I am honored by your invitation for an interview – I said at once.
- We also deal with the problems of troubled women here, broader than in your previous magazine, though. I will be a different experience for you altogether.
- I wonder if I can take some letters home and see how I would feel about it?
- Yes, you can dear. It is actually a good idea darling. Bring tomorrow a few letters answered for me to see your style.
- Perfect! Thank you.
- Do you want to drink something? Perhaps coffee or tea?
- No, thank you, I will come back tomorrow for that as well.
- See you tomorrow at 12:00 pm?
- Yes, thank you. See you tomorrow.
I went back home walking and thinking if I wanted a job again. I was happy at the nursery, a lot of work and joy, time with my friends, more time with my mother. I also wanted to start writing again, though, but I would like to carry on with my nursery. The afternoon was cool, the city was quiet and the streets full of fruit trees perfuming the air. It was this simple freedom I came to like so much after I was fired. The birds were singing for me and the rain started to shower me with a sense of melancholy and doubt.
I came home one hour later, and there was a lady with a small boy in her arms. I thought I was one of my customers, so I opened the door of the nursery and after greeting her, I remembered those big eyes, just that they were full of tears two years ago.
"Hi!" – I said.
"Hello, I see you recognized me"
"Yes, I would not forget you. I lost my job the same day I met you.
"I am so sorry to hear so; I hope it was not my fault"
"Not at all…how did you find me!"
"Your friend from the magazine told me how to find you, the one that took my case after you left."
"Good, I am actually happy to see you, but tell me, what I can do for you."
- I just want to drink some coffee with you if you have some time.
We came into my coffee shop and after small talk, she told me:
- Thank you for your help. My son and I have a family now.
- How come?
- I am still working for the same lady. My boy is her dearest baby in the whole world. Her family loves him and they will take care of his education and future, and he is still mine. I also have a special place in her heart.
- I am so happy to hear that, you know, sometimes this kindness of you is worth more than any paycheck.
- Do you want to hold him?
- Sure! What is his name?
- Edwin, like his father.
Edwin had beautiful expressive dark eyes. He was smiling and pointing out all the cute flower pots I had in the coffee shop, it was so tender to see him talking baby words. We kept silence for a while and then she said that she had to return now to the house, but promise to visit often and not just with Edwin, but also with his step-grandmother.
- It would be wonderful … - I realized I did not know her name yet.
- Goodbye, for now, we will come back.
- Bye, good young women, see you soon.
She looked at me radiantly, smiled and went back to her life. This brief encounter was key, I felt that the chapter of being a journalist was over. I went back the next day to the magazine's building and explained my story to the lady manager. She smiled and understood the situation, we still drank coffee together and promised to keep in touch in case a new magazine with a focus on plants opens. I am still here in my nursery, enjoying the life of nature within the city and writing books about exotic plants from all over the world that are also sold all over the world. My mother is a proud woman of her's daughter taste for the simple life and off course the delicious meals I keep for her every evening after the long hours at her practice.
© 2017 MariaInes