“Good morning Ms.Johnson, I got your meds. Have you had your breakfast?” I announced, walking into her room. She was one of the four people I was supposed to take care of in the old age home where I have been working for the last eight years.
“Ohh thank you, honey. I wish my children were like you, loving and kind. I wouldn’t have to spend my last days rotting in an old age home like this..” She said with a sad face.
“Oh, come on. First of all, you aren’t rotting here and secondly, you wouldn’t have made so many friends if you were at your home..” I told her, helping her sit up on her bed.
“That’s true..” She giggled and put out her palm to get her meds from me. I watched her gulp them.
“So what’s your plan for today?” I inquired her like I did every other day. The thing with elderly people was that they loved to talk to someone but unfortunately we youngsters don’t spend much time with them.
My job was to take care of their needs but I also took it upon myself to chit chat with them to make them happy and loved.
“Nothing much. I have a chess game with James. Then I will meet the ladies on the lawn for a late morning chat. We have planned for a small picnic in the garden in the evening. That’s pretty much it is..” She answered with a sheepish grin.
“Ohh, looks like you are packed for today..” I chuckled seeing the gleam of enthusiasm on her face.
I was talking to her when we were interrupted by the manager, Tim. “Lia, if you are done with Ms. Johnson, can you come to the office?”
“Yeah sure, Tim. Ms. Johnson, see you later. Okay?” I patted her leg and stood up.
“Okay dear, bye..”
I walked out behind Tim who was taking longer and faster strides towards his office room. “What’s it, Tim?” I asked him feeling anxiously all of a sudden, it’s not always I am called to his office.
“I will tell you. Come in..” He said and opened his door, revealing a man waiting in for us.
“Peter. This is Lia, I was telling you about. She is the best we have here..” I blinked at both the men cluelessly wondering what they were talking about.
“Lia, meet Mr. Peter Callister. He is here to look for a full-time caretaker for his boss’s grandparents. You were the first person who came up to my mind. Your salary will be five times more than what you earn here. What do you say? Would you like to take up the job?” Tim sounded more eager about this chance than anyone of us
“But, what about the people I am taking care of here in the home?” That was the first thing I could think about since many of them were emotionally attached to me and I couldn’t simply leave them behind.
I observed the man name Peter looking up at me with a soft smile playing on his lips as if he was impressed by me or something.
“Don’t worry about them, Lia. I will assign someone else in place of you. If I were in your place, I will take up the opportunity..” Tim knew my situation and if he said something, I am sure he has the best interest for me in his mind.
“If you say so, Tim. When do I have to join?” I asked and Peter was the one to answer me.
“Right now, that is if you are okay with it..”
“Right now?” I shook my head, “I cannot do that. Do you mind if I join work from tomorrow? I need to bid my farewell with the people here..” I said as politely as I could.
“Sure, then I will come to pick you up at ten in the morning..” He said getting up to his feet. “Thanks for your help, Tim. See you tomorrow..”
With that we watched him walk to a luxury car parked outside. I turned to Tim as soon as the car disappeared out of the metal gates.
“Who is he by the way?” I asked.
“He is an old acquaintance. When he told me his requirements for a caregiver, I showed him your profile and he was instantly interested to hire you.."
He must have seen the hesitation in my eyes as he strode near me and touched my arm gently, "Lia, I know how hard you work here to make a living. Trust me, they are people who wouldn’t mind paying you a good salary. I am certain you will be benefitted by working for them..”
“It’s not that I don’t want to work for them. I just feel bad for the people who depend on me for everything in this home. How can I just leave them and go?” I looked down at my interlaced fingers.
“As I said, I will replace someone who will be as good to them as you, Lia but you don’t let this chance slip your hands, I am telling you..”
“Okay, Tim. I will not..” I flashed him a one-sided smile.
I immediately went to the four elderly ones I was taking care of for the past few years. I knew they would be devastated to know that I was leaving this place. Ms. Johnson and Patrick even had tears in their eyes when I informed them that this would be the last day I will be working here. Ms. Lila asked me not to go and held my hands like a child, but with a heavy heart, I told her I cannot and I had to leave.
I know I was being very selfish at this point but I was helpless. I needed money, a lot of it and if I could earn the amount in a faster and better way then why miss it?
“I promise to come to meet you once every week..” I said kneeling to her level and holding her frail but warm hands.
“Okay dear, God bless you. I will miss you very badly and don’t forget this old lady..” I had tears covering my eyes when she spoke so emotionally. It’s been so many years since someone showed so much affection for me. I gulped the unswallowable lump in my throat. I did not want to cry and make the situation any worse for anyone.
I got up to my feet and went out. I had to go back to my apartment to pack my things. Since Peter had agreed to pick me up from the home, I had to come back here tomorrow morning again.
As soon as I opened my apartment the smell of roasted chicken wafted my nostrils.
“Xavi. I am back..” I called out knowing he was in the kitchen. Xavier was the first friend I made after leaving home. We met in the café where I worked as a waitress while Xavi was the chef. We instantly became close and before I knew it, I was telling him all my life secrets one day.
Now we were flatmates and we shared the two-bedroom apartment with his girlfriend Scarlet. It was actually a bit awkward for me to intrude their privacy but they did not want me to leave, no matter how much I insisted.
“We are here, babe..” I heard Scarlet shout out to me. Entering the kitchen I saw Scarlet was mounted on the kitchen counter, swinging her almost bare legs to and fro. I could imagine what they must have been doing while in my absence but I felt guilty for being the third wheel. But had to admit that they were such loving couples. Seeing them together sometimes reminded me of my wonderful past and how stupid I was to destroy it with my own hands.
Putting aside the gloomy thoughts, I inhaled the mouth-watering aroma of the roast chicken in the pot.
“Hmm.. Smells so good in here. It makes me realize how famished I am..” I licked the sauce on my finger that he had prepared, for which I received a slap on my hand from Xavi.
“Go wash your hands first, dummy..” He chided and scarlet chuckled.
I threw her a playful glare and went to take a shower.
When I came back, they both were waiting for me at the dinner table. We ate and talked about our day. Scarlet was a teacher at a playschool and she was telling about this little girl who called her pretty.
“Uhhmm guys..” I said, swallow the chunk of chicken into my throat. “I have something to tell you but promise me you both won’t freak out..”
“It depends on what you are going to say..” Xavi deadpanned.
“I am moving out tomorrow..” I said in one go and both their heads snapped up from their plates.
“What? Tomorrow? And why are you telling us this so late?” Scarlet questioned, looking both angry and hurt.
“That’s because even I didn’t know until this afternoon..” I told them everything and when I finished telling them, they looked quite calmed down.
“So, you are quitting your job at the home?” Xavi asked.
“Not exactly, Tim says it's only for a couple of months till the old couple’s grandson returns from his business trip..” I informed them.
“Who goes on a business trip for three months?” Scarlet wondered loudly.
“What do we know about business trips? So, I was telling, that I will be staying with them as their full-time caregiver until the guy returns..”
“We will miss you, Li..” Scarlet reached forwards to grab my palm to squeeze it lightly.
“I will miss you too so so much..” I pulled her into a hug. When I turned to Xavi, he had his lips pressed to his side.
“Will you come back after three months?” He asked, but his facial expression indicated that my answer would be a complete lie.
“Of course I will..” I assured but I wasn’t really certain about it myself. Maybe this was my chance to move out of here once and forever. It’s not like I hate to stay here. I loved these two but at the same time, I did not want them to sacrifice their privacy for my sake.
After dinner, they both helped me with packing my bag. I did not have too many clothes and accessories to take with me. So all my things could fit into a single bag.
The next morning I was standing in front of the mirror. My once straightened hair was tied up in a loose wavy ponytail. My face was free from even the slightest trace of makeup and my dress was as plain as it could be. I silently wondered how much I have changed over the years.
There was a time in my life when I only wore branded clothes and my face was always covered in a cake of makeup. I changed my boyfriends like I changed clothes. I had my personal driver to drive me around and high-class friends who were now strangers to me. No, more like I was strangers to them.
I sniggered at the memory. ‘Whatever..’ I muttered under my breath and slipped into my flats before throwing a glance back at my room for the last time.
Xavi drove me to the home and I took an extra ten minutes to bid him farewell. When I entered the office room, Peter was already there waiting for me.
“Shall we go now?” He asked immediately getting up from his seat.
“Yeah..” I nodded. I was still not sure if what I was doing was the right thing, but I joined him out to his car.
“Bye, Tim. For everything you have done for me..” I said holding his hands. Tim was a middle-aged man, but I wouldn’t dare say like my father because I hated my father and he was nowhere like my father even though Tim was the same age as him. He was the one who gave me this job when I hit rock bottom in my life. Since then I have been loyal and sincere to him. That is also the reason I haven't left this place for so long.
“It was my pleasure, Lia. You were such a pillar for me. I couldn’t imagine running this place without your help and support.” He said patting my arm. “Take care and keep in touch..”
“Sure you too, bye..” I mumbled and sat in Peter’s car. He closed the door for me and shook hands with Tim and drove me to the outskirts of the city. It took us three hours to reach the place and I was dozed off throughout the drive.
“Lia..” I was startled awake when I heard a soft whispering voice, “We are here..”
I looked out and a perfect-looking farmhouse came into my view. “Wow, this is where they live? They must be super rich..” I voiced out my thoughts and immediately bit my tongue to stop myself. But I guess it was too late since I heard Peter chuckling beside me.
Feeling embarrassed, I lowered my gaze and he opened the door for me.
“Come in, I will introduce you to them..” We ushered me towards the marble stairs and opened the double doors.
Believe me, when I say this, I have never come across such a magnificent house in my whole life. Peter told me their family mansion was much bigger than this and I wondered what they did for a living.
“Ms. Annalise this is Lia, your caretaker..” He introduced me to the woman who was clearly in her mid-seventies. There was not even a single strand of hair on her head that was black in color but she looked very cute to my eyes.
“Hello dear, welcome..” She stretched her hand out for me and I involuntarily dropped my bag on the floor to shake hands with her.
“Hi Ma’am, I’m Lia..”
“Ohh please call me Annalise or Anna. I would prefer it that way only. And this here is my husband, Leo..”
“Hello, Mr. Leo..” I nodded my head to the old man in his wheelchair.
“Just Leo..” He said in a stern voice.
“Sure, Leo..” I was used to this behavior of elderly people. Most of them preferred to be called by their first names. Maybe it was related to the insecurity of their growing age. I had no problem calling them by their first names as long as they were comfortable.
“Tessa will show you your room. You can refresh and come down for lunch, dear..” Annalise showed me the maid whom she was referring to.
“Miss. This way..” Tessa led me to my room. And once again I was flabbergasted to see my room. Our whole apartment could fit into it and even after that this room would still have some space left. That big it was.
“Feel free to call me if you need anything, Lia..” Tessa smiled before I thanked her. She closed the door behind her and I took a few minutes to look around the room which was going to be my home for the next three months.