A ray of hope
I felt stupid. As I sat across from Carter Grey in a booth of Mindy's dinner, I felt extremely stupid for crying like a 5 year old in front of Carter.
Pathetic is what I was being....
I couldn't even look at him.
So I just studied the menu in my hands as if it was the most interesting thing in the entire freaking world.
"You'll burn a hole through that poor menu if you keep on staring at it that way" Carter says to me, chucking.
He put his menu down, which he was previously scanning through, and leans towards me a little "you don't have to be the way you're being. I don't care about whatever happened in the park" he says to me, looking intently at me.
"I'm not being any way, okay? Just order some food and we'll get out of here" I replied and went back to scanning the menu.
"Listen-" Carter started saying but a waitress interrupted him. Thank gods!
"Hi, are you two ready to order?" the waitress says. I nod my head and tell her my order and so does Carter.
"Okay, your food will be out soon" she says with a smile on her face and then goes away to put our order in.
"So as I was saying" Carter started again but before he could continue I interrupted him this time.
"I don't care what you were saying. You said you'd help me look for a job, the job is my top priority right now not how I feel or act" I tell him. I know he's trying to help and I'm grateful but I got shit to do.
"Yea of course. So you got any ideas?" Carter says while settling back in his seat, getting comfy.
"If I had any ideas would I be balling my eyes out back there?" I ask him, looking at him as if he were dumb. We already established that I was out of options.
"Okay jeez dial down the bitch would you!" Carter says making me realise I was taking my frustrations out on poor him.
"Yea, sorry. I'm just annoyed" I tell him while pulling at my hair a bit. It seemed to always help when I was stressed.
Carter takes my hand out of my hair
"Don't do that, you'll be bald in a week that way" he says.
"I just can't think of anything Carter. I can try and hit the restaurants and dinners and shops again but that won't be enough. I need atleast 1200 bucks for both mine and Ray's tuition"
I tell him.
"I can lend you the money if you want?" He says/asks. I could see he was hoping I'd take him up on his offer but I can't.
I know I'm in crisis and this is not a time to protect my ego but I hardly know him, I can't just ask him to lend me that much money!
"No Carter, it wouldn't be right. I haven't known you for more than what 2 weeks? You helping me emotionally still doesn't sit right with me. Financial help is something entirely different" I tell him honestly. I wasn't comfortable taking his money and it wasn't even his money, it was his parent's.
I know I'm in a mess and I'm all about being shameless and taking help from wherever I can get but even I'm not comfortable with this.
"Well then what are you going to do?" He asks me.
"I've made $150 from working at the library. Pramod said he can give me three week's advance which I obviously accepted. I can cover Ray's tuition with that but not mine I'd still need a couple of more hundreds for mine." I told Carter, my hands automatically going to my hair again.
"Don't" Carter says as he pulls my hand away from my hair once again. This time he doesn't let them go.
"How much more? Like 500 more?"
Carter asks me.
"No atleast 700...gods how am I going to get 700 bucks in a couple of days?!"
I try to yank my hands out of his hold but he doesn't let go. I look up at him with desperate eyes.. God I've never felt THIS helpless, even with my dad screaming at me and throwing things at me, I've never felt this desperate.
Our food arrived soon and after eating and paying, we both left the diner with no ideas. My head hurt from thinking about solutions.
Carter was walking me home, he insisted that he wanted to seem me go inside safe, for his peace of mind.
Soon we were standing at my front door. Me with a glum face and Carter looking clueless as always. I felt bad, burdening him with my problems but it also felt good to have someone on my side.
"Thanks Carter, for everything today. I probably would've still be crying on that park bench if it wasn't for you" I tell him. I think I should stop being an ungrateful bitch to him...he did help me today.
"It's okay, just don't stress too much and call me if you want. The offer for lending you the rest of the remaining 700 still stands, if you can't find anything, just take it." He tells me again for the 100th time.
I smile at him and nod. I won't accept his offer but fighting about it won't help.
"See you in school on Monday" he says and off he goes on his merry way.
I enter my house and as usual find my mum in the kitchen and Ray watching television. It's Saturday so he doesn't have to do any schoolwork today.
"Ma I'm home" I scream. My mum comes out of the kitchen with a spatula in her hand and her eyebrows raised.
"I thought you went for an interview, why are you back so late? It's almost 6 Ava" my mum says to me clearly worried.
" I didn't get the job mum" I tell her.
I could feel the tears trying come back but I didn't let em out. Not in front of Ray.
"Baby it-" I stop my mum and drag her to the kitchen. I don't want Ray listening. He might be 11 but the little dude is smart.
"What are we going to do mum? I have Ray's tuition but how will I get mine?" I ask her, hoping and praying she had some money stashed away. But I knew that wouldn't be enough.
"I tried calling some of the mom's I know asking them if they knew about a job which I could get and do you remember Mrs. Peterson? Well she's a software engineer and she told me they were working on a new project and needed an extra set of helping hands considering they're company is fairly small. With my background in computers, she said I'd find the work easy and it pays quite well." She told me with a smile on her face and dancing a little.
"Wait, you found a job?!? Mum really?" I asked her but stopped "wait I didn't mean it like that of course you can find a job, you're-" I started correcting myself once I realised what my previous statement sounded like.
"Oh relax, you had a point Ava. I haven't worked in a while and getting a good job is quite difficult and it's not like this is a proper job, it's at best a paid internship but it will cover our daily expenses and your fees" she tells me.
"So, just like that, the problem is solved?" I asked her, no problem in our life gets solved that easily. These days it seems as if some magical force is helping us.
"We'd have to see. This job is not permanent, it's only for the duration of this project but Natalie said that if they liked my performance, they'll employ me permanently." She told me looking estatic.
I was happy for her, she always used to tell me how much she liked working before my father happened to her.
"I'm happy for you mum" I tell her and go in for a hug. I feel so relieved.
"Oh baby, I told you I will take care of this, of you. You're my baby, did you really think I'd do nothing and let you worry about everything. I am the adult after all" she says while chuckling and stroking my hair.
I guess I did forget that. I nodded at her.
"We'll be fine Ava, there's noone who will hurt us now", my mother says to me.
After talking with mum a bit more and asking Ray about his day, I retired to my bedroom. I was exhausted.
Today was hectic. Now that I think about it, I was being stupid, thinking I was alone in this. But in my defense mum never seemed...much when dad was around.
She was so quiet and just did all the work around the house. I thought maybe she lost her touch with the world, that she won't know what to do. But of course she has lived longer than me, she's so much smarter than me.
God I was so thankful for this blessing. Now I could take my time looking for another part time job. I know her job would cover this month's fees but we still need more money for other things.
I pulled my phone out from my sling bag and dialled Carter.
"What? What happened? I'm coming, where are you?!" I head Carter's panicked voice as soon as he picked up my call.
It made me laugh "Nothing's wrong. I wanted to call you and tell you that everything is fine. My mum found a job, it's nothing much but it's enough for now" I told him. I didn't want him to worry about me all night.
"Oh but I thought you said your mother wouldn't be able to find one?" he asked me
"Well I was being an idiot I guess. I do that sometimes, I think taking care of mum and Ray is solely my responsibility and I did the same this time. I underestimated my mother" I told him, laughing a bit at my own stupidity.
"Well that's good Ava. You can relax now. No need for another part time job" he told me
"I still have to look for one but now there's no rush. We still need money to pay for essentials and Ray's school materials and toys and whatever he needs" I said as I lay down on my bed.
"You'll figure it out, everything will turn out fine Ava, Don't worry"
His words comforted me. Everything will be okay and now that father is gone, maybe Maddie will come back too. We'll be a family again.
"Ava? You still there?" I heard Carter ask. I spaced out "uh yea I'm just a bit tired", I told him.
"Sleep Ava, we can talk tomorrow" he says to me. We said our goodbyes and I'm left alone, staring at my ceiling.
No more madness, no more tears. Everything was falling into place.
And for the first time in my life, I slept without my demons clouding my mind, without the thoughts of just slitting my wrist.
I somehow felt so peaceful, even though I knew we'd still face financial trouble without my father.