Diana~ Five years later
I look at myself in the mirror for the millionth time. I'm so nervous. It’s the first day of my new job, and I feel like I’ve sweated through every outfit I tried on from the stress of it all. I look around my little bedroom, scattered with clothes and shoes, all secondhand and nowhere near professional enough. Hopefully, after a few paychecks, I can go shopping to at least pretend that I fit in. My new job is at Thorne Inc., one of the most successful companies in Chicago, with its hand in almost everything. It’s a miracle I even got the job in the accounting department.
After I gave birth, one of the nurses told me about a job position that included room and board. It turns out it was at a retirement residence for an event coordinator. Translation, someone to plan entertainment with the residents every weekend. I also do the books on the side. As soon as I was released, I went straight there for an interview. I had no other option since I couldn't be a waitress anymore, and only had so much in savings. Luckily for me, Ellen, the property manager, was a sucker for babies, and I'm sure after one look at Eli and I, felt so sorry for us.
Since that day, we’ve been living there, and it has been a dream come true. The residents love Eli and are always willing to look after him. I was able to finish my degree, and work in a few accounting firms as a freelancer. With Eli just starting kindergarten, it made me realize as he gets older I need to do better. As a provider, as a parent, as his everything. I need to step up. Though some days I’d much rather wallow, and the nightmares seem to still haunt me, I can’t. I need to be a mother.
Luckily, one of the resident’s sister is head of HR at Thorne Inc. When I went for my interview last week, we hit it off. I know there were probably other more qualified applicants, but I somehow got the job. Like I said, a miracle.
Looking at the clock, I know I'm out of time. I rush back into the kitchen where I left Eli eating his cereal.
“Almost done, honey?” I ask as I pack his bag for the day.
“Yup.” He jumps off his chair and carefully carries his bowl to the sink. “Can I play the Wii with Rusty?” Eli asks with a hopeful grin.
Rusty is one of the residents here. He's about seventy, but has the energy of a twenty-year-old. He’s Eli’s usual Wii partner.
“Sure honey, but only if Rusty wants to.”
“He will,” Eli smiles at me. I can't help but chuckle, Rusty is always willing to spend time with Eli.
I help Eli put his bag on and gather my stuff so we can leave. The elevator takes us to the lobby where all the early birds are starting their morning. We say hello to our various friends as we pass. I see Ellen near the front desk and she gives us a bright smile.
“Don’t you like beautiful,” she beams. “Good luck and have a great day at school Eli.”
“Bye, Ellen!” Eli waves as we leave.
“Thanks, see you later,” I call out.
We make our way through the busy Chicago streets to Eli’s school which is walking distance from the retirement building. When I drop him off, I give him a hug and kiss, and he runs inside. As I look around, I see other parents dropping off their children, and some grandparents. Something Eli has never had. I haven't seen or talked to my parents since I found out I was pregnant. They honestly don’t know what they're missing.
I leave and jump on a bus taking me downtown. It's not a far commute, about thirty minutes. But it’s long enough to stress over my first day. When I finally get arrive, I stand outside and look up. The building is tall and intimidating. Taking a deep breath, I enter, and after getting through security I head to HR where I meet Mary, the woman who interviewed me.
We talk a bit, and she runs me through the welcome package and sets me up in one of the free cubicles. She then hands me a stack of paperwork and gives me a sympathetic smile.
“Sorry dear, seeing how you're so sharp with numbers I thought I’d give you a running start. These are all on Brayer Holding that’ll be up for sale; we need to go over their basic numbers with a fine-tooth comb before the big, bad boss looks.” She smiles then asks, “Think you're up for it?”
My nervous energy turns into determination. “I am, Mary. Thank you.”
“Okay, let me know if you need anything.” She smiles again and leaves.
I glance around and see all men. How are there not any women in this department? They give me a variety of looks; some are dirty while others are clearly as if they’re trying to undress me. I decide to ignore them and get to work. I want to make a good first impression.
This job is going to change everything, I know it.