Unsuitable(8)By: Samantha Towle
He slots it in my file and rests his arms on top of it, his hands clasped together. “Have you put any thought into what you want to do now that you’ve been released?”
“Get a job. Get my brother back.”
His eyes dim a little at that, and it’s like rocks are dropping in my stomach.
“Daisy,” he breathes out. “I read through your case file extensively, so I am familiar with your family circumstances. And I know your desire to get custody of your brother…but please take into note that it will be a lengthy process. You will have to prove to social services that you have your life back in order. A life that can accommodate your brother. That you can offer him stability.”
“I gave him all of that before.” My voice is toneless.
“And then you broke the law. You stole from your employer. An employer you had worked for, for four years. Those people trusted you. You have to show me and social services that you can be trusted again.”
I can’t explain how hard it is to know that you didn’t do what everyone believes you did and watch them judge your character based on that. Watch them control your life, take away your family. It’s painful and frustrating and heartbreaking.
Curling my fingers into my palm, I press my nails into my soft skin, letting the bite of pain keep my emotions in check.
So, instead of saying everything I want to say—the truth—I hold those words in and say what he wants to hear, “I can do that. I can be trusted again. All I want is to get Jesse back, and I will do whatever is necessary to prove that I’m worthy to have him back with me.”
That seems to appease him, and he smiles. “Good. Well, the first thing we can start with, now knowing that you have a stable home to live in, is employment. I have a job lined up for you.”
“You do?” My brows lift in surprise.
“Yes. We run schemes with employers who are willing to take on people who have recently been released from prison.” He stares at his screen, reading from it. “The position is working as a maid. The owners have a livery and stable business on their estate. You wouldn’t be expected to be involved in any of that. Just cleaning duties within the main house itself. The hours are eight thirty until six with an hour lunch break. Pay is seven pounds an hour.”
I quickly try to do the math in my head.
About sixty pounds a day. Just short of three hundred pounds a week. I can pay Cece rent and contribute toward bills.
This is going to be my new start. I have a good feeling about this.
“That sounds great. Thank you so much.” Honestly, I’d shovel horseshit if it meant I could earn money and be one step closer to getting Jesse back. “When do I start?”
“Tomorrow? I didn’t expect it to be so soon. Not that I’m complaining,” I’m quick to add.
“Here, we think it’s good to get people back into work as quickly as possible, Daisy. Get them into a solid, stable routine. A mind left to sit is a mind likely to wander.”
Nodding, I agree with him.
He smiles again. “Good. Well, the job is in Westcott, in Surrey, at the Matis Estate. You need to ask for Mr. Matis when you arrive. And assuming you don’t have a car”—I shake my head in response—“you can get a train there, no problem.”
Shit, train fare expenses. I’ll have to factor that in. I can get a railcard and make it a bit cheaper. Or better still, I can look into the buses, see if one goes from Sutton to Westcott.
“You will be paid weekly, so your first payment will be at the end of this week,” Toby says. “How are you fixed financially?”
I swallow down, lowering my gaze, my face reddening with shame. “I, um…have twenty pounds to my name.”
I feel embarrassed to admit this. I know he’s probably heard this a thousand times before, but it doesn’t make it any easier to say.
“How are you fixed for clothes?”
“Um…I have my old clothes.” I lift my eyes to him. “My friend, Cece, who I’m going to live with, boxed up all my stuff and kept it in storage for me while I was inside.”
“She sounds like a good friend.”
“She is.” I smile.
“Well, you are going to need money to get you to and from your job and also for food for this first week, so I’ll grant you a small loan to get you through this week.”
“That would be great. Thank you so much.”
My gratitude is real here.
I mean, I hate taking charity from people, but he said this would be a loan, which means I’ll have to pay it back. That, I can live with. It means my savings plan might have to wait a short while, but that’s just the way it is.