The Unfit

This week’s Tuesday Tale:

Gigi held her newborn close to her chest. The baby was one day shy of a week old. Her arms began to tremble so she nestled the little one gently between the folds of the blanket. She wiped a tear from her own eye when the baby started crying. She just could not hold the infant any longer.

Gigi collapsed in the chair by the oven. She had it turned on to 500 degrees with the door open. It was the only way to heat the place because the unit had gone out last week just before the baby came. She didn’t have the money to fix it, much less pay for the electricity to run it. If they didn’t come to turn off the electricity today, Gigi might start believing in the kindness of a deity. But the stack of bills from the electric company foretold their arrival. She did not have the money. She would have it tomorrow, but they would not believe her. Thanks to her sister, she would have the money for rent at least. She wondered if that would be enough to hold off the social workers who had started nosing about. Their stack of papers sat scattered next to the electric bills.

She was supposed to be on maternity leave, but her boss told her not to bother to return. Her sister told her that they had laws against such treatment, but what could Gigi do about that? Her boyfriend had said he would help her out, but he skipped town a week before the baby came. His phone was disconnected and no one would own up to his disappearance.

The baby started up an new wail, but Gigi was passed out and did not hear the cries.

A month later Gigi sat in a plush leather chair on the front side of a mahogany desk.

“Please, ma’am. I need this job.”

The woman sat pencil straight in her wool gray pant suit. Her hair was pulled tight against her scalp. She looked like a lady business woman should look. She looked prude.

“Need? I need a secretary, not a charity case. You do not have the capacity or the required skill set for this position. You may leave.”

If Gigi’s face could have dropped to a further gloom, it would have. She pulled herself to stand, but she did not make it before she burst into tears.

“They said I am unfit to be my baby’s mother.”

The woman did not move.

“They took my baby.”

The woman shuffled papers on her desk.

Gigi leaned forward to get her attention. “They took my baby right out of my arms.”

“I’m sorry for your loss,” said the woman in an automatic mumble.

Gigi stood, but her knees were weak so she collapsed back into the chair.

The woman noticed this, but she did not say anything. She picked up her desk phone and dialed security.

“You think I’m unfit too?” Gigi snapped at her.

The woman smiled gently. “No, I don’t. I think you need to get something to eat. You are weak. Here,” she laid a twenty dollar bill on her table, “please.”

Gigi snatched the bill. She left before security came. She had lied about them taking her baby. The infant lay in a box under her bed and she hurried home with her purchased groceries. Gigi did not like that scam, but she had applied for the position and secured the interview fair and square – like so many other interviews. She was turned down, but the rejection had gained her a few more days existence. What bothered Gigi the most was the lie the woman today told her. Gigi was qualified for that job, probably over qualified; she just didn’t look the part anymore. Her once permed and fashionably styled hair was tangled and unkept. Her face was gaunt and wrinkled from wear. She looked like she hadn’t even finished high school.

Her sister was kind enough to pay her rent and electricity. That kept the social workers at arms length, but that isn’t a very far distance Gigi knew. At arms length they could still snatch her child right out of her hands.

Tomorrow she would get a job. She repeated those words every night. And tomorrow came, still no job.

The tomorrows mounted into months and Gigi’s sister called to tell her she could not pay next month’s bills; she just didn’t have the funds.

Gigi watched her baby take his first steps across the ice cold floor. Winter seemed to perpetuate simply because she could not afford to pay for heat. She watched her baby grow too big for his clothes and she spent his nap times searching for bigger ones. She watched him grow old enough to resent her when there was not enough food to fill his tummy and she spent her nights working a double shift down at the club to pay for one more bag of hot dogs. She kept the rent up and the electricity on through the years of his childhood. She didn’t hear from her sister anymore, but that was okay. Gigi was too busy to notice. She made it through the tomorrows, even if she just scraped by. She watched her son go to preschool and Gigi picked up a second shift with the time he was gone. He grew faster and she saw him less as she worked more. She spent her money on more clothes and his growing appetite.

He was her son, but she knew he resented her. She could not afford what his friend had. She got a second job to pay for his high school football gear, but she had to work during every one of his games. She watched him struggle with his homework. She wished she could help him.  She heard from the Principal regarding his frequent detention. She was working that night or she would have had a talk with him.  She heard from his coach that he got cut from the team. She wanted to be there to tell him life was more than football, but her boss asked her to work late.  She watched him change from football jock to skater punk after a lousy third year. She watched him repeat a grade and then his school called her to tell her her son was expelled. When she came home from work she didn’t know what to say. He looked high, but Gigi only saw her baby boy as he had been on his first day of life, helpless and dependant on her. She would support them.  She would save them.

Then one night she came home to an empty house, and she knew he had left.

______________________________________
Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed it! -Abby

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