Cape Town, South Africa
Shelly stood in the kitchen and washed the dishes; being a house cleaner was far from what she had wanted for herself but in the end, she had no choice. Her little boy needed to be fed. She was used to being a fighter her entire life but even she had admit that there were days when she lacked the energy to work so hard for a low income wage.
If it were not for the fact that she desperately needed the money, she would have left this god-forsaken job a long time ago but as it turns out, she needed every penny.
Shelly thought of her poor son who was probably sitting at home waiting for her to get back home. This morning Shelly could not bear the thought looking into his big grey eyes and lying to him. She wished that she had a choice but then again she had to lie, money did not grow on trees for people like her. Now she was one hour late and her son was at their apartment all by himself, in their dangerous neighborhood. As if matters could not get any worse, her job as a maid in a rich couple’s home was way far from where she lived.
“Shelly, Shelly!” She heard a boss yell out; this caused Shelly to roll her eyes in frustration. In all honesty, Shelly wished that this was not another instance where she was ordered to run after a mouse, because her boss was too scared to do it herself.
"Yes madam I'm here in the kitchen" Shelly yelled out, hoping that it would put the old woman as ease for now. Before Shelly could count her lucky stars that her boss had stopped yelling, her celebration as cut short when her boss walked into the kitchen.
"Oh here you are, I've been looking everywhere for you. I think you should leave the dishes for a while and prepare the guest room, my sister has just arrived from London" Her boss informed her, Shelly tried to hide the horror on her face as to not make her boss question her further.
Oh goodness, I hope it is not Maria. Shelly thought to herself. Shelly was haunted by Maria’s visit three years ago. Maria made the house unbearable not just for her boss but also for Shelly; one could go as far as say that Maria was the queen of evil. Nothing ever satisfied Maria, not even the food that Shelly made.
"You mean your sister Maria, the one that visited three years ago?” Shelly asked her boss, trying her best to hold her nerves together.
"Yes Shelley, my wonderful sister Maria” Her boss responded and this left Shelly to wonder what part of Maria was lovely. Maria was the definition of cruelty when it came to Shelly.
Before Shelly could respond to her boss, Maria walked into the kitchen. Maria might have been the devils sister but the old woman had some fashion sense still going. I
Shelly was impressed by the older woman’s sense of style even as old as it was. Maria wore a black tight skinny jeans (probably to hold all that saggy skin in one place) with a simple black tank top that had the words "eat me" written in bold red.
"Elizabeth—"Maria greeted her sister as she walked into the kitchen, she came to a stop when her eyes landed on none other than Shelly.
Shelly hated the way in which Maria stared at her, as though Shelly was a disgusting creature from the pit of hell. Maria had never hid her distain for Shelly and in truth shelly hated the older woman as well. Shelly knew why it was that Maria hated her. Seeing Shelly in the kitchen only reminded Maria that a black woman would be preparing her food and as an older and racist white woman, Maria could not stomach the thought.
"So she still works for you till now? Maria asked her sister with a disgusted look on her face and that did not bother Shelly because she was accustomed to it by now.
"Welcome home Mrs. Maria we have missed you dearly” Shelly welcomed her back, lying through her teeth that is.
"It's Miss Maria, I'm not married but you wouldn't know that obviously. Oh and Elizabeth I hope my bedroom is ready, I think I'm suffering what young people these days call jet lag” Maria informed her sister in her high Dutch accent that only the two sisters could understand.
Shelly was not surprised that Maria was not married; any man wanting to marry her would be digging his own grave.
"Yes Maria, Shelley is going to do it right now let us go and have our coffee” Shelly’s boss Mrs. Elizabeth informed her sister. Both women left the kitchen leaving Shelly in the kitchen.
Good that is exactly how I like it, all by myself. Shelly thought to herself as she wiped her hands down, getting ready to prepare Maria’s room to the best of her ability.
Shelly arrived home just after eight-thirty that evening; Maria had once again tested her patience. Maria had complained about everything that there was ever was to complain, she complained about the sheets being too wrinkled and she had even gone as far as to deprive Shelly from leaving at her appointed time for no reason.
Shelly had tried explaining to Maria that her son was home alone and she needed to get home early, Maria would not hear a word of it. Maria had simply responded that it was not her problem and that Shelly needed to lean to leave her problems at her home and not bring it to work.
Shelly arrived in her little apartment and dropped her bag onto the floor, she looked around her apartment and she was not proud of the tiny house she lived in. The paint on her walls were falling off because it was old, the windows needed replacing after all the abuse they took from children kicking their balls at them and the wood of her doors had survived it fair share of break ins.
Her home as silent and she assumed that her little boy had finally fallen asleep after waiting for her for such a long time.
"Mommy!" Shelly heard her son’s squeaky voice call out to her and before she knew it, his arms wrapped around her waist.
"Hey my little man how are you tonight?” She asked her son as she crouched down to greet him.
"I missed you mom, I'm hungry mommy" her little boy told her this broke her heart, she could not blame him after all. She knew that she did not have a lot of money and all she could leave him with was a juice box and six slices of bread.
She looked into her sons eyes and there it was, that silver grey eyes that broke every fiber in her body. Her little boy had beautiful full pink lips, he had also inherited his father’s wonderful features especially those high cheeks and his sandy brown hair.
Richard junior was a mixed race child, many times people would notice it at first glance that he did not look quite like Shelly because most of his features were that of his father. Shelly put up a brave, smile because being brave was al that she could manage to do.
She ran her hands through her son’s sandy brown hair, RJ shrieked, Shelly stopped. With every passing day, RJ acted just like his father.
"I'm so sorry sweetheart but mommy brought you some muffins and orange juice, I hope you still like it?” She asked her son and the smile on his face lit up brighter than a Christmas tree on a Christmas night.
"Yes mommy” Her little boy replied with enthusiasm. To Shelly, there was nothing better than seeing her baby boy happy and that is especially what motivated her to work harder every single day even when she did not feel like it.
She watched as RJ ate what she considered as his dinner, a carton of apple juice and a muffin whilst she ate away at her stale bread. She washed RJ and later tucked him into his bed, the entire time tears spilling from her eyes.
Shelly cleaned her little house up and then got into her bed, the entire time she stared at the ceiling wondering what had become of her life and where she had gone wrong. She looked besides her bed and there RJ was sleeping peacefully, unaware of their financial situation.
My little boy is now sleeping on his bed peacefully and I am on my bed crying myself to sleep yet again. Richard where are you? Your little boy needs you so much. He needs his daddy so much. Richard I need you so much. Shelly thought to herself as she allowed the tears to spill, tomorrow was another day and she prayed that she had the strength to deal with Maria.