U is for Unemployment?





Within 2 hours of me arriving home and munching through the family sized bar of  chocolate I’d bought at the garage on my way back, I got the phone call from Karl.

I knew he was going to be pissed off.  Quite frankly I didn’t give a toss.

“Rhodes, Sophie Rhodes.” I answered, just to be extra childish.

“ So, apparently I have an STD? That’s a nice professional message to leave with one of my reps, Soph.”  He said flatly.

“ Well, maybe your reps should be a touch more professional themselves when they answer your phone.” I broke off another piece of galaxy chocolate and shoved it in my mouth.

“I’m away at an exhibition and left my phone on the table whilst I was at the bar.”

“And Sarah kindly answered it for you.  She’s such a sweetheart.”

“ I don’t have time for this crap, I’m busy. I’ll talk..”

“WAIT!” I said loudly. “ Before you go off and get indisposed again, I have to go through something important.  It’s about Brendon.”  

“Make it quick. You have 5 minutes.”  Whilst I seriously had the urge to tell him to go to hell, I knew that wouldn’t help.  I hated how he spoke to me like a subordinate sometimes.

I  explained the incident with the MP coming in and told him how they wanted to change Brendon’s whole timetable and remove him from certain lessons where he was proving most difficult.

“The thing is, they want me to go in on a daily basis and I’d need to be at home on his part time days or I wouldn't trust him to go in.  I don’t know what to do...I need to help him but if I do it means I can’t do my job anymore.”

I’d thought about this for the last couple of hours, trying to find ways I could make the two marry together.  It was impossible. This was one of those hideous dilemmas that even a coin toss couldn’t decide.

“ Well you can’t just jack your bloody job in. This is the problem with that school, they make inchoate plans without any thought on how it’s going to affect anyone else.”  I heard him cover the mouthpiece of his phone and whisper to someone.

Hello?”  I called through my mobile.

“Sorry, like I said, I’m busy” 

“ I know it's not that simple Karl but I have to do what they say or everything I’ve done or you’ve done has been for nothing.  It’s like I have no choice.  I may have to go part time but that will affect me massively financially.” 

 He wouldn’t like that  because the house I lived in was still half his and he’d always viewed it as a major investment. My earnings being reduced might mean it would have to be sold too early and put pay to the nice chunk of cash he would get if it was held on to for a few more years and gained more capital.

“ This is ridiculous. You can’t make snap shot decisions like that.  The house needs to be paid for or neither of us will benefit.”  I heard the mellifluous tones of Sarah saying something to him in the background.
  “I need to go..we will  have to talk about this later.”  He hung up and I was left no nearer to a decision than before I'd spoken to him and to be honest it was looking like one I’d have to make alone.

 I got the red leather notebook that I’d sullied last week with my phone box ideas and decided to make a for and against list. This could now become my stupid ideas and dilemma book.  The process of writing things down usually made the route obvious. Unless it was about shoes.  In that case buy them all.
  I drew a line down the centre of the next new page.  Reasons to help Brendon and reasons to not. I took a deep breath and began to fill in the columns.

After I’d completed the pro’s and con’s I decided to take a break and come back to it later with fresh eyes.  I felt weary and confused with nobody around to help me and my problems seemed insurmountable.

I went to my word game for reprieve.  An escape to the ether where my ubiquitous issues couldn’t penetrate.

I hurried to ‘The Voice’ as I hadn’t been to play since he’d said ‘It’s perfect’ to my picture. 

Sophistication: Well that’s good.  I aim to please.

I didn’t really know what else to say.  I scrolled back through our previous chat messages and felt a warmth and peculiar fizz.  I hadn’t felt that feeling in a long time and it unnerved me a little.

He was online.

The Voice:  You pleased me.

Oh God. I did? There was that feeling again.

Sophistication: Well I'm glad of that.

Well at least I was pleasing someone, which made a god damn change.

The Voice: Well I’m glad you’re glad.

Sophistication: Ok, enough.:)

I tried to concentrate on the actual play a bit more as I noticed I was just placing anything on the board to get to the chat quicker rather than be competitive.  That was usually so unlike me.

The Voice: Texting in these little bubbles can be annoying sometimes don't you agree?

What did he mean by that? He didn’t want to talk anymore? I felt a sudden surge of fear.

Sophistication: What, you don’t want to talk anymore you mean?

I pressed send before I had chance to review the message. It sounded a tad desperate.

The Voice:  Yes.  That’s exactly what I want to do.  I want to talk.

I really didn’t understand what he was on about.  Was I missing something?

Sophistication: Well, isn’t that what we are doing?

The Voice: No. I want to actually talk to you. I prefer real time conversations.

I suddenly went into free fall panic. Did he mean like real talking? As in ‘on the phone’ or something?  I couldn’t cope with that right now and I didn’t know what to say.  I was scared. Terrified of  not living up to the player behind the virtual board. At least on there I had a modicum of control.   What if I was flummoxed or too nervous to talk?  I mean this wasn’t just anyone, this was ‘The Voice’,it was HIM. 

I placed my phone on the table and tried to calm down.  I felt flustered and heady with a stomach full of manic butterflies.  What the hell was wrong with me?

I decided to leave ‘The Voice’ well alone for now until I’d had chance to work through my feelings.  Generally when I acted in the heat of the moment it didn't go well.   I went back to my study and reviewed the list I’d been working on earlier.

All of a sudden it was painfully clear. I had to be there for my son. I was his Mother and that was my main responsibility.  If I didn't do it then nobody else would and if I didn’t and he failed, could I live with that? 

No.  I couldn’t.  There was only one answer. I was going to have to leave my job.