Heather was standing in front of her mother, stubbornly pressing her lips together, while her mother reprimanded her loudly, making sure that people outside could hear her. The girl felt uncomfortable, knowing that now all the neighbors would know that she had been fired again.
“Mum, can you stop shouting so loud?” said Heather, unable to stand it. “Everyone is aware of what happened to me. And why should I hide the truth?”
Resented, Sarah, Heather’s mother, replied, “You’re so fond of fighting for it, aren’t you? You speak without thinking of the consequences.”
Heather made another unsuccessful attempt to reassure her mother, but she knew in her heart that she was right. She should not have told the boss what she had in mind, and moreover, in front of others. And now all she had gotten was that she had been asked to write her letter of resignation immediately.
She was not going to keep quiet here either because she knew her rights. But nobody listened to her, and everyone returned to their work. Heather felt hurt because she had tried for all of them, but without support.
She went obediently to write her resignation letter. While she was diligently writing, her colleague Nina came up to her. “Just say you’re sorry and promise you’ll be careful with your words. The boss isn’t a hard guy. Perhaps he’ll forgive you.”
“What do I have to apologize for? I’ve told the truth,” wondered Heather.
“Who cares?” resisted Nina. “Who have you enhanced with the truth? It’s your third job, and you still don’t understand that you’re just acting foolish.”
The colleague shook her head hopelessly and went back to her work, while Heather, burning with justified anger, began to collect her things. She stuck to her opinion and was firmly convinced that one day everyone would realize that she was right and would apologize to her.
Heather’s mother continued to be indignant, remembering how many times her daughter had ruined her life because of her impertinence. Heather tried not to listen to her, but finally, she could not stand it.
“Mum, please stop. I haven’t done anything I’m ashamed of.”
“But what are you doing with your life? You had been a wonderful boyfriend, and what did you do? You made fun of him and all his dreams in front of all his friends. I am not surprised that he had dumped you.”
Heather became indignant. “That’s really silly. The guy is 27 soon. He works in a factory on a machine and dreams of learning to play the violin and performing in concerts. Have you seen his hands? They could break the violin, and that’s not the kind of dream a grown man should have.”
The mother sighed and said, “And what dream should a man have? Dream about hurting as many people as possible? You’re just like your father. He had no idea what tact was either. And where is he now? Probably he is with his friends in the garage, drinking beer. Or maybe he is sitting with his mummy and scolding everyone around because everyone is stupid and he’s the only smart one.”
Heather finally couldn’t take it anymore. She went to her room, but before she closed the door, she heard the most offensive words from her mother.
“You like to fight for the truth. That’s your right. But first, learn how to provide for yourself. You have three days to find a job.”
“Sure, mommy. Don’t worry. I won’t eat your piece of bread. I know you kicked daddy out because he let himself take the food you had bought.”
Sarah only shook her head, and Heather was finally alone in the room. She felt that she had said something that Mum hadn’t deserved, but she wasn’t going to apologize for her words.
Heather decided not to go out for dinner to make her mother feel remorse, but Sarah did not care. The woman called her daughter only once and then put the food in the fridge and went to her bedroom.
By night, Heather felt that she was starving. Thinking that her mother was already asleep, she sneaked quietly into the kitchen and opened the fridge. She took out a cold meatball and immediately ate it. Suddenly, the light in the kitchen came on. Sarah was standing at the door, looking at her daughter with a stern expression.
“Let me heat it up, you little brat,” said her mother.
In another moment, Heather would have been indignant, but she was so tired and hungry that she just nodded and sat silently at the table. They were sitting together, having tea, and Heather told her that she had found a good advertisement for a job. It required a cleaning woman for a few hours a day, and judging by the salary, in a house of wealthy people.
Heather’s mother had doubts about the job, firstly because of Heather’s character. But the girl promised that she would think before she said anything. The woman hugged her daughter tightly, hoping in her heart that this would be the case.
In her mother’s embrace, Heather felt confident that she would succeed. In the morning, Heather went for an interview. Mr. Whitney was a man in his 50s. He would have seemed pleasant enough if it weren’t for his heavy and piercing gaze, from which Heather immediately wanted to hide somewhere.
The man showed her the house, told her where the tools she needed were, and what hours she had to come in to clean, and left. Heather was surprised at such trustworthiness, but then, after seeing cameras everywhere, she realized that Mr. Whitney certainly had nothing to worry about.
It had been two months since Heather had worked as a maid, and she was glad. The owner of the house seemed perfect, paying on time, not nagging, and hardly ever home. But every time she saw him, Heather felt his heavy gaze on her again, making her shudder as if she were cold.
Heather knew that an ordinary man could not have that look, and her imagination filled her with unpleasant pictures. She imagined him as a cruel tyrant, a narcissistic egotist, and sometimes just a mentally unstable man, almost a madman.
Heather also knew that Mr. Whitney had relatives – a son and a grandson who sometimes came to visit him. She had never seen them herself, but she knew it was true from the toys in the rooms, and that puzzled her even more. Because, as Heather thought, a man with such a heavy stare was most likely a loner.
One day, Heather was cleaning the house as usual. She quickly mopped the floor of all the rooms and was about to take a break for tea when suddenly she heard a strange rustling in the closet. The girl froze and listened. At first, she thought it was a thief. But then, suddenly, she remembered Mr. Whitney’s heavy gaze.
The thought that he was some kind of sadist, hiding his victim in the closet, made her scared. The thoughts in her head alternated, one after another, and she didn’t know who she should call – the owner of the house or directly the police.
The movement became so active that the closet literally shook. Heather, grabbing a mop, stepped closer and swung the doors open. At first, a huge shaggy puppy jumped out at her, and then a boy about six years old.
Heather fell on the couch out of surprise, and the child nonchalantly got back into the closet and pulled out some plates and a bottle of water. Heather grabbed the phone, dialed the number of the police, and suffocating with the emotions that overwhelmed her, told them that the owner of the house had forcibly held the child and the dog in the closet.
They accepted the call and promised to come quickly. “Are you all right? Maybe you need your wounds to be treated?” which wounds?” wondered the boy.
“Well, that man… he hurt you, didn’t he? Your grandpa?”
The boy looked at Heather in amazement. Heather felt that she had done something stupid again, and when the boy told her how he had ended up in the closet, she was finally convinced of it.
As it turned out, his name was Peter, and his father forbade him to keep the puppy at their home. Then, the boy decided to hide it at his grandfather’s so his father would not find it. Peter sniffed his nose and added that Grandpa was very kind and would definitely help him talk his dad into it.
“I just walked in the house, and then suddenly you come. I thought it was Daddy coming to get me, so I decided to get into the closet because I need to talk to grandpa.”
Realizing what she had done, Heather squeezed her eyes shut in horror. And then rushed to the phone to cancel the call to the police, but it was too late. Two uniformed men entered the house, and Mr. Whitney was with them.
The boy, seeing his grandfather, rushed toward him, shouting, “Grandpa, it’s great that you’ve come. Meet Ford, he’s very nice. Talk to Daddy so he can let him stay with us.”
Mr. Whitney looked intently at Heather, and she, realizing that there was nothing to talk about, went to gather her things. She already knew what her mother would say to her, but she tried not to think about it. Quickly collecting her stuff, Heather headed for the exit.
But no sooner had she taken a couple of steps than another man, about 30 years old, who looked very much like the owner of the house, ran into the house. He grabbed Peter in his arms and hugged him tightly. The puppy jumped joyfully around them, and Heather tried to sneak out of the house unnoticed.
“Stop!” the policeman sternly called out to her.
It was you who had called us, right?”
Heather stopped and realized that her escape had failed. She nodded silently and then looked guiltily at Mr. Whitney and his family.
“I’m sorry,” muttered Heather, and started crying again. “I do first and think later.”
“Don’t cry, Heather. You did the right thing,” reassured Mr. Whitney and smiled for the first time ever. “Peter is so restless, the police have known him for a long time. What if I had turned out to be a criminal?”
“So, you did the right thing,” Heather raised her tear-wet eyes at him and looked incredulously.
Peter’s father handed her a napkin and offered to have tea altogether. They talked at the table, and Heather discovered that Peter’s mother had died in childbirth, and Ann Taylor, Mr. Whitney’s son, had been raising the boy alone.
Mr. Whitney really turned out to be a pretty tough man, but only when it came to business. Heather not only wasn’t fired but was also promoted to the housekeeper. However, even this position, Heather had to leave soon. She and Taylor had the same outlook on life, and six months later, the man made her a proposal.
“I didn’t think anyone would want to marry my son with his temper,” grinned Mr. Whitney.
“I understand you very well,” sighed Heather’s mother, and everyone laughed in unison. And the puppy was the happiest of all. He stayed with Peter and now joyfully ran around the house to the happy laughter of little Peter.
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