Chapter 34 - Making a Fool of Herself at the Doctor's

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∞ 34 ∞


Jerremee had gone and for once had not come back. Finally free of his suffocating presence, it was the first time Valentina felt like she could breath easily, or sleep soundly in ages. (She did however continue to receive the barrages of texts, filled with the same spurious claims and the same lunatic –or cunningly deceptive– dialogue, which made it appear as if they were in active discussion, but was finding it easier to simply press the delete button.) For the first week, she slept 12 hours each night. Her good night's sleeps were to be short lived, however...

When none of the employment she sought came to fruition and the days passed, she could hardly sleep, or even think, for fretting. Without any income to speak of, or a sale on her flat and all of the bills already backed up from when Jerremee was there supposedly 'keeping her in luxury', the situation was dire. It was the worst position she had ever been in and what was worse, she didn't see a way out of it. She wasn't making money at the market. She couldn't find work in any areas she had training in and with the one ordinary job she had ever had having been arranged for her, she didn't have much practical experience on how to go about getting a basic job. (For some reason, it didn't occur to her to simply go into a few local shops and ask.) Even if she had found someone who was hiring in some shop, her entire "regular job" work experience amounting to two months at the hotel in the Caribbean and watching the cloak room of her ex's club in London a handful of times when the girl was late, or had to go to the toilet. And even if she had had the wherewithal, there was indeed very little work about.

She would have found skilled work quite easily in London – the problem was of course she wasn't in London, but stuck out in the middle of nowhere, in a country whose employment laws and practices were prohibitive. It was so difficult to legally hire –and then to fire– a person, the requirements of large businesses were steep when considering taking someone on. There were precious few looking for a fine artist with little experience of working for anyone other than themselves (even if they did have a prodigious degree and résumé) and any who were, had scores of French citizens to choose from – French citizens could speak fluent French. The demanding costs and responsibilities involved in employing staff meant most small businesses relied mainly on hiring family. To make matters that much worse, French law prohibited working in a separate field to which one was formally registered in for self-employment (not without starting the lengthy, confusing and very expensive process of re-registering for taxes) so simply changing her path and setting up as a private art teacher or English tutor weren't legal options.

Luckily the anxiety caused her appetite to diminish, because in spite of Valentina's culinary inventiveness, apart from jam and cordial (and chutney), there was hardly anything left in the cupboards. She was holding out spending the little savings she had left on food, in case there was some major emergency. A typical days lunch/dinner consisted of: a large glass of homemade hawthorn syrup in tap water, 3 apples, five walnuts and a bowl of watery rice noodles, sautéed stinging nettles and green olives, with some sort of packet-seasoning (leftover from something) and a spoonful of the dreaded chutney stirred in for flavour. The animals too were suffering with half portions... For the moment, at least there was food, but what happened when it ran out?

She needed to get back to London! But she was stuck there.

The overwhelming stress exponentially bore more stress and inertia. She felt frozen, as if she were blinded and left out on a ledge, on top of a steep mountain. It felt as though any and every potential step to get herself off of that terrible precipice would more likely lead her to her doom, than to safety. But then staying out there, rigid and exposed as she was, wasn't doing her any good either... Then again, every step she braced herself to take, did in fact make matters worse.

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