Chapter 46 - More Cursed Luck

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∞ 46 ∞


Valentina sat with her cheek against the table, staring at the small stack of coins near her face: 67 Francs. That was it. She had completely run out of money. She had tried doing the market again, but for the 5th week had taken little or no money (the two last weekends previous she had actually lost money.) Flouting her self-employment registration she tried every work prospect she could think of, whether it fit the category she was supposed to work in or not: painting lessons, English lessons, brochure design for local businesses, wedding announcements, office catering and birthday cakes. She had even considered offering house sitting, hair cuts and dog walking. (Not that she knew anything about cutting hair, or walking dogs, but how hard could it be?) After intense research, once realising all the insurances needed and considering the trouble she might end up in with the tax system, she backed out of most of the new ideas. For the ones she continued in, she had absolutely no luck. She had imagined a few people at least would have wanted a nice English lesson once a week, but all she got were calls from creepy 'gentlemen' who were clearly just looking to spend time with a young lady on the cheap. Nantes was nearly an hour and a half away by car; Angers and Tours were closer, but she was still too far out to find the clientele for any service she was able and willing to offer. She might well have found art and language students to teach, after several months of consistent advertising (what she should have been doing months before if her mind hadn't been in constant overdrive since the move there). Right now she didn't have months. She needed to get back to a city. Quickly.

None of the hardship would have come as much of a shock if Valentina had been more acclimated to it. Although she had always worked very hard, but for a few brief quandaries (which at the time felt catastrophic, but now felt like a sugar-coated dreamland in comparison) money had previously come in as expected from good ideas, good intentions and hard work. Wasn't that the way it was supposed to be?... Now, no matter what she did, how hard she worked and how strong her good intentions were, or alternatively how shrewd and simplistic she forced herself to be, nothing made her enough money to feed herself. In fact more or less everything she tried had cost her money in this new stage of her life – and she was, of course, now at the very end of it.

She was terrified (really completely and painfully TERRIFIED) to go back to the welfare office. Finally, after staying up for four days thinking of everything she could possibly do, could afford to do, was viable for the local area and wouldn't get her in trouble with the state (or endanger her person) Valentina came to the conclusion she would get a cleaning job. It was probably not the best match... More than simply dreading cleaning and all other 'busy work', she detested doing anything where it was clear the end result would not to produce a reward for her efforts. It was the reason she had no interest in cleaning her own house. No matter what she could do (of what was in her power to do) it wouldn't make a difference; it would still be a cold, crumbling, moving-box-stuffed wreck. In a nice house however, she felt certain she would be fine with the task. She very much enjoyed nurturing people and making everything lovely for them; if she looked at it that way, it seemed like a very good job and she actually started looking forward to the prospect. What's more –not that someone would know it by looking at the state of hers– she knew how to do it. The nuns (Tutu especially) had made sure of that, so that she wouldn't be "spoiled", but would "grow up to have an appropriate amount of humility". And Sister Philomena always said: "cleanliness is next to godliness".

She guessed quite a lot of houses would be looking for an honest, polite young woman with excellent references. She worked out that even if she only asked for a low wage that it would at least guarantee her work quickly and if she worked 40 hours each week, it would be enough until she could do better. She felt calmer and had renewed hope that after she got herself out of the trap she had fallen into, she might even go back to London and normalcy (or least remain there and find a new agent for painting).

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