Chapter 66 - Anything Else (& an Embarrassing Illness)

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∞ 66 ∞


As the weeks passed Valentina was feeling increasingly miserable and it showed. Somehow the anxieties over her own hardship had not only returned in full force, she had soaked up Mr and Mrs Shnellbrot-Thomas's anxiety and miserableness as well. So while the cleaner's progressively sullen demeanour was a cause for irritation in her English employers' house, at the same time the couple were feeling much better in themselves.


Valentina was at work and got her period early. Having nothing with her, she tried wadding toilet paper up, but then having the nightmarish vision of the bloody wad working its way out of her underwear and down her pants' leg, to end up left behind somewhere in the house, decided she would borrow a few of Emily's tampons... However, unable to face the slightly appalled look she was likely to get, she decided not to ask and instead simply to go shopping on her way home and quietly replace what she had taken the following day. Unfortunately for Valentina, Emily used the applicator-free type, which Valentina found very painful and difficult to insert. But it was either the torturous tampons or home and even though it wasn't much, she could not afford to go home and lose the day's pay... And anyway she couldn't stomach getting 'the look' she was bound to get if she left 'for a silly thing like her period'. Which was fair enough, she supposed.


The water company was back for a second time for a leak Valentina had reported a couple weeks earlier. She had arranged to go in to work half an hour later and they were supposed to come first thing at 8am, but they were late... At 9:35am they were still there and she needed to go! It was bad enough that the plumber had been and also hadn't been able fix the problem, but now the water company were saying they weren't sure they could fix it either! The short of it was: they couldn't turn off the water mains so that the pipe could be replaced. And they couldn't turn it off because they couldn't find the source! Weirdly, for some reason shutting the supply off at the meter on the road didn't turn the water supply off (not the water going to the leaking pipe that led to the house or the bathroom in the barn at any rate). This was very odd. They knew to send her bills. In fact it seemed like she was paying the water company more than she should for the small household and she had planned on phoning them when she got a spare moment (whenever that was) to enquire why the bills were so high. Now they are saying she likely wasn't being charged for all the water she was using! Apparently the meter which was supposed to supply the property –and they had been billing the property for, for as long as they had a record– only serviced one of the barns and the tap in the garden. How could that be?! She was paying them quite enough! To make matters stranger, shutting off larger mains valves farther down or farther up the road that serviced the entire surrounding area also did not shut the water off. So where was the water she was using coming from?!

The engineers didn't have much of an answer except that water was "coming from somewhere" and it was coming out at full mains pressure, so that they thought it couldn't possibly have been coming from some sort of individual well or reservoir... Oh and also that (assuming it wasn't coming from a private reservoir) she might be charged for the leak. Who knew how long that had actually been going for?!... 'And Leaks had a strange way of being more expensive than one would think for what seemed like a little bit of water. Some poor old lady a few villages over had gotten stuck with a bill worth more than several months of her meagre pension –or indeed Valentina's existing meagre earnings– for what had amounted to just a trickle.'

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