Catch up with the rest of this story HERE.
As always, this is a work in progress and it is bound to change before I publish it in the spring.
Chapter 14 Part II
“What do you mean you don’t need me anymore?” Warmth rushed up Liz’s throat and into her face.
Linda Bertoloni swept her silk scarf over her shoulder, around her neck, and floated on bare feet toward the back storage room.
“I’m sorry, Lizzie, but I’ve had my niece working for me since you’ve been on leave and she’s done a wonderful job.” Linda was shifting boxes on a shelf, her back to Liz. “Sales have been down this year and I’ve had to make cuts and I’m afraid you’re one of them. You know how it is. We just have to go with the flow in life. That’s what I always tell you and this flow is taking me to a less expensive employee and a smaller inventory.”
Liz couldn’t believe it. Was this woman for real? She’d been working here two years and Linda was firing her?
“Why didn’t you call and tell me this before I came in?”
Linda paused in her searching and turned looking up at a spot above Liz’s head, placing her thumb and forefinger at her chin. “Wait. Didn’t I call you last week?”
Liz shook her head slowly. “No, Linda. You did not call me. At all. I came in today expecting to work and expecting to have a job.”
You crazy, airheaded, pot-smoking, tree-hugging freak.
Linda smiled serenely and stepped forward, taking Liz’s hands in hers. “Liz, sweetie. I know this is hard. We’ve worked well together, but it really is time for you to move on, don’t you think? Don’t you want to do something more exciting with your life than work in my little health food store?”
Liz thought her head might explode.
“Linda. Listen to me. I just had a baby. A baby I have to support.”
Why did the woman have to be such a free spirit now? A free spirit who apparently did things so much on a whim she didn’t care who got left behind or walked all over.
Linda smiled and squeezed Liz’s hands tighter, leaning close to her face until Liz could see the lines at the corners of her eyes and the pores in her skin. “I know and that’s why you need a job that will pay you more than I can right now. I will give you a wonderful reference. I am sure there are tons of places around here who would hire you in a second. There’s no way someone won’t snatch you up.”
Linda turned abruptly and her scarf fluttered, brushing across Liz’s face. It fluttered again across Liz’s face as she turned back around from her desk with an envelope in her hand. “Now before you go, I have given you a final two weeks pay to help you along until you find a new job.”
Liz took it, her mouth dropping open in disbelief.
Linda clasped Liz’s hands in her. “Now don’t thank me, hon’. I know you appreciate it. You give that baby a hug for me when you get home.”
And with that Linda walked briskly past her toward the front counter to wait on a customer.
Liz walked slowly toward the back door, dumbfounded.
Jobless? How was she going to pay rent? Buy diapers? Go back to school?
“Lizzie! Hi!” Linda’s niece Brittany bounced through the back door and toward her, blond ponytail bouncing behind her. She beamed as she grabbed Liz by the shoulders and yanked her into a hug. Pulling back she smiled even broader. “Oh my gosh! So good to see you! How is the baby?”
Liz tensed. “She’s good.”
“Oh wow! Did you bring her with you?”
“No, Brittany. I did not. I thought I was coming to work today.”
Brittany pushed her lower lip out, frowning, and tipped her head. “Aw. I’m sorry. Didn’t Aunt Linda call you a couple weeks ago?”
Liz narrowed her eyes. “No. She didn’t call me.”
Brittany tipped her head back and giggled. “Well, you know how she is. Her head is in the clouds all the time.”
Liz stepped around Brittany, heat rushing into her face as she bit her lower lip to hold in the retort she really wanted to shoot at Brittany. “Yeah. It’s somewhere alright. Have a good day, Brittany.”
Brittany’s voice as sickly sweet, clueless as always. “You too, Lizzie!”
Liz growled as she flung her door open. No one but Linda and Brittany called her Lizzie, and she was willing to put up with it because she knew it meant a paycheck. Now that she wasn’t getting a paycheck she wouldn’t be putting up with it.
She slammed her car door hard behind her and pressed her forehead against the steering wheel.
It wasn’t like she was making much money at the health food store, but it was something and it was enough to — well, barely survive on, honestly.
Now she had to drive back to her apartment and face her mother who would shake her head and ask how she was going to support herself and Bella now.
What was worse than knowing her mother would ask the question was that she was asking herself the same question and she had no answer.