Jess stepped out of the Job Centre into the bright sunshine. Despite the warmth, she felt miserable. It’d been ten weeks since she had started signing on, since she’d finished Sixth Form; she’d done well in her A Level exams and hoped to go to University the following year. She’d planned to find a job for the year in order to save up for University, but after more than ten weeks of job searching, a few interviews, she had had no luck whatsoever, apart from starting some volunteer work in a charity shop in order to gain some experience. She was enjoying it a lot so far, she had learnt a lot about retail. Jess hated being on benefits, she’d been diagnosed with depression just a few weeks back due to many arguments with her Mum, having to sell her car and the pressure of exam results, not yet having a paid job and feeling like she had no one to talk to. Having started a course of anti-depressants, Jess felt like things were getting worse rather than better and today was one of those days where she felt very hopeless.
Standing at the bus stop, Jess sighed, bitterness overwhelmed her. Here she was, at a bus stop, having sold her car to give money to her Mum who believed that she wasn’t trying hard enough. Life at home had become increasingly difficult with her Mum either ignoring her or shouting at her. The bus pulled up at the bus stop and Jess got on, she was going back up to the charity shop. Jess knew she was extremely lucky that her Mum had not yet thrown her out of the house, and she really loved her Mum and cared about her, especially since her Dad had passed away only six months ago.
Tears stung Jess’s eyes as the bus drove past her Secondary School and Sixth Form. She wiped the tears from her face as she got off the bus and walked five minutes around the corner up to the door of the charity shop, she took a deep breath before entering. The shop manager Dennis was standing behind the till looking very bored though he smiled when he saw Jess however his smile faltered and transformed into a look of concern as Jess moved closer.
“Are you alright?” He asked, worriedly. Jess shook her head, tears falling faster from her eyes, she was shaking slightly too.
“Come with me,” Dennis said, gently, putting his arm around her and leading her into the back of the shop.
Dennis took Jess outside the back of the shop where no one was around and Jess finally broke down, sliding down the wall to the floor. Dennis sat down next to her.
“I’m so sorry,” Jess moaned, shaking with tears still streaming down her face.
“Don’t be at all sorry, Jess,” Dennis said and he pulled her into a hug and Jess finally felt like someone outside of school wanted to be there for her. To prove this, Dennis continued, “If you want to talk about anything, you know we are all here for you. I want you to be happy, Jess, you’re one of the most motivated volunteers I’ve ever had.”
“I thought I’d be able to get a job to save up for University, to do what I want to do, but I’ve been on benefits for ten weeks now just as a way of saving before I find a job, because I want a job. My Mum thinks I’m not trying hard enough but I am, I really am, but she’s not talking to me at all and it really hurts because I’ve been put on anti-depressants and all I want to do is talk to her, and make her proud of me, make my Dad proud of me. I feel hopeless; I’m trying to balance doing my University application, job applications and this. I love doing this, it’s helped me so much, it gives me hope but it doesn’t change that, right now, I just want to give up.”
“Jess,” Dennis tightened his hug, “All you had to do is say something. Never suffer in silence, okay?” Jess nodded, feeling very embarrassed, “Jess, first of all, do not give up. It took me ages to get a job after getting my degree, and my job isn’t even related to my degree. I started off as a volunteer here, just like you and worked my way up to manager. I honestly only thought I’d volunteer until I found a job and they offered me a job in another shop and now I’m here, so there is hope, you just have to persevere. Secondly, if you ever want a day off to focus on your University application, don’t ask, we don’t mind if you take a day off. We want you to do well. And if you ever find things overwhelming, talk to us, Ben and I, we’re both here for you, we may be totally useless but we’ll try and cheer you up! I’m sure your Dad is so proud of you, and your Mum will come round, she wants what is best for you after all, my Dad was the same to me, it’s a natural parental instinct apparently. Honestly, Jess, if you need anything, don’t be afraid to just ask!”
“I can’t even get a job in the most basic of places,” Jess said, quietly.
“You will find a job, Jess, I promise you. You’re going to go off to University and you are going to live your dream,” Jess looked into Dennis’ midnight blue eyes which were full of genuine care and pride and Jess smiled, suddenly feeling about ten times lighter, almost as though a weight had lifted somewhere. Jess felt a lot more determined and motivated to do what she wanted to do with her life.
About the author:
Emily Maybanks has been writing since she can remember, but has only recently started having work published. She is currently studying Translation with French and Italian at University, and enjoys making use of dictionaries when writing in a foreign language. Emily is inspired by the little things when writing, and loves people watching and imagining what they might be thinking. She is a brown belt in karate.
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