Home > Between Here and the Horizon(5)

Between Here and the Horizon(5)
Callie Hart

“Some people don’t enjoy flying,” he said. “I’m glad to hear everything went smoothly for you, though, Miss Lang. Apologies that we couldn’t meet in Los Angeles, however my schedule has been rather punishing recently. There have been a lot of loose ends that needed tying up.”

I nod. “Of course. It’s wasn’t a problem.”

“Well, thank you regardless. Your punctuality and professional appearance in the face of such a long journey is very impressive. Professionalism is paramount to me, Ophelia. May I call you Ophelia?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Good. You’ll call me Ronan, too. Especially if we’re in front of the children.” I didn’t expect him to say that. I’d thought I would need to call him Mr. Fletcher or Sir or something. Addressing him by his first name seemed like an alien concept. Far too personal. Ronan must have seen the surprise flicker across my face. “The children don’t need another strict, formal nanny, Ophelia. They don’t need another of my ass-kissing employees hovering around them twenty-four seven. They need a friend. That’s what I’m looking for in the successful candidate for this role.”

“I see. I can do that,” I said.

“Good. Now. Why don’t we begin by you telling me about yourself and your experience as a teacher?”

I had always hated this part of interviews. Ronan must have already read my resume at length—he would never have paid to fly me out to New York if he hadn’t read my credentials—so it was frustrating that companies and individuals alike always went through the tired process of having you run down your skill sets and capabilities. It seemed like such a waste of time. I could hardly tell him that, though, so I obliged him.

Degree in social sciences and photography. Master’s in English literature and language. A diploma in statistical mathematics that I really only did for fun a couple of years ago. I explained about my time at Saint Augustus’s, detailing the extra roles I took on within the school, providing tutoring after hours for students who wanted or needed it.

“And the children at your school were all well adjusted? Did you have to work with any…problem children?”

Oh, boy. That seemed like a leading question. Were his kids little terrors, disruptive, incapable of behaving themselves? If they were, it wasn’t a big deal. I’d had to deal with plenty of spoiled shits back home, over privileged and entitled, who thought you were their servants, at their beck and call whenever the mood took them. “I’ve dealt with a number of kids who had difficulties, yes.”

“Speak plainly, Ophelia. There’s no room for political correctness here. When you say difficulties, what do you mean?” His voice had little to no inflection as he spoke. Everything about him was calm and devoid of emotion, though his dark eyes sparked with an intelligence that was more than a little intimidating.

“Problem” was always a dirty word at St. Augustus’s. We were never allowed to make a student feel any less than anyone else in class, so we’d have to use words like challenged, or high energy. It seemed as though Ronan Fletcher wanted to get down to brass tacks, though. “Problems with authority. Issues with violence, and with aggression. Some of the kids refused to cooperate on any level. Some could be unresponsive. Physically and verbally abusive at times.”

“Were you ever tempted to respond in kind? When you were attacked physically or verbally?” His words were said with complete and utter detachment, which was at odds with the reaction they inspired inside me. Rage fluttered in the pit of my belly, burning quickly outwards, flushing through my body.

“No! Absolutely not. Even if teachers were allowed to manhandle children, which we’re obviously not, I would never physically discipline a student. It’s not our place. And children can be hurtful to the people surrounding them at the best of times. If they’re feeling vulnerable or threatened in any way by the situation they find themselves in, they lash out. It’s my job to make them feel safe and comfortable, so they don’t need to curse and swear, or say horrible things. It would be counterproductive for me to respond in any way to that kind of behavior.” I knew he was testing me; he had to make sure I was a suitable role model to care for his children, but asking such a blatant, awful question was borderline offensive. Ronan remained impassive, hands stacked in his lap, leaning back in his chair, watching me.

“Okay. Let’s discuss your availability. The agency I hired to fill this position said you weren’t working at the moment. Why is that?”

“The school closed down. I wasn’t fired, if that’s what you’re implying. All the staff at St. Augustus’s were made redundant.” I could feel myself growing pricklier by the second, but I couldn’t seem to help myself. There was something infuriating about the way he was asking his questions that made me feel inferior and unqualified to essentially babysit his children. I didn’t like it. I didn’t like it one bit.

“I see.” In that small statement, Ronan Fletcher made me feel as though it were my fault that St. Augustus’s had gone under. My fault that the funds couldn’t be raised to keep the school going; My fault that the other faculty members had lost their jobs, too. In my head, I was reeling, all kinds of excuses and explanations dancing on the tip of my tongue, begging to be unleashed. I didn’t utter a word, though. I just sat there, hollowed out and miserable, as Ronan seemed to consider his next move.

“So you would be available to start immediately?” he said finally.

“I would.” I was surprised he was even bothering to check this information, given how clear it was that he didn’t think me fit for the job.

“And do you get sea sick?

“I’m sorry?”

“Sea sick. There’s a considerable amount of boat travel involved in this job.”

I just stared at him blankly. “I would have to cross the river a lot?”

“Not the Hudson, no. I need someone to care for my children in my hometown, which just so happens to be on a remote island off the coast of Maine. There is a six-mile ferry journey between the mainland and The Causeway, and sometimes the waters can be pretty rough. The position is a six-month contract, as I’m sure the agency explained to you. You will have two days off a week, and the children’s aunt will also be on hand to assist in their care. Ideally, the successful candidate for this role will take care of the children during the day, making them breakfast, taking them to school after the new year, once they’re enrolled at the local elementary. Collecting them and helping them with any homework, playing with them in the evenings etc. Before they are able to go to the local school, both Connor and Amie would need to be home schooled.

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