By March, the two of them had gotten into a rhythm. It was better than Mage had anticipated. Not only was the deal with the larger client inked and she was on her way to saving the jobs of her friends, but it was also strongly hinted that after the merger she would take on a new important role at Elite Clientele. A singular honor that would not be bestowed on anyone else at Dynamic Marketing Solutions, Inc.
This would not have been possible without the sublet of an efficiency apartment close to work. Although it was a temporary home for her, she made sure it was tastefully maintained and decorated. It had significantly fewer shades of eggshell, and the furniture wouldn’t be featured in a magazine, but it was as close to a miniature version of her home as she could get.
Moving to the apartment was not an easy choice for her. But it was necessary. Her biggest fear was whether Henry would discover the additional expenses. She figured if it didn’t go on for too long, she was confident she could pull it off. If she didn’t get careless.
From her new apartment, she was able to devote her time to her work family while the nanny devoted time to Mage’s home family. Keeping up the appearance that Mage had quit her job.
There was a wrinkle to her success of managing both home and work. Her promotion involved managing people in a different department from her friends. The long hours she was driven to put in before were now expected, and she had frequent disagreements with her direct reports.
She hadn’t even thought of how she would break the news to Henry that she would “return to work.” That was a problem she could solve later. Right now, she still had to deliver the goods to her big client.
So, she continued to devote her whole life to her job. It was the only path to the promotion she wanted. But she also wound up taking on a few more high profile projects at work, as kind of a backup plan, in case she couldn’t deliver for her client. Then she could get the promotion she really wanted. The one that would reunite her with Tommy and the rest of her work family. She committed to projects she never would be able to if she were rushing to pick up the kids from daycare. Or worse, staying home.
There were occasional moments where she missed Henry and the children, but she never missed the time her family took from her. They were happy with the Gwenhwyfach. Mage saw no reason to feel anything but pleased with herself for solving a complicated problem with an unconventional solution.
But things took a turn before Mage had wanted them to. She began to develop abnormal aches and pains, and her appearance in the mirror had more wrinkles than it used to. At first, she wrote it off on the additional stress of the past year, but as it continued, it became impossible to deny that something was wrong.
Her closest friends at the company began to express concerns for her health. Mage held back her irritation. They had no idea what she had done for them, and instead of being grateful, they criticized her appearance.
She began working from home: the new efficiency apartment. It was small and, according to her journal, “modestly furnished.” But it was also comfortable.
To say it’s nicer than my place really isn’t saying much. It’s a low bar to clear. But the furnishings were new and trendy. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen the layout on the cover of a magazine at the grocery store where I load up on microwavable noodles.
The secret of Mage’s whole arrangement wasn’t hers alone to keep. She depended heavily on the nanny to keep the family in the dark. Mage approached it like most tasks and scheduled a recurring meeting. Which proved to be more challenging than she had thought. They had to plan out scenarios, like what would happen if Henry was in the room when Mage called the nanny?
This particular scenario had a two-part solution. First, the nanny insisted to Henry that even though she was home during the day, the children would still need to go to childcare because she would need time to herself, just a few hours. Mage was impressed the nanny was able to persuade her husband to concede to such a demand.
The second part was that the nanny had to be the one to initiate the scheduled phone call. Just in case Henry had to work from home.
It’s unclear in the diary who contributed the most to these schemes. I got the impression it was not one hundred percent driven by Mage.
Perhaps she would have given it more thought if she weren’t all-consumed with work. As Mage delivered assignments above expectations, her journal became a boring mess of business buzzwords. She started sketching out ideas for presentations.
There are better uses for paper.
I don’t know that she was even asked to do it, she just seemed to want them ready.
With her focus on work, she struggled to keep her calendar available for the call with the nanny, finding herself in back-to-back meetings all day, sometimes double- or triple-booked.
The first time the nanny’s call went to voicemail, Mage was delivering a proposal to a leadership group. Her phone buzzed, and for an instant she was distracted. She wondered why the nanny would call at this time, but then realized this was their regularly scheduled call. How had she not carved out time for her? All those moments wondering created an awkward silence. Mage seized it and incorporated it effectively into her delivery for the council.
After the meeting, she listened to the message. There was nothing new. Just the mundane stuff the nanny had already mastered. Mage had worried for nothing.
So, more calls started going to voicemail.
In her journal, she contemplated what life would be like if this became a permanent arrangement, and she never had to “pay the nanny.”
By the beginning of summer, they had relaxed their routine to only require infrequent communication. Or that was the assumption that Mage was under. She would have that notion challenged when she started to plan for her wedding anniversary.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.