Vitalien assessed the situation. After five years of selling salted flying fish to her scattered patrons, two indicators revealed it was time to quit. She had no education, but she was not stupid; nobody had to tell her that other women selling the same commodity as she did and the introduction of fishing vessels in the various communities would continue to negatively affect her sales. The returns she now got were simply not worth the grueling effort she put into the venture. She communicated her decision to Harold and they both agreed he would sell some of his share of the fish and bring the rest home for their own use. The questions which then arose were: what would she now do to earn some additional money to take care of their ever-growing needs? What could she do? What was available to someone like herself?
One thing was sure, she would never return to being someone else’s house servant! The demeaning nature of some of the tasks she had performed when, as a young girl, she had worked in someone’s house was seared into her memory. She had sworn then, that none of her children would have to undergo that type of debasing experience which was made worse by the haughty, over-demanding airs of her former employer. She was now equally adamant that, come hell or high water, she would not submit to that again. What now? She was learning to appreciate more and more the value of education. If she had mastered even the basics she could have been an assistant in a grocery shop or elsewhere; she could have aspired to becoming a seamstress or even a clerk in an office. Forget that. Her practical mind had taken over and abruptly brought her back to her present reality. Then someone told her of the Town Board.
The Town Board, before it became known as the City Council, consisted of a group of elected persons charged with the development and maintenance of Castries and its environs. They were always hiring at the Town Board, she was told, and the work was not that hard. She was further informed the pay was not great, but it was something to hold on to till something better came along. Vitalien was not sure about something better coming along, but she was quite sure she needed something to hold on to that would augment what Harold was bringing in and the pittance she was making from selling the pemi and breadnut. Raising several children wasn’t an easy proposition. No sooner did you earn some money than it disappeared into the bottomless pit of child rearing. But, Vitalien had her dream for her children, and she was prepared to do what she had to do to give that dream life.
Author’s note: The preceding is an excerpt from the novella, “House of Tears” – now available on Amazon Kindle.