Lesley could hear the sound of her heart beating wildly as the beautiful secretary opened the door to an office. The door opened like they were in slow motion as she held her breath. What took the secretary three seconds was like a minute to her.

Here it is. Her very first job interview.

”Are you sure you
e ready? ” the secretary asked, bothered by her pale face.

She took a deep breath then looked at the secretary enthusiastically. ”Yes! ” she answered. But in reality, her chest is about to explode.

The secretary sweetly smiled at her, and it gave her courage. The womans smile is as beautiful as her face, she thought.

”Okay, good luck! ” the woman said and then politely pointed to the open door. ”You can go in. ”

”Thank you! ”

She slightly bowed her head to the kind woman then went ahead and walked into the office of the person who would dictate if she still has a house to return to. This manager, whoever he is, must hire her because her mother would throw her out of their house if she failed.

She slowly stepped forward and peeked inside. A man in his forties was leisurely sitting on a black swivel chair. His hands rested on the back of his head. Both his feet were on the table, and his back was leaning on the chair with his eyes closed.

She coughed loudly to get his attention. The man flinched when he opened his eyes and saw her at the door. He immediately put down his feet and sat upright.

”Sorry, come in. You can sit down here, ” the man offered while pointing at the chair in front of his desk. She smiled, feeling a bit awkward, and then she walked in.

Only half of her butt sat on the chair while she straightened her back and faced the man with a smile. She made eye contact with him, not showing any hesitation. She needed to look confident. Her mother told her that she would be more likely to get the job if she did this. It would make her look reliable.

She glanced at the acrylic desk nameplate in front of her for a second. Engraved on it was the name, Jacoben Alonzo. There was no title stating his position here in the hospital, which was usually put under the engraved name. Anyway, she was sure she heard the secretary call him manager earlier.

”Whats your name? ” the manager asked with an accommodating smile.

Her nervousness was somewhat reduced by his gentle eyes. This man did not look intimidating to her. He looked kind and very approachable.

”My name is Lesley Madrigal, ” she replied, then enthusiastically handed over her resume.

Her forehead furrowed when she saw the shock on the mans face upon hearing her name. What is wrong with her name, and he seemed so surprised?

His eyes got fixated on her face as he took the resume from her hand. He looked at the paper she handed him for only a brief moment and then looked at her face again, still with a shocked expression.

”So she accepted… Interesting… ” he mumbled. And for some reason, his eyes were sparkling.

e hired! ” he nonchalantly said as he stood up and returned the resume to her.

”Sorry? ” She looked at him in disbelief.

e hired! ” he repeated with a broad smile.

Her lips parted and stared at his face in shock. She was sure he had not read the resume he had held for only five seconds. How come she was hired just like that?

Both of his eyebrows rose when she did not respond. ”What? You don want the job? ”

She shook her head violently. ”No! Yes! No, I mean— ” While still confused about what was happening, she stood up and held out her hand. ”I-I want the job! T-thank you so much sir! Ill do my best! Thank you! ” she said then the man shook her hand.

e more than welcome! ”

It was suspicious, but she brushed it off her mind immediately. She got hired! She should celebrate and not complicate things. Furthermore, she was told that this hospital was desperate for workers, so maybe they would just accept anyone as long as they fill the vacant jobs.

The manager picked up the phone on the table and dialed a number.

”Kali, please come to my office now. Orient Ms. Madrigal here. She will be assigned to V-03, ” he ordered the person on the other line.

When he hung up the phone, he folded his arms and studied her from head to toe. ”Are you sure you want to be a janitress here? ”

She bit her lower lip and bowed in shame. She looked at what she was wearing. ”Its my mom, ” she said. ”She had me wear this to look presentable. ”

He laughed. ”Im just messing with you! It looks good on you. Don be embarrassed. ”

She raised her head. ”T-thank you… ” she said with a small smile then shyly averted her eyes.

She applied here for the part-time janitress position, but she was in corporate attire, and her skirt was too short. Where have you seen a janitress mopping the floor in a pencil-cut skirt and long sleeves? She felt like she looked ridiculous.

She also prepared a lot of answers to the possible questions that the interviewer might ask her, but the only question asked was her name. She had put a lot of unnecessary effort into this interview that turned out to be simple.

Her face was burning red from embarrassment, but this was not her fault. It was her mothers idea. She suddenly remembered what happened the day before.

Her mother forced her to put on the clothes she is wearing now and told her to search the internet for ways she could pass the interview as if she is preparing for a professional job.

One afternoon after school, she found her mother whispering and talking on the phone. The expression on her mothers face was dark, and her feet were restless as she walked back and forth. When she saw her, she immediately hung up the phone and approached her.

”You need to be absent from school on Wednesday. You
e going somewhere, ” her mother hastily said.

Her forehead furrowed. ”Where? ”

”Ill send you to the company of someone I know. You have to work there. ”

She became stupefied for a moment. Then she grabbed her mothers hands, confused about what was going on.

”What? But, why? Can I just do it after the semester, on vacation? I have an exam next week! ”

Her mother violently withdrew her hands from her hold. ”Are you really asking that?! Do you think I earn enough for the three of us here?! ”

She was stunned in shock at her reaction. Who was the person her mother was talking to on the phone earlier? Why does she suddenly need to work? What is happening?

”But, Ma, I— ”

”Im not going to change my mind! ” her mother shouted at her protest. ”You
e too much of a burden to me. Its only right that you help me now. You
e already eighteen and able to work! Go put yourself to use! ” the woman angrily said as if she did something wrong.

She pleaded. But after her mother upbraided her for the difficulties her mother experienced in raising her even though she was not her real child, she could no longer refuse.

Her mother said they were in dire straits and deep in debt. According to the person her mother spoke to on the phone earlier, the company she will work at is willing to give her salary in advance, which will solve their financial problem.

The next day, her mother borrowed formal clothes from a friend, boasting that it was for her job interview at a large and private hospital. But when they got here, only then did her mother tell her that she was applying for a position of part-time janitress, and it was only here that she found out that this was actually a mental hospital.

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