9. Modeling Project

"Where have you been, you wretched girl?" this was Aunt Sheila's greeting when Megha finally walked into their apartment, around eight o'clock that day.

"Does it matter?" Megha shot back. She'd had enough of her step aunt's bullying. What did she care if Sheila decided to starve her? Sheila didn't know how to cook a thing! Neither did the twins.

"Don't you use that tone with me, young lady." Sheila began, but Megha cut across her at once.

"Don't you have some modeling thing tomorrow? Should you really be stressing yourself out tonight, by screaming at me?"

Her step-aunt was so self-obsessed she took Megha's advice and stopped screaming at her. in fact, she looked rather nervous.

"This is it," she said, "my break. I will finally make it."

Megha widened her eyes, and nodded. Then she went upstairs to her room. Sure enough, Nikhil was waiting for her, lying on her bed. He looked up when he saw her enter.

"How are you?" asked Megha, closing the door behind her.

"I am dead," Nikhil answered, "literally."

"Sheila is just driving me nuts. I can't wait to graduate and move away from this place." Megha sighed, sinking into the chair kept in front of her study table. "I've never met anyone this evil in my life."

"What about your stepsisters?" asked Nikhil. He couldn't help remembering how those two girls loved screaming and fighting all the time. Only they did that between themselves.

"They were nice to me when my stepmother was alive. She was a nice lady. I don't know how she and Sheila share the same bloodline!" sighed Megha, "but they keep out of my way these days. I don't know why…maybe you had something to do with it?"

She raised an eyebrow. Nikhil flashed her, a rather evil grin, confirming Megha's doubts. She knew now why she'd not seen either Shelly or Corby much over the last few days.

"What did you do to them, Nikhil?" asked Megha, a little apprehensive about what the answer might be.

"Oh, just told them to leave you alone." He replied rather, airily. "Or strange things would start happening…like their makeup kits might just end up where they don't really belong…"

He winked at Megha. She began to laugh. More than anything in the world, her stepsisters loved dolling up. She knew it was because both of them blindly idolized their aunt. Megha had a distinct impression, that had their mother been alive, she would have strangled Sheila for encouraging her girls to apply that amount of makeup.

"How did you communicate this message to them?" she asked, torn between dismay and amusement.

"Oh, I think I destroyed three of their Revlon lipsticks," shrugged Nikhil, making Megha choke.

"Do you know how expensive those things are?" she asked.

"Whose side are you on, anyway?" Nikhil shot back, a little nettled. "I am trying to keep my promise remember?"

"I know and I am sorry." Megha smiled, "but it is Sheila who I really truly hate. My stupid stepsisters aren't anything near to her evilness!"

"Oh we'll take care of her too," smiled Nikhil. Megha could've sworn she saw a malicious glint flash across his eyes.

"How?" asked Megha, a little bewildered.

"Well, just hack into her account, and rearrange everything for tomorrow. You can do that, can't you?"

"She doesn't have a job, Nikhil." Megha sighed, "And I don't think Ramona's money will get us through forever."

"So we'll apply for a job on her behalf. Just not the one she wants."

It was then that Megha realized that even the nicest spirits who come back to finish their unfinished business; sometimes just have a streak of evil in them.

The next morning, Sheila was awoken by a hysterical phone call from her agent. Sheila took the call around seven o'clock in the morning, when her beauty sleep had not quite left her.

"Sheila, what the hell have you done?" her agent screamed from the other end of the line, "Were drunk last night?"

"What have I done?" demanded Sheila, slowly waking up.

"Did you write to your contract dealers last night and demanded a pay rise even before the first sitting?" yelled her agent.

"What?" repeated Sheila; sleep had completely deserted her now. "Of course I did not. Why on earth would I do that?"

"I have no idea. Now they've decided to cancel all the meetings. Really Sheila…we get you a deal after five years and this is what you do?"

"No," said the woman, "no no…there must have been a mistake. I need this job! Ramona's funds are nearly over. What am I going to do?"

"I don't know." Her agent replied with finality in her voice, "but good luck with finding another agent. I am taking myself off your case."

Then she hung up. Sheila at once, opened her laptop and logged in to her account. Sure enough there were mails sent from her account, to all those contractors who had offered her a first sitting. She just didn't understand how that could have happened.

Her phone began ringing again. She said a very shaky hello, and a very cheerful voice from the other end of the line replied, "Is this Ms Sheila Seth?"

"What now?" groaned Sheila. She couldn't believe the amount of spam that had somehow managed to find its way out of her mail id.

"You applied for a job with us."

A job! Sheila's spirits lifted in spite of herself. She needed a job right now. If it was any job, she'd take it, as long as the pay was decent. She needed the money to provide for Shelly and Corby's education. She couldn't tell them she'd exhausted Ramona's entire fund on herself.

"Oh, I did." Sheila tried her best to pretend she knew what the person was talking about, "I certainly did."

"Can we schedule an interview with you around ten am today?" asked the man on the other end of the line, "I trust you have our address."

"Do I already have the job?" asked Sheila, a little hopefully.

"Certainly, ma'am. The interview is just formality. I'll just forward you an email with our acceptance. Our address is provided there. Just come along with a print out of that. You can start from tomorrow." He explained, "See you soon. Have a nice day."

So Sheila waited with baited breath in front of her laptop. Finally, 1 message popped up into her account. Keeping her fingers crossed she opened it. Imagine her shock when she found the following email:

Dear Miss Seth,

We are delighted with your interest with our Day Care School. We are quite pleased to inform you that you have been accepted as one of our staff. Due to the growing need of helping hands thanks to our head count of students, we are offering your Rs 10,000 a month for your services, as well as health benefits and other allowances. Looking forward to working with you.

Yours Sincerely,

M. Mukherjee.

(Principal – Day Care School)

Sheila stared at the email in horror. She despised kids, and here she was agreeing to look after pesky brats of other people, when she'd brought up her sister's stepdaughter in utter neglect. Nikhil witnessed this scene from the doorway of Sheila's room, and laughed rather cruelly.

"What goes around comes around…" he whispered. His icy breath made Sheila shiver rather involuntarily for a minute or two.