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Two women standing outside | Source: Pexels
Two women standing outside | Source: Pexels

My SIL Kept Mocking My Job, So I Taught Her a Good Lesson

Prenesa Naidoo
May 22, 2024
08:04 A.M.

Hayley prides herself on being a writer. She loves the worlds that she can weave at her fingertips. But when she marries Alex, she discovers that her sister-in-law is the biggest doubter of her abilities. Will Hayley make it or will she give up at Clara's taunts?

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Writing, for me, was not just a pastime but the very breath of my soul. It wasn't for everyone — but it was for me.

"You've got a gift in you, Hayley," my mother used to tell me when she caught me hunched over a notebook.

"Promise me that you won't lose it," she said.

A person writing | Source: Unsplash

A person writing | Source: Unsplash

I promised. Writing was different for me — it was the one place that I truly felt seen. But I also knew that I needed a stable job, so I became an English teacher by day, and a writer by night.

Which is how I met my husband, Alex. During one of our career weeks at school, Alex waltzed into my classroom, ready to deliver his presentation about being an influential businessman.

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A woman standing next to a whiteboard | Source: Unsplash

A woman standing next to a whiteboard | Source: Unsplash

To his credit, he held the class's attention, and when it was time to get back to Shakespeare, they were anything but focused.

At the end of the day, Alex was waiting outside the school to take me to dinner.

"Please tell me that we'll have more to talk about than High School English," he joked.

He told me all about himself and how he felt that he was too stuck in his ways.

A young man in a suit | Source: Unsplash

A young man in a suit | Source: Unsplash

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"I'm rigid," he confessed. "I love my job, sure. But there's no room for creativity."

After dinner we went to a carnival, and I told him that I was a writer. Alex told me that he loved that I dared to be different in a world that wanted to keep us in boxes.

Four years later, we got married.

A carnival at night | Source: Unsplash

A carnival at night | Source: Unsplash

Alex's family welcomed me with open arms — all except his sister Clara. For some reason, she just couldn't bring herself to be nice to me. Things got even worse when she found out that I was a writer.

Nothing was good enough for her. I wasn't good enough. Instead, I was often the "wannabe author" who would never make it big.

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A woman looking at the camera | Source: Unsplash

A woman looking at the camera | Source: Unsplash

"It's cute how you spend so much time on your little hobby," Clara said one day at our family picnic, her words laced with condescension sharp enough to cut.

I tried to shield my passion from her mockery, but it was difficult because Clara was loud and obnoxious. Even as I began to grow as a writer, having my short stories published in magazines and websites, it just wasn't good enough for her.

Over time, I learned to let things go, but sometimes Clara was just too much for me.

People having a picnic | Source: Unsplash

People having a picnic | Source: Unsplash

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One evening, Alex and I hosted a dinner party with all our closest family and friends — it was something that Alex enjoyed doing every so often.

"It's just nice to have everyone around," he said. "And we have the space. And you're a great cook!"

I loved our dinner parties — it was a time where Alex finally let himself breathe, shedding his skin of being a formidable force at work. He was relaxed and excited to be around his people. He allowed himself to drink and chat, and most of all — my husband laughed freely.

A dinner party setting | Source: Unsplash

A dinner party setting | Source: Unsplash

Naturally, I was looking forward to the same sort of evening unfolding. I knew that Clara and her husband were coming over, but I figured that a glass of wine would help me navigate her and her taunts.

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As the night unfolded, filled with laughter and the clinking of glasses, Clara found her moment to strike, amidst a conversation about everyone's dream careers.

"Oh, our dear little author, here, thinks she's going to change the world with her stories," Clara said, cutting into her steak.

Slices of steak | Source: Unsplash

Slices of steak | Source: Unsplash

"She's going to," Alex said. "You just don't have the vision, Clara."

Clara's husband sniggered but fell silent as she turned to look at him.

"I'm serious," she continued. "Hayley's work isn't as big or exciting as she thinks it is. You should give up while you can."

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The room chuckled. Everyone was either chewing or laughing at Clara's words — filling the space with my humiliation.

A shocked woman | Source: Unsplash

A shocked woman | Source: Unsplash

I bit my lip and passed the roasted potatoes around the table.

"Everyone's a critic these days, aren't they?" I managed to say, attempting to deflect with humor.

But of course, Clara wasn't done.

Later that evening when it was time for cheesecake and coffee — I was busy putting on a pot of coffee, unaware that Clara was nosing in my study.

"Come on," Alex called everyone back to the table for dessert.

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A slice of cheesecake | Source: Unsplash

A slice of cheesecake | Source: Unsplash

That was when Clara, having discovered the draft of my novel, a piece of my heart laid bare on those pages. My writing was sacred. I wanted everyone to read it, but nobody that I knew — the typical writer's conundrum.

With the cruelest of intentions, she read excerpts aloud, her voice mocking every word, every character.

The laughter that followed was a chorus of knives, each laugh cutting deeper than the last. Alex looked at me and smiled slowly. I knew that he was aware of my pain and humiliation. But I also knew that he wouldn't reprimand his sister in front of people.

A study with a laptop | Source: Unsplash

A study with a laptop | Source: Unsplash

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After the party, I found my draft discarded in the trash — the final symbolic blow to my spirit. Clara walked in with the dirty mugs, and found me picking up the draft.

"You threw it away?" I asked.

"You were actually serious about that draft? My dear, after the laughter at the party, I assumed you'd want to start fresh!"

Burning with a mix of rage and inspiration, I channeled my feelings into a new project.

A kitchen bin | Source: Pexels

A kitchen bin | Source: Pexels

"Come on," Alex said later that night. "Let's go to bed."

But I didn't want to sleep. I had no intention of going to bed because Clara's behavior had struck something in me. In a mix of rage and inspiration, I channeled my feelings into a new project.

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A novel where the main character mirrored Clara's arrogance and cruelty, set against the backdrop of a character's rise from the ashes of ridicule. It was satire, yes.

But it was also my truth.

A person typing on a laptop | Source: Unsplash

A person typing on a laptop | Source: Unsplash

Months later, the book was complete. I had two agents trying to give me the best book deal. Of course, Alex weighed in and determined the best option.

Once the book was out in the world, there were whispers of its success beginning to spread.

So, I invited Clara to dinner — just the two of us.

A person signing a contract | Source: Unsplash

A person signing a contract | Source: Unsplash

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"I've written something new," I said, ordering wine for the table.

"I thought that you might like to be the first to read it."

I slid the book across the table to her. The title, along with my name, gleamed under the restaurant's lights.

Clara, oblivious as always, simply smirked at me.

"I'm touched. I really am. I can't wait to see if you've finally managed to write something worth reading, Hayley. I don't know why my brother encourages this hobby."

Books on a table | Source: Unsplash

Books on a table | Source: Unsplash

I ignored her and ordered my meal. I wondered whether she was going to page through the book, but it remained firmly shut on the table.

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She didn't even see the dedication.

For Clara, thanks for being the inspiration.

But as the story of my book spread — as it was embraced for its wit and painfully accurate portrayal of pettiness, Clara's smugness turned to dismay.

A woman drinking wine | Source: Unsplash

A woman drinking wine | Source: Unsplash

Our family, friends, colleagues, and even her employer began to see the parallels between her behavior and the villain of my tale.

When her employer let her go, citing unbecoming behavior in the workplace, Clara came to my home.

"You did this, Hayley!" she screamed as she sat on the couch. "You've ruined me!"

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"I only wrote what I knew," I replied. "You said that my writing would never amount to anything. That no one would read it. Seems you were incredibly wrong on both counts."

"What am I going to do for work now?" she whispered as I caved and made her a cup of tea.

A cup of tea with biscuits | Source: Unsplash

A cup of tea with biscuits | Source: Unsplash

Despite all my feelings, and the joy at proving her wrong — I didn't like the fact that I had hurt her in this way. I didn't expect her to lose her job.

"The school is looking for a teacher's assistant," I said. "It's not much, but it's something."

Of course, she declined. Although I feel guilty, I am proud of myself for overcoming all the doubts and mockery.

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A woman smiling and wearing black | Source: Unsplash

A woman smiling and wearing black | Source: Unsplash

What would you have done?

Here's another story for you | Lila adores her mother-in-law's cooking, and constantly wants to learn Margot's culinary secrets. But when Margot takes a stand at giving Lila a recipe, she finds that there's a lot more cooking than just the food...

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