"The Sweet Life," by Eve Fisher, in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, July/August 2021.
This is the third appearance here by my fellow SleuthSayer Eve Fisher.
As I have said before, some stories sneak up on you. I'm not talking about surprise endings. I'm talking about a story that you finish and think, "Well, that was okay," but then the next day you realize you're still thinking about it. Maybe you reread it to catch more of the details. As Paul Hanson said "I may be done with the book, but it’s not done with me.”
This is one of those stories, for me anyway.
Carrie is a teenager who has had a rotten life. She considers her time with Ethan to have been pretty good because, while he made her sell drugs, he didn't force her into prostitution. That's a highlight.
When that arrangement collapses she lucks into a gig with an agency that cleans houses. (She has to lie about her age, and other things.) Turns out that's work she is happy with, even though some of the customers are a little weird.
But then Molly comes back into her life, and Molly is bad news. Just the kind of person to steal something from a house they are cleaning and ruin it for everyone.
What happens is more complicated than that, and more interesting. Not a twist ending, but I definitely did not predict how the story turned out.