The incident at the coffee shop that had occurred only moments before was almost entirely forgotten as Kate made her way home. There were more important things for her to be concerned with at the moment, such as the missed call from her sister-in-law, or the impending rent check that was due the day after next. Kate could have used the fifteen minute distance from the coffee shop to her apartment to call Anne back. Ever sensible, however, she knew that walking next to a busy street while talking on the phone was distracting and dangerous, so she opted to wait until she was in the safety of her own living room.
Her feet were only beginning to feel the stiffness from walking half a mile in heels as she climbed the three flights of stairs to her top story apartment. It was a small studio, with only a partial wall separating the living space from the bedroom. Though it wasn’t the most ideal living situation, it had an updated kitchen and, surprisingly enough, a walk in closet big enough to house her substantial collection of pumps and wedges.
Kate settled herself onto the second-hand couch in the living room before dialing her sister-in-law’s phone numbers. Kate and her brother’s wife typically skipped any standard pleasantries when calling one another, seeing as their time to talk was limited. Well, limited in comparison to the hours they would spend together before Kate moved away, talking and gossiping until well into the night. But now they were thirteen hundred miles away from one another, and their conversations were constrained by Kate’s full time job and a two-hour time difference.
Regardless, Kate still felt the need to use at least ten minutes of their precious time together to tell Anne about her unfortunate circumstances, the most pressing of which was her job. The position at the prestigious publishing firm in which she had procured a highly coveted internship only three months prior had once been a dream come true, though it certainly didn’t seem that way anymore. After the first week, in which she found her only responsibility to be the quality of the office coffee, Kate was seriously starting to doubt her decision to move to Los Angeles at all.
“You know, if you come home now, all you’re going to get is an I-told-you-so,” Anne said when Kate halfheartedly mentioned packing up and leaving LA. Home was Selden, Kansas, a small town of only a few hundred people, sitting on the edge of middle America. It was where Kate was born; where she grew up and fell in love for the first time; and it was the town she had left behind, much to the disappointment of her parents, to chase her dream of becoming an editor.
This uncharacteristically harsh sentiment on Anne’s part (she was typically known for exaggerated attempts at encouragement) snapped Kate back to reality. It wasn’t only that her inflated sense of pride would never (ever) let her move back to her childhood home. She wasn’t even sure if she would even still be welcome.
“Well, of course not,” Kate said. “I just didn’t think it would take so long to prove my parents wrong.” Though it wasn’t the most honorable motivation, Kate didn’t feel the need to hide her realistic need to show not only her parents, but every person in that small town, what she was capable of.
“I know that patience isn’t exactly your best virtue, but just wait it out. Working your way up the corporate ladder takes time, and every executive at that company had to start somewhere.”
“I know,” Kate groaned into the phone. “I just feel like complaining.”
Anne laughed at her favorite sister-in-law’s melodramatic misery, causing Kate to hold the phone close. She wanted desperately to just crawl through the receiver and right into Anne’s waiting arms. Anne, though only seven years older than Kate, was somewhat of a surrogate mother to Kate, who often found herself deprived of any motherly affection from her true mother. And though they weren’t related by blood, Kate couldn’t remember a time when Anne wasn’t there, babysitting Kate as a child or offering sound advice as a teenager.
“Do you believe me when I say that it really will get better?” Anne asked.
Kate huffed in stubborn agreement, refusing to talk in an effort to wallow in her own self-pity for just a few minutes longer. Anne took that as a sign to change the subject.
“Have you talked to your mother recently?” she asked casually, as if there was no point behind the seemingly innocent question.
“What do you think?”
“Okay then,” Anne said, ignoring Kate’s sarcasm. “Well, I guess I should tell you then. Your sister’s pregnant.”
“Of course she is,” Kate said, her cynical tone unabated.
“She’s due in March.”
Kate paused before responding, counting the months in her head. She was due in March. “When do you think she would call to tell me?” Kate and her sister had never been particularly close, so she didn’t really expect to hear it from the source. Her mother, however, never gave up the opportunity to remind Kate of her inferiority, because at twenty-three years old, unmarried and with no children, she was already a disgrace to the family. Apparently, however, not even news of another accomplishment by her greatest child could bring Lydia Devlin to pick up the phone and call her daughter.
“I couldn’t tell you sweetheart,” Anne said gently. “In her defense though, it’s not like this is news.” It was true. Samantha, Kate’s older sister, had been pregnant for the majority of her six year marriage. This pregnancy was her fourth, and she was only twenty-five years old.
“I know, but it still hurts that my mom can’t even pick up the phone to tell me something like this,” Kate said quietly, any trace of lightheartedness. It had been over three months since the last time Kate had spoken to her mother. The words, said the day Kate had gotten on the plane for Los Angeles, hadn’t been pleasant.
“She’ll get over it eventually.” That was Anne’s idealistic optimism shining through. Kate didn’t think she would.
It wasn’t long after that the phone call ended, both affected by slightly awkward tone the conversation had taken on. Even after saying her goodbye, Kate didn’t move from her spot on the couch. She just stayed put, staring at nothing in particular.
Kate had never been a particularly emotional child or teenager. She could probably count on one hand the number of times she remembered crying in her life, mainly because she had always been taught that austerity was of the highest virtue. Often, before the tears had even fallen, she was reminded of the frivolity of such emotion by her kind, yet strict, father. Such lessons had been learned hard, and were even more difficult to forget; in three months of living on her own in a new city, almost completely alone, she had yet to shed a tear.
Tonight was no exception. There was nothing that a glass of wine and television show couldn’t distract from, and that is exactly what she did.