Today was kind of disappointing: only 1400 more words. I'm still less than 3,000 words behind where I should be, but I'd expected to make up a lot more ground. I'm at 39,575 total tonight. I'd hoped very much to hit 40,000 but it just wasn't happening.
The next week brought a quickening stream of change. Kristy’s start date was set as the last Monday in September, two weeks away. The transfer of Kristy’s life from the South Bay to Johnson, IL was entrusted to a “relocation specialist” named Carla, working for a company based out of Omaha. Clearly practiced in the details of moving people across the country, Carla set to work with an efficiency which made large decisions pass almost without notice. Emails would arrive laying out some detail of Kristy’s coming life, and providing two or three easily chosen options.
How many people were in her household and what relation did they bear to her? She lived with her sister. Would the sister be moving too? Yes. This was non-standard, but since there were no other members of the household the company would probably approve it. She would check. Yes, they did approve it. Did Kristy want to have the company buy-out her condo if it didn’t sell in three months, or would she prefer to keep marketing it herself as long as necessary? Take it off my hands if it doesn’t sell. Following please find links to three residence communities in which furnished apartments are available in or near Johnson, IL. Let me know which one you would like to have for your three months company-paid temporary housing.
Decisions about where to live, when to move, how to sell her condo, were made so quickly and easily it seemed hard to credit the fact that such major changes were occurring at all.
By comparison, Katie’s court appearance, which had seemed to loom darkly over the week, proved something of an anti-climax. Having been told that all that was required of her was to dress conservatively, say she was sorry, and be polite, Katie had invested the first of these with perhaps undue weight. After spending significant amounts of time contemplating her own closet, she secured Kristy’s permission to plumb the depths of hers. From this she emerged, well satisfied, wearing one of Kristy’s best suits.
“How about this?” Katie asked, turning round for inspection. “Muted colors. Very conservative. Low heels. Does this say, ‘Don’t send me to jail I won’t do it again?’”
Kristy’s first, though she recognized not kindest, instinct was to try to calculate whether Katie looked better than she did in the outfit due to being younger, or worse due to being less in shape, but she quickly drove these unwelcome considerations from her mind.
“You look good, and it’s a conservative look, but that’s an expensive suit. If the judge knows anything about clothes, it’ll make you look too well off for your age, and spoiled-rich-kid is probably not the looks that helps.”
“Are you saying I look too good?” Katie asked, with a hint of a smile — an encouraging change given how obviously nervous she had been all day.
“Yeah, I guess so. We probably want you looking a little young and inexperienced — the sort of girl who never found herself yelling drunkenly at a cop at a traffic stop before.”
“I am the sort of girl who never found herself yelling drunkenly at a cop before,” Katie replied with a touch of sullenness.
“Well, then we just have to make you look like you, right? Would you have gone out and bought that suit for $1,200?”
“Holy shit! You paid $1,200 for this? How can you wear that kind of money.”
Kristy shrugged. “I’ve worn it to the interviews for my last three jobs, and I got the job each time, so I guess it worked. For you, however: How about if you pick out a skirt and top you like rather than a suit. Or if you feel more comfortable with another layer on, pick a cardigan or a jacket. If you really like that suit you can borrow it some other time.”
Katie snorted as she headed back into Kristy’s room. “I’d be terrified I’d spill something on it.”
Kristy laughed silently, and wished that she could see, other than in her mind’s eye, what she had looked like riding around the Schneider & Sons campus on the adult-sized tricycle while wearing the suit.
The fashion crisis having been resolved to the satisfaction of all — after Katie had found an outfit she felt radiated “let me off with a warning”, Kristy decided to exercise her concerned-older-sister prerogative and wear the interview suit for luck — the two sisters drove down to the courthouse together the next morning with plenty of time to spare and met Dan there.
Dan gave them a brief description of the judge Katie would be in front of, then excused himself to continue reading a stack of legal briefs he had with him.
After what seemed like hours of anxious waiting, it was all over very quickly. Dan conveyed Katie’s contrition and resolution not to make such a mistake again. The judge asked Katie several questions in a severe tone. She responded meekly. The judge agreed to suspect the prosecution and explained that this meant if she were charged with another crime within three years she could face both charges, but if she avoided trouble she would have no crimes on her record. Dan thanked him and guided the sisters out of court.
“See, no problem at all,” Dan said.
“I feel like I’m shaking all over,” Katie confessed. “I need to go sit down.”
Dan looked mildly non-plussed. “Is she okay?”
“She’s not used to dealing with this kind of thing like you are,” Kristy said. “Thanks. This really was a huge help. I’m glad I didn’t have to worry about it at all, with all this relocation stuff going on.”
“No problem. You can expect my bill shortly.” Dan grinnned. “Everything going all right? You staying sane while you get ready to move?”
“Yeah. Actually, they make it amazingly cushy for you. It’s easier than planning a business trip, until you start to think about everything that’s happening. The guy who came out to look the condo over for the moving company said, ‘Now don’t pack anything. Any boxes you pack yourself won’t be insured. We’ll get it all done when the time comes to pack and load.’”
“So are they packing all your stuff before you fly out?”
“No. I fly out next Saturday with basically just luggage. They’ve got a furnished apartment for us in Johnson and a rental car while they bring the cars out on a trailer. Katie’s going to stay another week to tie up loose ends, and then she’ll fly out too. Out stuff stays in the condo while we fine a permanent place out there, and then they pack it up and move it for us.”
“Crazy stuff. Are you worried?”
“Oddly not. I’m still waiting for that to set in.”
“Well, good luck. Am I likely to see you again before you leave?”
“I don’t know. I was hoping to do some kind of a going away thing.”
“Well, in case you don’t: Good luck. Keep in touch.”
There was an awkward pause. Dan extended a hand to shake. Kristy started to take it, then reached out both arms and hugged him instead.
For a moment, some faint whiff of sexuality, unwelcome, unlooked for, passed through her at the feeling, so long absent, of a male body held close against her own. Briefly — so briefly, she hoped afterwards, as to have registered only with her — she pulled him tighter, soaking up the physical closeness she had not felt for so long, but almost as soon as she felt it she pushed it away, sensing the violation of using someone so long a comrade, whom she had never sought to make anything other than a comrade, to fill the long unsatisfied need for touch. She released him with a couple of just-pals slaps on the back.
“Thanks, Dan. I’ll be in touch. I’m going to miss having you to watch out for me.”
“All right well—” There was an awkward pause during which Kristy wondered if her briefly fierce hug had been more obvious than she had hoped. “I better get going. More cases to deal with today. Good luck.”
He left, and Kristy turned to her sister. “How’re you feeling, Katie? Want to go pick up some lunch?”
Passages on Self-Command in Sense and Sensibility
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