Under 1,000 words tonight. I'm going to have to do some serious word production over the weekend or things are going to come to a pretty pass.
“I need to get out,” Kristy announced Friday evening. “I’ve thought job hunt until I’m going squirrelly. I need to see people.”
Katie, who had taken Kristy’s decree that they would eat out less more seriously than her sister, was creating chaos in the kitchen under the guidance of a book entitled The Raja’s Garden: Exploring the Delights of Indian Home Cookery. “Where are you going to go?”
“I don’t know,” Kristy admitted. “Out.”
“Are you going out for dinner or will you eat here and go out afterwards?” Katie asked, with an edge of annoyance in her voice.
“I’ll eat here,” Kristy reassured. “That smells great. What is it?”
“Palak daal. And rice.”
“I wouldn’t miss it. I’m going to go check around. Someone must be doing something tonight.”
“A wine bar?” Katie asked, when Kristy pitched her plans over dinner. “Who’s going to be there?”
“I dunno. Dan said maybe a dozen people. I know a few of them from when I was at Stanford for my MBA. There’ll be wines to try. Snacks. Nothing crazy. We’ll probably be done by midnight.”
Katie shrugged. “Everyone will be ten years older than me, and I have to be at work at 5AM tomorrow.”
“Are you sure?”
Katie nodded. “Yeah. You go ahead. It’ll do you some good to get out for a bit.”
“Thanks.” Kristy reached across the table and touched her sister’s hand. “This is really good. Thank you.”
Katie smiled. “I’m glad you like it.”
“Hey, don’t worry about the dishes. I’ll take care of them when I get home, or in the morning. Go ahead and relax for a while before you have to go to bed, okay?”
The tasting room of The Budding Grove was moderately crowded when Kristy arrived. Besides Dan Fischer, none were people she knew well, but most were people she had met before. A glass of wine found its way into her hand and she mingled. The scene seemed so much a part of her world before the layoff that somewhere during her third glass of wine she found herself answering the question, “So how are things at AppLogix?” with an extended and enthusiastic description of the PocketDJ Player project. The plans which she had described so many times over the last year rolled off the tongue in well practiced phrases, until she realized what she was doing and ended the story abruptly with, “But then Apple bought a stake in AppLogix and the leadership team decided hardware wasn’t in our future. So that was that and we’re all looking for work.”
She felt a hand on her shoulder and turned to see Dan.
“How are you doing?” he asked.
“I’m doing great! This evening is just what I needed. I’m glad I called you up.”
“I’m glad it’s helping, but you’re getting just a little loud,” Dan advised.
“Just a tiny bit. Let’s go find a booth and talk. It’s been a while.”
Dan guided her away into a quiet niche. Kristy had turned apologetic.
“Was I loud? I’m sorry. It’s been a really rough week. Very loud?”
He shrugged. “No more than some others. It’s a wine bar on a Friday night. But we haven’t had a chance to talk in a while.”
Kristy nodded. “Thanks. What have you been up to?”
“Oh, the usual. Everyone hates a lawyer, but everyone needs one sooner or later. How about you. How’s the job hunt?”
Kristy stared down at her glass for a moment. “It’s okay. I’ve got an interview on Tuesday.”
“Aspire Brands. They’re starting up a line of computer bags, and they’re hiring a product line director.”
“Director is what you’ve been wanting for the last year, isn’t it?”
“Yeah… I dunno. Like you say. This sounds like just what I’ve been wanting. And it’s moving fast. They want someone started by August. It just sounds a lot like the AppLogix job did: trendy company getting into a product category they haven’t done before. That, and…” She shrugged and looked away, feeling uncomfortable meeting Dan’s eyes. “I’ve had so much time to think about these things over the last week. I keep having this fear I’ve topped out. Everyone has their level of potential. What if I’ve hit mine and this is as good as it gets?”
Dan quirked a half-smile. “That’s just tiredness talking. I don’t think you’re washed up at thirty-three.”
“I suppose that’s why it scares me. Just the sound of it is so pathetic I can’t help fearing it. Promoted to the level of my incompetence.”
“Hey, cheer up.” He reached across the table and put a hand to her jaw, lifting her chin. “Loud was okay. Let’s not start on morose.”
Kristy smiled wanly. “Okay. There’s nothing more pathetic than being the fragile girl at the wine bar anyway.”
“That’s the spirit. Now, it’s getting late. Are you okay to get home?”
“All right then. Good luck on that interview.”
The evening air was cool and cleared her head. She stood out by her car, taking deep breaths and feeling, already, that she had made a fool of herself.
One week out of work, she reflected with disgust, and I’m practically sobbing on Dan’s shoulder over a glass of wine. Way to go, girl.
She took a last, deep breath, concluded she was ready to drive home, and got into the car. The streets were empty and quiet. The garage door opened its maw obediently and swallowed her and the coup. She ascended the stairs and let herself in quietly, knowing that Katie would be leaving for work in less than six hours. Going into the kitchen, she found the counters completely clean, the dishes done. A note from Katie sat beside the sink: “I thought you really did need a break, so I took care of the clean up. Hope you had a great time out with your friends. See you tomorrow.”