Authors: Ivy Smoak
By Ivy Smoak
Copyright 2016 Ivy Smoak
All Rights Reserved
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I put my pencil down and read through my essay to look for
any mistakes. When my eyes got to the bottom of the page, I smiled. I had just
finished my last final.
I couldn't believe I was really done. Four
long years of late night study sessions and early morning cramming had finally
paid off. Although, I still needed to actually pay those years off.
Why am I
thinking about student loans right now?
I grabbed my test booklet and walked to the front of the
classroom. My Intro to Psych class was in a huge lecture hall. I had saved one
easy class for my last semester and this was it. But now I almost wished that I
was handing in my paper to a professor that I knew well. A professor that could
tell me how proud he was of me and how he thought I was going to do great
things. Instead, I handed my test to Professor Thornton who I had only ever
spoken to when handing in assignments. She wouldn't know me from the other 200
students in the class.
"Have a good summer," Professor Thornton said and
"Thank you. You too."
She immediately looked back down at the book she was reading.
That was unceremonious.
It didn't really matter. In
just a few days, the dean would hand me my diploma and it would really feel
like the end. I glanced over my shoulder at the other students still finishing
up their exams.
I opened up the door and walked out
into the bright sunshine. Normally I hated endings. But this seemed more like a
beginning than an end. Patrick was supposed to hear back about his internship
today. I hadn't had any luck landing a job yet, but it was for the best. If
Patrick got the internship, he'd be moving to New York City. And I didn't want
to have to choose between an entry level job in Delaware and Patrick. Not that
it would be much of a choice. Patrick would always win. Besides, he always
encouraged me to go after my dreams. And I really wanted to hold out until I
landed a job in advertising. Maybe I'd have more luck in New York.
Patrick and I had talked about moving in together after
graduation. I pictured a cute little place in the middle of the city. It seemed
romantic and perfect. Before Patrick, I never in a million years would have
thought I'd wind up in New York. I liked the suburbs. There was something
exciting about moving, though. Mostly just because Patrick would be there with
me. The two of us suburban kids facing the big city together. I really hoped
he'd get the internship. Otherwise we might not be able to afford to live
together yet. Moving back in with my mom didn't seem nearly as exciting.
I looked around at the few students walking around campus.
There were still two more days of exams. Most students were doing last minute
studying, holed up in their dorms and the library. I had been lucky that all of
my finals were early. Now I could spend my last few days here relaxing,
something that I hadn't done that much of since I started. I pressed the button
for the crosswalk. I was going to miss it here. I hadn't expected to feel so
sentimental. This campus had become my home away from home, though. My life had
changed for the better here. Mostly because I had met Patrick. I smiled to
When the light changed, I crossed the street. In a few
minutes I was outside of the Sigma Pi frat house. I walked up the steps and
knocked on the door.
Please, please have gotten it.
Patrick opened the
door. He had a huge smile on his face.
I took a deep breath. "Did you hear from MAC
"Mhm." He closed the door and walked past me down
"Patrick?" I chased after him. He looked happy when
he had opened the door. Was he actually upset?
He stopped and turned back around. He was still smiling.
"Patrick, you're killing me. Did you get the job?"
I held my breath.
He flashed me the smile that I had fallen in love with.
"You got it?!"
"I got it, Bee."
I wasn't sure I had ever seen him look so happy.
"Ah!" I threw my arms around him.
He laughed as he picked me up and spun me around. When he set
me back down, he put his hand on my cheek. "I can't believe I actually got
it. I thought it was a long shot..."
"I knew you'd get it."
He leaned down and kissed me.
I would never get tired of the way he kissed me. He had this
way of making me feel like I was the only thing that mattered to him.
"What do you think? Should we go look at apartments
"Tomorrow? Yes!" I felt so giddy. I couldn't
believe this was really happening. It felt like everything I had ever wanted
was coming true.
"Did you know that this is the very spot where we met
"I know. I remember." I smiled up at him. "You
were drunk. And you made some stupid vulgar comment. And I told you off."
"Yeah." He tucked a loose strand of hair behind my
ear. "I'm pretty sure I said you had a nice ass."
I laughed. "Yup, that was it."
"I still don't know why you were ever upset about that.
It's just true."
I laughed again. "Because it was rude."
He shrugged. "All I know is that as soon as you called
me a drunk asshole, all I wanted to do was win you over."
"Well, you did."
"So this kind of seems like the perfect place,
"The perfect place for what?"
Patrick got down on one knee.
"Oh my God." I put my hands over my mouth.
"Bee, you're the best thing that's ever happened to me.
Meeting you right here, it changed me. I want to go to New York. And I want to
know that you'll be by my side. I need you to always tell me when I'm being a
drunk asshole." He laughed.
"I know, okay? I know your parents are divorced. And I
know that you're scared to get married. But I'm not your dad, Bee. I'm not
going to run off. I'm so in love with you. I love you with everything that I
am. I'm never going to leave you. Marry me, Bee."
I didn't think he was going to propose, not yet. But it felt
so right. I never wanted to live a day without him. "Okay."
"Okay? Does that mean yes?" He smiled up at me.
"Yes that means yes. Of course, yes!"
He slid the ring onto my finger.
"Oh my God, Patrick." I could feel tears start to
stream down my cheeks. I looked down at the ring on my finger.
"Why are you crying?" He wrapped his arms around
me. "You're so cute."
I pressed the side of my face against his chest. "I just
never thought I'd be this happy."
18 Months Later
The subway car screeched as it came to a stop. I quickly
stood up and squeezed my way past the people boarding. It seemed like common sense
to let people off the subway before getting on. But that philosophy somehow got
lost when people were underground. Maybe it was similar to how I was somehow
now immune to the smell of pee in the subway terminal and the loud sounds of
the city. If I left the city now, it would probably be hard to fall asleep to
the silence of the suburbs. Cars honking always put me right to sleep.
I slowly climbed the stairs. Luckily the office was only a
block away from the subway station. The cold wind nipped my cheeks as soon as I
emerged above ground. I pulled my jacket tighter around myself as I avoided
tripping over a pile of trash on the curb.
In the distance, I noticed a homeless person sitting on the
sidewalk outside my office building.
Just don't look at him.
the handle of the door.
I didn't know why I couldn't walk past
him. It just wasn't in me. And it was so cold this morning. I hadn't realized
how harsh the winters were going to be in New York. I backtracked and handed
the man a few dollars out of my purse. If I kept doing this, I'd be the next
one on the street. I was barely scraping by as it was. Giving money to every
homeless person I walked by really added up.
"Thank you, miss."
I smiled at him and retreated into the building. I kept my
coat on as I walked toward the elevator. My teeth were still chattering.
"Bridget, I'm glad I caught you."
I turned around and looked up at my boss. He was at least ten
years old than me, but that didn't seem to stop him from flirting with me
constantly. "Oh, hi, Mr. Ellington."
"I told you to call me Joe." He smiled at me and
put his hand on my shoulder.
"What can I do for you?"
"Sure. As soon as I get upstairs, I'll get you a
"No, the good stuff down the street. Thanks, Bridget.
See you in a few." He let go of my shoulder and stepped onto the elevator.
I wanted to tell him that it was 15 degrees outside. And that
there was perfectly good coffee in our office. Instead, I bit my tongue and
went back out into the cold. The place my boss was referring to wasn't exactly
nearby either. It was three blocks away. I folded my arms across my chest and
walked as quickly as I could.
When I finally arrived at the coffee shop, I could barely
feel my nose. I got into the back of the line and rubbed my hands together. A
woman walked up behind me. She was talking really loudly into her phone. I
rolled my eyes to myself.
"What can I get for you?" the barista said with a
big smile when I reached the front of the line.
"Could I have a 12 ounce cappuccino with soy milk and
extra foam to go please?" I hated how pretentious Mr. Ellington's order
sounded. I felt my cheeks blush.
"Sure thing. That will be $3.99."
I handed the barista the company card.
"Sorry, our register is being weird this morning. It's
not scanning cards. Cash only."
"Oh, okay." I opened up my purse and rifled around.
I had handed the homeless person my last dollar bills. But there was tons of
change at the bottom of my purse. "I'm so sorry." I started pulling
out quarters and placing them on the counter. I could feel my face turning even
more red. This was mortifying.
"God. Don't you see that someone who's actually ready is
waiting behind you?"
I turned around and looked at the woman behind me. "I'm
really sorry. It'll just be a second." If she thought I was rude, she
shouldn't be yelling into her phone in a small coffee shop.
"This is ridiculous," she snapped. "I'll have
a latte. Whatever your biggest size is. With coconut milk and no foam."
Of course her order is as pretentious as Mr. Ellington's.
"Umm..." the barista looked at me.
"It's fine. I need another minute anyway."
"Okay," the barista said. "That will be
"Here," the woman said and handed him a ten dollar
bill. He pulled her change out of the register and handed it to her.
"And if you think you're getting a tip for not making me
wait, think again." She grabbed her change and walked toward the other end
of the counter where the pickup line was.
"What a bitch," the barista said under his breath.
I laughed. "I'm sorry I took so long." I slid the
quarters toward him. I had ended up finding a few extra quarters. "Keep
"Thanks." His big smile returned from earlier as he
dumped the extra change into the tip jar. "I hope you have a great
"It's cold." Mr. Ellington looked up at me.
"What?" I had walked back as quickly as I could.
There was no way his coffee was cold. I bit my lip.
Maybe it's cold.
was freezing outside.
"Well, room temperature."
"I'm so sorry, I..."
He held up his hand. "It's fine, Bridget. Please just
warm it up for me." He handed it back to me and looked down at the papers
on his desk.
I grabbed the cup out of his hand and went to the break room.
"Hey, Bee. You're running late today," Kendra said.
She was pouring herself a cup of coffee out of the communal pot like a normal
person. "Please tell me it's because you went out last night and had a
I laughed. "No, I was just picking up coffee for Mr.
Ellington. Cold coffee, apparently." I poured the cappuccino into a normal
coffee mug and put it in the microwave.
"He still has you fetching coffee for him? You're not an
intern. You need to stand up for yourself."
I sighed and leaned against the counter. "I'm not sure
there's any difference between an intern and a secretary in his mind."
"Well, except for how much he hits on his
"Uh." I put my face in my hands. "Kendra, what
am I doing here?"
"Warming up coffee?"
"You know what I mean." I looked up at her. This
was supposed to be a stepping stone. I felt stuck. He's never going to look at
me as anything more than someone to fetch coffee." And if I had to edit
another one of his documents, I felt like I would scream. I hadn't spent four
years busting my ass in school to be a secretary. This job was supposed to open
doors, but I wasn't sure how much more I could take. And no matter how hard I
worked, every door always seemed to be closed.
"Have you pitched him any of your ideas?"
"I've tried. He always interrupts me."
"Maybe do it in the meeting tomorrow? And then everyone
will be listening, not just him. It'll almost force him into hearing you
"I'm supposed to be taking notes, not
"Right, said no one ever." Kendra took a sip of her
coffee. "But back to my other point. What did you do last night?"
"I watched T.V. And went to bed. Like a normal
"Normal people don't sit in their apartments alone every
night. Come out with me tonight. It will be fun, I promise."
"I don't want to go out."
She laughed. "There's a new bar opening up around the
corner from here. And there are so many eligible bachelors who work around
here. I'm sure the bar will be packed."
"If you must know, I already have plans tonight."
"With your T.V.?"
"No. I'm going over to Marie and Carter's for dinner."
"Hanging out with a married couple doesn't exactly count
"Of course it does. You're being ridiculous."
"Maybe tomorrow night, then? I don't want to go
"Which means no."
The microwave beeped and I pulled out the coffee mug.
"Maybe means maybe."
"Sure. At least think about speaking up during the
meeting tomorrow. You can't be afraid to show them what you got. See you at
I felt cold despite the fact that I was still wearing my
winter coat in the office.
Am I afraid?