And here we are.

Karen//here we are.

”What the fuck do you want from me?”

I can still see him when I close my eyes. He’d just gotten home from the bar. Home from the bar at four in the afternoon on a Tuesday. His blue eyes were bloodshot and glazed with beer. As he yelled those words, over and over, his face got redder to match his volume.

“I just want you to be a grown up,” I’d said to him. He was pacing around my bedroom while I stayed at the foot of the bed. My arms were crossed close to my chest to stop from crying. “Get a fucking job. Go back to school. Stop getting drunk in the middle of the afternoon, for God’s sake.”

“Who the fuck are you to talk?” He looked me in the eye, laughed. “You put in your four years, and what do you have to show for it? Fucking nothing. Four years and a hundred thousand dollars. Wasted.”

“I have a fucking job, you know that.”

He laughed again. “Right. You start next week. Never mind that you have to move north just to work in fucking politics, something you hate. So, you’re right, Karen, let me revise that statement. Four years and a hundred thousand dollars bought you shitty job in a shit town and tore you away from your friends, your family, and your boyfriend. You remember him, that’s the guy you keep badgering to propose already?”

My arms fell to my side. “I’ve told you a hundred times, it’s not permanent. It’s a temporary sacrifice. But you wouldn;t know anything about that since only adults know about sacrifices and you’re a fucking child.”

His smile faded. He looked at me in the eye. His were filled with venom.

“Fuck you, Karen. Not all of us are willing to put up with shitty jobs just to watch the minutes roll into years. I know you. You’ll get comfortable. And you’ll want to stay. And you’ll spend the rest of your life miserable. It’s not a sacrifice in the name of anything, it’s a slow fucking death. It’s settling for nothing.”

“I…” I looked down. I couldn’t think straight. I didn’t think he would be right. I wanted to believe it would be okay.

“I will be happy,” I said slowly, firmly, “I believe I really can be happy if you’d just…come with me. Please, Eric, just come with me.”

I could feel the desperation in my face, hear it in my voice. There was a pain in my chest. I looked at his face while I searched the floor.

“Not on your life, Karen. You can’t ask me to just leave.”

The pain in my chest exploded. I hung my head to sob, then managed to say,

“But…what…what do you…have here? Nothing!”

He didn’t say anything. Tears were starting to fall down his face, too.

“I just don’t know what you want from me,” he said quietly.

“Yes you do. You just don’t want to give it to me.”

He nodded. “I gotta go meet Kenny at the garage. We’ll talk later.”

“You can’t just leave!” I protested. “We have to talk about this!”

“There’s nothing left to talk about, Kare. Have fun with your cousin tonight. Call me tomorrow.”

And then he was gone. And then I met Ryan. And here I am now, running away in a car with my crazy college roommate, and Sophie, the derelict hitchhiker wearing couture. And I have no idea where to go from here.

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