Afterwards, Carly wouldn’t have been able to recall a single thing about the food or the book they’d discussed, or anything at all. She was going through the motions. Glancing around, she’d noticed nothing unusual about anyone else’s behavior, once they’d gotten through the first few minutes. Maybe she was imagining the whole thing. Could she have dreamed it, or fantasized it? She almost burst into laughter, but then restrained herself.
She felt on the verge of hysteria, teetering on a ledge.
Was there anything worse than the pretense of normalcy? But soon her everyday life claimed her attention, as only the tasks she faced each day could do. She had only a few more classes to complete her master’s degree. But then what? She had put out tentative feelers, but the closest she came to anything where she could utilize that degree was a social work position. Somehow, social work hadn’t been one of the dreams she’d had when she began this journey. But perhaps it would be a good start.
And she could certainly lose herself in that job. Something she sorely needed.
So she began putting in applications at various agencies, including the local welfare office. Grimacing slightly at the thought of that depressing job, she forced herself to consider the options – continuing her domesticity in that neighborhood that now felt like a prison, or at the very least, an armed camp – or taking a step in a whole new direction, toward a career. Seemed like an easy choice to make. Of course, she could be imagining the negative feelings surrounding her. Nobody had been even slightly hostile at their last event. But accustomed to reading between the lines, she predicted the demise of their group encounters. And then what? Would they all avoid each other on the street, scurrying into side entrances to prevent interaction? No matter what, though, she had to get on with things. So she whispered a silent vow to herself: this is the first day of the rest of my life.
And then, as if hurtling toward a precipice, she plunged into the future.