KIRBY - The 1st Chapter

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Rachel sang to herself as she all but skipped down Sixth Avenue, a wide smile spread across her face. On more than one occasion, she referred to this particular day as the "first day of the rest of her life." It was the beginning of a new phase — one that included being able to pay her bills on time and maybe taking a vacation now and again!

Since graduating college, Rachel had spent years getting coffee, answering phones, and submitting ideas that she'd never receive credit for. Five years of low-paying internships and thankless side jobs later, she was finally hitting her stride. The job of her dreams stood at the end of the four-block walk from the train station to Forty-Sixth Street and Sixth Avenue.

Rachel checked her watch and lengthened her steps. Her only pair of expensive heels clacked rhythmically on the pavement as she wove in and out of foot traffic. Her hair flew behind her as she took determined steps to her new job as junior editor of Equinox Publishing, a small but successful publishing house responsible for three of the current top five bestsellers.

Needless to say, Rachel was on cloud nine. She looked sharp in her new power suit, a charcoal grey skirt set that lovingly held on to every curve. The skirt stopped right above her knees, flaring just enough to come dangerously close to showing too much leg as the breeze danced around the hem.

Even Rachel had to admit to herself that she looked great. Her make-up was flawless, and her barrel-wide curls were behaving like nobody's business. Confident on the inside and out, she was ready to take the company by storm. Even the skies seemed to be rooting her on. The expanse of bright blue above her laced with wispy white clouds seemed to be saying "Go Rachel!" Nothing could stop Rachel Sirianni now. As she stood at the corner waiting for the walk signal, she looked up to thank the universe for such an awesome day.

SPLASH. Rachel was suddenly covered, from head to toe, in filthy street water courtesy of the linen truck that had just sped past her. A few people behind her groaned empathetically; an elderly lady gasped loudly. Spluttering, Rachel stepped back with her arms spread wide as her she got a look at herself.

Eyes widened in horror, she yelled at no one in particular, "Are you kidding me?!"

I can't go to work like this, she thought as she tried frantically and in vain to brush off the water. Backing up against the nearest building, she tried to ignore the staring passersby. Near tears, she reached for her cell phone. If she called her boss now, she could probably get away with being late while she went back home to change. Thankfully, her phone was dry. With trembling fingers, she began to dial.

"Heads up!"

Rachel looked up in time to see a courier running at top speed, seconds before he slammed into her, knocking her back against the building. Her cell phone flew out of her hand, soaring toward the crosswalk. The courier turned the corner and disappeared from sight as the phone landed, with a loud crack, on the sidewalk.

"No!" she screamed, rushing over to where her poor phone lay.

Rachel picked it up with a sob. The screen was obliterated; a giant crack with a multitude of bleeding colors around it let her know that she didn't have a chance in hell of fixing it today. Her eyes closed and she tried to think. Okay, she thought, focus. You still have a shot at getting back and changing without being too late. You can call when you get home. They have to understand. Right? They have to understand.

In a move she only partially knew she'd regret later, she ran back to the train station. There was still a chance that she could get to her house and come back without doing too much damage. Besides, she'd be able to call in as soon as she got there. They have to understand, she repeated, mantra-like, as she made her way back to her Lower East Side apartment.

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