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Free Toaster With Interview

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Kay shuffled down the narrow stairwell to the Cave, a sodden cardboard box under one arm. The rain fit her mood for the walk home, but now she stood in a self made puddle as she fumbled for her keys. Her key copy stuck, as usual, so she jiggled the doorknob to coax the tumblers until the knob came off in her hands.

The will drained out of her right about then. Kay slumped forward and hit her forehead against the door with a quiet, defeated thud. She stayed there until Jess eased it open from the other side and enveloped her in a warm fluffy towel. She didn't even question how Jess knew, simply accepted the care as Jess tugged her inside all the way to the bathroom where her friend pushed her down on top of the toilet lid and put her hands on her hips as she studied Kay.

"Why didn't you take the bus home?" Jess didn't bother to ask about the latest interview. After nearly nine weeks, this was a familiar song and dance, the only difference being the location as Kay lowered her standards with each Friday that rolled around. She'd gone from law student to an unemployable black sheep. At first Kay tried to maintain an air of optimism that she would recover from the black mark. But when everyone from the private sector to the public offices looked at her like a snake in a silly hat, she moved onto the various office jobs in the hopes of something viable.

Kay's black mark did worse than trickle down. It flooded. The writing was on the wall when she attended today's interview at a hardware store. It started pleasant enough, until the interviewer pulled her record up on his computer.

Her stomach bottomed out as his face paled three shades later.

She felt hollow inside thinking about it now. "I lost my bus money." To a delicious bagel. Kay skipped breakfast most days, but her nerves needed something to shred and the corner deli by the hardware store smelled like heaven after a week of ramen noodles.

Jess's brow crinkled. She nodded to the box Kay still had under one arm. "What's that?"

"Free toaster with interview," mumbled Kay. The bath looked awfully inviting. Now that she was inside the air conditioned Cave, her saturated clothes caused her to shiver.

"Hey, that's something," said Jess. "We shall have toast!"

"I didn't get the job," said Kay.

"I know," said Jess. "Why don't you take a bath? I made dinner."

Kay sniffled. "You're the best wifey."

Jess rolled her eyes. "Bathe. You can't find a job if you have pneumonia."

Kay managed to refrain from mentioning she wouldn't have much luck either way as Jess closed the door behind her. Kay peeled off her wet clothes. She groaned out loud as she sank into the porcelain tub, an older mud brown model from the seventies, long enough for her lanky body to mostly fit. The heat seeped into her bones and banished the cold. Kay sank down until the water tickled her nostrils. What the hell was she going to do?

Her bank account was dry. Her car insurance was delinquent. The hardest blow was two weeks ago, when the college informed her that her financial aid was denied in light of her salty fiasco. She'd deferred her student loans rather than make the call to her parents, who hadn't expected to start payments for another two years. Yesterday, the letter arrived that since she failed to pay tuition in full, she would not be attending classes come the fall semester.

Her future disintegrated in less than three months, but at least she got a free toaster out of the mix. Kay exhaled through her nose. The water rippled under her nostrils. She was royally effed with a capital F. Jess's income easily supported one person, but two people had to be strain, though Jess refused to bring it up. Kay sank deeper. The water bubbled violently with her smothered shriek. She didn't deserve Jess. She had to find a way to fix this dammit. She was now at fast food level applications, but even that wasn't a sure fire bet. It was time to think outside the box, though she would flip burgers all damn day if it brought in income.

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