Now that winter had begun, Kassandra’s shifts ended in the dark. She had a little fob clipped to her jacket zipper, with an LED light in it. She’d click it on to make herself more visible on the dark streets as she walked home.
It was only a few blocks, but Kassandra knew all too well how quickly an accident could happen. Still, she had to be grateful, in a way, for that overnight stay in the hospital with her concussion. Her mother had come to see her, making as clear as she could that the whole trip was a terrible inconvenience, if a necessary one. Her mother seemed more concerned with what her friends would say about her if she didn’t visit her daughter in the hospital than with how Kassandra was feeling.
“I know you’ll be fine, you always were a hardy person, at least physically,” her mother said. “But you know how people get ideas in their heads, and talk.”
Kassandra experienced a clarity of mind that was exceptionally ironic, given her head injury. “Mom,” she began. The rest of what she said at the time, she figured, was allowed to come out of her mouth because her mind was still foggy from the crash on the sidewalk.
“Mom, I’m changing my major.”
“Thank goodness, dear. Finance? Business administration?”
“Well, at least your father won’t have to worry so much any more.” Then her mother stopped, having heard the word Kassandra spoke. “Art? Whatever do you mean?”
“Art. Painting, mostly, and sculpture. I don’t want to be an economist, or some high-flying banker. I want to make art and serve people their favorite coffee every day. Mom, I’m not you. I’m not dad. I’m just me, and I love art, and I love people, and I love serving them.”
Kassandra fitted her key into the lock of her apartment door. She sighed as she opened it. Her first apartment all by herself, without roommates. And one of her favorite customers, Franny, right next door. Another customer, Allison, had tipped her off to the apartment and its reasonable rent one day in the coffee shop, as Allison told Kassandra about buying a house.
Kassandra pulled the door shut behind her, walked to the large window, and looked out on her beloved Pine Street.