After Kassandra parted ways from Franny and Precious, sending them further on their walk, she ducked in the back door of the coffee shop. Kassandra loved being the first one there, loved the last few moments of quiet before her coworkers and the customers created their happy whirl of activity and noise.
In that moment, Kassandra remembered her mother’s reaction to her declaration of her decision to major in art, back in the warmth of summer, in the hospital after her accident.
First, her mother had been silent. Then, she’d held up one hand toward Kassandra, palm outward, a gesture of her mother’s that was her way of attempting to stop the progress of the universe. Her mother used this gesture when she felt her world spinning out of control.
With her palm holding Kassandra and the universe at bay, her mother used her other hand to call her father on her smart phone. “You will never guess,” Kassandra heard her mother say. “No, she’s fine. Physically. But mentally? Talk to your daughter.”
Her mother then handed the smart phone to Kassandra, in her hospital bed, never lowering her outstretched arm.
A short conversation with her father ensued. Kassandra repeated her declaration that she would study art and work at the coffee shop. She repeated her statement that she was her own person, not destined to fulfill her parents’ ambitions, and meant to explore her own path.
She handed the phone back to her mother, who put it to her ear. “Fine,” her mother said, and hung up the call.
Only then did her mother lower her arm, slowly, reluctantly giving up on her incantations of control, her intentions to stave off the inevitable.
“Your father says he supports your plan.” Her mother’s voice sounded as if it was coming from some place far away. “But only in the sense that we will always support you, Kassandra. You are our daughter, no matter what you decide to do with your life. We cannot support you financially any longer. Your… art school tuition will be your responsibility.”
Kassandra had been prepared for this, although she felt it hard that her mother would deliver this message while she was still in a hospital bed. The mix of newly found freedom and anxiety about her future had turned her stomach a bit queasy, and it did again, that wintry morning, as she heard the bell over the door ring and her co-worker brought a gust of chilly air with her cheerful “hello, K!”
The daily bustle had begun.