I could barely hear myself think over the sea of clustered, honking cars all around me. “Why?” I asked aloud. A groan of frustration quickly followed as I banged my head against the steering wheel, my hands tightly clamped around it. “Why me out of everyone else at the office? It could’ve been someone that probably would’ve ended up calling out sick anyway.” The car in front of mine was as static as the next after that and the one behind me, irritatingly shoving its bumper dangerously close to mine.
“The last thing I need is to be late… C’mon… Don’t do this to me…” The hope slowly drained from me as signs the traffic would let up failed to show. I didn’t even have the energy to move the stray strands of brunette locks from my face. With a sigh, I reached over for my coffee, but my hand paused mid-motion. A vibrating smartphone with the ID named: “Mom” caught my eye.
In an instant, my heart sank even deeper down into my chest. Without picking the phone up, I already knew what I was in for. “Why haven’t you asked for a raise yet? You still working like a dog for pennies? Why haven’t you gotten anything big yet? Don’t you want to make us proud of you?” It didn’t seem to matter which one of them was calling. Eventually, both of them would join in for the conversation I was more or less witnessing rather than partaking in.
Working at a law firm hadn’t been everything I’d imagined it’d be. At first, I was thrilled because my parents were. They always pushed me to succeed, and law seemed like the best opportunity. A way to help people in tight situations get out of them. It came easy for me. The “system” being corrupt as it is—of course, people slipped through the cracks countless times. For people sitting in the defense’s chair, they had hardly anyone to turn to. With someone like me on their side, I could help people across those cracks so they couldn’t fall in.
It didn’t take long for reality to whip me back into shape. Dreams were what pulled me toward working in the law field. The dream that I’d be able to help people, but since joining the new law firm in town, the best I’d gotten were helping a few small-time clients for small-time crimes. There had to be more to it than this… I’d had the thought too many times to count.
The sound of the phone finally dying down brought my attention back to it. I knew there’d be a voicemail, but I’d force myself not to listen to it. A gentle sigh left my mouth as I grabbed my coffee gone a little cold from neglect, but still warm to the touch. Just as I tipped the cup and put my lips to the lid the car in front of me started moving.
Before I had a chance to take myself out of park, the car behind me bumped into me, making me spill some of my coffee over my dress shirt. “You have GOT to be kidding me!” I nearly shouted, caught between searching for napkins and moving ahead. The car behind me beeped frantically, so I made the decision to drive up, feeling the warm liquid seeping into spots I wish it hadn’t. I’m glad I had an older car, otherwise, I would’ve been worried about the car behind me bumping my bumper.
“Another perfect morning,” I remarked to myself, driving with one hand and reaching for some napkins in the cup holder with the other. Once I’d gathered enough of the cheap, brown napkins, I dabbed up as much of the coffee as I could. As I tossed the napkins to the bin in the backseat, I couldn’t help thinking about how different life could be.
Terry, Brenda, Jason, and everyone else I worked with didn’t have days like this. Whenever I overheard them talking, they were boasting about the weekend or what their plans were later on for the day. The best I had to look forward to was a stack of paperwork and an orange tabby when I got home. Since I moved out, I didn’t have to worry about anyone else, but at the same time… I wanted to.
Stewart, my cat, was hardly company. Things just seemed like they would be so much easier with people to rely on. I wouldn’t have to worry about impressing them or living up to some standard they’d set for me. I’d be able to make decisions about who I wanted in my life, and there would be a balance between business and stress, but also fun and relaxation. So far, the best I could say was that spilling coffee on myself was a “highlight.”
What I needed was something big. Desire carried my heart on as my fading hopes clung to the idea of the case to change it all. Something big enough to change my life forever—for better or for worse. A bigger name meant bigger clients and less stress on myself from the folks. It meant more time for myself and a life outside of work. Something…beyond it all.
As I neared the brand-new building built for us at the firm, the glittering windows on the multiple stories caught my eyes. I remembered back to my first time looking at the place. My eyes were so full of ambition then, but that was months ago. The transition from twenty-five to twenty-six made me realize where I was in life.
I parked near the entrance and gathered myself, taking a deep breath before getting out of the humble little car. My briefcase was packed with the files I’d filled out the night before, and despite the slightly stained blouse, I knew I was ready for the presentation. It was my first chance in a long time to make a good impression on the boss, and I wasn’t going to pass it up for anything.
“This time I’m going to let him know that I’m worth it. It’s time to give it all I’ve got.”