"Yes, that's right," I said into the phone.
"Thiry thousand by the end of the month," the other person laughed. His deep voice was husky, like it had always been. His laugh was still as charming and perfect as ever, making me smile a little bit.
I shrugged even though he couldn't see me. "That's what I said."
"Beth, you're crazy."
"And you're rich." I sighed and adjusted the phone. "Help me, please, Kurt. I can pay you back, I just need more time."
Kurt Focus, a scientist. He was famous for inventing something scientific that I couldn't pronounce or even begin to explain. We grew up together. In middle school and high school we were pretty close friends. There was even a point in time where we dated. After high school, though, we went our seperate ways for college, but never kept out of touch with each other. He ended up marrying his college sweetheart, Cari, and I had been one of the bridesmaids are their wedding. He was a good friend, and the only friend I felt comfortable asking money from, because I knew he had enough of it. He was lucky to become so sucuessful, while I on the other hand got the short end of the stick. That was a natural occuring theme in my life, it seemed.
"Beth, I've got other stuff that money could go towards," he replied.
"I know, I know, your wife, your kids, but..." I lowered my voice. "....I wouldn't call if I didn't need the money."
"I know. I'm sorry, Beth." His voice got soft. "But I can't." Then the line went dead.
"Kurt?" No repsonse. "Kurt!" I let out a groan and shut my phone. "It's not his fault," I mumbled."It's hers," I let out a long sigh, "and now it's mine." I looked at my phone. "I'm sorry I tried to drag you into this..."
I sighed and threw my phone down on to the bed next to me and looked around my apartment. "I could sell something... I could sell that TV... Do I really need two couches?" I looked at my computer and the devices around it. "Do I--" my heart clenched, "--never mind."
I looked around my small apartment. Everything was right here. The small "kitchen" in the cornor, cut off by the arch in the wall which lead to the bathroom, a bed pushed against the wall closer to the front door. A TV was mounted in the wall across from the bed. The walls were a bright yellow, and the floors were a simple dark wood. I had two large windows with white, flowing curtains on each side of the door. I loved where I lived. It was cheap, and it was everything I needed at once.
A chilly breeze filtered through the window soaking my apartmant in the cold, reminding me that I had a burden a lot heavier than normal on my shoulders. I closed me eyes, and fell back on my bed, exhuasted.
I didn't realize I'd fallen asleep until my phone rang out loudly. I woke with a sniff, and slapped my phone, grumbling as I opened it. "Hello?" My voice was thick with sleep.
"Uh, hi, Bethany?"
"Yes?" I asked. "What do you want?"
"Well, uh, you didn't come into, um, work today--"
"Work?" I looked around, and noticed that the sun had gone down a bit, and that it was unnaturally cold in my room. Then it hit me. "Work! Oh my God! I'm so sorry."
The girl on the other end laughed. It was an awkward sound. "Yes, well, we're afraid this is your sixth time of missing work. I'm sorry to tell you this, but the boss says that if you don't come in by nine you don't have to bother coming at all tomorrow."
"Nine?" I pulled the phone away from my face to check the time. 8:34. "Nine?!"
The phone on the other side of the line shifted, and someone else spoke. "Yeah, nine, and it's pretty generous considering he should have fired you a long time ago, honey."
"Abby?" I took my ear away from the phone and glared at it. I didn't want to wake up to this crabby kiss-ass. I felt irritated just hearing her voice.
"Yeah, and if you're late this time I'll make sure you can't come to work, got it?"
Don't talk to me that way, I though. Anger steamed in my gut. I was in no mood for Abby right now. I'd gone through a lot today, and I wasn't ready to deal with her, or anything. I thought of a lot of mean things to say, but I didn't say any of it. I bit my tongue, and decided to think, to calm down.
I took a deep breath. "I don't think I can make it. I need this job, but it's thirty minutes away--"
"Better hurry, bitch."
Then the line went dead.
I was cold, and it wasn't just because of the open windows. Today could possibly one of the worst days of my life, I thought, and I nodded, agreeing with myself on that. Without another thought, I made sure I was dressed and then ran to my door, but not before turning around and stuffing everything I thought I'd need in my purse.
I stumbled out the door, and my foot then caught on the stone and with a loud cry I fell down the stairs that lead to the parking lot. It was only like four stairs, but I ached all over. The foot of the stiars was bathed in a yellow street light, and it was battling the sun to help me see. I looked around, momentarily confused, but I was only dazed for a moment before I struggled to my feet, and ran to my neighbor's bike. I really hoped she wouldn't mind me taking it without asking. I put my purse in the basket, and then glanced back at the stairs I'd just fell down to make sure that I didn't drop anything. When I was satisfied I climbed on the bike and road off.
I was halfway to work when my phone rang. I ignored it, and only peddled faster. I didn't know the time, but I assumed it was because I was late. I really hoped I wasn't late.
A little time later I arrived at work. I hopped off of the bike and ran into building. My boss greeted me. His meaty arms were crossed. I winced, fearing the worst. "You're late," he said. I nodded, and sighed. My chest heaved trying to claim all of the oxygen I could. I knew from the way his eyes looked over me that I looked like a mess. "You look awful," he added.
"You're really observant today," I hissed. He shrugged.
"I notice notiacble things," he said. "This is your sixth time, Smart." He glanced around. "How do you think everyone else feels when I give you so many breaks, and them none?"
"Jealous." He nodded. He looked over me. "You're a smart woman, and you work hard, but you just can't seem to be on time, ever." He looked sad. I'd seen that look too many times today.
"Am I fired?" I asked. I couldn't help the tears that gathered in my eyes. I already knew the answer.
He nodded, and didn't say anything. I didn't say anything either. I just turned around and walked out of the building. This had to officially be the worst day of my life.
I walked back home in a depressed daze. It hurt to move. It was cold, and I wasn't wearing a coat, just a thin jacket that did nothing for me. I felt empty. It wasn't until I heard the click of my door shutting that I felt something more. There was a thick feeling of shame weighing on me, so heavy that I all but fell onto my bed. I was about to start crying freely when my phone rang again. I didn't want to answer it, but then I remembered that it could be the hospital and I ripped my phone out.
It was one its forth ring by the time I got to it. "Yes...?" I said. I couldn't bring myself to speak fully.
"Uhm, Beth?" was the awkward reply.
"Cari?" I took the phone away from my ear to stare at the caller id: Kurt. "This is Kurt's phone." I felt a little better hearing her voice.
"I know, I can't find mine." I imagined her smiling and I smiled too, despite feeling crappy. Cari had always ben type of person. "Anyway, I called you because Kurt's an idiot."
"Oh, he is now is he?" I chuckled and whipped a couple tears away, trying to ignore the pause in her voice. She knew I was crying.
"Yes, he is," she sounded irritated. "Now, We can't give you all of the money," I heard her slap something and the phone rustled, "but we've got enough to get you about ten thousand by next week. is that okay?" I could tell Kurt was next to her.
I let out a laugh as my heart rose more in my chest. I couldn't help more tears falling down my cheeks. "Yes, it's fine," my voice broke. I was so happy. "I don't want to use up all your money. I'll pay you back, I promise."
"No," she paused and hissed something to Kurt on the other side, "you don't need to pay us back." She was speaking louder than nessisary. "You're family, and this is nothing--I swear to God Kurt if you roll your eyes one more time you're sleeping on the couch!"
"Ouch. The couch?" I smiled. There was comfort in the fact that Cari was siding with me.
"Yeah," Cari hissed. I could tell she was glaring at him. "He wants to save the money to take a trip to Europe or something stupid. He thinks we can't spare ten thousand dollars. To be honest, we could live fine off the money we have now but we both like working too much."
"Tell me about it," I scoffed, "you both work and are raising two kids. Speaking of kids, how are they?"
"They're doing great. They're both at their friend's house tonight, though."
"Shame, I wanted to speak with them."
"Well you can't," Kurt suddenly interrupted. I heard Cari huff on the other side of the line, and then there was a scuffle. "Now, before we forget what we called you for, I need to know exactly where my money is going."
"Well, since you asked," I said, "it's going straight to my drug dealer so I can get high on ten grand's worth of coke."
"Oh har har."
"Really, I'll be living on cloud nine for a long time, thanks."
"My mom..." my voice got quiet. More tears spilled from me eyes. I sniffed. "She had a heart attack this morning. I thought she died."
"Oh..." was his dumb response. I'd known him long enough to know that he was uncomfortable. "I'm so sorry Beth. Why didn't you tell me when we were on the phone earlier? I would have thought of something."
"Becuase, I don't want your pity, Kurt."
"So you leave out the most important detail? What's the matter with you--when are you so prideful?"
"What did you think I was going to do with the money?"
There was a pause where he shrugged, then remembered we were on the phone. "I don't know. You just randomly asked for money. I thought you were joking."
"Oh yeah, really funny."
He sighed, and said, "We're getting sidetracked. I'll give you the money, alright? I trust you with it." He paused and I heard him and Cari share a few thoughts, but they weren't loud enoguh for me to hear. "And if you need anything else, and we mean anything, give us a call, alright? We're here for you."
I smiled. "I know," I said. "Thank you guys, this really means a lot to me."
"We love you, Beth," said Cari. "We want to help you."
"I love you guys too. Good night."
"Night," they chimed, and then the line went dead.