Life after college was turning out to be completely different than Kiki had imagined. On her first night in her new place, she closed her eyes and tried to visualize that it would be OK. The craziness of the past few days was over, she’d finally found someplace she could afford, she’d managed to get here with her few boxes of things and pieces of furniture she’d brought with her to college from home, and she was here. New life. Let’s go!
She’d always thought that she’d move to the country after college. Case said he had money set aside for her and he’d help her get set up wherever she wanted to start her life. The country sounded so nice–so her. As a fallback plan, she figured she’d move back home, at least until she got all the details worked out.
After Case passed so suddenly, she got a few texts from his lawyer, but she ignored them. She didn’t have the capacity to even think about talking to an attorney. Then, once school was finally over, she called him up, to find out what resources were available so she could consider her options. She had to get out of the college housing soon–like that weekend. She hadn’t realized that. She always thought she’d have the entire break before the next term to figure out the details–that was almost a month! Long enough to make all sorts of arrangements for the future. But she had to leave Sunday. Sunday!
And the attorney had terrible news. When she asked what was available for her, he said, “Nothing.” Not only that, but she couldn’t move back home. All of Case’s property was tied up in probate or something. Nothing was available.
“Aren’t I supposed to inherit?” she asked. “As next of kin?”
“That’s what we’d always assumed,” replied the attorney, ” which is why we weren’t in a huge hurry to draw up the will. But it turns out there was a technicality…”
The technicality was that the adoption was never actually finalized. The judge had approved it, on that WinterFest that Kiki remembered so well, but something had gone wrong. The clerk had forgotten to file the papers, or the judge forgot to sign them, or they got lost in the mail, but whatever it was that had gone wrong, the result was that Kiki was not legally adopted. Without a will, she stood to inherit nothing.
The lawyer talked about ways to fight it and postmortem this and posthumous that, but Kiki had to move out soon–like the-next-day soon. She had a little over 3,000 dollars saved up. An hour on the real estate listings online revealed the only places she could afford were unfurnished apartments in the city. First, down, and deposit would take most of her savings.
One place advertised city views with ceiling to floor windows, a second floor, and an upstairs balcony. There was only one other apartment on the same floor, and it was currently vacant, so she’d have minimal disturbance from neighbors. She took it.
The listing was right about the views. They were amazing.
The electricity wouldn’t be turned on until the next day, since she’d rented such last minute, but enough light streamed in that she could get a bit of a look at the place. It was… empty and dark.
It was cold, too. The central heating had been turned off on her floor, since both units were vacant, and even once the super turned it back on the next morning, it took hours to warm up. When the electricity came on, she took a good look around.
Oh, my. The kitchen was hideous.
If she squinted, she could imagine what it might look like, eventually, once she had enough funds to replace the counters and rusting appliances.
Being able to see the future in her imagination gave her the impetus she needed to do something. She spent most of the day setting up her place. For now, she left the upstairs closed off–she didn’t need the higher electric bills that would come from heating it, and she didn’t have anything to put up there, anyway.
All of her few things fit downstairs. The big rug from home made it feel cozy.
With the place set up, she got to work looking for a job. She’d sort of hoped to be able to take a few weeks or even a month off to explore her new locale–and herself and her interests–but that was no longer an option. She needed funds even to be able to buy groceries next week.
A graphic design agency was looking for free-lancers. She uploaded her resume and a sample of her work, and by nightfall, she had an offer, including a signing bonus, due to her degree and good grades. And they forwarded an email that contained the details for her first job. She’d be designing character concepts for a video game.
What? How amazing was that! And she’d get paid for it! And the pay was good, too, maybe even enough to buy a new stove!
She set up her easel in the corner. Her carpet was beneath her feet. Her diploma and graduation photo hung on the wall. Around her, gnomes from home cheered. Her painting, the silhouettes of a small family against the sunset, felt nostalgic, conjuring up everything she missed in that moment, but it felt hopeful, too, just like she did, inside.