Sadie Hawkins Chapter 3

Chapter 3

The minute that Sadie Hawkins stepped into her former high school, she shuddered, as if the action of stepping through the glass front doors had shattered the illusion that her life now was utterly removed from her life as a teenager. At the same time, it was as if there was something terrible and awful in the world that she could never fully understand or make better, no matter what she did, and its name was history, or memory, or time. It was a feeling of being small, of helplessness.

           Needless to say, Sadie was not comfortable with the sensation.

           It reminded her of the most intense moments that she had experienced in graduate school, of feeling rejected by an advisor who felt her work was irrelevant, of another student telling her she was unprofessional for leaving a meeting early, of all the guilt and alienation she’d felt for remaining committed to her family, friends, and life goals outside the academy. More than anything, this singular moment reminded her of the day she realized that life was a silly, flimsy thing, small and strange and utterly unconcerned with what happened in peoples’ lives. Of the day her mother had died.

            Sadie stopped herself right then and there, bludgeoning her thoughts and focusing on the here and now. The sunlight falling through the windows all around her, the gloom of the hallway, the signs and signifiers of a completely different generation’s high school experience. But it didn’t really work, ogling some stranger’s locker stickers or a poster for an upcoming pep rally or other event – it was still all too foreign and far away. The world was still too big. So, Sadie instead looked down at her outfit, pretending to be concerned with tucking her plaid shirt into her blue jeans and checking the lack-of-a-stain where she had spilled the almond milk latte she’d picked up on the way to Argo High. She reminded herself that we are always and only exactly who we are, have been, and will be.

           ‘Sure, there’s room for variation,’ she considered, ‘but I’m never not teenage me, on some level.’ Looking back up, noting that she was directly in between the Science and Math classrooms, Sadie persuaded herself to keep going, to keep taking each step forward. Fearing her old high school or the permanence of the past or the vastness of the world were silly things to do. Holding onto that confidence, she was soon over the anxiety that had consumed her, moving confidently down the hall and looking completely composed, despite the fact that her confidence-inducing-jeans, which made her legs and ass look great, were riding up a bit.

            She passed her former freshman and senior year lockers, as only first and final year students in the school used to get lockers on the first floor, at least when she had gone here, something over a decade ago. Sadie did not like to think about it, much less about her life back then. It had been clearer, somehow, or at least it seemed that way in her memory, like a television show about a young, sassy-smart girl in high school. She knew that wasn’t quite right, that she had been clumsy and selfish at times, that people had died, that she had loved and lived a million ways that stories on the television would never get right.

            She turned to the left at the old first-year science room and began climbing the stairs to the second floor, moving up the stairs in a rush, eager to avoid the crowds between classes. Seeing all those young faces, each convinced their world was important, significant, worthy of its own story-world in this ever-interconnected, online world, was awful. Something about the selfishness, the inability to see beyond their own front doors. Or, perhaps more accurately, something about Sadie’s own inability to take in everything, to understand the world and make it right. Yet again, the hugeness of the world returned to trouble her, as if its monstrous claw marks had left scars all over this building.

            She understood that high school was like a trauma in just about everyone’s memory, that the scars were never really gone. Still, Sadie thought it strange that such a banal architecture should disturb her so much. She hated that it did and, in her mind, pushed herself to be strong.

            For, if Sadie Hawkins were terribly honest with herself, and she was trying to be, making the world a little bit better, a little bit right, had become her long-term life goal. Perhaps it always had been. ‘Maybe,’ she considered, the sound of her boots echoing off the tiled walls of the stairwell, ‘that was the real reason I was nervous to be back in Calydon: maybe I’m scared of having failed, of not having lived up to my own or anyone else’s dreams for me.’

             And seeing the faces of these bright and shiny high schoolers, for that was how she imagined them, full of enthusiasm for life and the belief that their differences defined them and made them stronger, she would feel so guilty. For not living up to that young girl with the bobbed, blond hair, the obsession with hard-boiled detectives, comic books, cardigans, Liz Phair, and justice. The Sadie Hawkins who had been like a storm, swooping into dangerous situations and never taking no for an answer.

            “Hmph,” Sadie said, laughing under her breath even as she breathed hard, reaching the top of the stairs, “Who am I now?” Sadie smirked at herself and turned left at the hallway. The Guidance Office had always been on the right when she’d gone here, but now it had been transformed into one of two computer labs – the only one they’d had back in 1998 had been populated with large, outdated PCs and even one dot-matrix printer that no one had ever used. Meanwhile, where the library had been, on the left with large windows and, once upon a time, comfy couches and hard wood bookcases, there was an office-grey series of cubbies and cubicles with a sign labeled Guidance above the entry.

            Within each one, a life unfolded. Sadie read through them quickly, as she’d trained herself to do way back when she’d wanted to be a private detective. The first was clearly the highest ranking, as it was the most decorated but the least personal – a poster on the wall even boasted an image of a stormy sea and the words “It’s always darkest before the dawn.” The second cubicle was the one she was looking for – she could tell by the red mop of hair that rose above the thin, largely useless walls, although the sight of an oil painting of a sinister-looking oryx was also a dead giveaway.

           “Ron,” she said, savoring the name. A shortish man of about 5 feet 5 inches turned and came through the small opening of the cubicle, smiling, surprised. His face was red, though it usually was – he was three-fourths Irish and all shy. They’d met the summer between her college and grad school years, when she’d been in town to help her father through a period of poor health. Ron had been working a second job with her dad at the time, as a research assistant at the local community college, but it hadn’t worked out.

SHGQ Ch3a

           “Sadie!” Ron half-shouted when he turned, half-stood, and saw her, clearly surprised to find his friend back in Argo High. In the months since they’d last met up, Ron had grown his facial hair out into a tidy red-brown mustache, which only made his bright green eyes the more distinct. He looked good, Sadie noted, happy to find her friend in fine health and good spirits. She entered his cubicle and they hugged. She sat down on the chair that was likely meant for students, a small, rolling number that moved sideways as she tried to scoot closer to Ron.

           “Hey, Ron, just trying out my teleporter – turns out jumping into a tub of glitter and water works pretty well,” Sadie said, trying to quip like she used to when life had seemed a bit brighter. In high school, and even in the summer after college when she and Ron had rushed through a relationship together, Sadie Hawkins had been a quip-dealing smart-ass with a heart of gold. She’d had the chops to back up the attitude back then. But graduate school had taken something from her, blown out a flame she’d used to think would never die down. Lately, she felt less strong and more small and meaningless.

           “I guess you DO look a bit like a wet, glittery rat. Not. What are you doing here? And quit with the Star Trek references – scifi was never your strong suit,” Ron retorted. She thanked him in her mind for taking her weak joke and running with it. She noted his taking a jab about her appearance, filing his observations away in her mind. She knew what he was seeing – an older Sadie, more worn out, beaten down by the world. Granted, she was a doctor now, with her PhD complete, but her hopes for a job in the academic world of publishing articles, doing research, and traveling for fieldwork had been dashed. Too many people, not enough money or even jobs worth having.

            “Wow, a retort using ‘not’ – what is this, grade school? Did someone switch Ron Redmond out for Ron Weasley? I know you have better material than that,” Sadie said, smirking. She noticed that Ron was wearing his black shirt and white tie with tight blue jeans and cowboy boots – an outfit she knew that he considered to be his sexiest. He must have a date tonight, she thought, and continued anyway, telling herself not to ask him to hang out, as she’d been planning to do. “But seriously,” she said, leaning in and smirking some more, “I am so much more of a scifi geek than you, Obi Ron Kinobi, and, just so it’s clear, you are far from my only hope for people to hang out with while I’m in town.”

            “Yeah, right,” Ron returned, looking past Sadie at someone passing in the hall, “who are you going to call up? Video is in New York, and your dad is at work until at least 7 – it is a Thursday, isn’t it?” Ron looked at the calendar above his computer, which featured images of characters from a British TV show called Primeval. All that Sadie remembered about the show was the attractive lead who died in the second season, along with her interest in its campy, dinosaur heavy storylines. “And…yeah, your dad teaches from 12 to 2 and 5 to 7 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I guess you could hang out with Trevon, but you and he haven’t exactly talked in what – 5 years or more?”

            “Got me there, Ronald,” Sadie replied, looking out the window. She knew that Ron would see her discomfort at her friends’ names, especially Trevon’s, and hoped he would lay off. She did not want to deal with them, or the mountain of guilt she felt at not having a life like they did, with a job, a spouse, or something to ground her. Much less the guilt of not keeping in touch with them like she had with Ron. “Anyway, I’m in town for a little while, thought we could catch up a bit. Do you have any free time between now and next Tuesday?” 

           “Hm, how about this weekend?” Ron replied, still glancing in the hallway, clearly keeping an eye out for his boss, a woman whom Sadie knew to be a bit of a hard-ass. Sadie’s thoughts wandered, though. She thought about trying to rekindle the passion between herself and Ron, momentarily, and then set it aside, like a book that one has started but doesn’t want to finish.

            The reason their relationship hadn’t worked out was that Sadie and Ron, after weeks of hanging out, had gone and slept together one night when they’d both been tipsy. They’d then spent about a week or two romancing and lusting and sleeping with each other secretly. It wasn’t something they discussed, as less than two weeks in, after a few hours of talking about the future – namely Sadie leaving for graduate school — they’d realized they both just wanted to be friends.

          “Well, we could sit here quietly for a little while longer, but I do have to get back to work,” Ron said, Sadie having zoned out. She broke herself out of the daze she’d fallen into, and turned back to her friend, noting to herself that she needed to get out of the funk she’d been in for the last several months. Try as she might, her thoughts tended to wander, to regret, to things left unsaid, and, more than anything, to trying to figure out how she’d become a failure at life.

           ‘Okay,’ she thought, ‘as she laughed at herself, that was definitely an overstatement.’ Still, in her mind, Sadie made a note to start going for a long walk every other day or so, a habit she’d taken up in college that had helped her keep her thoughts straight.

           “Ugh, sorry, I have been feeling so melodramatic! It’s like I’m in withdrawal from the mind-altering drug that is graduate school. And now all I can think about is trying to make myself feel crappy because I’m not spending all my time writing articles and applying to unattainable jobs,” Sadie said, trying to make a joke out of the depression. It was her latest coping mechanism, and it seemed to be working all right so far. Her dad did not seem to have noticed that she was not feeling okay on the phone, and her friends back in Bloomington had thought she was happy to come back home. “For now, let me just ask you, who’s the lucky lady?”

           “Er,” Ron said, suddenly looking away from Sadie. He turned to the computer, awkward and uncomfortable with the question. Sadie wished that she could take it back – it was only a few minutes since they’d hugged and already she was making one of her best friends in the world feel uncomfortable around her. The despair in her welled up like water rising to the surface as one dug in the soil, but she caught herself and pushed it back down. Sadie could feel the self-doubt and overwhelming emotion closing in around her, but instead she closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and opened her eyes again, smiling if only for Ron’s sake.

          “Sorry, whatever I said, I just – I assumed that since you’re wearing your sexy pants, you’d be meeting up with someone in a sexy way,” she said, feeling her voice tighten, sensing the strangeness of her words, remembering that she’d made a mental note on the way over to not bring up this particular topic. Ron was generally a very private person, but he was especially so when it came to his romantic entanglements. So, Sadie knew that she had misspoken, but it was impossible to take the words back. And even though it was melodramatic, at moments like this, when she could not quite voice her thoughts or emotions, she felt like a stranger in her own life, unable to clearly voice anything. “Really, I didn’t mean to –”

           “It’s a guy,” Ron said, turning to look her in the eye, “I’m dating this guy, Lane Scott. He has a fantastic ass, he’s an artist, we met at the open mic night at The Boar’s. And I don’t care what you think, or what anyone thinks.” Ron spoke the words in a rush, their meaning like a wave rising and falling over Sadie. He seemed hostile, but Sadie knew from the fear in his eyes, and the fact that he needed to swallow after speaking, that Ron was really just terribly nervous. She smiled, touched that her friend was so anxious to tell her something so simple, that he cared so much about what she thought.

           “That’s nice, but what kind of gal do you take me for? It’s not like I’m going to steal him from you. I mean, has he been accused of a crime? If not, then he is definitely not my type,” Sadie said, trying to make her friend feel less self-conscious by poking fun at herself and her tendency to date bad boys. For good measure, she added in an over-the-top Southern accent, “I can change my standards everywhere else, but damn if a jail-breaking Calydon man don’t just get me hot like asphalt in the summer!” She batted her lashes for good measure and noted that Ron was smirking. She still had it then – the disarming charm, the ability to make people feel comfortable and calm. She continued, “But just to clarify, would you identify as bisexual, curious, gay, or undefined? It’s for the Christmas cards, you understand.”

           “I’m Ron,” he said, tickled at her reaction, “and you know me. I pretty much refuse to be categorized, which isn’t exactly a great thing for working at the local high school.” He stood up suspiciously, looking over his cubicle to check if his co-workers were around. Sadie knew from the emails they’d exchanged and a few facebook conversations that he did not care for most of them. As he leaned back down, he whispered conspiratorily, “Which is why I applied for a job with the University of Michigan. I won’t know anything for a few weeks, but only my boss knows about it – a few of the others would probably try to apply and ruin my chances.”

          “How would they do that? Do they have a copy of that video from college, TOO? You told me I had the only copy!” Sadie half-whispered, faking incredulousness. She and Ron both smirked as he sat back down. She could feel the world coming back into focus when she was with her friends, but especially with Ron and Video. They’d known her longer than most of her other friends, except for Trevon and her dad, the latter of whom she now considered more friend and potential housemate than family. And Trevon was barely a friend anymore, after their strange cycle of dating and friendship had worn them both out. “Anyway, I should probably let you get back to work – especially before everyone gets back from lunch and I have to deal with all the standard, awkward haven’t-seen-you-in-10-years questions,” she said, rolling her eyes and standing up.

            Sadie turned around, fully expecting to run into one of Ron’s coworkers she knew from high school, like the snobbish Lacey Stillman or the ever-boredom-inducing Artie Thomas. But no one faced her, not in the office and not in the empty hallways. She stared, knowing that there should be students out in the hall now or soon – and then turned back to Ron to say goodbye.

          “Wait, just wait a second,” Ron said, leaning down to save some document on his computer and standing to face her. He reached out and they hugged again. “Are you sure you’re okay with me dating a guy? I just mean,” he said, releasing her. “It took me a while to get used to, um, being, uh, with a guy. I don’t even know how serious we are, but – “ Ron broke off, looking at her, squinting his eyes and frowning. “I just don’t want you to feel weird about it and then avoid me. I know the last few months have been rough, and I REALLY want to catch up. Maybe we could hang out tomorrow night? Movie night at my place?”

           Sadie smiled at Ron. Trust him to be my friend in shining armor, she thought, and then reached out and hugged him again. She felt herself becoming soft in his embrace, allowing herself to feel the sadness and a sense of being completely overwhelmed by the world that had engulfed her lately.

          “Yes, please,” she released him now, starting to back away, “but only if you make your patented ‘peanut butter what-the-fuck cookies.’”

           “You got it – and Sadie,” Ron said, talking loudly now, as she’d backed almost all the way to the door in the large room, “the students had a half day, so you don’t need to worry about running into any in the hall. So don’t go running down the stairs only to trip on your fantastic boots.” Sadie smiled at the comment, remembering how she’d fallen for Ron – he’d excused himself when they’d bumped into each other at a bar by saying ‘Beg pardon friend, and your awesome dress.’ He’d charmed her from the get-go, so it was no wonder she’d made a point of remaining friends with him.

           “I won’t – see you tomorrow! I’ll call before I come over,” Sadie said as she walked out of the Guidance Office. She did wonder, from time to time, why he’d remained friends with her, but she supposed it was due to the lack of people around in Calydon. There wasn’t a whole lot of choice – with so few people around – the town’s population was just shy of ten thousand. It didn’t help that Ron had gone to the Catholic high school a town over, St. Thomas Aquinas, so he didn’t have the connections with local people that someone like Sadie might.

           ‘Scratch that,’ she thought, ‘it’s probably better that he doesn’t have the connections I have.’ She came to the stairwell again and tried to reason out what her reputation must be now, twelve or so years after she’d graduated from Argo High and run off to Denver for college. Back then, she’d started off as a sweet girl with a little bit of popularity amongst the geeky kids and drama people, but then become more well-known once she’d started helping people out with their various problems. And then there had been what happened with Nick and everything that had come after that. She supposed that at the end, people probably thought of her as a precocious and annoying girl who thought she was too cool for school.

            She had stopped just at the top of the stairs, taking in the view from the window across from the second floor landing. Standing there, Sadie wondered what would have become of her relationship with Ron if they hadn’t cut it short – would they be making out in the supply closet right now? Sadie felt herself get a bit hot and bothered and reminded herself to put up that online dating profile her Bloomington friends had been bothering her to. She needed some action some time soon or she’d start obsessing over boys the way her friend Liz did.

            As Sadie walked down the stairs, taking each step carefully and purposefully so as not to trip and have Ron make fun of her for weeks, her phone rang. The sound of Tegan and Sara’s ‘Living Room’ bounced off the walls in the cavernous stairwell, and Sadie reached into her jacket pocket, pulling out the dated, if practical, flip phone. She opened it and answered without looking to see who had called her.

          “Howdy,” she said, bracing for someone from Bloomington asking her how the trip had gone.

          “Hello beautiful — how was the trip?” her father asked. Leo Hawkins had been teaching in English at a nearby community college for the last ten years. Before that, he’d been a stay-at-home dad and writer, having quit teaching years before Sadie’s birth, up until she’d started junior high. At that point, Leo had taken a job with the postal service, and, after her mother’s death, they had relied on his meager income, alongside the equally meager pay for his essays and poetry. More recently, though, he had retired from being a postman to pursue teaching after some of his poems won regional awards. Now, he was teaching Creative Writing part time, while working on the garden at their house and picking up editing and other writing jobs on the side.

            Sadie worried about his relatively unreliable income, but Leo seemed honest-to-goodness happy with his life now, and she was glad of that.

           “Hello? Sadie?” her father asked, Sadie having zoned out again. She shook her head and paused on the landing between floors to reply. 

           “Trip-like – I managed to avoid any airline fees by blackmailing every possible clerk before I got there and then snuck the mountain lions I poached through in my carry-on,” Sadie said, continuing down the stairs and still paying close attention to not tripping on the stairs. “How are you?”

            “Well, honey, you know me, just dealing with the insanity of the end of the semester. Best student excuse so far? One guy just emailed me that he won’t be able to turn in his final paper on time because his ferret bit his roommate and might have given him rabies,” Leo said, stopping for a beat. “And I know for a fact that he lives in dormitory housing – in a single with no roommates!” Sadie could hear Billie Holiday playing in the background and knew instantly that her father was in the office he shared with two other instructors, playing old LPs on the record player she’d given him for Christmas two years back. That meant that he’d had few students come to his office hours in between classes, which was probably a good thing. When she’d called to tell him her flight itinerary, he’d seemed exhausted and overworked. He’d even called her Viola, her given name but not the one she usually went by, at least not since high school. “I assume you’re either bothering Ron or putzing around my kitchen.”

            “Hey, just because I’m 30 doesn’t mean that it’s your kitchen. Who cooks actual food in there more often? And microwavable meals and ramen noodles do NOT count,” Sadie said, now walking down the hall and toward the exit. Unconsciously, she was hurrying still, trying to avoid even the memory of high schoolers and the hopefulness they exuded. Her tall boots clacked on the polished wood floor and echoed on the walls and corners of the deserted hallway.  

            “I dispute that fact – if the house belongs to me, and I have the mortgage to prove it, then the kitchen does, too,” her father responded. “You can keep your room though – it’s far too busily decorated for me to even look in, much less renovate into a den,” he said. Her dad was being facetious, of course. Sadie had painted the walls of her room a deep blue in high school and she’d kept it fairly Spartan ever since – just a bed, a dresser with some clothes in it, a mirror, and a bedside table for a clock, a lamp, and a few books. Way back, there had been a PC and a small desk, but they’d long ago been replaced by a small bookcase. Even the closet was fairly empty – a testament to her need to constantly move beyond the person she’d once been.

            “Oh, come on, you have floral towels and curtains! The curtains in my room, I stole from Nick’s house after –” she said, stopping herself. The memory of Nick Howell still hurt, her best friend in junior high and first official boyfriend in high school. She set the memory of him aside and continued, “Point being, don’t call me girly, Mr. Watches-America’s-Top-Model. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

            “Of course not,” her father replied, “But I didn’t call you girly – just busy.” Sadie, meanwhile, kept reminding herself to look up every once in a while, to watch where she was stepping. She backed her way through the door through which she’d entered the school and walked on towards her hatch-back that she’d parked under the pines on the South side of the school. “Anyway, I just wanted to make sure you were using your Focus – I don’t want any daughter of mine on public transportation. Buses are no place for the Hawkins family!” her father added sarcastically. He was a lifetime pedestrian and only rarely used his own car, a Prius he was still giddy to drive. Whenever they went anywhere in it, he spent most of the time distracted by the meters telling her how much gas he was saving.

            “I’m getting in my car right now,” Sadie said. “And I already dropped in unexpectedly on Ron, who I’m going to watch movies with tomorrow night, if that’s all right with you.” Sadie realized then that if she had parked on the other side of the school, around the back where the students and teachers park, she would have noticed the lack of cars and known better than to fear the student body with all their idealism. Then she set the thought aside, like a file folder on the desk of her mind.

            “No daughter of mine is going to have any fun,” her dad replied, continuing, “or something like that. I have to finish up this grading, and then I’m probably going to be dealing with students after class for most of this evening.” Although his teaching had started out as almost a hobby, he’d picked up more and more classes as the years went on and as he proved his worth to the program. Still, with all the talk of budget cuts and the instability of part-time teaching positions, Sadie worried about him, but set the fear aside to deal with later. Maybe, one of these nights, she’d make him dinner and they could talk about saving for the future. “I’ll call you when I’m on my way home, but promise me something?”

            “What’s that, daddio?” she asked, leaning on the car and enjoying the warmth of the sun shining on her as they chatted. She wanted to enjoy the afternoon, the smell of the pines, and the day passing, but she also wanted to get away from the school, so she compromised by standing just outside the car. That way, should anyone annoying come by, she could always jump in and split.

            “Don’t make me dinner – it’s not your job and I always feel guilty afterwards,” he said, “Okay?”

            “You got it,” Sadie said, lying through her teeth. Her one main pleasure in visiting her dad was taking care of him in little ways. She enjoyed making him food and always had – even in high school, she’d been a better and more innovative cook than Leo. Although she’d used to make more pedestrian fare back then, like mashed potatoes and mac and cheese, Sadie now liked to make pastries and omelets in the morning, with casseroles and curries for dinner. Besides, she figured he needed the fresh vegetables and wider variety in his diet, as, too often, his unpredictable hours caused him to eat unhealthfully or not at all.

            “Treat Lil Abner well, okay? He hasn’t been out of the garage in a while,” he said.

               Lil Abner was her car — she’d named it in high school, after finding out that ‘Sadie Hawkins’ was originally a character in the Andy Capp strip of the same name – one who was so desperate for a guy she’d chased one down in a race. Sadie didn’t really sympathize with the gal, but she liked her name and, at the time, thought naming a car Lil Abner was cute. The name had stuck, but really only between herself and her dad, such that when she’d had to get another car in college and had chosen the Focus, they’d christened it Lil Abner the second.

             “Sorry I couldn’t be there to take you out to lunch or dinner – we’ll do something special this weekend,” her dad continued. His voice sounded tired, such that Sadie would not count on doing much of anything with him over the next few days. He was probably overloaded with finals but didn’t want to admit it to her. She was used to this – having been left waiting for him on many occasions in high school. He’d even been a few minutes late for her graduation – but by now, it bothered her less. Leo Hawkins was a busy man, but a fundamentally great and caring father.

            “I will – be sure to eat something green! And not green via food dye,” Sadie replied.

            “You got it, see you at home,” Leo Hawkins said, hanging up. He had a tendency to do that, hang up before the person on the other end of the phone even got to say goodbye. When cell phones had first become popular, it had bothered Sadie to no end. Now, though, it was like his signature and the absence of her own goodbye felt like a promise, that they would of course see each other again soon.

            Meanwhile, the sun was starting to burn on Sadie’s back, the black of her top absorbing too much of the early Spring heat. Sadie sat up and then went around the car, leaning down and into the driver’s seat, putting the key in, feeling the rumble of the engine and hearing one of her favorite songs continue on the radio, R.E.M.’s “Try Not to Breathe”. It took her a moment to realize that this was not on the radio, but on the mix she’d left in the car earlier – and Sadie laughed at herself for forgetting.

            “Must be the blonde hair,” she mumbled to herself, despite the fact that her dark brown that seemed red in a certain light. She laughed at her joke because it made no sense, turning the wheel and steering the car out of the parking spot and toward the exit. It was time to go home – in more ways than one “When everything goes to hell, turn left,” she said, looking to the left, recognizing that her father’s house was in the opposite direction. However, her favorite café, which had reasonable lattes and crepes, was down Washington St., just a ten minute drive away.

            Sadie chose to have herself a snack instead of continuing to wallow in her own sense of failure. She recognized this was a first step of some kind, although coming home in the first place had felt like a first step, too. ‘Maybe it’s good that everything feels like a new beginning,’ she thought, and then Sadie turned the car towards the café, pulling into traffic.

            “Turn left,” she said again, thinking about all that had happened in the last few months, all the rejections, all the defeats, and, reminding herself to reflect more on them later. Instead, in this moment, she chose to be happy. Smiling, Sadie Hawkins chose to be the person she knew she could be: strong, smart, a little bit sassy, and completely addicted to espresso.

             The world did nothing to stop her, the sun still shining, the mysteries of life still locked away in the past and in the events to come.

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