Story Title: Obstacles
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“Okay, I think that’s it.” Mary Stone looked around her now-bare bedroom in the apartment she shared with her cousin, Allie Hudson. “I think I’m ready to go. All my stuff’s in the car, so I guess I just need to leave.” It was harder than she’d thought it would be.
“I can’t believe you’re moving,” said Allie. She blew her blond bangs out of her eyes. “My little cousin, off to the big city, going to seek her fortune.”
Mary laughed and brushed her own dark brown hair back from her face. “I’m not sure it’ll be a fortune, but it’s time. And it’s not like you’re just sitting here. You’re leaving for grad school in a couple of weeks.”
“I know, I know.” Allie shook her head. “I can’t believe that’s happening either. God, I’ll be older than everyone else.”
“Yes, you’ll be getting the senior discount,” Mary teased and laughed when Allie stuck her tongue out in reply. “Come on. You won’t be that much older. Lots of people go to grad school when they’re older. Or even undergrad.”
“I know. It’s just weird. I haven’t been to a class in years.” Allie shook her head as they walked out to the living room. “The idea of sitting at a desk, listening to a lecture; ugh, it’s bizarre.”
“Oh, god, I am so excited,” said Mary. “I’ll miss you, and Gabe, but I really want this, Allie. More than I’ve wanted anything in a long time.” She paused. “I’m tremendously nervous but I’m going anyway.”
“I hope the job works out,” said Allie, “but if not, I’m sure you’ll find something. I’m a little worried about you moving in with Dean, though.”
“Why?” Mary asked. Dean Chalfont was her boyfriend, and they’d been together for about a year.
“Because to be completely honest, I haven’t liked what you’ve told me about him,” said Allie. “Or what I’ve seen, especially lately. Like when we went to lunch and he ranted about that person at work that gave him the wrong file or whatever. He went on way too long about that.”
“He’d had a bad day,” Mary said. “You know, one of those work days where things just pile up.”
“I get that, and I’ve had those, and he has my sympathy for it. But then he took it out on you, and the server.” Allie shook her head. “I don’t trust people who mistreat service workers.”
“He shouldn’t have done that,” Mary acknowledged. “I apologized to the server and left her a big tip.”
“That’s great, Mary, but he should have been the one to do it. And I’m less concerned about that than I am how he treated you.”
“He just had a bad day, Allie. I was teasing, and he wasn’t in the mood.” Mary said. She knew Allie was right, but it was reflex to defend Dean.
“That’s no excuse. Look, I know I’m biased, but I’m worried one day he’ll take his bad day out on you.” Allie gave Mary a hug. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to bring you down when I know how excited you are. You know I’m here if you need me, okay?”
“Thanks, Allie.” Mary returned the hug. She couldn’t be mad at her cousin. Not when she’d had similar thoughts herself.
When Mary had begun working on her relocation plans, she had expected Dean would suggest she stay with him. Not necessarily on a permanent basis, but at least as a friend might offer. He hadn’t, and so Mary had brought it up herself. He had agreed, albeit with less enthusiasm than she’d have hoped, and he’d been clear that didn’t want her “taking over” any part of the house. It wasn’t the most encouraging start.
Never mind, she told herself. Get there, get settled, and then you can adapt.
“I wish I could go with you,” said Allie, “but I have to work tonight and I couldn’t make it back in time.”
“It’s fine.” Mary shook her head.
“Dean should be helping you,” Allie said with a pointed look.
“He couldn’t get off work,” said Mary. She’d opted to move during the week, aiming to have the weekend to unpack and get settled, hopefully with Dean’s help, which she didn’t think was too likely.
“You’ve been planning this for weeks, Mary. I think he could have managed half a day.”
“It’s fine. I don’t have that much stuff. No furniture or anything. Just clothes and my sewing machine. It all fit in the rental car. I don’t need help with that.”
Allie made a frustrated sound. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I know I said I’d leave it alone, but I can’t help it. I’m worried.”
“I appreciate it, Allie, I really do. I know you care. But I’ll be fine. I’ll text you later to let you know I got in.” Mary’s ring tone floated up from the table where she’d left her phone. She picked it up. “Hi, Mom.”
“Hello,” said Denise Barrett.
“Allie’s here, I’ve put you on speaker.” Mary put the phone on the table.
“Hi, Aunt Denise,” Allie said.
“Mom, where are you?” asked Mary. “It’s really noisy.”
“We’re at the airport.”
“The airport? What are you doing there?”
“Don’t be silly, Mary. Roger and I are moving. I’m sure I told you.”
Mary glanced at Allie, who shook her head. “Mom, you never told me you were moving. Where to?”
“North Carolina. Roger’s company is opening a new branch there,” said Denise. Roger Barrett, Denise’s husband and Mary’s stepfather, had several offices for his law firm. Mary wondered if Landon, her stepbrother, was moving as well. She was sure he at least knew about the move.
Mary dropped onto the couch, feeling slightly sick. “You’re moving to a completely different state, and you didn’t think to tell me before now?”
“Does it matter?” asked her mother. “You didn’t have anything left at the house. You didn’t even live there that long.”
“Call me crazy, I like to know where my mother will be living,” said Mary. “Anyway, I guess it’s the day for it. I’m moving, too.”
“Where? And why?”
“To Chicago and because I want to. Because I have a lead on a job at a dressmaker’s shop and I want to try it.”
“Oh, Mary.” Her mother tsked. “You know that will never work.”
“Thanks for the encouragement, Mom.”
“Be serious, Mary. I don’t know why I bother; there never was any changing your mind when you were set on something. I guess you’ll just have to learn from experience.”
“Don’t see why, I haven’t yet,” Mary muttered.
Allie stifled a laugh and squeezed Mary’s hand.
“What’s that? Mary, I have to go. It’s time tao board the flight.” Denise ended the call without even a good-bye.
“Well,” said Mary, “I’m glad we avoided the tearful farewell scene.”
“That was crazy,” said Allie. She gave Mary a sympathetic look. “I had no idea, you know that.”