KRISTY LIPTON TRUDGED home from the bus stop, feeling utterly exhausted. The Canadian winter had awoken with a vengeance, and although it was only October there were already twenty centimetres of snow on the ground. The precipitation had come so unexpectedly, beautiful fat snowflakes that accumulated so quickly on the ground that everyone had been caught unprepared. Kristy had been in panic mode ever since leaving work. The bus she usually caught right outside her Montreal office building never showed up. She had huddled in the freezing cold and waited for forty-five minutes hoping that it was merely delayed. Then watched in horror as cars skidded into each other due to the slickness and vehicles were left abandoned in the roadways.
Realizing that there was no other option but to walk, Kristy tried to get her bearings and remember the way to the nearest Metro Subway location. At least the underground system would not be affected by the blizzard! The walk seemed endless as the wind whipped the snow around into whiteout conditions, blurring her vision, biting into the exposed skin of her face and hands and pushing against her slight frame, forcing her backwards.
Kristy's new knee-length suede boots were so stiff that they cut into her feet each time she took a step. She also feared that the pale butterscotch colour would be ruined from the wetness, as the boots were more fashionable than functional. Her exquisitely styled sage wool coat weighed her down and hung limply on her. Thinking about the small fortune she had paid for the wrecked coat and boots contributed to the deep depression she was sinking into.
With a sense of relief she entered her grey and white suburban house. "Kristy, we were so worried about you, dear! Do you realize that you are two hours late?" Mrs. Lipton asked anxiously.
Kristy saw the worried lines marring her mother's lovely face and immediately plunged into a humorous account of the three harrowing hours it had taken her to get home. She had walked, travelled by the Metro subway and then caught a local bus, all of which were delayed by the extra passengers, blocked roadways, stalled and trapped vehicles.
She kept up the light banter through a hasty supper and then fled upstairs to her bedroom. Once she had reached it, however, she flopped down on her bed and sobbed until she could cry no longer. Unsure exactly what had caused the torrent of tears, she then sat up, stared at herself in the mirror above her dresser, and began to analyze her feelings.
"Here I am," Kristy said to her reflection, "only twenty-three, a business school graduate, reasonably pretty, with a boyfriend who claims that he loves me. So why do I feel so gloomy and miserable?"
"I'll tell you why", she promptly replied, the truth finally dawning on her, "because I am stuck in a routine and lifestyle I never envisioned for myself. I was so pleased to get a job with one of the city's largest accounting firms right after graduation. The problem is that I am nothing more than a glorified typist with the title of junior assistant. I don't see any chance for advancement happening soon. I work in a cramped space with six other women who spend their days flirting outrageously with any male within sight, hoping that will give them a way out of their jobs. All the computer and management skills I acquired in school are inessential for the tedious work they make us do. We never get to use our minds. We spend our days typing letters, inter-departmental memos and plugging in numbers into income statements so that the executive secretaries have more time. As for my so-called boyfriend Christopher Fairburn, he loves me about as much and in the same sort of way as he loves his sister, Angela, who first introduced us.
I keeping telling myself that I should be grateful for what I have, but I see myself being shuffled into settling for a life I do not want. Oh, I wish that I knew some way out of this!" Kristy moaned.
Thinking about Angela reminded Kristy that she had finally received an e-mail from her friend. Kristy and Angela had met at business school. Kristy had been drawn to the other girl's effervescent personality and zany sense of humour and they had soon become friends. They had lunched together everyday and had studied for their exams at each other's homes. It was how Kristy had first met Angela's brother Christopher. Chris was only two years older than Angela and they were very close. He had short-cropped light brown hair that he wore spiked up at the front and twinkling hazel eyes. Although he was more serious than his sister was, Kristy had found his boyish good looks and attentive nature appealing. He started to spend more and more time with the two of them and then had eventually asked Kristy out for a date. That had somehow evolved into everyone assuming they were boyfriend and girlfriend and they had both seemed content to go along with it.
After graduating, Angela had applied for jobs all over the country and had landed one in Toronto. At the beginning when Angela had just moved, Kristy had heard from her friend frequently. She could only afford to live on the outskirts of the city and was very lonely, and very exhausted with the commuting. Lately, however, Angela had not kept in touch with Kristy. She only had a general idea what was happening in Angela's life from the news Chris and his parents received from her. Angela had recently moved in with two girls from work near their office in downtown Toronto. She was rarely home these evenings, and whenever Kristy telephoned it seemed that she and her roommates were out to the theatre or at clubs or restaurants.
Kristy envied her friend's new lifestyle and had on many occasions wanted to ask Angela to keep her eyes open for any job opportunities for her in Toronto. She knew, however, that Angela was very protective of Christopher and would never do anything to jeopardize his relationship with Kristy.
Kristy grimaced at herself in the mirror and then raced downstairs to answer her mother's call. She was an extremely attractive girl, but was not overly conscious of her looks. Although she kept up with fashion trends, she also loved clothes with clean, classic lines that were timeless and would never be out-dated.
Mr. Lipton smiled to himself as he saw his petite daughter gliding down the stairs. She was such a sweet girl with a soft-spoken voice, and never artificial in her mannerisms or appearance. Her hair was sandy blonde and she wore it in a very feminine style with soft chin-length waves framing her oval-shaped face.
Kristy said a quick hello to her dad and then inquired of her mother, "What is it Mom?"
"It's Barbara on the phone, dear, I forgot to tell you but she has been phoning continuously for the past couple of hours now." Mrs. Lipton said as she handed the phone over to her daughter.
"Kristy, where have you been?" wailed Barbara.
"Hey, have you looked outside your window lately?" Kristy jokingly replied. "But seriously, Barb", Kristy exclaimed anxiously, "is anything wrong?"
"Hopefully not, if you give me the right answer," Barbara retorted mysteriously.
Barbara Brodie had been Kristy's best friend for the last fifteen years. Since Kristy was an only child she thought of Barbara as the sister she never had. Even though Barb was now married to a very talented architect, their friendship had never suffered. In fact, they made it a point to get together about once or twice a month. Kristy and Barb's husband, Bob Seeker, were also on very good terms since the three of them had been friends even before Barb married Bob. He never objected if Kristy and her escort were included in any of the evenings out he and Barb had planned.
"Barb, will you stop being so frustrating and just spill the beans".
"Well, it's like this," Barbara began to unfold her story, pleased that she had captured Kristy's interest already. "Bob has just been given the opportunity to design a new hotel in Nassau which he figures should take him about six months to complete. And he wants me to go with him!"
"Oh Barb, that is fantastic! Nassau! I've heard so much about the Bahamas, and to escape this wretched winter, how lucky you are!" Kristy exclaimed, barely able to contain herself as she envisioned endless beaches, calypso music, and warm water to swim in.
Meanwhile Barbara was repeating her name over and over again, "KRISTY, will you listen to me, I was not finished. You know that I am pregnant." This captured Kristy's full attention. "Even though I am only two months on the way right now, Bob is very worried about my being relatively alone in Nassau while he works."
"Yes I know Barb," Kristy interrupted her friend to say," but I'm sure you will be able to take care of yourself." Kristy knew that her friend was very physically fit and had only just recently given up her own job due to the heavy lifting she was sometimes required to do as a physiotherapist.
"I'm sure I can too, but since this is our first child Bob wants to be extra careful about me. He knows that he will have to work long hours, at least ten hours a day while he is there. So, we have a proposal to make to you, which I'm especially hoping you will agree to. Bob wants to be present when you hear this so that he can add his two cents worth." Kristy laughed merrily as she heard Bob grumbling in the background over the way his wife had phrased her last sentence.
"But can't you both tell me now, before I die of curiosity?" Kristy questioned eagerly.
"No, the telephone is no way to discuss this matter, tomorrow will be soon enough - when you come to supper. You can come, can't you Kristy?" Barb remembered to ask.
"Sure Barb, try and keep me away! Kristy exclaimed. "Should I ask Chris too?"
"Well if you don't mind, I'd rather you didn't. He might not like our proposal very much."
"But--" Kristy began to speak, her curiosity at a peak now.
"No more questions," Barbara stated firmly, "I'll see you tomorrow. Bye for now."
As Kristy said her goodbyes and hung up the phone, she had a puzzled look on her face. She had no idea what kind of proposal Barb could be so excited about yet which would not make Chris happy.
She made her way over to the family room where her Dad was watching television, and flopped down onto the couch. Although Kristy often relaxed in front of the television watching a movie or some other favourite program, tonight she couldn't concentrate very well on the half-hour comedy that her father seemed to be enjoying immensely. She kept thinking of various propositions the Seekers might make, and then discarded each in turn as unlikely. The one she finally convinced herself had to be the correct one was that Barb wanted Kristy to take her two-week vacation in winter instead of summer. She could then visit them in Nassau to keep Barb company. Kristy was quite pleased with this idea, and already began making plans to tell her boss that she wanted her vacation early this year.