With winter pushing along, Sandy found that she was starting to enjoy Kitty's company. Still, it was odd that Kitty never did anything but hang around the house even on her days off. Sandy had expected phone calls or visitors for Kitty by now. Sandy could tell she was from a less-than-ideal situation, but she also knew Kitty was not a criminal or trouble to anyone. Sandy thought about this on the weekend before Valentine's day when Kitty was serving Sandy a bland dinner of baked chicken and mashed potatoes. "Thank you," Sandy said as Kitty did her best attempt at looking like a professional butler. Sandy took a moment to fully evaluate Kitty as she was bustling in the kitchen. Sandy noted that Kitty's appearance had polished up a little since her initial arrival. With regular meals and a secure place to sleep in, Kitty was not nearly as malnourished or pale as she had once been. The scheduled, secluded life at Sandy's suited Kitty after a lifetime of upheaval, something Kitty was well aware of herself. Sandy assumed as much too. Sandy thought that Kitty would be pretty if she'd stand up straight once in a while.
Kitty went to go wipe down the countertops and put away the dishes when Sandy asked her to sit with her for a moment. Kitty obliged her request, taking the seat at the opposite end of the table. "How are you liking it here?" Sandy started. "It's good, why? Is anything wrong?" Kitty was worried this was the beginning of a speech that would end in her being fired. "Everything is fine, I was just seeing how you were adjusting to being in a new house or if you needed anything." Sandy's reply was reassuring to Kitty who let out an audible sigh of relief. "Oh no, everything is great, I'm all settled in." Kitty finished saying that, hoping to leave the conversation to go back to what she was doing before. "You know you can take the day off for Valentine's Day, I won't mind." Kitty almost snorted at Sandy's offer. The only time Kitty had been asked on a date for Valentine's Day was when she was still living in the group home. A boy named Kurt that demanded that he be referred to as "Wiz Man G" asked her to go with him to the movie theater to lift wallets out of women's purses in the dark. Kitty naturally balked at the offer to which Kurt called her "bitch face" thereafter. Another girl did, for some unknown reason, go with Kurt on his planned pickpocket spree. Kitty learned later that Kurt got punched by an off-duty firefighter whose wife he tried to rob and arrested before he turned in his date to avoid jail time. She served 2 months in prison for it.
Kitty's mind went back to the conversation at the table. Kitty let Sandy know that she had no intentions to date in the near future as she was waiting for her birthday to pass her by in order to officially drop out of school. Sandy was horrified when Kitty said that, causing Kitty to immediately regret being so personal with her boss. "No, you can't! I thought you were a high school graduate. This is awful." Sandy's reaction only made Kitty more worried about being fired. "Why did you stop going to school?" Sandy's tone was that of a concerned parent. Kitty not being good at being evasive in her explanations simply said: "I had never been much of a student and when I found out that I could drop out when I was eighteen I knew that was what I wanted to do." Sandy shook her head in disbelief, "well you're not dropping out, I couldn't live with the guilt. You're getting your GED and that's final. I had a friend whose granddaughter was a teen mother. She used a send-away course for her. We'll do the same for you. I'll make arrangements for you in the morning." Kitty wanted to argue, but Sandy was already off to bed having finished her meal. "At least she didn't ask me about my parents," Kitty thought to herself as she went back to her evening routine.
That morning Sandy was doing the most interesting and welcomingly less depressing task she had done in some time; calling a friend with a mission to humble brag about. Lucy Anderson was the talk of the town when her granddaughter got pregnant on vacation eight years ago. The girl had to finish school at home because she planned to give away the baby as soon as it was born. The pregnancy was the worst-kept secret in town. Sandy's phone call to Lucy was brief. The usual exchange of pleasantries, followed by some polite banter, before Sandy asked for the name of the mail-in GED course for Kitty to use. Lucy gave up all the information she could to be of help. Sandy ended the call feeling more useful than she had in so long. Sandy had forgotten that she was not just waiting for the "big one" to finish her off. She still had life in her, a thought she hadn't come across enough. Sandy sent off the needed letters to the right places with a little more purpose in her step than she had when she woke up the day before.
Kitty trying to stay hidden from Sandy, under the false assumption that Sandy would be annoyed with her for dropping out of school, made a final trip to her old apartment that day under the pretense that she was going there to "tell her parents she was not dropping out anymore." Luckily for Kitty no one ever checked the name on the bus pass Sandy let Kitty use. Upon arriving she found another person living in her once residence. Kitty knocked on the door to see if it was Ben who was blasting the T.V. so loudly that she could hear it as she walked up the stairs. The person who opened the door was a scruffy middle-aged man in a soiled white teeshirt and sweat pants. He looked at Kitty and said, "what." He smelled like a keg of beer had been poured over him. Kitty was instantly taken aback by how unseemly he was as she stood on his doorstep. She quickly asked, "has someone named Pam been by here at all?" He frowned for a moment, then turned to walk away with the door open saying "hold on," then returned with an envelope in his greasy hand. "This Pam?" He pointed to the return address on the envelope. Kitty saw it was a letter addressed to her from the state penitentiary. "Yes." She replied as he handed her the letter. Kitty took the letter, thanked him, and dashed off to the bus stop for the long trip to Sandy's again.
On the bus, she read the letter from Pam. The postage was marked two weeks ago. In it, Kitty learned that Pam had been charged as a dealer for having too much heroin on her. Apparently, a new law had taken effect just before Pam had been arrested that lowered the weight limit a person could be in possession of before they were considered a trafficker. Pam had just cashed all of the food stamps, charity-donated Christmas gifts, and rent money for a high of a lifetime only to be caught by the same employee at CVS who had busted her for shoplifting before. Pam was to stay in prison until her trial happened that fall. Pam further explained that her outlook was grim as she had bitten an officer when she was in her holding cell on the night of her arrest. Pam wrote that she knew she was going to go into detox convolutions, when she felt the officer was dragging his feet in helping her, causing her to go into a rage. All Kitty could think was that Pam was probably in more trouble than that because she didn't write a word about all of the times she had been arrested before, which would surely count against her. The whole rest of the bus ride back all Kitty thought was, "Pam isn't coming back."