Chapter Ten: Finishes and Openings

Kitty was set to be finished at the community college as scheduled by the next year. As time drew along, she saw Stafford every now and then, but she always found a way to get out of the conversation. During her final semester, she had a lighter course load. To fill out her day, she joined the theater production group as an extracurricular activity to boost her resume. It was so different to be in the theater now that she was a student. It looked smaller and more shabby than when she first stepped in those few years ago. She was no longer intimidated by it because she now had become accustomed to it. She knew the students didn't want to be there themselves most of the time and that the staff were not paying attention to anything other than the co-eds who were willing to put their bodies where their grades needed to be. Kitty was assigned the task of the assistant set painter. As expected Marnie was in the band. Kitty even got to see some of the high school students who auditioned from other schools. All of whom were terrible, which gave Kitty a weird comfort in finding she was not a freak of nature, but just as awkward as anyone else.


Stafford dropped by on Thanksgiving break, naturally totally uninvited. Kitty knew whatever woman from the bar that Stafford had been trying to strike up a relationship with had finally blocked him on Myspace or he would not have made a point to show up uninvited at the dorms again. Marnie could hear his blaring stereo playing techno music as he pulled up to the curb. She asked Kitty in a singsong tone of voice if Kitty would be mad if she went on a date with Stafford. This made Kitty let out an uncontrollable groan "Marn, I don't think you want to do that. That guy once pulled my hair in a grocery store and I'm pretty sure he's hit a woman before. Honestly, if I had the time, I'd get a restraining order so he can't keep showing up like this." Marnie tried to reframe Kitty's opinion of Stafford by saying, "Are you sure he meant to pull your hair. He seems so nice, maybe a little bossy, but I don't know Kitty, why else would he drop by to check on you then?" Kitty scoffed, "he's not here to check on me. He's here to sexually harass the other girls in the dorm. I think I saw him try to grab Mitzy's chest before. The guy is no good for anyone especially women." Marnie didn't respond, but Kitty knew that Marnie was already planning to make her move with Stafford and no amount of warning would dissuade her.


School ended a few weeks later. Kitty had walked at the summer graduation ceremony already though. As for her future, Kitty had not taken the advice of her counselor who told her she should transfer to the sister school to do the hospitality course plan. Kitty just couldn't come to terms with that as her place in life. She knew she was being closed-minded, but she felt like it was a brand on her person to be this one thing that she didn't like or want. She just couldn't do it. Leaving campus would be hard for Kitty, but she also knew she had outgrown it. She made arrangements to sublet the studio of another student who was planning to study abroad. Jeremy Myers was going to be a French Culinary School Chef and Kitty was going to be a jewelry store shop-girl in his apartment until he returned. Kitty felt like it was a step down from her high hopes, but it was still miles ahead of where she started. Marnie planned to stay in the area too, as a gigging musician who worked almost exclusively for a dinner club that served mostly seniors. Kitty wondered if she had been so opposed to the hospitality degree program because it was in a place that was so far from where she had become comfortable living. It also occurred to her that she be rejecting a sure-fire path out of fear of finding herself in another situation similar to what she dealt with when she lived with Sandy.


The sublet was already furnished when Kitty moved in. The space was well laid out and came with Jeremy's cat to care for as a requirement of her stay there. Jeremy missed his cat dearly as evidenced by him going as far as to mail the cat letters and occasionally call to ask Kitty to put the phone by the cat's ear to speak to it. Kitty's job was within walking distance from the studio. Most of her day at work consisted of her serving couples who were freshly engaged, many of whom she saw once and never again. It was always uncomfortable when men came in to buy gifts for their wives and instead hit on Kitty. She felt bad for their wives and thought of the men as undesirables. On her weekends, Kitty would visit Marnie at the dinner club after her shift to have a few drinks and chat about their lives out of school. Kitty liked her routine, but it was stagnant to her. It was a middle, not an end. She felt that she would settle and go to the hospitality school when the fall came again. It pained her to apply for it that spring, but she saw no other future insight outside of a shop-girl by day and an attendant to a spoiled cat by night.


Kitty saw less and less of Marnie as the summer went on. When she would ask Marnie about it, Marnie became evasive on the subject of her unavailability. After Marnie canceled on Kitty for four weeks in a row, Kitty assumed that their friendship meant more to her than it did to Marnie. That is until Marnie sent Kitty an email requesting her help with an outdoor play that July. Kitty would be moving soon to Chicago for school and thought it would be a nice close to their fading friendship. Marnie needed Kitty to play roadie for her for a reenactment of Shakespeare's The Tempest. Marnie wasn't the only community college familiar face there, many of their school chums were going to make an appearance. Kitty was glad to see them once more. Kitty always found it surprising that she did not bump into any of her friends from her old high school or from her group home, not that she had many. Occasionally Mrs. Wells her former social worker would call her to ask for Kitty's help in mentoring another youth, but Kitty found it difficult as the children she worked with were too withdrawn and demotivated to have much interest in her advice. Outside of those rare instances, Kitty had lost complete contact with her former life.


The summer play took place in the park. Kitty missed most of the show due to her cataloging the jewelry store's annual inventory with the owners Mr. and Mrs. North. However, she had been there to help set it up the day before. The wrap party took place at Marnie's dinner club, to Kitty's surprise Stafford was there too. Kitty hadn't seen Stafford in some time. He had gotten slightly fatter and balder than she remembered, but that might have been her general disgust at his existence that tilted her perception of him as other females described him as handsome and charming. Kitty assumed those females were deranged in their inability to properly observe Stafford's glaring unlikeability. At the dinner club, the cast took their bow and drinks were soon flowing. Kitty stuck with her usual order of a Colorado Bulldog. Marnie had a Redbull and vodka, which was odd for Marnie, who hardly ever drank. Even odder was that it was the same drink Stafford would request Kitty make for him when she lived with Sandy.


Speeches were made and drunken declarations had become a mood. Off to the side, Kitty felt ignored. This disappointed her because she expected this to be her last hurrah among friends before she went off on her own. She decided to save her dignity and told Marnie her goodbyes. Noticing Marnie was a little tipsy Kitty asked Marnie if she wanted to walk home with her. Stafford then, seemingly out of nowhere answered in his typical obnoxious manner for Marnie with, "No, Kitty, no one needs you and your dramatics." Kitty wondered why he was there at all or why he was in the conversation between herself and her old roommate. Marnie chimed in "Don't worry Kitty, Stafford is going to take me home." Kitty having little faith in Stafford to ever do the right thing retorted "I think you should go home with someone you know, not him." Stafford again inserting himself into Marnie's response added "How dumb are you? I think she knows her boyfriend better than you." Just then it clicked in Kitty's head as to why Marnie had been flaky with her. Marnie was dating her nemesis. "Marn, is he really your boyfriend?" Marnie sheepishly mumbled "yea. It's okay, I was planning to go home with him." Kitty should have said more, but she was so taken aback by this new information that she abruptly departed. Something she regretted later.


The next day in her studio Kitty packed her things feeling like a true fool. Stafford had embarrassed her again. It was like she could not shake that louse out of her life no matter how little she felt she had to do with him. How could she be so unlucky to have known a person like him and continue to have him circle her socially as well? To Kitty, Marnie had become another "Sandy" who accepted Stafford's abusive ways toward Kitty as normality. To Kitty, it was as if they had become abusers too. Kitty left Jeremy's cat with her boss and took off for Chicago two weeks early. Mr. North liked the cat at the store anyway, he said that it brought in more customers, not that there were ever many, to begin with. Kitty quietly wrote off Marnie as a friend from that moment. To Kitty, it was her or Stafford and Marnie joined the wrong team. As for Stafford, Kitty assumed that if Marnie was out of her life after she moved to another state, there was no way that Stafford could ever rain on her parade again, or so she thought.