With either her brisk stride or her slouching posture, it was as if Kitty were showing the world she felt less than everyone around her. To an onlooker, Kitty was a frail teen with little to show for her short life other than bountiful insecurities in addition to no hopes for much else in her future. She would have said as much too, had she ever been asked to explain it, something that never seemed to come up as she was often dismissed as the "sad girl." Still, things could always be worse and Kitty knew it. Fears like her sister Pam overdosing or the state putting her back into a group home were always looming. It only took one of the incompetent people in her life to make another mistake to cause Kitty to be on the chopping block for their error.
As for normality, Kitty's week started on a Tuesday. It was her first day back from winter break in her Junior year. Luckily for Kitty, Pam's ner-do-well boyfriend Ben had offered to drive her the three miles to her high school for her zero-period gym class. Ben had a rusted-out Jeep that Kitty silently prayed would make the trip so she wouldn't have to wake up any earlier than she needed. The mornings in Indiana were cold this time of year. Kitty's warmest garment was a thrift store sweater she layered with some doubled-up tee- shirts. Ben being properly matched to Pam in unfortunate tendencies, got blacked out drunk that night before he passed out on the studio apartment floor that Kitty and Pam shared. Besides herself believing that Ben could have been reliable enough to save her the trouble of walking, Kitty had to sprint at full speed in an attempt to avoid getting a Saturday school write-up for missing class. Ironically giving her a much more intense workout than anyone who had actually gone to the P.E. class on time.
Kitty arrived at the locker room only to see that the doors had been locked. Realizing now she had to go fully dressed onto the track to find the coach she felt even more like an embarrassment. Her peers were casually talking when Kitty, still partly out of breath asked to be let in to go change. The coach denied her request and instead sent her to the office as she had already been marked as truant. Kitty's eyes welled with tears as another girl could be heard mocking her as she walked away feeling defeated by her circumstance. Kitty knew she should not have had faith in others, especially a person like Ben. Kitty wondered what was wrong with her to have been so stupid as to think she could catch a break. It was hard for her to tell if she hated herself more than anything or the people she felt let her down constantly.
In the office, the secretary working at the front desk had no patience for Kitty as she was busy answering calls. She had just enough time to look up to pass her a Saturday school slip, then gesture for her to go on to her next class as the bell rang. Kitty's next class was music history. The teacher was an elderly extremely nearsighted man who spoke as if he were a town-crier sent from the past. He spoke over the students who were completely disinterested in his lesson as he announced that the theater class at the community college was allowing the high school students to try out. He handed out leaflets with the details of the play that they would be auditioning for, then sat down in his chair for the remainder of the period. Maybe it was to get her mind off of the bad start to her day or maybe it was just out of morbid curiosity but Kitty stared at the information on that page and thought to herself that it was time to start to hope. As she sat at her desk she felt that she had to start to make things better for herself. She'd be damned if she were going to accept her miserable life as it was without putting some effort into reaching toward that happiness that she didn't seem to ever have.
When her day was done she walked straight to the county library to find the script for the play the college was doing. She had it fixed in her head that she was going to try out for the leading role. That night she practiced in her bathroom mirror, knowing she was determined to try. She wasn't going to think about her sister shooting up on their formerly sidewalk abandoned sofa or the fact that she had been living off of a few Raman packets a day and bowls of Grape Nuts for the last five months. This was her chance to feel like there was something to hold onto, this one thing. Kitty never considered that it was unrealistic to assume she would get the lead role in a play she hadn't heard of prior to that day or that she had frankly no acting experience. She had thought to reach for it as if it were going to be her life from that point on. She was too naive to know that she was swimming in a river that had a waterfall approaching.
The next few weeks were not nearly as raw as her first day back. Her temporary cheer made it easier for her classmates to be around her. Kitty over the years has developed a strong aura of depression that sent people running. No one wanted to hear how bad things are all the time for someone, even if all that person had was bad things going for themself. Now Kitty could say that she had good plans, like how she was going to style her hair or about the bus route she was going to take to the college for her audition. Kitty felt herself smile, something she normally did out of social obligation. With every line she practiced, she felt better, as if she had already achieved her trivial goal.
The day of Kitty's much anticipated time to shine, Pam in her typical fashion decided to make it all about herself by getting arrested for shoplifting strawberry wine from a CVS across from their apartment complex, or that's how Kitty saw it when she heard Pam's message on their answering machine. Kitty could have brought Pam the emergency cash hidden in the coffee can behind the stove like Pam had ordered her to do. Instead, Kitty ignored her sister, deciding that she would let Pam's junkie friends bail her out while she was gone. Kitty probably in this sole instance of her life grew a backbone and walked out her front door, fully assuming that Pam would beat her when she got back. In a panicked tizzy, Kitty made her way to the city bus to the college like it was the last lifeboat fleeing a sinking ship. Not thinking about the ride at all, but rather the monolog she had now almost completely forgotten out of the adrenaline rush of the moment. Kitty stepped onto the campus not having the slightest idea of where to go. She looked at the map posted in the quad. Then she wandered around for a bit before nearly yelling at herself for not immediately walking to the obvious theater building at the top of a hill on campus. Had she not already been awash with anxiety for being late, thus risking being locked out as she had with her gym class, she might have found humor in her plight. Once again Kitty was running toward her destination, knowing she was late.
The theater was massive with students scattered around the place when Kitty walked in. She tried to smile, as she knew people found her to be more likable when she smiled. Unfortunately, Kitty was so nervous that she found it hard to even look up from her own feet. A rude student asked why she was there when she sat down. Kitty replied in a shy voice that she was there for the audition. The student rolled his eyes at her. In a harsh tone, he told her that she would have to go behind the theater to the rear entrance if she was going to get in line for that. He also chided her for not knowing that she was sitting with the people who had already been cast. For as backhandedly informative as he was, Kitty felt mortified. Her anxiety was now causing her to barely breathe. She struggled to hide that she was visibly shaking. Kitty's mind was working at full speed echoing to herself hurtful thoughts like "I'm so stupid!" and "Why would I come here?" before it finally settled on "I don't belong here at all."
Kitty with a fully red face from blushing walked outside to the back of the theater where she found the dressing room entrance. When she walked in she noticed she was very late. It was then that she felt her own exhaustion. Her journey between meals to then had been many grueling hours. Kitty kicked herself for not taking some of the emergency cash to buy a sandwich as she was far past her regular time for her freeze-dried noodle ration. Kitty was nearly the last to audition other than a foreign-speaking student who had about as warm of a welcome as Kitty had from the other students. Finally, when it was Kitty's turn, her legs felt like Jell-O and her voice was weak. She was only sheepishly able to march herself on the stage. When she went to speak her words only came out as mumbled stuttering. She knew every line, but at that moment, it meant nothing. Overwhelmed with shame she ran off crying before she could be turned down, faint, or both.
Too embarrassed to show the world her tear-soaked face Kitty hid in the bathroom thinking about how she could pull herself together before she had to walk to the bus stop. While in a state of pure self-pity, Kitty heard a student ask her through the stall door if she were alright. Kitty cleared her throat in order to respond in as calm of a voice as she could muster, "everything is fine, I just get nervous sometimes" between sobs. The student said that she saw her audition and that Kitty was probably not as bad as she thinks she was. The only thing Kitty cared about then was that she had to drag herself to the bus stop. Thinking about how miserable of a trip home it would be, it was still a nicer option than her missing the last bus out. The student said she would walk with her, which to Kitty seemed condescending and disingenuous, but she was in no mood to argue.
On the way down the hill of the campus, the student asked Kitty why she wanted to be in the play anyway. Kitty shrugged saying that she just wanted to be a part of something that she could go to regularly and that felt more important than herself. The student told her in a voice that indicated to Kitty that she thought she could fix all of Kitty's problems right there and suggested that Kitty should go to the front of the student store since that was where all of the campus' job postings were. Planning to hold it together until she got back to her cramped apartment to deal with Pam's wrath, Kitty allowed the well-meaning student to pull her away from the bus stop to the student store job postings board. "Oh look there's a good job for you right here, you could be a janitor!" Kitty tried not to cringe at the student's words as she had been bullied in elementary school by incidentally another poor student who had called her a "toilet scrubber for life" which somehow made Kitty even then not exactly thrilled to do actual toilet scrubbing, be it ever so vital to society. Kitty in a hurry to end their conversation so she could rush over to the bus stop before she had to hitchhike home, Kitty did her best acting of the entire day. She grabbed the only other paper tab from another flier and said "You know this looks like something that will really be great for me! Thank you so much for all of your help, I feel so much better!" Then Kitty ran off using the last of her totally depleted energy to get on that smelly, hobo transport machine of a bus and put the day's traumatic failure behind her. Kitty was so relieved to get away from that college that she forgot that she had stuffed the paper tab into her pocket.
The next day, Kitty should have gone to school, but she was too depressed. She could not get off the couch that was her bed. Pam hadn't returned to scream at Kitty for ghosting her, which was odd even for the reliably unreliable Pam. Without Pam, their welfare checks would not be able to pay the few bills that they had. Knowing this, Kitty waited until her school would normally have ended to call the local jail to find out what Pam's bail was set at. Kitty was told by a clerk that Pam had been moved to a prison that afternoon until her trial. Confused Kitty asked why, as Pam had been arrested for a number of things in her past and always had the same bail-out procedure every time. The clerk said that it was likely because of all of Pam's prior arrests that she had been remanded to the state prison until her next court date, apparently Pam never had a bail set regardless of if Kitty had skipped her audition or not. When the call had ended, Kitty took in a deep breath realizing that she really did need a job or her social worker would send her back to the group home where Kitty was a sitting duck for wannabe gangbangers and junkies like Pam. Just then Kitty almost subconsciously reached into the pocket of the pants she was wearing from the night prior and pulled out the little paper tab with the job listing's phone number on it.