A Story of Now: Chapter 2

Claire is hauled from sleep by sunlight hitting her square in the eyes. She was so distracted by her mother’s pre-bed appearance she forgot to close her blinds before crawling under the covers. She tries to find her way back to sleep, but it’s too late. Her brain busies itself with thoughts.

Then she remembers. Cam is home.

She has to admit, she’s kind of happy to have her brother here. Cam is a pain, but he’s her pain, and she likes to know he’s alive. And, of course, there’s the added bonus that the return of the Prodigal Son might divert the parental spotlight for a while.

She rolls over and finds her mother’s brochure on the other side of the bed. She picks it up and frowns. She can’t believe Cam chimed in, saying she should go to this information night. It’s enough to cope with the twinned expectations of her parents—her mother’s desire for her to find “direction” and her dad’s deceptively simple, yet infinitely more difficult, desire for her to be “happy.” Claire can’t cope with her brother pushing his imagined version of her future on her as well.

She sighs. Law. Now that’s a possibility Claire isn’t sure she can allow. She has no desire to march in lockstep down the family line as if there’s no other choice.

Well, it’s not as if there aren’t other options. It’s just that Claire can’t figure out what fits with her idea of herself in the world. And there are times when she’s tempted to follow her parents simply for the ease of not having to make a decision. But what if she turns out to be the only Pearson who was lousy at law? Even her brother—though he gave it up to work for the police—did well enough to be offered honours upon completing the course. She isn’t sure she could face the humiliation of not matching them. And most of all, she doesn’t think she could handle the disappointment—no, the disapproval—from her mother if she fails. Her mother simply doesn’t believe in failure. Christine Pearson believes that success is well within a person’s own power if she puts in the effort and plays her cards right. Claire isn’t so sure.

At first, when she graduated, Claire didn’t care that she hadn’t come out of high school with a solid, specific strategy. Many of her friends have tedious, add-water-and-stir, three-step life plans that include degrees, weddings, and babies. Claire wants the same at some point, but why is everyone in such a hurry? She also doesn’t care because she doesn’t need the world. But it’s not so great to discover the world doesn’t need her, either. Not unless she makes it need her.

But the problem is she has no idea where to start. She loves studying French. Being able to read a book in another language is a source of ego-stroking pride. She also knows her studies are barely a step up from doing nothing at all. Lately, the ambitious, highly achieving part of her—the part that was wrangled into being by virtue of residing in the Pearson household—shudders at the thought of leaving university no better off and no more qualified than when she started. Claire was raised to do, and she feels the inexorable pull to do something as she works her way through her course.

She just has to figure out what she wants to do. She sighs and lets the brochure drop to the floor. Right now, though, it’s definitely not law, no matter what her family says.


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