I maneuver my silver Mazda Miata MX-5 to the middle of the tiny parking space numbered 109. The Miata’s new, dent-free. I love it. I can’t believe I have to park, no squeeze, between an old Camry and a truck that looks like it belongs to a meth-addicted landscaper. Not long ago the Miata rested happily and safely between a hunter green Jag and a midnight black BMW. All the cars in this lot are cheap, low-end except for a black Cadillac Escalade. Probably belongs to a drug dealer.
My name is Molly. I had top grades. I was admitted to every college I applied to. Early admit to law school. Hired by a top firm before graduation. I’m good at interviews. I’ve been called charming. Yet here I am. My first day as a public defender.
I slip on cheap taupe pumps that match the nondescript outfit I bought for my new job. I don’t know what to expect, but I know enough to leave my expensive designer clothes home. I flatten my body to avoid the Camry which looks as if it hasn’t seen a carwash since Hurricane Sandy. I can do this. I have to do this. It’s only till something worthwhile comes along.
I never intended to use my legal talent to represent druggies, rapist and murderers. From the moment Dad put law school into my head, I planned to land a high paying job. I didn’t study my ass off to help losers. People work at the public defender’s office because they can’t get a real job. Bad grades, bad interview skills, bad breath.
I received a job offer, before graduation, from Bellwood, Adams, Roth and Klein, a premiere Phoenix firm. My unemployed classmates were jealous. My lesser-employed classmates were jealous. My future plans were to make everyone jealous. Yet here I am in this uncovered parking lot dotted with potholes.
My parents hosted a big party to celebrate my success. Everyone came except Rose, my older sister. We couldn’t find her. She’s in Africa somewhere feeding starving children or fighting malaria. I blame Mom. What kind of name is Rose? Like a 60’s movie, her first real job was the Peace Corps. Next, a college degree in third world countries, finally on to Africa to do good. She could be thousands of miles away and I still hear her nag.
“Molly, you’re wasting your education. The rich don’t need help getting richer. Use your brains to help people. Being rich won’t make you happy.”
I met Derrick my first year of law, his last of business school. After his graduation he got a job at a small insurance company. We moved in together. We both had big dreams which meant good bye Tucson. Three months before law school graduation, Derrick was offered a job at Winthrop Financial in Phoenix. He was ecstatic. Derrick bought a condo in the newly renovated portion of downtown Phoenix close to shopping, clubs and sports arenas. He proposed the night of my graduation. I loved my ring.
Life was great. By the time I passed the bar my new law firm, affectionately nicknamed BARF, was home. I spent twenty hours a day there. Ate most meals there. Slept on the couch in my office. Weeks passed before I realized the initials of the firm spelled BARK not BARF. Months passed before I found out that after working twenty-four straight, several inebriated associates joked “this place makes me want to barf.” Barf became an ‘in’ joke and BARK became BARF.
My first assignment was in the real estate division. I was at the beck and call of two senior partners and one workaholic lawyer who’d been there four years. I was exhausted trying to achieve the mandatory billable hours, and keep up our social calendar, but this was the life I was meant to have. Fancy clothes, expensive jewelry, visits to the spa (when I had time). All I had to do was keep up the pace until I made partner.
Then came the recession.
At first everyone thought we’d get through untouched. Even when Winthrop Financial went bankrupt and Derrick was out of a job, I didn’t think my life would change. BARF wasn’t Winthrop. BARF had tons of assets and had been around forever. It took only a month till the rumors started. I ignored them. Kept my billables high, my conversation upbeat, and my toes pedicured.
But denial didn’t work. It doesn’t keep the wolf from your door. ”We’re going to have to let you go. Nothing personal. Many firms are in the same position. We can offer you three months severance pay and a good reference. Sorry.”
Before I could speak, I was out the door and out of a job. My savvy colleagues had started the hunt for new jobs, but I didn’t have the energy to find out who was hiring, send out resumes, or make calls.
“Molly, get dressed. Let’s celebrate. Seattle made me an offer,” Derrick announced several days or weeks after I lost my job.
“You’re going to Seattle?”
“Yes, I told you the interview went great, and I’d take it if they made me an offer.”
“Take what? I can’t practice in Washington until I pass their bar. That will take months, maybe a year.”
“I told you. Administrator for the City Parks.”
“What do you know about parks?”
“Nothing. That’s not the point. We talked about it.”
“I don’t remember.”
“That’s because everything’s always about you. All you do is sit here day after day and complain. You’re not even looking for a job.”
“I’m paying my share.”
“It’s not about money you don’t pay any attention to me.”
“So when are you leaving?”
“I start in a month, but I need to go earlier to look for a place.”
“You’re just going to pack up and leave me jobless and homeless.” I tried hard to stop my tears. I hate weak women.
“I’m not leaving you homeless. You can stay in the condo.”
“But I need you.”
“Need me? We haven’t had sex since I can’t remember.”
“Sex is the only thing you think about. . .”
That was the most civil conversation we had until he left. No matter what either of us said, the other one argued. The weekend he moved out I stayed with Emily. He left me his address on an otherwise blank piece of paper. After he left either of us could have called the other, but neither of us did. He didn’t seem interested in a relationship now that I wasn’t a hotshot lawyer. My pride wouldn’t let me call him, but not calling was easier than I expected.
Without Derrick around, I didn’t even get dressed. I slept on the couch, ordered food in, and drank up Derrick’s expensive wine stash. I didn’t call anyone or answer my cell. I was watching reruns of the Biggest Loser when Derrick’s land line rang. I wasn’t going to answer until I recognized the name on the display.
“Molly O’Rourke?” a voice asked when I picked up.
“This is Jack Windsor, AGF Management. Derrick has arranged for new tenants to move in the first of the month. You need to be out by the twentieth so we have time to clean the unit and get it ready for the new renters.” He paused for a moment and added, “Sorry.”
He patiently repeated himself.
Derrick didn’t even have the nerve to tell me himself. I threw my wine glass at the TV. The TV wasn’t damaged, the glass didn’t crack, and there was barely enough wine to make a spot on the carpet.


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