$$$

For a week and a half of sporadic appointments with the realtor Abraham Brahms, Paul and I were on our feet, knees buckling, staggering to find our way to a great apartment for me. I had shifted in and out of apartments within my price range that one after the other they ended up merging into one and looking the same. Here was the kitchen, there was the bedroom, here was the bathroom; it was a laboriously tiresome effort for all of us.

“The Upper East Side is where it’s at,” Paul said.

I crossed my arms over my chest and pointed my shoulders up apprehensively. “I don’t know. They’re all starting to look the same. At this rate I don’t think I’ll ever be able to find an apartment.”

“Don’t say that,” Abraham butted in with that thick Polish-German accent of his; hacking through like a blunt axe. “That means I’d have wasted my time and I do not waste my time.”

He stared me down and I forgot myself for a moment. Almost remained existent through my eyeballs only, no body, no emotions, just a vision.

“Okay,” I mumbled.

Abraham left the apartment and Paul turned to me. “He desperately needs a drink.”

I giggled with him. “Tell me about it.”

By our five billionth try, on the Upper East Side, Abraham escorted us to a brownstone complex with a stoop big enough to match the likeness of every Disney movie mansion with a staircase. The apartment was small with floorboards, practically one gigantic room if you take down what looked like make-shift walls that separated the bathroom, the kitchen and the bedroom. It was empty, but I could visualise it easy; my bed, my clothes in this tiny closet, my kitchen filled drinks for the girls when they visited and stayed over; my couch and television, where I could only fit one small couch. This was no Gramercy, but it was a start. It could be a start. With the money I was making at my job, the money I saved up at my other jobs from California, and by thinking smart financially, I could probably live here. I mean, I might actually not need to have a roommate.

“What do you think?” Paul wondered. Abraham waited.

I walked straight toward the small window that overlooked the street and a tree off to the side, stretching high and hanging low. I envisioned myself watching the winter snow, the fall fiery leaves, the spring blooms and the summery escape and immediately felt like it was right.

I love it. But, could I really afford it was the question.

***

Once we parted three ways, I was on my way back to Daniel’s when I felt a text in my pocket. A text from Chloe; I smiled.

‘FYI Derek’s here. I just saw him in passing, u won’t hav 2 worry bout him stalking u ne more.’

Ugh thank G,’ I texted back. ‘How are you?’

‘Meh.’

‘Meh?’

‘Janet’s driving me cray-cray with the wedding. It’s at the end of the year and I’m already going bonkers!’

I laughed. ‘The price to pay.’

‘A hefty price. How’s u n Daniel.’ I paused and wondered, and in that time, Chloe texted back. ‘Don’t tell me u guys broke up again.’

‘Course not!’

‘All good then?’

I nodded, even though she couldn’t even see. ‘All good.’

All good indeed. When I met Daniel at home, he was seated on the sofa drinking what looked like water but I didn’t think it was as I approached.

“Daniel?”

His eyes were glazed over, and a second delay after I said his name, he snapped out of it. “Yeah. Uhh, Anna.”

I smiled. “Yeah, it’s Anna.”

He chuckled and then stood. “I know.”

“You okay?”

“What makes you think I’m not?”

I tilted my head from side to side. “You’re drinking at 5PM.”

He shrugged. “That’s not unusual.”

“If not, then it’s unusual with you.”

“Slightly.”

“A significant bit.”

He grinned and finished his drink. Wrapping his arms around me, he pulled me in closer. “I went to see my father and the family lawyer today.”

“Oh, is that why you seem so down?”

He chortled and caught himself, biting his lip. “Do I seem down?”

“Well—” I assessed him confusedly “—I don’t know now. Daniel, what’s going on?”

“I will be coming into a substantial amount of money on my twenty-eighth birthday,” he said through a giggle he tried supressing.

“What like,” I shrugged, “fifty thousand? A hundred thousand?”

Daniel laughed. “Try seventy-five million dollars.”

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