Marisa is pulled from her thoughts when her phone sets off again. She leans against the counter and watches nature pile its frigidity on the world. The snow outside is picking up. Realistically, Marisa knows she could just walk to the recital. It’s at that church she’s never been to—except that doesn’t narrow things down at all. “First Christian Church,” she mutters to herself. Not that it matters. She isn’t going. It’s snowing too hard, even though the church sits only two blocks—102 slabs of concrete squares—away.

Marisa slouches against the counter and crosses her arms, staring at the calendar, as though she’s in an argument with it. She begins to fidget with the sleeves of her shirt. Her fingers are used to fidgeting; they find the fraying edge of one of the sleeves and begin to pull at the little fringes. She realizes this might unravel her whole sleeve, so she stops. The top is a long-sleeved, lacy top, one she doesn’t normally wear around the house. Quickly, she reminds herself that she’s wearing it, not because she plans on going out, but because it’s warm. And the same goes for her crimson corduroy pants, which are cuffed at the bottom so that she doesn’t wear them out, right at the back, where her heels are.

Her eyes drift over to the shoes by her door. She has only six pairs of shoes: two are black, two are white, one is brown, and the last is red. The red ones are the least worn out. All the shoes are dry and neatly polished, as though she hasn’t worn them in some time. Maybe it has been some time, now that she thinks about it. The last time she went out was to stock up on groceries, and since she doesn’t eat all that much, it might’ve been a couple weeks. All her classes are online, anyways, and since the parents are willing to provide for her whatever money she needs to get through college, it’s not like she has to go out for work or anything.

Jenn’s different. She’s got a job and everything. Not because she needs to pay for her own college, of course—the parents take care of that. But it’s strange, because she actually went out and looked for a job. And the one she ended up getting involves actually talking to people. She’s a waitress, and judging from the smile she always sports and the way she remembers the little details about her customers’ lives—How’s your granddaughter in Tennessee? or Did your play go well?—she enjoys it.

Marisa’s mind drifts back in time to when Jenn was attempting to convince her to get a job. It had occurred while Jenn was painting a picture of a hummingbird. Art had been, at the time, Jenn’s current conquest; she changed her hobbies rather frequently.

“You really ought to look for a job, ’Risa. I think you would find it fun.” Jenn had mixed a light blue and a dark blue to come up with some sort of color she deemed appropriate for a sky. Dipping her paintbrush in this, she had continued, “What about a desk job? Something where you don’t have to really interact with people, but it gives you the experience of doing something adultish.”

Marisa had rolled her eyes. “I don’t need a job, Jennifer.”

Jenn had begun to spread the blue across the sky behind the hummingbird. Marisa would not have said so, but the strokes were uneven, purely fitting for an amateur. “I know. You don’t technically need one, but I think it could be helpful. You know. Get you out of your shell.” She had extended her shoulder to nudge Marisa, but Marisa had backed away, fearful that some of that bright blue color would get on her clothing.

“I think you’re ridiculous, Jenn,” she had said with a smile, but on the inside, she had been wondering what was up with her sister. Jenn had to know that Marisa would never go out of the house more often than necessary.

“And I think you need a life.” Jenn had said this with a laugh. If it had been anyone but Jenn, Marisa would have been humiliated, but Jenn always had had a way of saying the truth in such a way that allowed her to avoid what ought to have earned wrath. “What about being a secretary?”

“I’d have to answer phones.”

“So what do you plan on doing with your life, Marisa? The parents won’t always let you depend on them.”

“They might.”

Jenn had paused, then shrugged, acceding to Marisa’s accurate appraisal. “But you can’t want that.” She had set down her paintbrush and color palette, turning to Marisa and grabbing her sister’s hands. “You can’t want to let your life slip by you. You have to get out there and do stuff! Do something brave!” She had stopped, shaking her head. “Don’t you want to do something brave?”

Marisa had removed herself from Jenn’s grasp. “You’re getting paint on my hands,” she’d replied. She’d gotten up and left the room to wash off the paint in the bathroom. Jenn had left the subject at that, from that point on.

The notion of getting a job had been, and still is, completely beyond Marisa. This is why she’s holed up in her apartment on a Friday night, watching reruns of a show she’s already seen three times. And that’s even counting the deleted scenes.

There are better things to watch, of course. Like Jenn’s recital.

Do something brave.

The End

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