past due by juleshg

4 Apr

Her laughter broke the silence and attracted angry stares from students at surrounding tables who had crowded the library to study for finals.

Jon looked up from his textbook and watched Lisa as she leafed through the papers in front of her.

“Something funny?”

“No, that was hysteria.”  Lisa lifted the top page off the pile and waved it for him to see.

“This is my phone bill.  I owe $300 and I am $150 past due.”  She continued to rifle through the pile.  “This is my electric bill:  $285 owing.   This is my credit card bill:  $600 owing.  At this point I owe so much money, to so many people, that each new bill I open is almost funny.   What’s one more? Maybe I’ll just burn the bills to keep warm and let them cut off my heat to save cash.”

She folded her arms over the pile in front of her and lay down her head looking exasperated.

Jon watched her take a deep breath and exhale with a sigh before reaching out to ruffle her short brown hair.  “If you want I can give you a few of my shifts at the cafe if that will help to make ends meet.”

She lifted her head and reached out to grab his hand.  “You are so sweet but I know that you need the money as much as I do.  Your tuition bill is coming due soon and you can’t afford to be giving up shifts or tip money.”

“What about your tuition bill?  I hope you took my advice and put some money aside from each cheque to cover tuition,”  he said remembering the long talk they had about finances during her last money crisis when he helped her to put together a budget.

Lisa shook her head.  “I tried. I really did but when my laptop died last month I had to use that money to buy a new one.  You can’t get through pre-law without a computer – not that it does me much good now.”

Jon looked down at her pale hand that he was still holding across the table and gave it a little squeeze.  What he wouldn’t give to be able to fix this for her.  If only there was a way that he could swoop in, wrap her in his arms and protect her.  To tell her that everything was going to be OK.

“You have bad karma,” he said with a teasing smile.

“You’re telling me.  I am beginning to believe that I am not destined to be a lawyer.”

“What?  You are at the top of our class and you are brilliant.  One day you are going to be a partner in a huge firm, raking in cash and this will just be a distant memory.”

She shook her head and pulled her hand back staring at the table.  She pushed her hair behind her ears with a nervous fidget deliberately avoiding his intent gaze.

“Leese?  What are you planning?”

“I am not going to law school,” she said, the words spilling out quickly.  “I spoke with the registrar at the community college yesterday and they can give me credit for some of my pre-law courses towards a diploma as a paralegal.  They figure it will only take me six months to finish the program and then I can make some real money to pay these bills.”

Jon sat at the table in a stunned silence.

“Jon, say something….  I’ll go back to law school one day.  I just can’t do it now; I can’t keep living with this stress.”

“Lisa, why don’t you move in with me?  My place is small but there is room enough for a roommate and splitting the rent would be good for us both.”

“Jon, you are my best friend and I already owe you so much.  You got me a job at the cafe.  You escorted me to the wedding-from-hell when my mom got married.  You don’t need me to keep looking after me.  Your family doesn’t have money either and I know how hard you are working now just to keep your head above water.”

“This is plan is ridiculous.”  He took a deep breath trying to control his rising frustration.

“Lisa, you are the best in the program.  You can’t become a paralegal while some idiot like Jason Randall just coasts along.  He’ll graduate in the middle of the pack and walk into some cushy job just because his family owns the top law firm in town.”

“Jon, life sucks.  How did you get though pre-law without figuring it out before?  Besides, Jason isn’t a bad guy.  His family isn’t his fault any more than our families are ours.”

Hearing Lisa defend Jason Randall was the last straw.  As he thought about all of the late nights they had spent studying and the evenings that they had worked together at the small cafe on campus he began to get angry at her for not seeing the obvious.  How could she be oblivious to the fact that he was in love with her?

He stood up from his chair and grabbed his books.  “Well it seems like you have it all figured out then.  Maybe Jason can put in a good word for you and get you a job at daddy’s law firm as a paralegal.”

“Jon, wait…”

But he could not bear to turn around and face her.  Instead he hurried towards the exit without ever looking back.

Links:  We met Lisa — and Jason — a few weeks ago in Two Minutes

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5 Responses to “past due by juleshg”

  1. jadamthwaite April 5, 2010 at 10:19 am #

    Oh no! She should have ended up with Jon! I love the link in this – it was great looking back and realising how she ended up where she did. I really hope things work out for Lisa.

  2. ingridfnl April 5, 2010 at 8:54 pm #

    I really like the tension in this piece. It makes me want to follow the story further and see what happens.

  3. juleshg April 6, 2010 at 4:05 am #

    I actually have ‘seen’ quite a bit of Lisa’s story and her relationship with Jason and have been wanting to write it for a while. Now I just have to find the time to sit down and get my hands on the keyboard.

  4. jmforceton April 6, 2010 at 1:27 pm #

    Very strong emotions moving this story. I’d say, finish it and take a holiday.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. a conversation between floors by juleshg « the character project - April 18, 2010

    […] We met Lisa and Jason in Two Minutes and Past Due. […]

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