She felt she was justified in being bitter. After all, her parents had just told her that they could no longer support or help her financially and she was on her own. It was a position she didn’t feel was fair and certainly wasn’t expected and so she was filled with rage and bitterness and made no apologies for either.

Her email inbox was a wasteland of missed opportunities and rejections. This company couldn’t hire her for this reason, this bank couldn’t extend her more credit for that reason, this guy wasn’t interested in seeing her for another reason. It all added up to a morass she was not currently emotionally situated to extricate herself from. There was too hatred and regret to hold on to and it was that which kept her warm right now.

It wasn’t her fault, she reasoned. College hadn’t gone as planned, nor had her first experiences in the job market. Her education in marketing, which was fine, hadn’t prepared her in the least for the realities of the jobs she wound up applying for. Her grades had been good, if unremarkable, but she’d done well. As she started looking for work, though, she immediately identified several areas that hadn’t been part of the curriculum at all but which were apparently table stakes for anyone hiring, even for entry-level positions. This wasn’t a matter of pride not allowing her to accept something she felt was below her, it was just that she wasn’t qualified. Her degree had suffered the kind of devaluation usually applied only to cars: 15 minutes after taking it off campus it was worth only half what she – more accurately her parents – had paid.

So she sat in her small efficiency apartment, her laptop web browser showing several open tabs. She mindlessly clicked between them, trying to find something to distract her thoughts from the dark paths they were going down. Nothing emerged and she closed the screen, turning her stare out the small window on the far wall that provided what had been described in the brochure as “copious natural lighting” but which in reality was too small for a sparrow to fit through and grimy enough to lend what light did make it through a dirty yellow tinge.

What were her options? She couldn’t fully fault her parents, they didn’t have much money and had spent most of it on her education. She needed money quickly. Could she find work waitressing or something like that? Probably. It would be a hit to the ego, but that was less important than more immediate and material concerns right now. There needed to be a plan, but her anger and wounded, defensive feelings of betrayal weren’t allowing for much in the way of organized cohesive thought.

Optimism tried to break through the clouds but couldn’t gain a foothold. The apartment didn’t cost much, she reasoned, so wouldn’t be a massive burden. That had been a good choice, not over-extending herself on rent payments. And she could make cuts to her already skimpy food budget without getting into malnutrition territory. Her bank account wasn’t robust by any means but she had some money, though, in reality, it wouldn’t last long, even if she got a part-time job. There still needed to be a bigger plan and soon.

Picking up her phone, she texted a friend to see if she was available for a wallowing in misery session. For the next several minutes she unloaded on her friend, telling her the world of horror she was living in. Sympathy and empathy and understanding was returned to her and she knew in the back of her mind that this would need to be repaid the next time the friend was in need of a shoulder to kvetch on.

It was getting late. There was no more light coming from the window, just a small fraction of the glow from the lamps that illuminated the courtyard two stories down. She was ready to go to stream a couple episodes of a show and go to bed and forget about her current circumstances. The need for a plan reared its head once more and so, before heading to the cramped, glorified closet she called a bedroom, she took a legal pad out from a drawer and put it on the small kitchen table. In big letters, she wrote “GETTING OUT OF THIS NOW” in the header and left the pen on the pad.

This would, she hoped, not only prompt her to pick things back up in the morning but also start her mind spinning on options and alternatives to her present situation, hopefully arriving at a revelation while she slept. She checked that the small pad of paper was in its usual place on her nightstand – a habit begun in high school to capture interesting ideas – and set about preparing for bed. Faint hope began to burn that yes, it would be alright.