Test Drive by Samantha Chase

1





“Damn. That’s a good word.”

Staring down at her phone, Willow Andrews sighed. It looked like her grandmother was going to win yet another game of Words With Friends, and she wasn’t sure which was sadder–the fact that she was going to lose again or the fact that this was what she was doing on a Friday night.

“I clearly have a problem.” She was about to put her phone down when it rang. Looking at her grandmother’s sweet and smiling face, she knew it would be rude–and pointless–to ignore the call. Swiping the screen, she said, “So now you’re calling to brag?”

The soft chuckle greeted her first. “Oh, now don’t be like that, my little Willow bell. I can’t help it if I’m good with words. I did spend forty years as an English teacher, you know.”

“You could let me win once in a while,” she said miserably. “You know, something to boost my confidence a little.”

“Still no luck with the job search, hmm?”

“Nope. I swear, it’s like there must be some sort of poster with my face on it with a big circle with a slash going through it. No one will hire me, and if I don’t find something soon, I don’t know what I’ll do. I’m babysitting my neighbor’s little boy in the morning and then take care of the dogs in the afternoon.”

“How many are there now?”

“Um…I’m up to twelve. I added a French Bulldog last week.”

“Gracious! Twelve dogs? You’re not taking them all out at the same time, are you?”

“I tried that once. It didn’t go well, as you can probably imagine. The leashes all got tangled, I nearly had an asthma attack because they pulled me along, so I had to run instead of walk, I skinned my knee and twisted my ankle so…lesson learned.”

“Well, it sounds like you’re not doing too bad, Willow. You have two jobs, and obviously, you’re getting out and meeting people.”

“Yeah, not so much. These are all people in my apartment complex that I knew already. However, the dog-walking gig gets me out of the house. Getting my Vitamin D and all that.” She sighed. “But…I’m never going to get ahead at this rate and my savings isn’t going to take me much further. I need something with more stability and that pays better.”

“Sweetie, you know you really should talk to your parents. I’m sure they would help you out…”

“Gammy, we’ve been over this,” she explained. “I got my degree in psychology because that’s what they wanted. It was never something I was interested in and I graduated by the skin of my teeth. And look where it got me? If I ask them for help, they’ll lecture me on all the ways I’m self-sabotaging and how if I would just focus, I’d be able to find a real job.” Groaning, her head fell back against the cushions.

“You know they’d love for you to join their practice, right?”

It was a topic that came up often, but it was never going to happen. “I know, but that would mean re-locating to Seattle, and that isn’t something I’m willing to do. I’m a New York girl. All my friends are here.”

“But not your family.”

Unable to help herself, she chuckled. “All the more reason to stay here.”

Luckily, Gammy laughed too. “Okay, sassy pants, let’s get serious. If you could do whatever you wanted to do for a career, what would you do?”

“Gam…”

“No, I’m serious, Willow. This is a judgment-free zone. You know you can tell me anything.”

“Well…I always wanted to be a Rockette…”

There was a soft tsking sound before her grandmother said, “Willow, I’m being serious. And remember your ballet recital?”

“I was seven!” she cried. “I’m sure, given enough time, I would have learned to balance better.”

“And gotten over your stage fright?”

“Not sure I want to risk throwing up in front of a crowd again.”

“I know, dear. So let’s cross Rockette–or dancer of any kind–off the list. Okay?”

“Fine.”

“What about a chef? You’re very good in the kitchen!”

“I hate the feel of raw chicken. It freaks me out.”

“What about a baker? You always make the most decadent desserts!”

“You have to get up at like…three a.m. to go to work, and you know I’m not a morning person.”