Part one: bad karma
When Kaitlyn was a teenager, she used to look at the adults who worked as cashiers or at fast-food restaurants and such and wondered what shitty cards they must have been dealt to wind up working there at that age. Because those retail jobs were made for teenagers, right? As summer jobs or a way to save a little towards that expensive car which no kid who’d only been driving a year should own.
It was naïve and privileged of Kaitlyn to wonder such a thing and anyone who said karma didn’t exist should see her now. Working two jobs just so she could pay rent in her tiny two-bedroom apartment. She scooped ice cream during the day, bartended at night, and came home as the sun rose exhausted.
It certainly wasn’t the life she thought she’d have at sixteen.
But she didn’t think about these days. She couldn’t. If Kaitlyn thought about what she’d imagined her life would be like she was forced to face the fact that she was supposed to be great. Kaitlyn Frost was supposed to be remarkable, now she was twenty-seven years old and late for her shift. She’d spilled coffee down her shirt while dropping her sons off at school, but it was her only clean work shirt so now she’d have to go through the day with a coffee stain and no doubt be scolded by her manager for her unprofessional image.
God, if only her parents could see her now, Kaitlyn thought bitterly as she swept through the door.
“Hey, you’re late.” Estella greeted as the bell on the door jingled merrily.
“I noticed,” Kaitlyn grumbled rushing past her co-worker to quickly dump her stuff in the back, tying on her apron at record speed.
She just had time to clock in before the bell jingled yet again as an older couple came in.
Estella happily chatted with them about the shop’s newest ice cream flavors and Kaitlyn rang them up putting on her friendly customer voice even as the man took forever, digging through his wallet to find the exact change, like he was doing them a service. Someone needed to tell people that it was actually much easier to take bigger bills then wait while a line formed.
“Did Anderson notice I was late?” Kaitlyn asked Estella once the shop was emptied of customers.
“Nah, he’s been in his office all morning.”
“Good,” Kaitlyn sighed in relief “I really don’t want his shit today.”
“He’s just doing his job as our manager and owner, Lyn.” Estella poked Kaitlyn’s shoulder reminding her of all the hard work Anderson did.
“Yeah, yeah” Kaitlyn rolled her eyes at the other girl “you’re way too kind for someone who spends all day dealing with bitchy customers.”
“Most of them aren’t bad, and you’re way too much of a bitch for someone who works in customer service.”
Kaitlyn shrugged “I’m a bartender too,” she reminded Estella “you’ve got to have a little bit of an edge to deal with drunk people.”
“True, true. I generally try to avoid drunk people. They’re too unpredictable.”
“I’m not sure how you’ve managed to do that. Like damn, you just skipped the whole party phase.”
“I partied!” Estella crossed her arms defensively.
“Okay so it was once when I turned 21,” She admitted a little embarrassedly “But there are more important things than partying. If I’d been out drinking when I was younger then I never would have been able to afford to rent that trailer with you and we wouldn’t have met.”
“True, true. And what would my life be without you?” Kaitlyn said sighing dramatically.
“What would it been indeed?” Estella said hitting Kaitlyn lightly with the rag she’d been using to wipe down the counters.
“Hey!” Kaitlyn shrieked wiping her face where the wet rag had made contact “You have to get a new rag now you know.”
Estella sighed looking down at the rag in her hands “I know,” she said a little dejectedly and turned heading towards the back to replace the towel.
Kaitlyn straightened up suddenly at the sound of the bell.
“Hello,” she greeted “Welcome to Anderson’s Creamery, what can I get for you today?”
The woman who’d entered pushed her dark sunglasses up her nose a little and smiled “Hello,” She said eyeing the menu.
Kaitlyn shifted slightly; she knew this type. The large sunglasses, perfectly styled auburn hair, and tailored jeans which must cost thousands of dollars. This woman was obviously a celebrity, it was impossible not to see them around even living in the poorest part of L.A. Plus, some hipster journalist had written an article on the creamery about a year ago and since then the number of rich people that came in had increased slightly, unfortunately, Kaitlyn’s paycheck hadn’t.
This celebrity, however, looked alarmingly familiar. Kaitlyn tried not to pay attention to the A-list world for uh, personal reasons but there were some things you couldn’t avoid hearing about. So Kaitlyn mentally crossed her fingers that the woman would order quickly and not take off her sunglasses so Kaitlyn wouldn’t have to recognize who exactly she was.
“Okay,” The woman said pulling out her phone “I’ve been sent in with a long request of orders from my friends, I hope that’s alright?”
“Of course,” Kaitlyn smiled.
Estella still wasn’t back from getting the new rag yet and Kaitlyn had to assume that Anderson had roped her into something which meant Kaitlyn was alone on this one.
“Great! So firstly for me, I’d like a single scoop of vanilla with uh… strawberry sauce, do you have that?”
“We do, in a dish or a cone?”
“I should probably do a dish,” the woman chuckled “if I’m having ice cream the least I can do if forgo the extra carbs.” She said making friendly conversation.
“Right, that’s understandable.” Kaitlyn nodded grabbing a bowl
The woman rattled off her other orders as Kaitlyn scooped.
“You know, you look so familiar.” The woman shook her head “it’s actually so weird, I swear I know you from somewhere.”
Kaitlyn paused as she passed an order of peanut butter chocolate ice cream over the counter to the woman “Oh,” She said taken aback “I don’t believe I know you.”
“Well, do you live in L.A?”
“I do,” Kaitlyn nodded a little stiffly.
“Maybe we have met somewhere then,” The woman said biting her lip in thought.
“Oh, I don’t—”
Kaitlyn was cut off as the door opened and a man came in “Rosie! I changed my mind. I actually want sherbet if they have it”
“You always do this Alistair,” she rolled her eyes turning to Kaitlyn “I’m sorry, could we make that double scoop of strawberry as sherbet instead?”
Kaitlyn nodded quickly turning around to change the order, hoping that if she had any good karma at all she’d look different enough that she wasn’t recognizable.
“Oh my god, Kaitlyn?”
She froze, apparently no such luck. “Um, no?” Kaitlyn said but it came out more of a question.
“What are you doing here?” Alistair asked in shock.
“I work here, you dumbass.”
Alistair looked mostly the same as he had as a teenager except now his dark messy hair was purposely styled that way and his distressed clothes had to cost more than Kaitlyn made in a month.
“Yeah, but… why?”
“So, I can pay rent.”
“You work at an ice cream shop,” he stated dumbly.
“But you were gonna be great,” he said, and Kaitlyn flinched.
“Thank you for reminding me,” Kaitlyn said sharply “I’m so sorry that scooping ice cream doesn’t compare to you being a superstar but okay. Here’s your sherbet.” She said pushing it across the counter with a little more force than necessary.
“Why are you pissed at me?” Alistair said taking his ice cream eagerly “I wasn’t the one who did anything.”
Kaitlyn sighed “Okay you’re right, sorry. It’s been a long day, some idiot mom in the drop-off line nearly hit me and I spilled coffee all over myself—” she cut off suddenly, tightening her ponytail out of nervous habit “uh never mind. Point is you being here is not making my day any better so here’s all of your ice cream, you can pay now and forget you ever saw me.”
“So, I can’t tell Ma—”
“No!” She interrupted “if I wanted him to know where I was, he would have known a decade ago. You’re not going to tell him and you’re especially not going to tell my family!”
“Okay, okay jeez.” He looked over to the woman who Kaitlyn now knew was Rosie Edinburg: award-winning actress and girlfriend to Kaitlyn’s ex-best friend.
“Oh,” she stepped forward, looking a little confused by the whole situation but pulled out her credit card. Kaitlyn quickly rang them up and they gathered up their ice cream heading towards the door.
“Oh, and Alistair,” Kaitlyn called.
“Yeah?” He turned.
“Please don’t leave me a bad review for cursing at you. I really need this job.”
With that, they pushed open the door and as they left Kaitlyn could distantly hear Rosie ask “who is she?” but the door fell shut with a jingle before Kaitlyn could hear Alistair’s reply.
Briefly, she wondered what he’d say, what the people she used to know said about her now.
“Oh, yeah that’s Kaitlyn, ran away from home at seventeen and fell off the face of the Earth,” or maybe “she’s the high school dropout and a huge disappointment to her parents,”
“she had so much potential, it’s a shame.”
“I think after that car accident she was never the same,”
Kaitlyn shook the thoughts from her head as more costumers arrived.
Maybe it was finally time to get her good karma and Alistair wouldn’t say anything to anyone
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