Katherine and her parents lived in Brooklyn and every day she would walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and then ride the subway uptown to Columbia. Living in a dormitory at Columbia would have been a lot of fun. There were moments, (or, to be more honest, there were entire weeks), when Katherine could think of nothing but how unfair it was that she had to live with her parents in a three room apartment in Brooklyn while her classmates had the time of their lives in the dorms. Knowing that the handsome boy who sat next to her in her Business Law class and the vivacious girl who sat in front of her in her introductory Accounting class were going to a dance at the Student Union seasoned the already bitter taste in her mouth with an extra dose of bile.
She never would have said it out loud---probably never would have even formed the words in the privacy of her own brain---but there were times when she hated her parents. Or, to be more accurate, there were times when she hated the life she and her parents had to live.
She knew it couldn’t be any other way, since her father was a butcher and her mother took in laundry from the neighbors, but she wanted to know what it was like to move through the world the way some of her classmates did. They seemed to drip CLASS. They never tripped over a curb or laughed too loud or wore coats with frayed hems. Katherine loved her parents, but during her long walks over the bridge on the way back to Brooklyn at the end of a long day of classes and a shift working in the library, she would often tell stories to herself.
And her stories often featured a girl who was taken from her family at birth and placed with a peasant family for safekeeping until her TRUE NATURE could be revealed and she could claim her rightful place in the world. But no matter how lost she got in these stories, they always ended at the stoop in front of her family’s third floor walk-up when the landlady, Mrs. Brock, would hack out a hoarse, “Welcome home, Sweetie,” between deep drags on her filterless Camel cigarette.
If Katherine herself had written this book, she would have had her protagonist meet another student working in the library. He would have turned out to be European royalty, pretending to be a commoner in order to escape political intrigue at home. They would fall in love, be separated through a tragic misunderstanding, and then, improbably, reunite at the end of the book.
But, sadly, Katherine did not write this book. I did. And I am not prone to fantasy. I believe in the facts as they are, not in fantasy as we would like it to be.
So, instead of meeting an undercover prince Katherine didn’t meet anyone. She did, however, work very hard and learn a LOT about Accounting. She loaded her schedule as full as the Dean would allow and finished her degree in two and a half years. She passed the CPA exam on her first try and New York State officially declared Katherine a Certified Public Accountant.
She interviewed for several jobs and eventually found work at a large publishing company. To Katherine, it seemed like a good fit. She could spend her days around stories and writers and words and books, even though her job had much more to do with numbers than with words.