“But all adults hate their jobs right? Even if they do something they used to love, once they have to do it every day in order to put food on the table, they all grow to resent it, right?”
“I don’t think that’s entirely true, Parch. My mom loves being a detective.” Xan was careful with her next words. “I can see how your dad might want you to think that though.”
Parch sighed, looking resigned. “Yeah, no kidding. It’s definitely in his best interest for us to think that being miserable is just the norm.”
“So here’s the thing though.” Xan shifted positions, extending her legs out in front of her. They were sitting under a tree in the park, waiting for their friend Caldra to finish up at the library. “Once you don’t live under his roof anymore you can do whatever you want, right? You don’t have to become an accountant. Or do anything related to the family business. Once you’re out you can decide for yourself if you want to go to music school. Or be a bartender. Or a lumberjack.”
Xan watched her friend’s face as she said this, hoping for a smile. Parch couldn’t help themself. They smiled. “Me? A lumberjack? You’re right. These muscles really do scream tree-cutting-extraordinaire.” They flexed their arms with mock bravado.
“Exactly!” Xan said. “Plus we both know how you feel about dirt and nature. And you’d look just fabulous in flannel.”
Parch let out a hearty laugh as this, as they thought about one of the last times the whole gang was together. Caldra had begged everyone to go exploring down by the creek and Parch didn’t realize until they got there just how much they appreciated the comforts of city-living. Paths to walk on, allergy-aggravating flowers contained to window boxes, spider webs kept to a minimum. Normally pretty go-with-the-flow, Parch definitely made their displeasure known that day and their friends teased them for weeks afterward because of it. Annoyed at first, they had grown used to the light-hearted jabs and Parch found this one to be genuinely humorous.
“Ah, yes. You know, you’ve convinced me. Lumberjack it is. You should probably change your path to go into career counseling,” they jabbed back, golden eyes sparkling in the sun.
“I’m always giving the most sound advice, it’s true. If only I could follow some of it myself…”
“Oh, speaking of which, did you decide what you’re doing about the auditions?”
“Nice try buddy, we’re talking about your life problems right now, not mine.”
Parch shrugged. “Worth a shot.” They continued, “You should go for it though. I think you’d be awesome as Imogen.”
“Imogen?! That’s the lead role! I can’t even…” her eyes narrowed as she caught herself falling for the diversion. “Nope! Not falling for it!” Xan’s bright blue hair swayed as she shook her head.
Parch smirked. They glanced over Xan’s shoulder, hoping to see Caldra walking toward them, but no such luck.
“Okay, okay. I see you looking for rescue. We can be done talking about it for now if you want to be. But one last thing. Maybe just think about having an exit strategy. Obviously we’ll all help you however we can, I mean, duh, we’re your friends. But even if you crash with one us for a bit while you’re figuring things out we can’t like, get you into music school.”
“Or pay for music school,” Parch said, back to being glum.
“Ya, unfortunately none of us are that loaded,” agreed Xan. “Well, Eb’s family might be, but that’s beside the point.” Xan trailed off and sat quietly in thought for a minute. The wind rustled the leaves on the trees overhead. A squirrel jumped between branches with an acorn in its mouth. Parch looked up. It really was a beautiful day out.
“What if we all got summer jobs?” Xan said suddenly. “Started saving up for all the stuff we want to do when we finally get to choose? We could apply to something simple that we could all do together, like serving sandwiches. Or you could see if any of the music shops are hiring and–”
“You know my dad would never let me do that.” Parch interrupted.
“—anddd, if you’d let me finish, your dad would let you do it because you’d tell him that you’re going to job shadow their accountant. For practice or experience or whatever.”
Parch didn’t look convinced but at least they looked intrigued. “And what do I do instead? While I’m lying to my father.”
“Whatever it is you do at music shops! Sell instruments. Clean instruments. Copy musical scores. Teach kids how to make less terrible noises on those things, I don’t know! You could even do something related to the bookkeeping if you really don’t want to lie to your dad. At least you’d have your foot in the door and could start making connections and stuff.”
Parch made a non-committal noise and stared off into the park where a kid was trying to throw pebbles into the fountain.
“Just promise me you’ll think about it?”
“But what if he says I should just ‘job shadow’ my aunt? She’s their current accountant so he would probably want me to learn the family’s way of doing things.”
“You could tell him that you wouldn’t want to slow her down by asking a bunch of questions. Orrr, you could tell him that you heard it’s good to get different types of experience because diversifying leads to… efficiency or something.”
“Diversifying…leads…to efficiency? I don’t think that’s a thing, Xan.”
“Well, maybe don’t say that exactly, but we’ll workshop it. We’ll figure something out.”
Parch looked at their friend with affection, feeling lucky to have her in their life. “Okay, okay. I promise I’ll think about it.”
“Think about what?” A voice came from off to the side. They turned to see Caldra striding toward them, a stack of books in her arms, and one of her many quilted skirts hanging from her waist.
“Parch is going to be a musical lumberjack and the rest of us are going to apply to work at Drethro’s to make sandwiches this summer!”
Caldra laughed. “Perfect! I’m in! We all knew the musical lumberjack thing was going to come up sooner or later so I’m glad you finally decided on that.”
Parch shook their head as they tried to hide their grin.