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Finding Fraser

By:kc dyer

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My sister loves me. I’m sure she does. But we come from practical stock: good, solid English grandparents, sensible and organized parents. She’s true to her roots. My more — ah—unique ideas have never met with her approval.

The conversation we had earlier today did not go well.

“Emma, you are completely, entirely, without-a-doubt, batshit crazy.”

“I’m not crazy. I just—I just need to do this, Soph. I’m not asking for your approval.”

“You wouldn’t get it if you were.” She held up a finger. “In the first place, you’ve hardly been anywhere, and never on your own.”

“Then it’s high time I tried it, right?”

She glanced over her shoulder, pushed her chair back and closed her office door. Behind the glass walls, sensible people buzzed by, doing sensible, salary-earning work and living sensible lives. With Sophia that worked up, I was relieved I hadn’t mentioned the whole searching-for-Jamie blog thing when I said I was leaving. No need to stir the pot even further.

Luckily, my sister is not an Internet time-waster. There are not, in her words, enough hours in the day to “squander a single minute reading the uneducated drivel produced by people with too much time on their hands.” All the better.

But I digress.

My sister is a broker. (Funny, really, considering I’ve always been the broker one …) Sophia’s position as CFO of Angst & Argot was hard-won, and as a rule, she doesn’t tolerate interruptions in her day. But when I’d emailed her with my plans, she’d called me immediately and insisted I stop by her office.

“Look,” she continued, perching on the corner of her desk in her Ann Taylor suit, “I know you’ve been struggling at work. And … I’m sorry the thing with Egon didn’t work out.”

I raised my eyebrows. “You’re sorry? You were against my relationship with Egon from the start. ‘He’s a graphic artist, Emma. He drinks lattes, for Christ’s sake. And what kind of name is Egon, anyway? It’s the name of a flake. He’s nothing but a latte-drinking hipster artist flake.’”

She shrugged, and directed her gaze out at the 38th-floor vista. The Chicago skyline had the dark and lowering look it often has in February, reminding us resident mortals that winter isn’t even half done with us yet. My sister blinked at me. “All I’m saying is that no matter how bad things are at home, it’ll get better.”

That made me snort. “I’m not struggling with my sexuality here, Sophia. I’m not suicidal.”

“Egon was all wrong for you, Em. You just need to find the right man. If it’s about a guy, why not try Internet dating again? Didn’t you meet Egon online? You can find someone without leaving the country.”

“This is not about a man,” I said, waving my hand as dismissively as I could manage. “I’m just going to leave town for a while.”

“On a fool’s errand. A journey to nowhere.”

“Scotland is not nowhere. It’s a viable tourist destination.”

It was her turn to make a disgusting nasal sound.

“Maybe in July. Take a look out there, Emma. It’s the dead of winter, and we’re in a civilized country. In Scotland, it’ll be sleet and snow and no sun for six more months at least. If you’re going to run away, why not head for the Caribbean? Maybe you’ll meet a rich guy who’ll make you forget all about Egon and his penchant for teenagers.”

That was hard to take sitting down, so I stood up.

It was hard to take standing up, too, but by that time, I’d at least thought of a response.

“Tiffany’s twenty, and he’s welcome to her,“ I retorted. “Anyway, the whole thing with Egon was over almost a year ago. And I don’t want to go to the Caribbean for a fling. I’m almost thirty. I’m embracing my agency as a woman. I need to see if I can have an actual life experience.”

Sophia slammed her fist down on the desk. It looked like a gesture a CEO would make. I think maybe she’d been practicing. “I knew it! This idea has midlife crisis written all over it. Listen, Emma, what you should be doing right now is finding a decent job and solidifying your financial portfolio. You’re half way to retirement age. You can’t start ticking things off your bucket list when you don’t even own a bucket.”

She was, of course, depressingly correct. Half way to retirement, and I’ve never even held a job that offered benefits. But I was disinclined to remind her of that fact, and anyway, there was no arguing with my sister when she was on a roll. That she’s two years younger than I am didn’t help, either.