The ax came down on Friday. Half the office was let go, including Kate. Her paystub in hand, she took the trolley back to Arthur's.
"They laid me off."
"I'm sorry, Kate."
"No--it's OK. I--I can just spend more time on school."
"Arthur. I don't know if... I don't know how I'll chip in right now."
He nodded. "There's probably something. The co-op--"
"The co-op already has three people working there. That's all they can support. They want volunteers, not workers."
Arthur began fiddling with a broken radio. One of his sister's kids dropped it down the stairs that morning. "Kate, I'll help you as long as I can, but--"
"But this isn't a charity. I know."
Kate left. Arthur sat back. He knew what she was going to do, but he didn't feel he could stop her. Resources were stretched as it was.
That night, Kate packed two bags. There wasn't much left--the bed and dishes she knew she'd have to leave behind; she selected a few of her favorite books. A few favorite clothes. A few favorite cds. Her laptop.
She missed the apartment. The backyard, with her tomato plants; the mantel over the fireplace, where a Buddha sat next to a rosemary tree; her books. It wasn't much, but it had been hers. But that was over now.
"Where are you gonna go?" Lisa, who worked with her until the layoff, had been her roommate for the past two months here at Arthur's. She'd been let go too.
"I don't know. I just want to go home. I want to go back to Reading."
"I don't know. I just--look, I've got some friends out of the city. They say things are OK out there. I'm going up to them, and from there, I'll figure something out."
"Are you serious?"
"What choice is there? I can't stay here. I can't even go to school anymore. At least in Reading I have family." She paused. "What are you going to do?"
"I don't know."
In the morning, Kate took the trolley to 30th Street Station, boarded the R5, and headed for Lansdale.