by Green Actor
A young woman tries to earn an important credential.
July 5, 2018, was a sleepless night for Jennifer Drangmeister. She had spent nearly the whole of that day cycling all over town in search of a job. Given that she was going to take her driving test first thing next morning, she thought, that may not have been wise.
Most people didn't have the wherewithal, let alone the stamina, to ride from Hazelwood, her home neighbourhood in the far southwest of Malonia, to Princeling, in the northeast corner of the city. Unfortunately, Jennifer was also looking for a job that offered at least semi-regular hours, and she had majored in German literature. Almost all the jobs she had thought she could do demanded a driver's licence, which she had put on the back burner in favour of her studies all this time.
She hadn't even bothered to get a learner's permit until her first year of college. She still lived with her parents and preferred to walk or cycle. In that, she was in the same boat as her high-school friend, Nolan Haldane, who lived across the street from her. They had another thing in common: They had both failed three times already. Was the fourth time to be the charm for Jennifer?
Despite all the exercise she had done that day, Jennifer found herself unable to sleep, so she played games on her phone until after midnight on Friday. She had grown especially fond of a word-finding game. For about her last fifteen waking minutes, she went over the schedule of the morning. It was going to be comparable to her previous attempts. At 7:00, Christine Balassa, who had been teaching her to drive on and off for seventeen months, would pick her up and have her practise for about an hour before her actual test, beginning at 8:15. Then there would be parallel parking and, if she passed that, a cruise around Fort Vermillion.
Finally, at 12:42, she made herself shut her eyes. Power-sleep will have to do tonight, she thought. She slept in the clothes she'd worn that day, with her clothes for the next day at the foot of her bed.
Indeed, she had to make do with power-sleep. The smell of fresh coffee roused her at 6:48. Still half asleep, she lifted her head from her pillow and changed her clothes. It was probably her younger brother, Curtis, who had made the coffee. He was an early bird, whereas she was a night owl anyway.
Jennifer entered the kitchen and saw not her brother but her father at the table. Simon looked up upon hearing footsteps and smiled. "Good morning, Jen."
"Morning, Dad," she said, returning his smile.
"Coffee?" he asked, standing up to get a mug down from over the coffee maker.
"Thanks, but no thanks." She was thinking back to eight months ago, the time of her third unsuccessful attempt. She had overindulged in coffee that day and found herself speeding while dangerously close to a reduced-speed zone near a junior high school. "Hopefully the adrenaline will be all the stimulation I need."
"I hope so, too," said Simon. "But you should, at least, eat something."
Jennifer nodded. She made a peanut butter-and-banana sandwich on multigrain bread and then scarfed it down while still standing up.
"You have time to sit down and eat it," her dad said. His tone was not that of veiled scolding as it sometimes was when Curtis did it.
"I'm nervous." She picked up a chair and carried it to the cupboard where the Drangmeisters kept their drinking glasses. Like her mother, Jennifer was a diminutive woman(emdash}only four feet, nine and a half inches tall. After retrieving a large glass, she poured herself some water from the tap and drank it in one gulp.