Waiting For A Sign

"It's a great opportunity; I'm just not sure whether or not to take it," Gabrielle fretted. "I just wish I could talk to Mom. Or that she'd send me some kind of sign."

"I know." Maddie's voice was sympathetic. "Did you make the list?"

"Hold on, I can't hear myself think."

She spun and glared at the man who'd just shouted "Work it, woman, work it!" at her from the construction site. He'd already turned his attention elsewhere, though.

Gabrielle sighed. "Yes, I made the list."

She named the pros for her sister, one by one. The startup culture, the founder and executive team (she'd loved them all), the proximity to her home, the pay. The work itself. "Basically, there's no downside — except one."

"What is it?"

"Mom told me before she died that she hated to think of me wasting my talent on social media. She didn't really get it. She thought I should rethink law school."

"You never wanted to go to law school."

"I know! But Mom always wanted me to. She was convinced — and now she's gone, so we'll never know if her mind changed or not. But based on the last conversation we had before the accident, I kinda doubt it."

Gabrielle fought down the lump in her throat that threatened to turn into tears. She looked up, blinking hard, and saw a floating montage of logos — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest — then blinked again and realized she was looking at a billboard.

She stepped forward and the restaurant they represented swam into view. It had been her mother's favorite. Two tears spilled over and Gabrielle swiped them away and kept walking.

"That's a pretty unbalanced list, though," her sister observed. "Mom would have to recognize that, don't you think?"

"Maybe." Gabrielle remembered the words her mother had shared about her chosen career path and then shook her head. "I probably should never have interviewed for it. I didn't think I'd get it. Now I don't know what to do."

"You were so excited, though!" Maddie had always encouraged her to rebel a little bit, Gabrielle thought, and was relieved to see the train station looming.

"I know. Listen, I have to go, I'm at the station."

"OK. But Gabby — you were really excited every time you talked about maybe getting this job. Don't talk yourself out of it. I'm pretty sure Mom wouldn't want that."

"I just wish she'd send me a sign or something," Gabrielle repeated. "Love you. Talk later."

She clicked off her phone and walked onto the platform. The train was just pulling in and Gabrielle followed two women, one of whom was wearing the coat her mother had bought last season, but in a shade of jade green instead of sapphire blue. She sat behind the woman in the green coat and her friend.

"Social media is the future," the woman in the green coat was insisting.

"You think?" her companion responded. She sounded unconvinced.

"Sure! Who knows where it could take us as a society! Any company not using it is dead on the water. My nephew ..."

Coincidence, Gabrielle thought, feeling the lump rise in her throat again. I want to have Mom back so bad that I'm assigning significance where none exists. Lots of people bought that coat; it was for sale at Costco ...

She felt dazed and didn't listen to the rest of the conversation, or even notice that her glazed gaze had settled and was lingering on a poster advertising the transit authority's social media photo contest when the train stopped at her station.

Gabrielle called her sister back as she walked to her car — so Maddie heard her reaction when she started the ignition and the radio sparked to life.

"... call Johnson, Whittaker and Moore if you enrolled in any program at the now-defunct Online School of Law and learn how you can recoup some of the money you spent on a law degree that means nothing," it burbled.

She sat, listened — then slapped her palms on the steering wheel in frustration.

"Just one! clear! sign!" she repeated at volume. "Is that too much to ask?!"