Run, Girl (If You Can) - Chapter 71 - Five and a Half Years Later[Updated at: 2021-01-11 19:15:07]
Keeley woke up with a bunch of fur in her mouth. She sputtered as she tried to get it all out, eventually picking pieces off her tongue by hand.
Her rescue cat Molly, an eight-year-old fluffy flame point, shot her an affronted look for disturbing her rest before hopping off the bed and trotting away with her bottlebrush tail held high.
Molly had been a bit of a surprise. Keeley never owned pets growing up because her dad was allergic and Aaron didn\'t want animals messing up his expensive furniture so it didn\'t happen then either.
One rainy spring day during the first year of her doctoral program, Keeley was walking home from the convenience store to pick up some bandages when she heard a horrible guttural sound coming from a nearby storm drain.
Peering through the slats, she saw a muddy cat that could have been any color trapped in place because its paw was stuck under something. She was horrified and called the fire department because there was no way she could get in there herself but she couldn\'t just leave it there.
She stood in the rain without an umbrella for fifteen minutes waiting for them to show up and ultimately ended up standing there for nearly an hour. A firefighter handed her the shivering, towel-wrapped cat and told her to take it to the vet to be checked for injuries.
The cat, which turned out to be white and orange once it was clean, had sprained the paw that was stuck while trying to break free. The vet said she would prescribe her some pain medication and asked for the pet\'s previous medical information. Keeley had to explain that it wasn\'t her cat; she found it hurt outside.
The vet checked to see if it was microchipped and ended up calling the number listed on the chip. Turned out, the owners moved out of state and purposely left the cat behind.
The cat meowed pitifully and rubbed her head against Keeley\'s hands and arms—anything it could reach. She was absolutely incensed that people could abandon such a sweet animal and told the vet to change the information on the microchip to hers.
The previous owners had called the cat Molly and Keeley thought it would be easier to keep things consistent as possible for the poor thing and didn\'t change it.
She bought a small crate at the vet\'s office and carried Molly home, much to the astonishment of her roommates.
Valentina Benavente had been a true blue friend throughout their undergraduate years so they decided to continue living together as they pursued their respective doctoral programs.
They found a relatively cheap three bedroom apartment in Washington Heights and brought in a third roommate who was trying to become a Broadway actress named Jennica Stevens to help with expenses.
Maybe it was the neighborhood, but the three bedroom apartment they found was cheaper or the same price as a lot of two bedrooms in Manhattan.
Jennica could be pretty sarcastic but they got along well enough. Her schedule was erratic between auditions and waitressing when she first moved in but over time they all got to know each other and became friends.
She forever earned a place in Keeley\'s heart as the one who convinced the "no pets allowed" landlord to let them keep Molly after paying a $200 pet deposit.
"Keeley, you\'re going to be late," Jennica reminded her helpfully from the kitchen table, snapping her out of her recollections.
She glanced at the clock. Shoot! She had to leave in two minutes if she was going to catch her train!
She opened a can of wet food since she didn\'t have time to measure out the appropriate amount of kibble and set it on the ground before frantically jamming her clothes on.
Since she rushed out the door with a bagel in her mouth, her call of "thanks, bye" sounded more like "fanks buh." Thankfully she made it to her train just in the nick of time and was able to relax a bit on her way to campus.
Keeley and Valentina both stayed on at NYU for their PhD and MD degrees but their schedules were different so they hardly saw each other during the week despite both technically being a part of the medical school. It wasn\'t surprising; their emphases were vastly different.
Half of Keeley\'s day consisted of classes and the other half was spent in the lab as a research assistant for one of her professors. Thankfully it was a paid position because there was no way she would have time to get another job.
Poor Valentina wasn\'t able to work because of her program and was barely getting by with some money her parents sent each month to help her out.
Sitting through class was the more boring part of her day. What she really loved was the practical hands-on lab experience. Right now her faculty mentor, Dr. Kim, was conducting research on using gene repression to treat cancer in rats.
She much preferred actually stimulating the DNA to recording countless observations on the rats day to day but being involved in any sort of research was more exciting than just reading about it in books.
Someday she wanted to work in a lab just like this studying cystic fibrosis and other disorders people were born with. Her dream felt closer every time she went to the lab, no matter how mundane her task was.
Keeley was on the fast track to complete her PhD in three years so she only had a year and a half left before she would be able to get out there and find a research job of her very own.
Her friend Ryan Bradley was already working in a lab developing new medications called PharmaGen and he enjoyed it. She was so jealous.
"…I expect all of you to get at least an 85 on next week\'s test because this material is absolutely vital to your future as geneticists," the professor said strictly. "If you fail, you may as well give up and switch careers now."
"Killjoy," the student to Keeley\'s left muttered.
She was inclined to agree. This particular professor graded harshly and always gave everyone a hard time. He was good at teaching though; usually his students didn\'t disappoint him.
Her grades had been good all throughout school, which was why she was able to stay on at NYU for her doctoral program. She wasn\'t worried about the test—the material covered in this unit was straightforward in her mind.
She just wished the professor would lighten up a little. Nobody liked being around people who were all doom and gloom.
Thinking of people who didn\'t know how to lighten up…Aaron flashed through her mind briefly before she shook him free. He cropped up in her head less and less as the years went by. She was grateful for that.
She hadn\'t seen him since he kissed her out of nowhere on New Year\'s Day in 2007 and that was how she liked it. At first she was worried that he would keep clinging onto her when he was home visiting but after three breaks in a row passed without incident she finally relaxed.
He was long gone now and she was living the life she wanted, just as things should be.