cost/benefit

Chapter 1 - In Which We Meet Our Heroine

"Sunrise" had seemed a cheerful, jaunty little number when Rachel had selected it as her phone alarm, three glasses of wine into the night.  At 6:30 AM, it sounded more like a blaring cacophony.  Devil noises.  She had never hated a sound more.

"Urggggghhhh," she groaned, the weird, dry feeling of her mouth after drinking too much compounding with the frustration of waking up earlier than her body desired.  The quesadilla with sour cream she'd decided to make when got home at midnight the night before was not helping the situation, as her stomach clenched in pain.

She fumbled blindly for the phone, hit the snooze button, and fell back asleep within seconds. She had no idea why she thought she’d be capable of waking up this early that morning.  She did this all the time; be struck with the inspiration that she was going to become one of those people who got up and went jogging and looked immaculate when they arrived at work.  The kind of people who had investments and bought thoughtful, perfectly-sourced gifts for their friends and family.  Who posted pictures of their exotic but healthy and sustainable dinners they made on Instagram.

It wasn't like she was a big partier.  She'd had a bit more alcohol than usual the night before, but her mornings were exactly like this when she passed out on the couch watching Netflix at 10 pm.  Having drinks and going out to bars, or having perfect sleep hygiene and drinking chamomile tea- Rachel was not a morning person.

At 7:37, she'd pushed her snooze button about as far as it would go.  Her head was a little clearer, and her stomach was a little more settled, but the idea of all the regular morning routine- getting up, picking out an outfit, showering, making a healthy but filling breakfast, make-up, getting additional coffee after she drank the first coffee- it all just seemed so *daunting.*  She did it five days a week, but for whatever reason, every single morning, it just seemed so overwhelming.

In the shower, she dreamed of just crawling back into bed.  She thought about warm blankets and soft pillows as she followed a TikTok guru recommended skin care routine.  The woman in the video had seemed so *leisurely.*  Taking the time to carefully walk through the steps in a cozy, comfy robe in a beautiful bathroom that walked the line between kitschy and classy.  Rachel's bathroom, on the other hand, was clean but disorganized.  And inhospitable.  Not the kind of place for long baths with lemongrass and verbena tea.

As she poured an athletic greens and vegan protein power smoothie out of a Magic Bullet, Rachel fantasized about greasy fast food breakfast sandwiches.  American cheese, butter.  Dipping sausages into maple syrup.

When asked why she lived in a depressing, three flights up efficiency in Manhattan, she talked enthusiastically about the importance of community and sustainable living and walkability.  At that exact second, as she struggled to adjust her scarf to protect her exposed neck from biting winds, she would have given anything to be in a gas guzzling SUV that she could park twenty feet from her office door.  Instead, she dutifully trudged, her office shoes a bag, the eight blocks to work.

She could use the exercise, she reminded herself.  Her mom's life-long obsessions with image- Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers and Jazzercise and Tae-Bo- had transmuted and metastasized into her own obsessions; wellness and empowerment, Soul Cycle and Keto and Crossfit.  None of it had ever stuck.  She had retained the same pudginess and bottom-heavy build she'd had since high school.

The current craze in Manhattan, and among the circles Rachel was part of, was Ozempic.  As much as body-positivity and health-at-any-size content was trendy, the kind of women who actually crowded exclusive restaurants and impossible-to-get-into nightclubs and had the cutthroat jobs in marketing and finance...thin remained in.  Women who were already skinny were now sporting bodies that Rachel could only vaguely remember from childhood memories of celebrities like Callista Flockhart.  Her friends made jokes about who was taking the shot and about doctor shopping.

Rachel didn't even have a clue where to start that process.  It wasn't that she was opposed to the idea- she just didn't even know how you went about getting a prescription to something like that.  She'd been the same in college- her privileged friends would casually mention taking Ambien for sleep and Adderall for all-nighters.  And she'd *wanted* to do that, but the one time she'd worked up her courage to tell her doctor about focus issues, she'd gotten a lecture about "drug seeking behavior" and a pamphlet about the mental health benefits of meditation.

She was digging through her Tabby Shoulder Bag (a gift from her mom- she didn't make anywhere near enough to afford a Coach purse) when she found the business card she'd gotten at the bar last night.  Musa Abiola.  Entrepreneur and Consultant.  She almost snorted.  The guy had been hot- like, very, very hot.  But he couldn't have picked a more "I run shady online businesses and want to be a businesses influencer" vague description if he had been trying to.  Still...he'd been almost startlingly hot, if her wine-fueled recollections of the dark bar were correct. 

She put the card back.  She didn't have time to date.  Her older sister was graduating from Stanford Law after two years in the Peace Corps, and her older brother had a PhD. from MIT in Electrical Engineering.  Her mom, business faculty at Haas, told people she was "working in industry for experience before going back for her doctorate."  Her dad, an entertainment attorney, tended to be more supportive, but he was constantly trying to get her to meet with his high-flying contacts and friends to 'discuss openings they might have.'

She told herself that she was figuring out what she wanted to do with her life.  She was twenty-two.  It wasn't like she needed to rush.  The problem was she *knew* what she wanted to do with her life.  She wanted to sit on the couch and watch reality TV.  She wanted to have supportive friendships.  She wanted to eat pizza and not worry about needing to go to a Pilates after.   She wanted to be taken care of.  She wanted to be cozy, and comfortable, and not be so constantly *overwhelmed* by all the things she needed to be doing, all the causes she had to care about, all of the ways that her life ought to look a certain way...
28 chapters, created 3 weeks , updated 9 hours
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Comments

PrivateXimmy 2 days
Can’t wait to see more! ❤️
Bovinepawg 2 days
Plenty more chapters to come! Thanks for the comment smiley
DanishPastries 1 week
I saw this among the featured stories and finally took the time to read it. Although more extreme than my personal taste, this is first class intelligent WG fiction. I'll keep reading! Thanks! 😊
Bovinepawg 1 week
Dang, thanks!! Hope you enjoy the rest of the journey!
Ohhhhhdavey 2 weeks
The revisions you have made to this story are incredible to what was already one of my favorite stories on FF! Very excited to see what you have cooked up for the rest of Rachel journey!
Bovinepawg 1 week
So glad to hear that! I really appreciate the comment, thank you!
Cakeandpie 2 weeks
Hey! Happy to see you back. Only thought- a fleshed out wedding scene would be amazing. Thanks for sharing your fantasy!
Bovinepawg 2 weeks
Thank you so much, very appreciated smiley I'm in the process of dramatically fleshing out the ending, I hope you enjoy!
ThePatchwork... 2 weeks
Did you delete this story and decide to rewrite? I remembered this one a lot, and I liked how philosophical it got at times
Bovinepawg 2 weeks
Heya! I took a bit of a break from the site, so I'm using it as a good reason to do some rewriting, expanding, and editing on some of my stories!
ThePatchwork... 2 weeks
Hell yeah! Congrats on coming back, and I hope that the break was well. Can’t wait to see what happens next!
Moocao 2 weeks
Hey Pawg. I am liking this story way more than I would have thought. Here's hoping you keep it up!
Bovinepawg 2 weeks
Thanks so much, I really appreciate the feedback! Hope you enjoy the rest to come smiley