Emily stands at the edge of the parking lot, looking at the massive ugly rectangle of Canadian Tire. She knows that it is an old company, that it does well financially, but not that it generated a total revenue of $8.98 billion dollars in 2010 and maintains a staff of roughly 58,000 people.\n\nWhat she does know is that, for two years in high school, she worked at a Canadian Tire making minimum wage. Emily received a raise only once, at the beginning of her second year. She had been excited to hear that she would be earning more. She was less so when she found out that her per hour rate only increased by 2% to cover inflation.\n\nThe cars in the parking lot range in size, model and age. There are a few mini-vans and trucks, but many more sedans. Some of these are rusted, dinged or scratched. There are also very nice ones. Emily notices a sleek black Audi, a cherry red Porsche and some kind of dark grey vintage number that looks as if it had been pulled out of a sterile garage during the late sixties and put back on the street, perfectly preserved.\n\nShe sits down underneath a tree, the early day sun cutting through the inadequate shade provided by the leaves, and thinks.\n\nThe way she sees it, there are only two ways to go about this.\n\nEmily [[prepares herself to take on extra financial burdens|BankIncentive]] that she cannot afford to take on. \n\nEmily [[decides to take|Stealing]] what is not hers to take.
"I could pay you back after I start a new job."\n\n"Really, Em?"\n\nEmily's dad tells her that she has to be independent, that she isn't in high school anymore. She can't be asking him for money now that she's an adult. He says that she should be more responsible.\n\n"Besides, how long do you think it'll be before you find a new job?"\n\n"I don't know. I looked on the internet last night and there are only a few places I'm qualified for."\n\n"Did you apply?"\n\n"I'm going to today," she says. "It's just hard to concentrate when it's so hot."\n\n"That's no excuse, honey. When I was your age I was paying my own way through school by working construction -- I never asked my parents for a thing. D'you know how hot it gets pouring new asphalt on the 401 in the middle of July? I never complained, though. I did that job every summer, saved up what I made and graduated with a smart degree -- a business degree, not English like someone I know -- so I wouldn't ever have to do work like that again.\n\nNow I own my house and, yes, it has air conditioning because I paid to have it put in with my own money. Maybe if you're a little bit uncomfortable this summer it'll motivate you to try a bit harder."\n\nEmily doesn't answer. The receiver of her old rotary phone sticks to her cheek. She lets her dad continue on, listens to the same lecture about the laziness of her generation, then says goodbye.\n\nShe [[hangs up|Day2Plans]].
After being turned down three times the elderly woman at house number four agrees to pay Emily $25 to cut her grass. She likes the way the young person at her door is taking iniative and trying to make a bit of money out of a hot day. The old lady remembers going around the neighbourhood and shovelling snow with her two older brothers when she was a little girl and a blizzard would snow in driveways. Emily follows her out to the back shed, helps to lift up the little garage door and listens to the woman explain how to use the mower. \n\nIt takes her about forty-five minutes to do the lawn. She hasn't had to do any mowing in years and she wants to get the job done perfectly. The house's owner inspects Emily's work, gives her two crisp tens and a wrinkled five dollar bill and wishes her good luck with the rest of the afternoon.\n\nShe finds that when men answer the door they are not likely to pay her to cut their grass. Most of the women don't have a problem with it. While mowing her last lawn of the day Emily thinks there might be something interesting there. Does it wound the men's pride to hire a young woman to take care of their lawn? She's not sure, but it seems worth it to consider that, out of the five houses that hired her, four of the homeowners were women.\n\nEmily isn't thinking about this anymore as she exits the subway and starts walking back home. She has made $130. It took a lot of hard work -- and it wouldn't be every day that people would pay her to mow lawns -- but she has done it.\n\nShe [[has just enough|TheMugging]] to afford the air conditioner.
She tries not to cry while feeding the cat, eating another piece of toast and getting into bed. It's hard. Everything is incredibly frustrating. Everything is so fucking tough.\n\nShe wishes she still had that money.\n\nEmily [[dreams|TheDream]].\n\nEmily [[sleeps like the dead|Day3Morning]].
The sun shines through her windows. It is another very hot day in an endless procession of very hot days. Emily must have forgotten to close the blinds before going to bed. It is uncomfortable in the apartment.\n\nShe showers and looks through her dresser and closet for clean clothes. All of her shorts and dresses stink from dried sweat. She takes a t-shirt and pair of jeans, places them on the bed and then finds a pair of scissors. After cutting the sleeves from the shirt and dulling the blades by removing most of the length from the legs of the jeans she gets dressed in a fresh pair of makeshift summer clothes.\n\nThe heat is making her feel crazy.\n\nEmily doesn't bother looking at her computer. She toasts the last piece of bread in the bag, grabs the second last granola bar from the box in her otherwise bare cupboard, fills a bottle of water and heads outside.\n\nShe is [[getting that fucking air conditioner|GetAC]] today.
"Hey, miss!"\n\nEmily pretends she hasn't heard anything, keeps walking out into the parking lot.\n\n"Hey!"\n\nA man in a red Canadian Tire shirt runs around in front of her and stretches his arms out wide to block her. He looks pretty mad, maybe because she didn't stop when he first called out.\n\n"Can I see your receipt for a second?" he says.\n\nShe tries to think of what to say.\n\n"Your receipt?" he asks again. "Because I didn't see you pay for that, uh, air conditioner you've got."\n\nEmily is stunned. She didn't think of what she would do if she was stopped after leaving the store. Two more employees have come out and are watching the confrontation. One whispers something to the other and they laugh. The man in front of her crosses his arms and shakes his head.\n\n"Maybe you should [[come back inside|Ending3]] with me."\n\n
The heat is overwhelming. Little black spots appear in front of her eyes and her stomach lurches. Emily starts to walk toward the kitchen for a glass of cold water, but she feels too nauseous to make it very far. \n\nShe faints.\n\nThe heat wave continues.\n\n[[. . .|PostFaint]]
The air outside smells like exhaust, fumes from the traffic suspended in the awful humidity. Emily tries to breathe through her mouth, but the pollution seems to have a taste. It makes her want to gag. As she strolls down the street, looking at her neighbourhood's familiar shops, she feels her hair. It still hasn't dried from her shower. That, combined with how quickly she has sweat through her dress, makes her feel pretty gross. \n\nShe's halfway considering going back home and taking another shower, but reminds herself that she would just end the day feeling lousy about how little she's accomplishing if she does so. \n\nWithout a better idea Emily takes the subway west a few stops and starts heading toward the giant Chapters that had contributed to the bookshop going out of business. It will be air conditioned in there and she can read some books for free for a while.\n\nShe decides to walk behind the main street, going through the shaded, uncrowded little parks that run parallel to Bloor instead. Emily looks at the backyards of the houses to her right. Their air conditioners hum pleasantly. The houses in this area regularly sell for a million dollars, she knows. It must be nice to have enough to afford a place like that. The rich people here -- mostly Baby Boomers like her parents -- don't seem to think much about how they spend their money. You could get a perfectly good house just a little north of here for half the cost.\n\nEmily has a [[sudden flash of inspiration|GrassMoney]]. \n\n
The air conditioning hits her full on as she walks inside the Canadian Tire. The cold is what she wants more than anything, but it's also a bit of a shock to the system after being so overheated for so long. A middle-aged man tries to get her to move her bank account to the company he works for just past the turnstiles. Emily smiles at him and says "no thank you."\n\nShe is on a mission.\n\nThe store is enormous and it's difficult to find what she's looking for. It's actually kind of nice to walk around in the AC, though, so she doesn't mind exploring the aisles. Eventually she comes to a seasonal section -- several skids piled with boxes of fans and air conditioners. \n\nSome of the fans are tall, thin columns. These have LCD displays and remote controls and are $90. Too expensive. The oscilatting stand-up fans are more her speed. The cheapest one is $30. If she uses her overdraft she can buy one.\n\nAn air conditioner would be even better, though. For $130 she could buy one of the window units, set it up in her apartment and ride out the heat wave in comfort. Even with the energy bill cost included in her rent, Emily knows that she can't afford such an extravagence. Maybe if she thought about things for a while she could scheme up a way to buy it?\n\nShe buys the [[$30 fan|HomeFan]].\n\nShe decides to [[head home|HomeNoFan]] and try to find a way to buy the air conditioner.
It's like walking around inside a giant oven. Emily has to sit down after making it to the end of the street. Her face is flushed, her throat is dry and she badly needs to cool off.\n\nHow is she supposed to look for a job like this?\n\nEmily doesn't feel good about it, but, after thinking for a minute, she hurries back to her apartment. After splashing cold water on her face and sticking an ice cube in her mouth she decides she should [[go look at a fan|BuyFan]] after all.\n\nIf she keep cool at home she can look for jobs online before walking around handing out resumes. That's probably a smarter way to go about the job hunt anyway.
That helped a bit.\n\nShe goes back to the living room and sits on her chair. Her cat, a fat orange tom named Lester, is stretched out on the top of the beat-up loveseat she saved from the side of the road last summer. He is staring at the wall across the room from him and is obviously uncomfortable. Emily thinks about petting him, but knows that he would only be upset at the extra warmth if she did. \n\nShe looks at the weather on her computer yet again then, confirming that nothing is going to change anytime soon, looks at her watch. It is only two o'clock in the afternoon. She has to think of something she can do to get out of this heat.\n\n[[Brainstorm|Brainstorm]].
Things would be a lot easier if she hadn't lost her job last month. Emily's chequing account is already in overdraft and her Visa is twenty dollars from maxed out. She had been short-sighted, leaving Kitchener for Toronto without planning properly for the transition. She had just ended a bad relationship and couldn't stand to be around the city anymore. Emily had taken the first apartment she looked at and had spent a month eating through her tiny savings while looking for somewhere to work. The bookstore she had taken a job at closed only a few months after she started -- it was small and only a few blocks away from an enormous Chapters -- and now she is almost out of money entirely.\n\nThe heat wave is bad luck piled on top of bad luck.\n\nShe's become distracted. Emily pushes her bangs back from her forehead and tries to concentrate on what to do. If she figures out how to deal with this heat it will be one small victory that she can build from.\n\nOkay. What is she going to do?\n\nEmily wonders if she should [[buy a fan|BuyFan]].\n\nShe considers [[passing out her resume|JobHunt]] around the neighbourhood. \n\nOr maybe she should just [[take a nap|PostFaint]].
Later that night Emily sits down at computer. The cat is sleeping peacefully on the foot of her bed. It's nice and cool in her apartment now.\n\nShe intends to check out her new bank account and then get to work on her cover letter and resume. Emily signs onto the website, looks at the negative signs next to her chequing balance and reviews the interest rate she has agreed to.\n\nHer stomach starts to hurt with rising panic. She's [[made a terrible mistake|Ending1]].
She still can't make a sound, but the snake seems to know that she's trying to communicate with it. It's diamond shaped head bobs up and down in front of her face.\n\n"This is all your own fault, you know," the snake says. "When I was your age I worked hard. I didn't have problems like you do."\n\nIt's forked black tongue flicks in and out as it speaks.\n\n"My generation took what we needed. We did everything we could to give our children a better life."\n\nEmily frowns at it. The blue eyes blink as bits of sand start whipping up around them.\n\n"Our parents fought a war. We had to grow up with that. Do you know how hard that was for us? All we tried to do was make things easy for you. We didn't know you would be so lazy.\n\nThe world is full of opportunities! Your generation complains that there's no work for you anymore! That's not our fault! We took what we needed, but we left you plenty!"\n\nThe storm is on them now. The snake whips its head around in the wind.\n\n"You're all just so lazy. It makes me sick! You really should just try harder, Emily."\n\nShe closes her eyes. The sand hurts her skin. The snake is wrong, but she can't argue with it. [[She doesn't have a voice|Day3Morning]]. Emily stays perfectly still, the snake wrapping her in place and the storm raging all around her.
Emily forces herself to be brave. She tries to adopt the most neutral expression possible, like taking the air conditioner outside without paying for it is perfectly acceptable.\n\nNobody seems to notice that she's walked right past the self-serve checkout machines. No one seems to care that the automatic doors have opened for her and [[she's leaving the store|Caught]] with the big box in her arms . . .
She was with Doug for three years. They met at Wilfrid Laurier in Waterloo when they had a class together in the first semester of second year. Introduction to Critical Theory. He had grown up in the area, like her, and wanted to start a marketing firm when he graduated. They had a lot in common, ended up knowing some of the same people. They even found out that they'd been at a lot of the same parties during high school.\n\nDoug was only taking English classes because he wanted to tighten up his writing. He was smart enough to know that being able to write good copy -- or edit other people's work -- would be an asset for someone in advertising. He didn't like Critical Theory, though. Found it tedious and boring to unpack complex ideas from tightly written six page essays by Derrida or Barthes. Emily had invited him to coffee after their class together a few times so they could talk through concepts. By the time the semester ended they were dating.\n\nAfter graduation they had moved in together. Doug immediately started working on his firm. He and three friends from school made a website, created sample copy and started scheduling meetings with local businesses who they courted as clients. Before too long they had rented a small office space, hired four employees and were bringing in a decent amount of money.\n\nEmily had tried to get a job during this time, but had a hard time of it. She ended up pitch hitting for Doug's company, writing SEO-rich articles and helping out their social media expert.\n\nIt had all been a bit humiliating. She had dreamed of writing for magazines in Toronto, covering politics and culture, and eventually transitioning into a dream career that involved publishing zeitgeist-shifting books and contributing features to The Economist or The New Yorker. Instead she was working for her boyfriend, helping him to become successful.\n\nOne day Emily decided she had had enough. Things weren't going especially well with Doug anymore anyway, his obsession with growing the firm absorbing all of his mental energy. She had broken up with him and, not knowing where else to go, moved to the city. The hot, crowded city with its overpriced rental apartments.\n\nEmily shakes her head. She to snap out of it. She's in Toronto now, she's on her own and she's better off. She just to [[think up a way|MakingPlans]] to buy that air conditioner.\n\nThen things will be better.
"Well, yes, it is nice to have the air on. But I didn't pay for it by calling granddad and asking him to lend me money. I earned my money by myself."\n\nEmily's dad tells her that she has to be independent, that she isn't in high school anymore. She can't be asking him for money now that she's an adult. He says that she should be more responsible.\n\n"Besides, how long do you think it'll be before you find a new job?"\n\n"I don't know. I looked on the internet last night and there are only a few places I'm qualified for."\n\n"Did you apply?"\n\n"I'm going to today," she says. "It's just hard to concentrate when it's so hot."\n\n"That's no excuse, honey. When I was your age I was paying my own way through school by working construction -- I never asked my parents for a thing. D'you know how hot it gets pouring new asphalt on the 401 in the middle of July? I never complained, though. I did that job every summer, saved up what I made and graduated with a smart degree -- a business degree, not English like someone I know -- so I wouldn't ever have to do work like that again.\n\nNow I own my house and, yes, it has air conditioning because I paid to have it put in with my own money. Maybe if you're a little bit uncomfortable this summer it'll motivate you to try a bit harder."\n\nEmily doesn't answer. The receiver of her old rotary phone sticks to her cheek. She lets her dad continue on, listens to the same lecture about the laziness of her generation, then says goodbye.\n\nShe [[hangs up|Day2Plans]].
She takes a shower, eats another piece of toast and gets dressed in the only clean summer dress she has left. She has to do laundry and buy groceries and find some money for when rent is due in a few weeks. \n\nShe takes a deep breath.\n\nThere has to be a way to buy that air conditioner. If she gets it everything will be better. She'll be able to get a good night's sleep, focus on updating her resume and write up some excellent cover letters. Then she'll find a new job, start getting a steady pay cheque again and be back on her feet.\n\nEmily thinks about her ex-boyfriend, Doug. She [[dwells on the past|DougMemory]].\n\nA familiar face flits through Emily's mind, but she [[pays no attention|MakingPlans]] to the memory.
There's no use thinking about the past. Emily sits down at her computer, chews a fingernail and checks the weather. Still no end in sight for the heat wave.\n\nA spark of determination: today she will find a way to buy the air conditioner. By tomorrow night, come hell or high water, her apartment will be cool again. She gets up and paces back and forth. Lester looks agitated, as if he can sense her concern. He offers a long, pathetic noise that is halfway between a meow and a yawn. Emily picks him up, ignoring the heat, and continues pacing. Thinking.\n\nShe decides to [[go for a walk|GrassCutting]].\n\nShe decides to [[call her friend, Karen|SeeKaren]].\n\nShe decides to [[lie down on the loveseat and think|GrassMoney]] about what to do.\n
Her bank account is as sad as it was this morning. She signs out of it and starts looking for jobs instead. There are a few places she can apply to, but they need cover letters. Emily opens up her word processor and stares at the blank template for a while. After a few minutes she opens her browser again to check her email, Facebook, Twitter and the news. A quick distraction turns into an hour of YouTube watching, article reading and message sending. It's late when she finally returns to the cover letter. The empty page is too daunting for tonight. \n\nShe tells herself that it's just too hot to be doing this now anyway and that there's probably nothing else she can do tonight. Emily feeds Lester a scoop of kibble and realizes she hasn't eaten since breakfast. The heat has drained her appetite, though, so she only eats a piece of toast. Emily leans against the kitchen counter, drinks a glass of water then brushes her teeth and gets into bed.\n\nMaybe things will work out better [[tomorrow|Day2Morning]].
The Hottest Room
The sheets are wet with sweat. It rained a little bit over night, but with the rain has come a humidity so severe that Emily feels like she is drinking the air in giant warm mouthfuls. She is too worn out to get up. Instead she falls in and out of sleep, lying naked on top of her sheets with her pajamas discarded next to the bed.\n\nThe ceiling is slick with moisture, the paint blistering into water filled bubbles here and there and tiny droplets of water pooling in the corners of the room. Emily's bed is pushed into one of these corners so she awakens to a teaspoon of water and paint flakes dropping onto her forehead. Lester jumps up onto the bed after she lets out a surprised yelp. \n\n"Ugh," she mutters.\n\nThe cat crawls up onto her stomach and lies down. He has been drinking water and the fur on his chest is damp. She scratches behind Lester's ears and lies nearly motionless on her bed for a while longer.\n\nEventually she gets up, goes to her computer and looks at air conditioners online. If only she had enough money to afford one. A sidebar on the Canadian Tire website is advertising a bank currently running a promotion in store. Emily clicks through. She reads up on their high interest overdraft policies. \n\nYuck.\n\nShe's not quite desperate enough to sign up for extra debt yet. Emily lies back down on the bed and stares at the ceiling.\n\nSometime around noon her [[phone rings|DadPhones]].
The desert horizon stretches out endlessly before her. She tries to turn around, to look for a landmark, but everything looks identical.\n\nEmily's eyes go to her legs. An enormous brown and yellow snake is curling around her ankles. She tries to yell out, but she can't make a sound. She tries to lean down and hit the snake away, but her arms are frozen in place.\n\nThe snake squeezes hard. Its head creeps up her stomach, over her chest, past her neck and then rears back. Its eyes aren't the usual black dots that snakes have. They're human and very blue, just like her dad's.\n\nA sandstorm starts picking up about a kilometre in the distance. If she doesn't find a way to break away from the snake she'll be trapped by it, choked by the heat and the sand of the storm.\n\nShe [[tries to talk|SnakeTalk]] to the snake.\n\nShe [[bites the snake's head|SnakeBite]] as hard as she can.
Her resume is in pretty sad shape, badly due for an update. It still lists her high school volunteering and extracurricular activities. \n\nWhat she really ought to do is [[sit down at the computer|ResumeUpdate]] and work on it for the rest of the day. \n\nOr, considering she will probably take the first job she's offered at this point, she could [[just print a few out and hand them around|Outside]] at grocery stores and coffee shops.
The middle-aged man from yesterday is still there, just past the turnstiles, trying to get customers to transfer their accounts to the bank he represents. Emily walks straight to him and takes the pamphlet he offers.\n\nWithout looking at it she asks if he can offer any incentives for giving his company her business.\n\n"We offer no-fee ATM services and Interac purchases," he says.\n\nEmily pretends to consider this.\n\n"Anything else?"\n\nThe man is balding. His hair has drawn back to a little horseshoe shape that runs from just above one ear and around to the other. The little goatee he has grown doesn't do much to distract from it.\n\n"We also offer free chequebooks and a high interest program account for customers who keep more than five thousand dollars in their savings accounts."\n\n"TD gives new accounts iPod Nanos," she says. "Do you have anything like that? Any kind of new account gift?"\n\n"No iPods, sorry."\n\nShe asks about their overdraft policies. This is Emily's last resort. The bank representative tells her, in many, many words, that she will have five hundred dollars more in overdraft available to her with his company than her current account allows. Of course, a high interest rate applies.\n\nEmily [[signs up for the new account|GetHome]], not knowing how she will handle a higher interest rate.\n\nEmily decides to take the second, [[more dangerous plan|Stealing]] she thought up outside.
Karen looks stunned and Emily regrets what she has said almost immediately. She apologizes a few times, but it doesn't seem to help. After an awkward hour of continued conversation Emily says she should be getting home.\n\n"Thanks for having me over," she says.\n\n"Yeah."\n\n"Talk to you soon?"\n\n"Sure."\n\nEmily leaves the loft and [[heads home|Day2End]]. What a terrible day.
The idea comes out of nowhere -- people with money will pay someone like her to cut their grass.\n\nShe's young, pleasant and doesn't look like she's trying to pull something. It's perfect. All Emily has to do is walk around Bloor West and knock on doors. She's willing to bet that some of the owners would be happy to pay her twenty or thirty bucks to mow their lawns during a heat wave.\n\nShe's almost beside herself with excitement. It's perfect! Spend the afternoon doing a bit of work, make a bit of cash, maybe get invited inside a cool house for a glass of water or lemonade, and then go buy an air conditioner tomorrow morning.\n\nEmily feels like [[a goddamned genius|Working]].
Emily ducks into the ATM kiosk of her local bank to get an envelope. She is putting the bills away when someone grabs her by the shoulder.\n\n"Don't yell," he says.\n\nHer heart starts beating fast. Her palms are sweaty. The envelope is snatched from her trembling hands and she turns just in time to see a young blonde guy in jeans and a plaid shirt pushing through the doors of the kiosk. He starts running into the night. Emily goes out onto the street and sees him dip into an alley. She takes off after the mugger, but has already lost him. The end of the lane he had turned into has a fence at its end that he probably hopped over. He could be anywhere by now and it was too dark to be looking through alleyways and people's yards.\n\nShe dials 911 and explains. The police say they'll help. It doesn't make her feel much better. They'd look out for the man, but wouldn't expend much energy hunting down someone who stole $130. He'd probably get away with it and be [[just fine|Day2End]].
Emily goes to make a piece of toast to settle her stomach. The bread bag is still empty. She wonders how she will be able to afford groceries now. Emily looks for something else to eat, but there's nothing else that would be a good idea for her upset stomach.\n\nShe wishes she had just one piece of bread. The air conditioner pumps cool air into the room. Emily stares at the toaster sitting empty on her counter and wonders if she made a good decision.\n\nRight now it doesn't really seem like it.\n\n+++\n\nEND
The air conditioner doesn't take too long to install. As soon as she turns it on it begins to emit wonderfully cold air. Emily scoops up Lester and stands, cat in arms, in front of the vent.\n\nHer window is blocked by the machine. It doesn't seem [[like such a big sacrifice|BankAccount]] when she considers how cool her apartment will be in a few minutes.
Reid McCarter
Maybe it was the right choice not to buy the fan. Emily tries to tell herself that as she makes her way back home. Back to her toaster oven of an apartment.\n\nLester is curled up on her bed, a furry little ball. He pokes his head up and yawns when she enters the room. \n\n"Hey buddy," she says. "'You alright?"\n\nHe ignores her.\n\nEmily turns on her computer. While it's booting up she chews her thumbnail -- a bad habit -- and thinks about how [[to afford an air conditioner|StillHotFan]].
Emily sits in the police station, waiting for the officer to come back with her paperwork. She's been charged with attempted theft. The manager on duty at the Canadian Tire had told her she was going to end up sitting in jail for trying what she'd tried. That wasn't likely, but she was still in more trouble than she'd anticipated.\n\nShe'll have a criminal record now. How hard is it going to be to get a job when that comes up in an interview? Emily tries not to think about it. She wishes she could have bought the air conditioner. She wishes this heat wave had never started. She wishes a lot of things were different.\n\n+++\n\nEND
Karen is the only friend Emily has in the city. She worked with her at the bookshop, hit it off pretty quickly and started hanging out after work most nights. Karen lives close by, only a five minute walk away, in a cool little loft apartment that was converted from an old mattress factory to chic living spaces a few years back.\n\nEmily calls her up. They chat for a few minutes and plan to meet up at Karen's place in a little while. Her loft is air conditioned. \n\nIt will be nice to [[get out of her sweltering apartment|KarenLoft]] for the night. \n\n
The on duty manager comes to the returns counter after she's explained her case to the bored teenager behind the counter. Apparently it will only take a quick signature and she'll be on her way with a new unit.\n\nShe's thrilled.\n\nThe manager asks for her original receipt after looking over the return. He looks at the box suspiciously. Emily makes a show out of looking through her purse. She puts it down on the counter to dig through it.\n\n"I think I lost it. Do you really need it?"\n\nHe asks her to explain again why she needs to exchange the air conditioner. Emily says that this one was acting up. It was making a weird noise. The manager, unimpressed, opens the box and pulls out a vacuum sealed manual. He looks her in the eye and taps on something hard inside.\n\n"The unit's still in its original wrapping, too."\n\nIf she wasn't so nervous Emily could lie her way out of this. Say she must have made a mistake, already picked out the new one -- something. But she is extremely nervous. She isn't a thief. She has never stolen anything before. She isn't prepared for this. \n\n"It's okay. I don't need to return it," she says.\n\nEven she is surprised when she turns and runs out of the store. The whole thing is so sudden that she doesn't even remember [[she's left her purse in the store|Ending3]] until she's standing at the bus stop.
There's a good chance this will work. Emily waits until another customer goes through the check-out aisle, occupying the cashier. She picks up the air conditioner box and studies the self-scan lady. Minutes pass without her looking up.\n\nThis is it. If Emily's going to do it she has to do it now.\n\nShe walks past the self-scan aisles as if everything is fine. Emily tells herself that she has already paid for this air conditioner. She makes herself believe it.\n\nThe automatic doors slide open just in front of her. \n\nShe did it! [[She's home free|Caught]]!
Emily is still too hot. She's having a tough time thinking straight. The headache she's had since waking up this morning is getting worse.\n\nIt's getting really tough to concentrate. Her mind stjwar to ght cynfispd . . .\n\nGj dirinq [[sode wneff|Refreshed]].\n\nTrj te [[ght yp|Faint]].\n\nGj [[jytside|Faint]].
She wipes a clump of wet hair to the side of her forehead. Her shirt and shorts are stuck to her skin. Emily is sitting perfectly still on the desk chair in her tiny bachelor apartment, checking the weather on her computer for the third time today. According to the webpage there is no end in sight for this heat wave. Sweat runs down her forehead.\n\nEmily gets up from her chair and looks out the window. The sun is baking the streets. A runner has stopped next to a telephone pole and is leaning against the wood, panting. Otherwise her little stretch of Roncesvalles is deserted. The old Polish men, usually sitting around the statue of John Paul II must be inside one of the coffee shops, arguing from within air conditioned comfort. \n\nIt is so hot that she begins to feel sick. Emily picks up a magazine from her desk and fans herself with it. It doesn't do enough to cool her down. Her head swims. \n\nShe takes a [[cold shower|Refreshed]].\n\nShe sticks her [[head in the refrigerator|Refreshed]] for a few minutes.\n\nShe closes the blinds, shuts off the lights and [[lies motionless on the kitchen's tiled floor|StillHot1]].\n
"Hello?"\n\nEmily's dad is calling from Halifax. After her parents divorced he had moved out east. Her mom had resettled in Vancouver. Neither of them told her much about what had happened, but it couldn't have been a good break-up if they ended up on opposite ends of the country afterward. Her mom barely called -- hadn't even known when she graduated university a few years ago -- and she and her father only spoke once a month or so. Emily makes small talk with her dad before telling him that she has lost her job.\n\n"So, when do you start your new one?" he says with a laugh.\n\nEmily's dad tells her that she will bounce back in no time. There are plenty of jobs out there for educated young women who are willing to look for them, he says. She guesses he hasn't been reading the news much.\n\nHe asks if it's as hot in Toronto as it is where he is. Emily tells him about the heat wave and how badly she wants an air conditioning unit.\n\n"I bet that would go a long way," he says. "I can hardly stand to do the gardening without ducking inside to cool off every fifteen minutes."\n\nShe thinks for a minute.\n\n"Dad, do you think you could [[lend me a bit of money|AskBorrow]] to buy the air conditioner?"\n\n"Yeah, it [[must be nice|Snarky]] to have an air conditioner."
"I know," Karen says, apparently a bit embarassed now. "I should feel grateful more often."\n\nThey talk for another hour before Emily says she should be getting home. She slips into her sandals and waits for Karen at the door. \n\n"Thanks for having me over," Emily says. "It was nice to get out of the heat and hang out!"\n\nKaren comes to the doorway, looking uneasy.\n\n"Hey, Em?"\n\n"What's wrong?"\n\n"I just . . ." Karen says, looking at the floor. "I just feel bad that you're having such a hard time right now."\n\n"It's okay."\n\n"I've been really lucky. When my parents found out the book store was closing they told me not to worry. They gave me some money to help out while I looked for a new job."\n\nEmily isn't sure where this is going.\n\n"I know it's not much, but . . ."\n\nKaren hands her two fifty dollar bills, a twenty and a ten. Emily looks at the money. She isn't sure what to do.\n\n"Karen, I [[can't take this|Day2End]], Emily says. It's hard to turn down the cash, but she can't borrow money from a friend. It's not right.\n\n"Thank you. You have no idea how much I needed this," Emily says. "I'll [[pay you right back|TheMugging]] when I get a new job." Karen must know how tough things have been for her.
Karen's parents are some kind of power couple, a lawyer and a dentist, who live in Rosedale. They have three children and Karen is the oldest. As far as Emily can tell Karen has never wanted for anything. She has very nice clothes, an apartment that she couldn't have afforded on her own and even owns a car.\n\nEmily hugs her friend at the doorway to her loft. They go inside and make gin and tonics in the kitchen. It's wonderful. Large bay windows run from waist height to the top of the 20 foot ceiling. Wooden beams support the upper part of the loft, providing an organic counter to the old industrial pipework and red brick walls left in as a reminder of the building's factory past.\n\nThey [[sit down on Karen's couch|Chat]] with their drinks.
The snake's head falls to the ground. Its body blows away in the wind. Emily kneels down in the sand next to the head. \n\n"This is all your own fault, you know," the snake says. "When I was your age I worked hard. I didn't have problems like you do."\n\nIt's forked black tongue flicks in and out as it speaks.\n\n"My generation took what we needed. We did everything we could to give our children a better life."\n\nEmily kicks the head. It flies away in the wind. She hears a roar behind her and turns around. Sandstorm at her back she sees a giant white polar bear with the face of a cat. It runs up to her and leans down to lick her face with its scratchy tongue.\n\nShe smiles and reaches up to scratch its enormous pointy ears. The wind is picking up behind her. The bearcat roars again and lifts a gigantic paw to motion to its back. She climbs up, holding on to the fur of its neck and it races away.\n\nBut it's too late. The storm is already closing in on them.\nShe closes her eyes. The sand hurts her skin. The snake was wrong, but she couldn't argue with it. [[She doesn't have a voice|Day3Morning]]. Emily holds on tight, the bearcat running as fast as it can, her arms aching with the effort of holding on and the storm raging all around her.
Karen is starting a new job next week. She's going to work in the human resources department of a clothing chain's head office. It sounds pretty good. Emily tries not to be jealous. She listens to her friend talk about her nerves, her excitement and her worries over whether or not the job is right for her. Emily reassures her and bolts through three drinks while they talk.\n\nThe gin and tonics are ice cold. Karen says she will ask if there are any positions available for Emily after she's settled into the job a bit. She thinks there might be something available for a person with copywriting experience.\n\nThey listen to records, chatting and putting a serious dent in the bottle of Tanqueray. They're both pretty drunk when Karen explains how her dad knew the owner of the clothing chain she'll be working for.\n\nEmily doesn't like hearing this. It can be hard to get a job without knowing people. It doesn't seem fair that Karen has so many advantages just because her parents are well off and supportive.\n\nShe [[accuses Karen|Brat]] of being a spoiled brat.\n\nShe [[tells Karen that she's lucky|Lending]] to have such good connections.
She might be the first person to attempt to steal an air conditioner from a Canadian Tire, Emily thinks. \n\nDesperation has driven her to this.\n\nThe box is pretty big and there are a lot of employees milling around the store. Most of them probably don't care much if someone steals -- they don't get paid enough for that -- but they'd have to do something if a person tried to walk out with a $130 air conditioner in their arms.\n\nEmily picks up the box. She doesn't take one of the most expensive models. Just the cheaper one that's on sale right now. It's pretty heavy. She walks it over to the front of the store and puts it down just before the check out aisles.\n\nMaybe she could take it to the returns counter. Say it was making a weird noise -- that she lost the receipt and just wanted to exchange it for a new one. [[That would be pretty crafty|Crafty]]. \n\nIt might be smart to just walk right through the self check-out aisle. [[Be so bold that nobody thinks she's up to anything|Bold]].\n\nOnly one of the check-out aisles has a cashier working and the lady watching over the self-scanning machines is playing a game on her phone. There aren't many customers in the store. [[She could wait for the right moment and walk out with it|Careful]].
It's dark when she wakes up. Emily's throat is dry and her head is pounding. She drinks a glass of water, brushes her teeth and gets into bed.\n\nMaybe things will work out better [[tomorrow|Day2Morning]].
Emily tries to work, but the sweat running down her face makes it impossible to concentrate for very long. She has barely changed a thing in the resume file when she gives up, slumping back in her chair.\n\nIt will be a lot easier to look for a job [[once she has a fan|BuyFan]] cooling the room down a bit.
It was probably a good idea to buy the fan. Emily tries to push the bliss promised by the air conditioner from her mind as she heads home. \n\nAs soon as she's back inside her toaster oven of an apartment Emily rips open the cardboard box her new fan is in. Her heart drops when she sees the cheap plastic components inside. There are a lot of pieces and none of them look to be very well made. Emily puts the fan together after a sweaty half hour of work and plugs it in. \n\nIt barely moves the air at all.\n\n"Oh Jesus Christ . . ."\n\nShe presses her face up to the wire casing and tries to savour any bit of cool air the crumby fan can produce. After a few minutes she gives up.\n\nEmily turns on her computer. While it's booting up she chews her thumbnail -- a bad habit -- and thinks about how [[to afford an air conditioner|StillHotFan]]. The fan is a bust and she's out $30 she couldn't afford in the first place.