515. - Lucien
"Well…" The laugh that escapes me trembles with nerves. What she asks for isn't even anything bad, and it's Emma we're talking about - there is absolutely no reason for me to be nervous. But I still am. I put my spoon down, check that all the fires are low and then pour us both a glass of wine before leaning against the kitchen counter. "Remember that fight I had with my father a couple of months ago? He said something about my current line of work being feeble. It's not something I can keep going in the long run. I don't like admitting it, but he got under my skin."
"Oh, honey…" Emma's expression is a perfect rendition of sympathy and pity. She rubs my upper arm, in the way that only women can do. It's both comforting and amusing to see. "I get it, but we both know that he's exactly what he's trying: get under your skin."
"I know, but he isn’t wrong, is he?" I start pacing the kitchen, the jitters getting worse. "It's not permanent. It may last me for another couple of years, but then also… Do I want that? You've seen how hectic it is. I fly across the globe, I'm lucky if I get to spend more than ten consecutive days in one place. I love what I do, honestly, but it keeps me away from home, from the people that I love. From you. And I'm not saying that I want to give it all up, because again: I love it. I'm so lucky that I get to do it and I want to keep doing it for a while. I just… want something a little more permanent. And then you said that whole thing about having two houses, one in Edinburgh and one in France, and then this idea that I’ve had for a while just clicked, because I can do it from wherever and still combine it with what I’m currently doing, and I just…”
“Luce,” Emma interrupts me with a laugh. “Lucien, love, you are getting so ahead of yourself. I can’t read your mind, you have to take me along in this journey. What I’m currently getting is that your father got under your skin and that it makes you want to finish law school, even though you were miserable at the firm. Apparently it makes perfect sense to you, but to me there’s a lot of dissonance.”
“Right.” I let out a long breath. “You’re right. I’m sorry. I’m just nervous.”
“Nervous?” Her head tips to the side. “Why?”
“Absolutely no clue. Maybe because it would be a big change. Maybe because I’m worried you’ll say it’s a bad idea. I’m not sure.”
“I’m not saying anything about good or bad ideas without knowing what it is.” She replies with a reassuring smile. “But one step at a time, okay? We’ve been over this - my brain doesn’t make the same jumps yours does.”
“Right.” I say again, pulling out a chair from the kitchen table to not sit on it. Emma, arms crossed over her chest now, watches me with a bemused smile. “I’ve always had a bit of a hero-complex. I want to help people, mean something to them. For years I told myself I could do that as a lawyer, even though it’s not really like that. You and I have both seen it - the cases you actually help people are rare. Especially in my position it was just doing what I was told, I never really got to help anyone. The lie I had told myself for years proved itself entirely untrue, which is why I hated it.”
“Okay.” Emma nods. “With you so far.”
“Then a couple of weeks ago, we had those charity days. We didn’t even really do anything, we just spent time with these kids and they were so grateful. It got me thinking what it might mean for them if I could actually help them. That’s when I first thought of finishing my degree, so I could be a lawyer to these kids. To young people who need someone in the legal system, but can’t afford that person. It’d just be a side gig, really, nothing too serious.”
Emma keeps nodding along, and the tight feeling in my chest lifts a little bit.
“And I kept thinking it over, and I started wondering about the possibilities of actually setting up a charity for this kind of thing. I’m a trust fund-kid and there’s plenty left in that fund, money is not the issue here. We could start with a handful of lawyers, help these kids out wherever we can. I thought maybe I could even get my father aboard in some kind of way. I… started making it way too big, and every time I thought of it I put it away again. It started looking like this big, unrealistic dream that could never be achieved. I mean, I’d have to find a law school to accept me in the first place. I might not be in the system as expelled, it still doesn’t look too good to have both dropped out of the top uni for law and quit an amazing position at one of the top law firms. Not to mention that it’d have to be part time, because I’m not going back full-time. And then the logistics of actually setting up the charity? I was overwhelmed before I had even started. I revisited every few days, but it was the same cycle: get excited, look into it all, get overwhelmed and lock it all away again.”
Emma’s expression gives nothing away about her thoughts on all this; there’s just a soft smile as she studies me. “And yet you were looking into uni’s at two in the morning. What changed?”
“You did.” I admit, which gets me raised eyebrows. “Well, not you really, but when you told me about your whole plan for having two homes in both Scotland and France, because your job enables you to work from basically anywhere, something just kind of… clicked. If I do this, I can combine it with anything. With my current work, for however long I want to keep doing that - I’d just have to take it a little slower, which is just fine, because I never want to have another six weeks like I did before the summer. I can do it from here, from France, from anywhere in the world. We could even work on it together every now and then, if you’d be up for that.” My throat suddenly feels very parched, and I feel like I’ve been talking for hours. The nerves are back in full force, to the extent that I’m almost scared to look at Emma. “I know it’s all very vague, and that there’s a lot of what-if’s, but… What do you think?”
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