This is fiction.
At the time, Radhika was “between jobs,” but of course she’d been floating between jobs for a fairly long time at that point. Five years out of school, convinced that going to law school involved admitting defeat, she figured something brilliant would come up if she was only open to it. One gig, which she found via an ad in the New York Review, seemed particularly promising — the description was vague, and the pay seemed suspiciously well. Sure enough, it was kind of a glorified babysitting job for a billionaire eccentric. She was fired about three days in, for no discernible reason, and she had been living off the severance package ever since.
So there she was, living with roommates in the South Slope. Meanwhile, Mira, her slightly younger sister, was striking it rich. Or rather the clique that Mira had been a part of since she was in high school was striking it rich. And in the movie business no less! For Radhika, this was the galling part. She had always been the movie-lover, and she fell hard for Bill Murray in Meatballs. Not romantically, but comedically. The eyebrows, the sleepy expression — it was magic. Having been an improv comedy bore in undergrad, Radhika left it behind, convinced that there was more to life. Mira was also kind of a ham, but she was, honestly, a little prettier. Not prettier. More accessible. Radhika was striking in her own way, but you had to kind of get it, and not everyone did. With Mira, there wasn’t a lot to get. I mean, there it was. What made Mira even more formidable is that she was genuinely quite funny, and, well, people really liked having her around. There was nothing arch or confrontational about Mira’s comedy — it was warm. You might say she leavened the bread.
Now, Mira was hardly making millions. She did, however, land a couple of more-than-bit parts in a couple of television shows you’ve probably heard of, and there was talk of her getting a permanent gig. Also, she was working on a pilot with two of the guys from the clique, both of whom had graduated to movies and both of whom were unhesitatingly loyal to — and in thrall to — Mira.
Thanksgiving was tense. Everyone — Mira, Radhika’s mom Latika, Radhika’s stepdad Yasuo — felt they had to walk on eggshells, and that didn’t put Radhika at ease. No crazy person wants to feel crazy. And in fairness, Radhika wasn’t crazy. She was depressed, she was losing weight, she was even losing hair, which was particularly hurtful to Latika, who took excessive pride in her own shiny, well-preserved locks. But she wasn’t crazy. Direction doesn’t just happen. As for Mira, well, because she was on the east coast, this was the first time the whole family had been in the same place. Which was nice. But Mira, who was almost literally famous for her empathy and non-treacly sweetness, managed to avoid being fawned over. Radhika imagined that significant glances were involved. Who knows.
“Hey doll.” Mira had taken to using gangland slang.
“You know, keepin’ it real.”
“But is it really really really real.”
“Um. Oh god. You, uh … I think you’re getting cuter, dude.”
“I can’t help it. It’s, you know, my cross to bear. So, I have a plan.”
“Oh no. A plan! Oh god. Okay.”
“Why don’t you come out and see me? For, like, a month? Or, like, ten million?”
“Mira, come on. That’s your scene.”
“Honestly, I think it would do you some good. I’m not trying to be an asshole — I’m just saying, it does have that effect.”
“So I’ll go and get superbrown and lounge around your apartment?”
“That sounds about right to me. And actually, Lev is buying a house, so we’ll definitely have a guest room.”
“You guys are going to live together?”
“It’s not living together living together, exactly. It’s, whatever. It actually probably will be a little weird, but, hey, I’ll take free.”
“Whoa dude. You’re my little sister. I feel like I need to take a curved dagger to his eye. Like, what does he want for his, uh, ‘free rent.’”
“No, that would be too weird. He’s like a brother.”
Though Lev was two classes behind Radhika in school, he definitely had a little crush on her in the ’01-‘02 era, when he was listening to a lot of Jimmy Eat World and generally being a dork. But from a distance Radhika had noticed how Lev, tall and gangly and awkward as a kid, had actually grown to become a self-possessed and almost handsome young man. And he was the one kid from the clique — the brains, and also the slightly self-destructive one — who couldn’t take Mira all that seriously. Radhika had the tougher jawline, and perhaps that’s what drew Lev in: the toughness.
The Saturday after Thanksgiving, Radhika was having brunch with Leah at a little restaurant by the train station, the kind of place that never would have existed when she was growing up: it was very hip and Montclairish, and full of stylish young mothers, who couldn’t be that much older: visions of a nightmare future?
“You know, I always thought you looked like a female Hindu version of James Dean. That’s who I’d choose, definitely.”
“Wow, that’s actually pretty cool. I did rock the leather jacket a lot, plus the Newpo’ from the lower lip.”
“So Rads, let’s, like, roll deep right now.”
“Oh no. You know you’re misusing that phrase, right?”
“I know I’m not using the conventional meaning. I like to mix it up, yo.”
“Mira and I came up the term ‘Ironic Ebonics,’ or ‘Ibonics.’ It’s kind of like ‘Dianetics,’ but with more Thetans.”
“Ahem, so, anyway — cough — crazy hobag. I think you are … in … a … is it quarterlife crisis?”
“It could be midlife if I die in a ninja fight in, like, 25 years. But yeah, I think I get it. Yeah. Hey, thanks for letting me know.”
“Do you want to just get a civil union and become, like, butchy fisherwomen. Because I seriously love you that much. Medical school is wack.”
“Can I tell you my weird theory?”
“Yeah. Oh my God. Do you know how badly I want to hear this.”
“Shut up. No. Here’s what I think. Lev and Mira and Evan and all of those guys are amazing and together, but they only figured out who they want to be when they were a normal age, like, 22 or whatever. I think I knew that I wanted to be tough and brooding and mysterious when I was 13, maybe because of my dad. So people keep growing and kind of abandoning me, or I mean outgrowing me, you know what I mean? And weirdly, I used to be the advanced and together one, who didn’t give a damn, and now I, like, can’t feel anything. Not anything, but I can’t feel any shame. Or even motivation. That makes no sense. I’m just, like, out of place and prematurely world-weary.”
“That definitely didn’t make any sense.”
“Oh babe. What are we going to do?”
“I halfway think I should go to India and find myself a lean, mustachioed IIT grad and make nerdy babies. But yeah, I think that would kill my soul.”
“Some of those dudes are really, really good at badminton. Don’t front. Seriously. You could do worse.”
“Oh man, I think I might have to unbutton a button.”
“I think maybe the best thing I can do is move to California and become Mira’s personal assistant.”
“No, no, no pity party. Nope. No. Not allowed. Mira’s cool.”
“Oh stop, no. I think maybe I should. Honestly, I could mooch off of them for a little while and maybe regroup. Why not, right? And I could get the number of the kid from Arrested Development and be like, ‘wassup?’”
“But babe, I’ll miss you.”
“I miss … This sounds stupid. I miss being a person and not, like, a problem for somebody? Or you, or my mom, or whoever.”
“You’ve had it rough, dude.”
“I’ll manage. I promise.”
Seconds later, seven velociraptors entered the tea shop. They devoured all of the snacks, and scratched and mangled several of the patrons. Radhika and Leah made it out alive, but very rattled.
“Rads! Oh my God, are you okay?”
“Leah, oh man. What the —”
“Were those dinosaurs?”
“I know what I have to do. I must, I must hunt and kill dinosaurs!”
And with that, Radhika found her purpose: a life of hunting and killing rogue time-traveling dinosaurs.