'The Futures' Is 'St. Elmo's Fire' For Millennials — READ AN EXCERPT
Random House Editor Anna Pitoniak's highly anticipated debut novel, The Futures, is finally here, and you can see the cover and read an excerpt below! This brand new adult novel is basically St. Elmo's Fire for Millennials, a tale of first love and foundering after college. (Relatable, right?)
Set in 2008, The Futures centers on Julia and Evan: a pair of college sweethearts who have just moved into their first apartment on the Upper East Side. Canadian transplant Evan came to Yale on an athletics scholarship, and has secured an entry-level position at a hedge fund. Bostonian Julia was born to go to Yale, but she graduated without a prestigious job, and is now working for a non-profit. Neither of them is where they thought they'd be, four years into their relationship, and the stress brought on by independent living isn't what either expected. The imminent housing crisis looms large on the horizon, but the turmoil it brings will only match Julia and Evan's post-collegiate anxieties, as they try to sort out who they are and where they're headed.
Bustle is proud to reveal an excerpt from Pitoniak's novel, which you can read below. The Futures is available now from your favorite retailer.
I was assigned to sit next to Roger, another analyst, a former tight end at Stanford with a thick Alabama drawl. We didn’t have much to do early on. When we weren’t in training sessions, we wasted a lot of time on ESPN or skimming the news, only jumping into action when the higher-ups staffed us on something. But it looked bad to leave before 10:00 p.m., so none of us did, no matter what. There were five analysts in total that year, all of us men, which wasn’t that remarkable — Spire overall was mostly male. Roger was our ringleader, the one who stayed latest and arrived earliest and generally assumed authority. He led the charge every night for post-work drinks at a bar called McGuigan’s near the office, and already it felt like a mandatory part of the routine.
“So how was the first week?” Julia asked. This was Saturday morning. We’d brought bagels to the park along the East River. Every night that first week, Julia was already asleep when I got home. It annoyed me a little, that she couldn’t bother to stay awake. Her job ended many hours before mine did. This was the first time we’d really seen each other since the weekend before.
Every night that first week, Julia was already asleep when I got home. It annoyed me a little, that she couldn’t bother to stay awake.
“Good,” I said. “I think. I don’t know. It’s hard to tell what it’s really going to be like. It’s all just training sessions for now.”
“What about that guy — Michael? The one who interviewed you. Have you seen him yet?”
“I passed him in the hall, but he was talking to someone else. We didn’t say anything.” Truthfully, I wasn’t sure whether he even recognized me.
Julia nodded. She was quieter than usual. She seemed to be gazing at the buildings across the river in Astoria, but her eyes had that glassy quality of staring at nothing in particular. There was a poppy seed stuck to the tip of her nose. I leaned over and brushed it away. She turned and then smiled. Back to normal.
“Fine,” she said. “Just distracted. Thinking about work.”
“Nothing worth talking about. Tell me more about your week.”
It was a relief to have Julia there, to have a partner in the minor struggles: how to decipher the Con Ed bill, where to find the nearest Laundromat, what to do about the noisy neighbors and the leaky faucet. She always knew exactly what to do. I was acutely aware, that summer, of how alone I was in the world. My parents had gone back to Canada right after the graduation ceremony, and I wouldn’t see them again for months. This never bothered me in college, when the proximity of your family only mattered when it was time to travel back and forth. But being in the real world seemed to emphasize how far I was from home — something I hadn’t felt in a long time. And moving to New York had highlighted certain differences between me and Julia, too, things I’d never noticed before. The advice and money and connections she took for granted. How she was never limited to this place. She could always take the train to Boston, or hop on a plane to Nantucket. Even though she made less than a fifth of what I did, she had money from her parents. We’d agreed to divide the rent in line with our salary discrepancy, so I paid two-thirds, although sometimes I wondered how fair that was. My money came like water from a pump, flowing only as long as I kept working. Hers came like a spring whose source was bountiful and deep. We never talked about this.
It was a relief to have Julia there, to have a partner in the minor struggles: how to decipher the Con Ed bill, where to find the nearest Laundromat, what to do about the noisy neighbors and the leaky faucet. She always knew exactly what to do. I was acutely aware, that summer, of how alone I was in the world.
The truth was that I missed my friends, my teammates, the ones who hadn’t come to New York. I especially missed Arthur, who was working in the Obama campaign’s field office in Ohio. We’d traded a few stiff emails since graduation, but I couldn’t say what I was really thinking, not in stark black-and-white text. I didn’t even know what I was really thinking. And we hadn’t acknowledged the fight we’d had right at the end. I wondered if we ever would.
The shower was already running when my alarm went off on Monday morning, at the beginning of the second week of work. Julia’s bathrobe was hanging on the hook, the steam drifting through the open door.
“You’re up early,” I called into the bathroom.
“I figured we could go in together,” Julia said over the weak sound of the shower. Our water pressure was pathetic. “You have to be in by eight thirty, right?”
We walked to the subway hand in hand, stopping for an iced coffee at the cart on the corner of 3rd Avenue. The train was packed, and I got on last. Julia was crammed next to me, the front of our bodies pressed together. I felt an incongruous longing for her in the chaos of the train car. The smell of her perfume, the tender paleness of the part in her hair. We hadn’t had sex all week, not even on the weekend; I’d been too exhausted. I was an idiot for not appreciating what was right in front of me. I slipped my hands down her waist, pulling her closer, and kissed her on the forehead. She smiled up at me. She seemed to know what I was thinking.
I was an idiot for not appreciating what was right in front of me. I slipped my hands down her waist, pulling her closer, and kissed her on the forehead. She smiled up at me.
We commuted together all that week. I liked the routine. Alternating turns in the shower, Julia drying her hair while I shaved in front of the speckled mirror. The coffee cart, the descent into the hot subway, the kiss good-bye. On Thursday night of that week, Julia had plans to get dinner with her parents, who were passing through town. “Bummer you have to work so late,” she said as we walked to the subway on Thursday morning. “They’ll miss you.”
“Your parents? I doubt that.”
She laughed. “You know what I mean. Their version of missing.”
Later that night, as I was riding the elevator down to the lobby to pick up my dinner delivery, I thought of Julia and her parents. I pulled out my phone and texted her: Sorry I couldn’t make it. Tell them hi.
She texted me back a few hours later. Just finished. I’m nearby. Meet me outside your building in a few?
It was almost 10:00 p.m., and the office was dead. There was no one left to impress. I stood up and turned off my computer. Roger raised an eyebrow. “No McGuigan’s tonight?”
“Nah, not tonight. Other plans.”
Julia was waiting outside. She was more dressed up than usual, probably for her mother’s sake. Had she been wearing that dress this morning? I couldn’t remember. She was clutching a funny-looking silvery thing.
“What is that?”
“Leftovers,”she said. “It’s for you.”
“You’ve never seen this before? No, see, look. It’s a swan. See? That’s the neck, and those are the wings.”
It was made of aluminum foil. “That’s a thing?”
“I ordered the biggest steak so I’d have extra. My mom almost had a fit—she thought I was going to eat the whole thing. Oh, and guess what else I got?” She opened her tote bag and pointed inside, but it was too dark to see. “Come on, I’ve got a plan.”
We walked up Broadway, the crowds gradually thinning as we left behind Times Square. Julia was chattering happily with news from home, from work. She was having lunch the next day with her coworker Eleanor. She was hopeful that they might become friends. This stretch of midtown at this hour was strange and abandoned, like the aftermath of a hurricane. Julia tugged me across the intersection. We stopped, and she swept her arm across the mostly empty plaza. “Voilà. It’s like our very own Campo de’ Fiori.”
“Columbus Circle, you mean?”
“Come on, play along. You remember that night, right? It was almost a year ago exactly.” She sat down on the stone steps next to the fountain and pulled two cups from her tote bag, then a half-empty bottle of wine. She split the remaining wine between the two cups, handed one to me, and stashed the empty bottle in her bag.
“Where’d you get all this?”
“We got the wine to go with dessert, but we couldn’t finish it, so I took it with me. And the cups are courtesy of Starbucks.”
We touched the paper cups together. “What are we toasting to?” I said.
She tilted her head, her blond hair catching a shimmer from the lamps at the edge of Central Park. The stoplights changed from red to green, and the yellow taxis swept forward in unison, peeling off at various points around the traffic circle. If you squinted, the color blurred into one mass, and it looked like the same ring of taxis going around and around, forever. Julia smiled at me and said, “Whatever we want, I guess.”
The Futures by Anna Pitoniak, $26, Amazon