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Part IV: Something Good
Kerry watches me with disapproval as I pop the top on the Coke can. I have tried explaining to her that Coke is to a Texan what coffee is to a New Yorker. Or Chicagoan as the case may be. She's not buying, something about the copious amounts of sugar. Whatever. I take a sip and wince as the bubbles sting my nose and the icy cold hits the top of my head. God, what bliss.
I'm surprised she's even awake. For the past three days she's taken to her bed like Camille without the dramatics. Our time together has been wary and polite, as if the emotional détente we achieved her first night home was a figment of both our imaginations. I'm fairly certain that she is unsure how to proceed and I'm absolutely certain that I need her to be sure. I know I cannot survive a second round of falling in love followed by utter devastation. The fact that it will take both of us to negotiate this delicate entanglement is wearing on my nerves. What I would really like is for her to magically make my short term memory disappear so that we can effortlessly move forward. That this is childish and unfair does not faze me in the slightest.
"Can I make you breakfast?"
Surprise number two. I work up a smile for her and nod. I know what's coming, the dreaded Kerry Shake, but after three days of her barely accepting a slice of dry toast I'm game for anything. She stares at me and then takes a single step forward, making a shooing motion with her hands.
"I'll call you when it's ready. Go do something constructive."
"Like you're a big girl, you figure it out."
I shrug and leave the room. I am wholly unsettled and I crash onto the couch, grab the remote and zoom through all fifty-seven channels in about thirty-two seconds. Something is terribly wrong and I can't put my finger on what it is. The tantalizing smell of steak wafts into the living room and I pick at the couch cover, trying to curb the temptation to return to the kitchen. My attempt is futile.
"Do you need a hand?"
She is startled and for the barest second I see her shoulders stiffen in irritation. I prepare myself to fight or flee but a minute goes by, than another, and still she does not turn.
I move toward her slowly, watching in fascination as she visibly relaxes at the gentle tone of my voice. I rest a hand on her shoulder and she half leans into me, resting there for a moment before straightening and turning to face me. A rueful expression greets me but she is calm.
"This isn't working, Kim."
And suddenly I know what's wrong.
"It's not good for me to be here, is it?
My question is rhetorical but she shakes her head no.
"Not yet, anyway."
And we both know I'm right. We cannot be at the precipice of a new beginning and play house. The ghost of our former life together will haunt every attempt we make at starting over. We have to find new ways to be together; more importantly, just new ways to be. Once again I am struck by the thought that she is not the same person I fell in love with a year ago. But neither am I. Being back at Kerry's house has made me forget that simple truth.
I smile wanly, at a loss as to what comes next.
"Maybe we "
Come on, throw me a line, I promise I'll grab it.
"I think "
She's trying to kill me. I'm desperately looking for direction and she's trying to kill me.
"I love seafood and sourdough bread."
"I have nineteen vacation days left. I think now is an excellent time to use them."
Oh, Kerry, are you sure?
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