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Out of Nowhere
Kim stared out of her window, the late morning smog obscuring the view and forcing her to stare at her own reflection. The bright colours were muted and the tired lines around her eyes were accentuated by the gloom. She looked, to her own eyes at least, like a shadow of her former self; the joys and laughter that had once brightened her smile were absent and had been for far too long. The litany of failures, both personal and professional, that littered her past had finally caught up with her and extracted their terrible revenge.
Turning her head, Kim forced herself to banish those thoughts, her fists tight as the urge to scream consumed her. It had been like this for weeks. The self doubt, depression and anger eating away at her until she was forced to cancel her appointments and declare that the doctor was in need of a healer.
Day after day she stood at the same window, staring out at the same city, trying to remember what it felt like to be happy. Her actions followed a pattern she'd witnessed a hundred times in others; suddenly, she had the perfect insight into their despair, but was as incapable as any of them to see a way out.
Jennifer had been dead for a year; during that time, Kim had passed through all the stages of grief, her mourning a textbook case of acceptance and moving on. Seven months after the accident she went on her first blind date in over ten years; her nerves and determination fought a battle that day, which ended with a naked woman in her bed and a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach. She met Beth two weeks later. Ten days after Beth it had been Catrina. Two weeks after that, Margo, then Melanie, Elaine, Susan and, finally, Patricia. Desperate sex and even more desperate escapes the morning after. Until, eventually, she collapsed in a heap on her bedroom floor, ashamed and terrified, desperate for someone to make it all better.
Grief counselling had been a joke where she knew all the punchlines. Talking to friends a maze of lies and half truths. The distance between what they all thought she felt and what she actually did, was too big a chasm to traverse. So she did something she'd promised herself she'd never do: She picked up the phone and called Kerry.
Chilled, Kim wrapped herself in a shawl, the cream coloured wool soothing her nerves and bringing the first smile of the day to her lips. The wait was nearly over and her punishment or absolution would soon rain down upon her.
The conversation with Kerry had started badly and continued in the same vein throughout the entire forty minutes. Awkwardness had led to revelations, which in turn had prompted sympathy and understanding that only angered and jeopardised. But it was different with Kerry. They weren't friends or lovers. They didn't factor into each others lives, not any more, so Kim could rant and scream and tell Kerry to 'Shut the fuck up and listen' and it didn't matter because, even if the ring tone had been her only answer, she would have still been Kimberly Legaspi and she would have still been living the same life.
Kerry didn't hang up, but she did shut up, and the next day it was she who placed the call, and a week after that it was Kerry who was flying into San Francisco's airport. Not to support a lover, or a friend, but to heal another of the wounded. Their past wasn't in question. Their futures unknown and unknowable. All that mattered was that Kerry was the only one strong enough to help.
Kerry knew about losing someone loved; she knew about grief and despair. What she didn't know was the guilt of wishing someone dead, of seeing their lifeless body and experiencing one split second of joy. But it didn't matter. If Kim needed her forgiveness, she would give it. If what she craved was punishment, she could do that, too. And when, finally, Kim had been put back together again, she would leave and life would go on, and their past would finally be forgotten.
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