She answered on the fourth ring, slightly out of breath “Hello?”
“Kate. It’s Blake.” She didn’t immediately return his greeting, which was odd. Then, Blake remembered: “Oh, gosh. It’s your yoga night, isn’t it?”
“Mm hmm,” Kate replied crisply.
“I forgot. I’ll call back.”
“Well. I don’t know what the point would be. I mean, I’ve probably just missed my bus.” Kate threw her keys down on the counter with a sigh. “Is it important? What you wanted to tell me?”
“Because I only answered because I thought it might be something important.” Kate slipped her yoga matt off her shoulder and hung it on the coat rack. Someone had left an ugly green sweater hanging on one of the hooks. It felt expensive. She wondered whose it could be.
“I’m really sorry. I wasn’t thinking.”
Kate scribbled an angry circle on a corner of the grocery flyer with an old pen. “Yup.”
Blake could tell Kate thought he didn’t feel sorry enough. “It’s just – I got some news that has me sort of turned around.“
“Oh yeah?” He said nothing more. Kate rolled her eyes. “What? What news?” she prompted.
“I MAY be getting a story published“.
“Oh.” she said. “Well, congratulations, right?” Kate tapped her pen on the counter a few times, waiting for Blake to fill in some of the details but again, he was silent. “So, is that you wanted to tell me?”
Blake had begged her a half dozen times to read his short stories but she’d refused. She didn’t want to be disappointed by another aspiring man with his eyes on the stars and holes in his socks. Kate pushed her pen deep into a brown banana on the counter and then studied the hole. “Well, I’m not sure that was worth missing a class for but, anyway…” Her voice trailed off. “Oh, right!” she said, remembering, “My family is having a dinner party next Thursday. Somebody got a promotion or something.”
He sounded incredulous. She didn’t like it.
“Yeah, ‘family’. You know: ‘mother’, ‘father’, ‘brothers’. That sort of thing?”
“I didn’t realize you had one.”
Kate tossed her pen in the sink. “What! Did you think I was hatched, Blake?
“I assumed that they had passed on. Or you were estranged.”
“I never said that.”
“You’ve never spoken about a word of them to me, Kate. What was I supposed to believe? I didn’t ask because I didn’t want to upset you.”
It was like he was intentionally trying to be irritating. “Look. You’re being really weird right now. Do you want to come to the damn dinner or not?”
“I’m trying to figure out how to go on with life. Nothing feels right. Not since Gary disappeared. It’s like I’m being disrespectful to Gary’s memory whenever I feel anything positive: hanging out with friends, talking with you… getting published. I should be DOING something. I should be looking for him, not spending the night rewriting my story.”
“Okay. CLEARLY, you’re looking for permission to rewrite your story and I’m not going to give it to you. I’m not your mom.” She tore a paper towel off a roll and wrapped the remains of her banana in it.
“You’re right. I’m going to call the magazine and tell them to find another writer.”
“Seriously? Are you being serious? Let me put this situation in perspective for you, okay? Gary is a dog. ” She drew out the word, like she was pronouncing it for someone who didn’t speak English. “Pitbulls live like nine years TOPS. At best – AT BEST! – you had another year. Either way, Gary was going to die.”
“We don’t know that Gary’s dead.”
“Ninety percent sure, Blake.” He said nothing. She continued. “Did you steal this story from Gary? Did you write the story together? Is NOT publishing the story going to help you get your pick of classes to teach next year? There is no issue here. It’s a non-issue. Do it. End of discussion.”
Kate hung up.
Blake looked around his living room feeling light-headed and slightly nauseous. As he sat in front of his laptop to rewrite his story, one last vital question remained.
NEXT WEEK: One too many questions
NEXT WEEK: One too many questions..