I’m up to my ears in writing a present. Because she’s both the nicest woman on the internet and a gifted storyteller, I asked Kir for something to share with you all. She gave me a piece of Gathering Buttercups, a new story she’s developing on The Kir Corner. Kir writes incredibly engaging characters, and Kate is no exception. Kir recently finished a draft of a novel which began as a series of prompt responses for Write on Edge, and traveling with her on her writer’s journey, reading as her voice developed, has been a pleasure and a privilege.
Kate mindlessly wiped down the counter trying to erase imaginary smudges. Preoccupied with the ever-present to-do list in her head, she added Milk to the staples she’d need to pick up later at the supermarket.
Sighing deeply she turned up the volume on her iPod playing through the kitchen radio and plopped herself into a chair. Closing her eyes she took in the easy rhythm of the music, delighting in the fact that her life was quiet for a few moments as Zach took a much-needed nap.
The morning had been chaotic and terribly usual. The quick peck on the lips from her husband and the back to back tantrums from Zach as his three-year-old demands became the stuff of legends. Her voice was hoarse from yelling and pleading with him as she attempted to just make breakfast, funny that it got such a rest when Anthony walked back through the door.
“Hey buddy” he’d yell as he opened the door and the dog barked, his tail wagging a welcoming smile. Zach would run full on and leap into his arms screaming “DAAAADDDYYY!!” and the love fest would begin; while the tantrums, raspberries and teary eyes gone as if they had never existed.
Anthony would eventually find his way to her, thank her for making dinner and with another quick peck try to prove that nothing had changed between them, but it had. After twelve years it seemed they had nothing more to say to one another.
“I feel lonely.” Kate said to nobody but her spotless kitchen.
Getting up she moved toward the basement and the three loads of laundry that needed her attention, but halfway there she turned around and made a beeline for the couch. Sinking into the rich dark leather and grabbing a cozy blanket she grinned as if she were doing something illicit.
Wiggling her toes she bent toward the coffee table and reached for her laptop. Powering it on the blue screen filled with a picture of Zach holding a dinosaur at the Bronx Zoo, a smile splitting his face. She clicked on the small envelope and the screen filled with her email.
Taking a few minutes, she read and commented on blogs, answered Charlotte on what to wear tonight when she met a new guy for dinner and with the complete knowledge that Zach had cried himself right into a three-hour nap, she leisurely clicked through Facebook, taking note of good news, “liking” pictures and adding her two cents to more than one status update.
It was freeing to ignore her responsibilities and with that in mind, she closed Facebook and found the small icon for her Hotmail account tucked into the top corner of her screen.
Every few months she would take the time to open and delete all those emails, many just spam that had found its way to her inbox from her old life. The email address was one of the last remnants of her single life that she just couldn’t part with because it represented things she no longer had. Every time she thought about just canceling it her heart squeezed with resistance, so she left it, tucked into a corner and opened it to remind her of what her life looked like before she was Anthony’s wife and Zach’s mom.
Scanning the long list of outdated notices and offers, her eyes landed on a name that she hadn’t seen in half a dozen years, the date next to it revealing that it had arrived in this forgotten mailbox more than a month ago.
Hands shaking she pushed the mouse toward the name and clicked.
Three sentences appeared, asking how she was, offering congratulations on the birth of Zach and apologies for not staying in touch.
Kate read the sentences over and over, the tone of his words so easy and natural she had to keep reminding herself that she hadn’t heard his voice in a long time. It wasn’t until she looked at the last sentence that her breath caught as she read his real reason for writing.
“I’m separated, Kate. Do you think we could talk?” and then right before his name closed the note, “I miss you.”
The memories came hard and fast, the sweet kisses and thoughts of his hands all over her warming her more than the blanket covering her, so much so that when Zach’s cries from his bedroom drifted down the stairs her own eyes welled up with what could have been.