Several days passed and Spencer hadn’t heard from Kate. He saw her at the office, but she ignored him and many others around her. She refused to join in any kind of banter and she no longer smiled. She focused on her work and left as soon as it was done. Kate seemed like a cardboard cutout of herself, very stiff and wooden.
Finally on Friday, Spencer drove to her apartment and rang the bell. He held the envelope in his hand, ready to pass it on. He felt he better inform Kate personally before some government agency or an attorney did.
But there was no answer. He didn’t hear Buttons barking either, so maybe they were on a walk. He decided to wait a minute. A neighbor came out into the hall from next door and said, “She ain’t home, man. She left yesterday with a bag.” The neighbor was holding an empty laundry basket.
“Oh. Thanks. I’ll come back later.” He wondered where she took off to. He didn’t know she had any leave coming, not that he knew every detail of Kate’s life. So much for getting this over with. He’d have to wait for her return.
For the next several days, Spencer went to work on auto pilot. He did what needed to be done and left early most days. He waited to hear from Kate, but she never called. Jen and Kelly didn’t even know where she took off to. Finally, two weeks later he heard thru the grapevine that she was back. Two Fridays after his first attempt, he drove directly to Kate’s right after work.
This time when he knocked, she opened the door and backed up. She looked awful. Her hair was a mess and her eyes were red. An odor drifted out to the hallway causing Spencer to wrinkle his nose. “Kate, you’ve got to-“
“Don’t preach to me, Spencer. You’re the one who came over uninvited.”
Whoah. He paused at her cold comment. “Kate, may I come in? I need to talk to you.” He nervously fingered the letter in his hand. He had a sinking feeling this wasn’t going to go well.
She left the door open and left him standing there. He gingerly stepped into the malodorous atmosphere and shut the door. He took a deep breath—through his mouth.
He found her sitting on the sofa with her arms crossed as if she was done already with whatever he came to say. “Kate, do you mind if I open a window?” His stomach had been doing summersaults before he got here, now he felt like he might heave from whatever was rotting in her trash.
“Once again, you’re here uninvited.” She gestured toward the patio door. Spencer felt worse by the minute. He opened the door and took a breath of fresh air, not only for his physical being, but for his mental psyche. He also said a quick prayer for strength and to not lose his cool.
Then he sat gingerly across from her. He watched her stare out the door, noting her tank top and shorts, thinking she was still in her bedclothes. How long had she been like this and where had she gone during her leave? He knew she didn’t have any family except for her mom which she didn’t know if she was alive or dead.
“Kate, can I get you something to eat? Or drink?”
“Kate, did I do something wrong?”
At least not for now. He took a deep breath before standing up to stretch his hand holding the envelope toward her. “I have a letter from John you need to read.” He spoke in practically a whisper, hoping to hold back her coolness.
She gulped and stared at the envelope he held out. “What now?” She snatched the letter from his hand and plopped back on the sofa. Spencer lowered himself slowly back in his seat, but on the edge in case he had to defend himself against whatever reaction she would respond with.
Kate flipped the envelope over a time or two before she finally tore it open. She pulled out a handwritten letter and a legal document.
Spencer eyed her warily and saw her stiffen as she read. He braced himself.
Until next time,