The next morning sunshine peeked in through the vinyl blinds of Kate’s living room and Spencer felt a chill. He realized he’d forgotten to shut and lock the patio door before Kate’s collapse. He rolled over and felt a bruise on his leg. He didn’t know where he was at first or why he felt so stiff. It had been a long time since he’d slept on a hard surface. He moaned and remembered why he was on the floor. Kate was still asleep and Buttons was curled up at their feet.
Spencer gingerly got up and walked around quietly, trying to get the kinks out. He bent his knees one at a time and waved his arms up and down over his head to get his joints to pop. Then he closed the door most of the way, but left the blinds partially open, turned the lamp off, and headed to the kitchen to see if Kate had any coffee. Normally he didn’t indulge, but he knew it would be a long day. Thank goodness it was Saturday.
Spencer found some coffee in a canister and started a pot in her small machine. He took out the eggs and turkey bacon and the pan he used last night. Before he started cooking, he opened her apartment door to check for a newspaper. He saw one, picked it up and unfolded it. The headline read, “Troops Pulling Out of Iraq”. He refolded it and tossed it in her recycle container under the sink. He knew troops were pulling out, bit by bit. But it was too late for John, and thus too late for Kate. She didn’t need the reminder.
He cracked the eggs and cooked the bacon, waiting for Kate to wake up. When he was done he took out two plates and served it up, putting it on her dining table. He went to search for Kate, since had gotten up too. He walked down the hall to let her know breakfast was ready.
Strange sounds came from the direction of the bathroom, and they didn’t sound good. Spencer knocked on the door. “Kate, are you all right?”
“Just a little sick,” she croaked before making retching sounds. That’s what he’d heard. Was she sick? He was pretty sure she was just upset last night, not sick to her stomach.
He tried the door, found it unlocked and cautiously opened it. “Can I help?” The odor of fresh vomit assaulted his nose. Then Spencer noticed an open bottle of pills on the counter. He looked from her to the bottle and back again. Surely she didn’t. He snatched up the small bottle, scanning the label which read sleeping pills. “What do you think you’re doing!?” He looked from the pills to her and back again. He leaned against the door jamb, stunned.
“None of your business.” She got sick again and Spencer, still holding the bottle with the remaining pills, stalked down the hall to dump them down the kitchen sink before she could do anything to stop him.
She stomped down the hall right behind him, trying to grab his arm. “Hey! Those are mine and you can’t take those! What do you think you’re doing?”
Spencer spun around and threw the empty bottle toward the trash can where it bounced off the rim and rolled under the cupboards. “You have a lot of nerve! What do you think I’m doing?! Saving a friend’s life, that’s what. What are you trying to pull here, Kate Nicole? How could you?” He had used a few choice words, surprised at how easily they slipped off his tongue.
“None of your business! I don’t have to answer to you!” She kicked at the empty bottle and ran for the hall bathroom again.
He stormed after her, yelling, “Yes it is. You’re my business now. And you know better. This isn’t the answer, Kate.”
Kate slammed the bathroom door and then he heard the lock turn. Spencer stomped back the way he came, jarring pictures on the walls. He sucked in air, shaken. He raked his hands through his hair, yanking on it before letting go. Back in the kitchen, he dumped his breakfast in the trash and slammed the dishes in the sink. What was he supposed to do now? He pounded the counter with a fist, making the dishes rattle.
He leaned on the sink, gulping for air. This wasn’t what he signed up for. He didn’t ask for his best friend to die or to keep a secret from his girlfriend. He didn’t ask for Kate to try and put herself out of her misery. What was he supposed to do? He stood there, trying to deal with his own crushed emotions, waiting for his heart rate to return to normal. Several minutes later he splashed cold water on his face at the sink before finding his shoes.
He ran out the door, slamming it behind him and headed for the path around the apartment complex. He ran as fast as his legs could go, his feet pounding the pavement as hard as his heart inside his chest. Around and around he went until he could hardly move anymore. After thirty minutes, he slowed to a walk, reducing his heart rate and breathing to cool down level. This was going to be a long few months ahead. He slowly walked back to Kate’s door, bracing himself for what was to come.
Until next time,