Kate Taken To St. Elizabeth’s

Earlier in the evening the Fairview Heights Police Department were notified by an unidentified Good Samaritan of an accident on the highway not far from the mall exit. One car was in the ditch. Officers Taylor and Griffith were dispatched to the scene.

An unconscious Kate was picked up by emergency personnel and transported to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in downtown Belleville. She was assessed and put into a room to await an X-ray on her arm.

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Kate Calls Jen

Kate dialed Jen’s number as soon as she found her phone in her purse. When Jen answered Kate blabbered on about her realizations.

Jen said, “Kate! Slow down. What’s going on?” Jen turned down her stereo before sitting down on her sofa and waited for Kate to calm down.

Kate shared with Jen the revelations of the last few minutes. “So, I’m a horrible mother and I haven’t even started yet!”

“Kate, calm down. You’ll be okay.” Jen looked at her watch. It was nearly nine at night, but it was Friday and she didn’t have to work in the morning. “Listen, I’ll pick up some hot chocolates and I’ll be over in a few minutes. Will you be okay until I get there?”

“Yes. I’ll try.” Kate hung up and decided to take Buttons for a short walk. Her anxiety needed an outlet. Though it was obviously dark out, there were numerous lights placed around the complex which were bright enough to make her feel safe and she wouldn’t leave the area anyway.

The night was warm and humid, the stars twinkling miles overhead. She tried to calm her beating heart and pace herself, but she was nearly running around the tennis courts. This was crazy. She was going to be a mother!

****

Until next time,

Michelle

Kate Considers Spencer’s View

Kate never gave Spencer’s situation a thought. She had only thought of herself. She swallowed her guilt and it was a minute before she could respond. “I’m sorry. I know it isn’t easy for you, either.” She wiped away fresh tears with her hand. She gestured back to the bathroom. “That’s not like me,” she whispered and started crying harder. She slid down the wall, plopping to the floor.

Spencer put Buttons down gently and sat next to Kate, wrapping his arm around her. Buttons tried licking her tears. Poor guy was as bewildered as they were. “I didn’t think so,” he said, tears running down his own face. “But I better not ever catch you doing anything that stupid ever again,” he said, his voice hoarse.

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Spencer and Kate in a Heated Discussion

Plopping into a chair in Kate’s dining room, Spencer considered what he should do. Ordinarily he knew he was supposed to report Kate’s suicide attempt to their first sergeant, but he didn’t know if it was necessary. He didn’t see Kate as suicidal, just lost. And highly vulnerable. He’d have to keep an eye on her. He slumped down at the dining room table, his head resting on his arms, clenching and unclenching his fists.

Buttons came in, whimpering. Spencer sat up and looked for him.  Buttons eyed Spencer with a nervous look. Spencer slowly lowered his hand and reached down for him. “Sorry, boy. Come here.” Buttons jumped on his lap and shuddered. “Sorry, life’s a little rough right now.” Spencer rubbed the puppy’s back, asking God what he was supposed to do now. If he was going to be any help to Kate, he had to keep himself together. He wiped away moisture from the corners of his eyes with his fingers. He didn’t hear Kate enter.

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Kate Mishandles the Situation

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.

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Spencer Eats a Late Dinner

An hour later, his stomach growled and still no sound came from the bedroom. He checked the kitchen for anything edible. He didn’t find anything but sour milk and some wilted carrots. “At least she’s been eating, huh, boy?” Buttons was sticking close to him, so he put him back on the leash and drove to the store. Since the commissary on base was now closed, he drove to the grocery store nearby.

Buttons barked when he left him in the car, but Spencer told him, “I’ll be right back, I promise.” He went inside and bought apples, bananas, carrots, mushrooms, green leaf lettuce, red potatoes, some soup, soy milk, eggs, and a few other items. He knew a little of the stuff Kate usually bought because of her half-vegan diet. She had told him once that she was trying to eat less processed stuff and cook more. Which he and John appreciated from her efforts. He walked back to the car, stowing the bags in the back seat while Buttons barked furiously. “See, I said I’d be right back.” He slid in the front seat and Buttons tried sitting on his lap. “Sorry, Bud, but not while I’m driving.” He scooted him over on to the passenger seat. “Stay.” Buttons whined, but he settled down.

Back at Kate’s, it took Spencer two trips to bring in the bags and then he unloaded everything, hoping he put most things where Kate liked them. “Now, how about an omelet for a late dinner?” Buttons seemed to know what Spencer was saying and didn’t let the human out of his sight.

As Spencer chopped mushrooms, tomatoes and peppers, he wondered if he should try and wake up Kate or not, but figured she might need the sleep, so let her be. He and Buttons shared the omelet and then Spencer washed up the few dishes and unloaded the dishwasher since it had finished its cycle.

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Kate Explodes

“Kate? Are you okay?” Spencer watched Kate, concerned. He gingerly moved next to her, waiting for the screaming, or something. It was now four weeks after the funeral. He didn’t think he could wait any longer, given the circumstances and knowing Sarah’s fate was in her hands.

Kate jumped up, startling him. “Am I okay!? Are you kidding? I’m now a mother of a little girl I know nothing about. A little girl I didn’t know existed until a few weeks after her father died. A little girl who I’m supposed to let know her father loves her, when he could never say that to me? Do you think I’m okay?!” She snatched up a cup of pens from the end table and threw it against the wall. Then she stormed off to her bedroom and slammed the door.

Spencer heard her yell through the door, “You can leave anytime!” And then something thrown at the door. He picked up the papers and folded them neatly back into the envelope and laid it on the table. Thanks, John. It’s going to be a long night. He took off his shoes and put them by the door, then opened the patio door wider to air out the place. He couldn’t quite place the odor, but it was bad.

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Kate Learns a Secret

Kate ripped open the envelope Spencer handed her and pulled out several sheets of paper, including one in John’s handwriting. Seeing his script again jolted her. She scanned the letter at first and then read it word for word.

 

Dear Kate,

If you’re reading this, you know I’m no longer living. I have always loved you, but I couldn’t say so. Because I had a secret. One that I was afraid you wouldn’t accept. I remember you saying more than once, you didn’t ever want to be a mother because yours left when you were young.

Kate, I have a daughter, Sarah, who’s living with her mother in Iowa. But Sarah’s mother is dying of cancer and she will become my responsibility unless something happens to me. Sarah will be your legal daughter if both her mother and I die. Enclosed you will find the necessary documents you need to find her. Only Spencer, the lawyer, and Beth, Sarah’s mother, know.   We were young and stupid, but Sarah is not a mistake. I know you will love her with every fiber of your being once you absorb the shock. Please allow Spencer to help you in getting her settled in and don’t blame him for keeping my secret as I’ve asked. Because Sarah will legally become a ward of the state before you adopt her, you will get a monthly stipend from the Iowa government to provide for her. There shouldn’t be any snags with the paperwork, but the attorney’s contact info is enclosed if you need any help or have any questions I haven’t answered in the paperwork or this letter. The legal office on base can assist you as well.

Kate, this was the hardest letter I’ve ever written. Please know that I love you, and I trust you with Sarah. Please love her as your own and tell her her daddy loved her.

I love you, Kate, and please forgive me.

Love always,

John

 

Kate dropped the letter and the other papers on the floor, her eyes focused on nothing and everything. She couldn’t read anymore. This couldn’t possibly be happening. There was no way she was going to be a mother. And especially to a stranger and to John’s flesh and blood who she’d have to look at every day. What on earth had he been thinking? How could he have kept this from her all this time? How could he possibly do this to her? All these questions and more swarmed around in her head.

She was now going to become a mother, her worst nightmare? And then she had to tell this daughter that John loved her? How could she possibly do that? He hadn’t had the nerve to ever use those words with her. The audacity of it all made her want to scream. No way! Not happening.

Why didn’t he tell her anyway, so she could wring his neck instead of Spencer’s?

****

Until next time,

Michelle

Spencer Visits with John’s Parents

Spencer called after Kate, wanting to set up a time to get together. But he let her go for now. He felt the same way, wanting to be alone with his thoughts and memories of his adventures with John. But he went back inside the church and talked with John’s parents. He wanted to see if John ever mentioned his daughter to them, without having to come out and ask point-blank. He also wondered why John left her to Kate instead of his parents, but figured he thought he and Kate would marry and raise her. Life had a way of changing things. He hoped Kate accepted it better than he thought she would.

Spencer ate a few bites of ham, mashed potatoes and a Jello salad with pineapple and coconut in it. Comfort food. But today it wasn’t very comforting.

Mrs. Kern leaned over and whispered, “She’ll be fine, eventually. We were kind of expecting this to happen eventually. With three sons in the military, our odds were pretty high.”

Spencer nodded. “Still, it’s hard.”

She continued. “It is, but there is always the Comforter to help in times like this. And we were very proud of him; still are.” She stopped to wipe her eyes with her tissue before continuing. “John’s brothers couldn’t make it; one’s in Kandahar and the other in Germany. But we’ll get together with them soon and have a good family cry.” She wiped her eyes and gave Spencer a wobbly smile.

He nodded, not wanting to say anything.

Mrs. Kern sipped her coffee before asking, “Now, will you be taking care of Kate?” She gave him a knowing smile.

Spencer turned in the direction that Kate took off. He turned back to Mrs. Kern and sighed. “If she’ll let me. She’s very stubborn.”

“That’s what John said. But he liked that in her, though sometimes it was a problem. I think she’ll need you, Spencer. I know the three of you have been friends for a while, and that you liked her from the beginning, but that she chose John. You’re a gentleman, and you deserve to have her now. Don’t let her push you away.”

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Spencer and Kate Go for a Drive

A minute later, Kate returned with her cap shoved on her head, her eyes red. Spencer said quietly, “My car’s this way.” As much as he wanted to, he wanted to hold Kate’s hand, but regulations wouldn’t allow it unless they were out of uniform. He stuffed his left hand in his pocket, the other holding his keys which he didn’t feel like spinning on his finger. He would miss his friend and the memories and jokes they shared. But he knew things would change after he finally told Kate what John could not. And he dreaded that conversation like a root canal.

The drive was silent as a cave minus the dripping. Not even the radio was on. Spencer couldn’t remember when or why he had turned it off. He didn’t bother turning it back on. He still had weepy eyes and wasn’t in the mood for music. Somehow silence seemed fitting.

Instead of driving straight to her apartment, Spencer drove to the park nearby where he sometimes jogged on Saturday mornings. He wasn’t sure he could trust himself to be alone with Kate in their grief. Though he had always had feelings for Kate, he saw early on that Kate had eyes for John. He backed off, and tried to think of other things, but he saw her almost every day, which made life difficult. Now with John gone, he felt guilty. He just couldn’t win. He turned the engine off and put the windows half-way down. Kate, with tears still falling, hadn’t noticed Spencer had parked. He let her be, lost in his own thoughts.

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