Kate Morris paced the floor, uttering obscenities under her breath. She tried to steady her emotional roller-coaster once more, but it was useless. She stopped in her tracks and lifted the collar of the shirt she wore to her nose and inhaled once more. His shirt. But it was useless. She knew the only scent it held was her own. It had been washed many times since he last wore it.
The vengeful images in her head replayed themselves ceaselessly. The gold circle that disappeared with each electronic transmission between them, only to reappear again, for all the world to see – except her; flashes of smiling faces with intertwined arms from various points in a life that she had no part in; images of maps far and wide on which she was one, lone point somewhere in no man’s land. She wasn’t sure how much more she could take. The tears threatened to overcome her once again.
Kate walked out onto the porch and sat in the swing. The world was grey and damp, and held no promise for the future. She pulled her legs up under herself and buried her face in her hands.
“How could I have let this happen?”
Silently, she cursed the day it all began. She wished she had been stronger. She yearned mightily for a ‘do-over’. Kate felt immobilized by love and fear; she never realized the two could go hand-in-hand. One hot, fat tear escaped and rolled slowly down her cheek.
She was certain it was coming for her; the bitter bite of a severed ‘something that never was’. Not outside her own head, anyway. All her life she wanted to experience a love as deep as this, but now she realized that it was never really hers to hold. She was drowning in hopes and dreams she was certain would never come to pass. She couldn’t even allow herself go there anymore, because to do so would mark the end of who she was. Those hopes and dreams would leave a gash in her soul so deep and wide that the healing of their absence would create a scar that could never feel again.
“The universe is punishing me for wanting something that isn’t mine to take. I wonder just how many of its laws I have broken and how bad this is going to get?”
Kate was yanked from her reverie by a violent screech of tires on asphalt and the gutless grinding of metal and shattering glass. Two cars; a head-on collision directly in front of her house and neither vehicle was recognizable as a vehicle anymore. There was steam rising from the scene in the cool rain as she jumped from her perch and ran toward the vehicles, praying incessantly “Please, please, please let there be life!”
The pungent smell of burnt rubber and spilt oil assaulted her nose as she reached the cab of a small pickup. She peered through the driver side window, but there was no one in there. Turning toward the other vehicle, she noticed the driver of the pickup lying several feet away in the ditch across the street. He was a young man in his late twenties and his body lay still and stark in the ditch with his lower half almost completely submerged in the storm water.
Before Kate could even think about reacting, she heard a piercing scream from the other vehicle and when she turned her head in that direction, she saw a woman standing beside the vehicle with a small, lifeless child in her arms. Kate began running toward her as the woman began falling to the pavement as her knees gave out on her. Kneeling beside the woman, Kate gently took the child and carried him to the side of the road and laid him in the grass. She stood to go get the woman when a dump truck came speeding out of bend in the road just before the crash site and plowed headlong into both vehicles. Kate glanced at the woman just before impact and saw the realization of what was about to happen, register on her face.
Then she was gone. The dump truck had moved the entire accident at least fifty yards further down the road and the woman was no longer. The child was motherless, and Kate’s entire life became frozen in that one single, heartless moment.
He sat hunched on the edge of the bed, looking like the torn soul that he was.. His head was in his hands as the tears pooled onto the floor. The gun lay on the bed beside him. He sat there in silence but his mind was screaming. He frantically searched for a way out, but he was only running in circles. There was nothing. Timothy Masters was a shell. Without even realizing it, he had picked up the gun, put it in his mouth and pulled the trigger.