I have to wonder if I just made a very bad mistake….
Today has been a real mess mentally. I just can’t seem to get my thoughts in any sort of order and I have no sense of myself, just a dull feeling of being.
I really can’t describe this correctly.
I can’t just pack it in for the day like I want to, so instead I decided to push things.
What I am going to say next may not seem like a big deal, but for me it is a trigger and I know I shouldn’t have done what I am doing.
I pulled up the playlist I used while writing “Kira Unbound” which is the story I was working on last November.
I also reopen the file….
What follows is a large amount of text and for that I apologize.
This is the part which, for me, set the stage both in the story and in real life for everything which followed….
Heat waves rose from asphalt, concrete and metal turning an already miserable day into a fever dream. Low clouds hung in sky, diffusing the light into a directionless haze. The grey skies had threatened rain all morning, but nothing fell from the humid air. The steady breeze flowing across the water brought no relief to the people who worked, sweated and cursed on and between the two ships where they waited at the dock.
To her left was a new arrival, a cruiser where yesterday it had been a fast frigate. It was a picture of sleek lines and deadly purpose compared to the wall of grey that rose up on her right. Her ship was about as sexy as an old pair of socks, but she had taken Kira half way around the world and brought her back safe and sound so she couldn’t complain. She wondered how soon she would find herself missing the old girl.
The pier was as big as three football fields, but next to the ships tied to either side, it was little more than an alleyway. Kira made her way through the maze of people, equipment, and pallets along the dock. The air thick with the smells of metal and oil.
She turned and watched as a woman made her way toward her. She was shorter than she was, slim, but not skinny; with her long black hair tucked under a ships ball-cap and brown eyes. Her skin was tanned from sun and salt air.
“Anne,” She smiled.
She caught up and they walked together, easily matching strides.
“We still on for tonight?” she asked.
Kira smiled, “ I wouldn’t miss your cooking for anything, you know that.”
“You’d better not or I’ll have to hunt you down and beat you with a wet noodle!” She laughed.
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep!” Kira smiled.
Anne looked at her with mock seriousness, “You just try me and see. I’ve been planning this all week.”
Kira held her hands in mock surrender and laughed, “Wouldn’t think of it.”
They turned and walked up the gang plank.
“Oh, can you do me a favor?” Anne asked. “Stop and pick up something for dessert? It’s the only thing left to get.”
“Sure” Kira said, “Anything you want?”
“I’ll leave it up to you,” She gave a Kira a big smile, “ I’m sure it’ll be great.”
They reached the top and Anne turned to leave.
Kira remembered something, “Anne”
She turned back, “Yes?”
Kira looked embarrassed, “ I forgot, I packed my stuff and didn’t leave anything out for tonight,” She looked sheepish, “All I have left is my workout clothes, would that be alright?”
Anne gave her a big smile, “Sure, it’s just the two of us, so wear whatever you want.”
“Bye!” She disappeared into the crowded passageway.
Kira stood outside Anne’s apartment building holding the double chocolate cheese cake she had picked up at the bakery. It was Anne’s favorite. The building was a two story brick affair with four apartments. To either side were larger versions with eight apartments each, surrounding a central parking lot.
Lights filled the windows of her apartment and Kira could envision her in the kitchen, fussing over last minute details, wanting everything to be just right. She smiled, Anne was a terrific cook and tough she acted embarrassed when someone complimented her food, she was really pleased. She loved to make things that people enjoyed.
Nerves tightened her stomach and a frown touched her lips. She didn’t know how tonight was going to turn out, but she couldn’t turn back now. What she was going to do was too important, to her, to their relationship. They had been friends too long and she couldn’t stand to have them part with this between them. Of course, after tonight, there might not a relationship at all.
The thought was enough to make her sick.
Anne answered the door with a smile and a dusting of flour on her cheek. “Come in.”
Kira smiled as she entered and closed the door.
“I’ll take that,” she said as she slipped the dessert from his hands. She looked down and made a happy noise, “You remembered!”
“How could I forget when you drool just talking about Chocolate cheese cake?” Kira laughed.
Anne swatted at him, “I don’t drool!” She stopped and thought, “well, maybe just a little.”
The place was small, being just a one bedroom apartment, but Annes taste in furniture and decorating made it seem warm and inviting. She took pride in keeping the place neat and tidy, everything in its place without seeming stiff or uptight.
The smells of dinner hung in the air and Kira couldn’t wait to see what she had come up with this time.
The table was set with fresh made bread and real butter as the center piece. Two plates sat waiting with wine glasses freshly filled.
Kira picked up her glass and took a small sip. No cheap grocery wine for Anne’s table.
“Leave room for the food,” Anne teased from in front of the stove where she stirred something before taking a test taste.
Kira smiled,”and don’t you eat everything before it hits the plate.”
She stuck her tongue out. “Meh!”
She pointed to the table with a spoon, “Sit down and quit bugging me or I’ll spit in your food.”
Kira did as directed and soon Anne was dishing up the food.
Anne had outdone herself, preparing a meal of stuffed pork chops, asparagus, and baked potato.
“Wow Anne, this is amazing. Thank you.”
Anne blushed prettily, clearly pleased. “I’m glad you like it.”
The conversation was light and relaxed, and for a little while Kira is able to forget why she was really there, but soon dinner is finished, the table cleared and she is left facing the time of truth. The realization of what she is about to do, the terrible chance she is taking, is almost enough to make her physically ill.
Normally they would take their after dinner wine and sit on the couch, just talking and enjoying the time together, but this time Kira returned to the table, sitting and twirling her glass by the stem. Anne dried her hands and joined her looking concerned.
“Is something wrong?”
The hand holding the glass trembled slightly, Kira tok a breath and looked at her friend,
“We need to talk,” she says.
“That’s what we’ve been doing, isn’t it?” Anne asked, looking a little amused.
“Yes” Kira replied, “ but I really need to tell you something, something I’ve never told anyone.”
Looking across the table at her friend, the object of such pain and joy, Kira almost lost her nerve. Taking another deep breath to steady herself, she spoke in a near whisper,
“I’ve been keeping a secret from you,” she forced herself to look the other woman in the eye. “From everyone, friends, family, maybe myself.”
It wasn’t surprising that Anne looked totally confused. She didn’t, couldn’t understand. How could anyone be expected to?
“Eric?” she asked.
The name was like a physical blow, falling so easily from her lips. Despite herself, Kira recoiled, stumbling back from the table. Her glass toppled over unnoticed.
It was all she could do not to turn and run.
Anne was truly alarmed now and if hadn’t hurt so much, Kira might have laughed at the almost comical look on her friends face.
“Did I say something wrong?”
“No,” Kira chocked, trying to catch her breath, she couldn’t seem to get air past the lump in her throat. “its not you.”
“Not you,” she repeated, “me.”
She took several breaths, “its me.”
Trembling shook her from head to toe, threatening to send her to her knees and she knew she was about to loose control. She had to act.
“I can’t explain, but I can show you.”
Anne started to say something, but Kira couldn’t hear her anymore.
She closed her eyes and reached for her avatar.
The warmth grew and expanded from the middle of her chest outward and golden light slowly grew behind her eyelids. until it was almost blinding. A tingling rushed through her from head to toe and back again, setting her scalp to buzzing. Kira could feel her body rise up on tip toe and she spread her arms to maintain balance as her body arched back and she tossed her head back, her mouth opening in a silent scream of pure joy. The weight of heavy tresses slowly grew as her hair expanded out and down sending shivers across her skin. Now she regretted the shirt she wore, wishing to feel that hair against her bare skin. Her body weight and balance shifted but she was ready for it and stood perfectly still. She wanted to be this way forever.
Too soon. Too soon it was over, the glow and warmth receded as her heels touched the floor.
She was herself once more.
Then what she had just done hit her.
She wasn’t alone.
There was someone else in the room with her and for the first time in her life someone else had seen what she was. Someone knew.
Her dinner almost came back up and she gagged.
A chair crashed to the floor.
Kira’s eyes snapped open and she found herself looking directly at the woman standing at the table. Brown eyes and green locked.
Her expression one of fear, almost panic and Kira knew that she had made a terrible, terrible mistake. She should never have revealed herself, not now and not to Anne, never. Everything she had hoped and dreamed and feared were stripped away in an instant.
There was no where to go from here, nothing to return to. No future, no past. She closed her eyes and saw only the darkness that awaited her swirling inward.
She felt hot tears on her cheeks but they didn’t matter. Nothing mattered anymore. She began to tremble, gently at first then more violently. She heard a whisper, harsh and broken, “I’m sorry.”
Before she knew it, she was stumbling to the bathroom where she crashed into the toilet and emptied herself of everything until she was a raw empty shell.
She didn’t remember collapsing to the floor, but lay there, racked by sobs that threatened to tear her apart.
She didn’t know how long she had lain there, wrapped in the pain, wishing for nothing more than to surrender to the darkness that had always seemed to be waiting for her. She simply couldn’t keep going on this way. She just didn’t have the strength anymore to keep struggling through every day living in constant fear of revealing herself, of making a mistake, of saying the wrong thing, not now, not when the one person who mattered the most thought she was some kind of monster. The memory of the look on her face sent searing jabs of pain through her heart. No. It was time for this to end, once and for all.
The thought of her death was some how calming. She knew what she was going to do. It was just a matter of time and getting what she needed. Then her long awaited rest.
When she finally came back to herself, she knew that she wasn’t alone. There was someone’s hand gently stroking her hair, their presence a soft warm glow at her side.
“What is your name?”
The truth was there, between them now.
“Kira,” she said softly, “my name is Kira.”
“Nice to meet you Kira.” Anne replied.
She had to force her body to unlock, every muscle and joint protesting the movement. How long had she been like this? It seemed like years. She sat up, moving away from the woman she had called her friend, unable to look at her. The loss was still a bitter taste in her mouth.
“Please don’t.” Her voice was raw.
“Don’t what? What are you talking about Kira?” Anne asked.
“Please don’t act like nothing’s changed when everything has changed.” She answered.
“Kira, please look at me.” Anne sounded genuinely concerned. “I want you to look me in the eyes. I want to see you, not the side of your face.”
A bitter laugh escaped Kira’s lips. “Afraid I’ll turn into a real monster? Or just more of one?”
“Why would I ever think that?” Anne asked, truly stunned.
“I saw the look on your face Anne. What you thought was very clear.” Kira wanted to scream, but she almost choked on her words and they came out a strangled whisper.
“Oh God,” Anne replied, horrified. “No. Kira, no.”
“Kira, look at me.” She reached out and took Kari’s face in her hands.
She tried to pull away but Anne maintained contact. The cool skin never leaving hers. How long had she waited for that touch? Now all she wanted was to get away but she had nowhere to go.
“Kira, it’s not what your thinking. I swear it’s not. I was scared because I thought something had happened to you. You turned so pale I thought that something had went wrong when you changed. I thought I might loose you before I even got to know your name.”
“Kira. Listen to me. I don’t think your a monster. How long have we known each other? More than three years, Kira. Three years. Why would I think of you as anything less than my friend?”
“Just look in my eyes and you’ll see the truth for yourself. Please, just look at me.”
She stopped talking and took a deep breath, and Kira felt her relax slightly through her fingers.
Kira wanted desperately to believe. She had been alone for so long, was it wrong to want to open up to someone with whom she could be herself?
Was she willing to take the risk? Could she survive that?
She couldn’t survive without it.
Besides, all she was doing was putting off the inevitable for a little longer, what difference would it make?
After a long pause, Kira made her decision and opened her eyes.
She studied Annes face, finding nothing more than concern in her eyes.
“Kira, I was afraid for you, not of you.”
She took a deep breath.
“I’m sorry you had to go through this, you don’t deserve to suffer for my mistakes. I just hope you can forgive me.”
Forgive her? God, she loved her, there was nothing to forgive.
In her mind she had pictured a fortress, a castle in the wastes where she had kept her heart. Her deepest, darkest fears and dreams safely hidden away. She had built walls and more walls. Higher and higher for as long as she could remember. Every bit of pain and loneliness, all of her shame and fear and anger had been poured into their building. She had thought they were strong, that she was strong. That nothing could breach her defenses and expose who and what she was, but in that moment the walls shattered and the fortress fell with a force that shook her to her core.
The sounds she makes didn’t seem human in her ears as she collapsed into Annes arms.
They sat on opposite sides of the couch, with cups of herbal tea, Kira content to just let the silence settle against her nerves, soothing the raw edges. She is sitting in one of Annes’ bathrobes, her hair wrapped in a towel. Her feet tucked beneath her. The shower she had taken had helped more that she thought possible, she actually felt human again.
Kira nods, “The shower really helped.”
Anne fiddles with her cup,
“I really am sorry Kira. If I hadn’t reacted that way, none of this would have happened.”
Kira looks at her surprised,
“What are you apologizing for? I was the one who sprung all this on you. I doubt you were expecting an after dinner show.”
Annes lips twitch then set in a firm line.
“No, I lost control of the situation. That’s inexcusable.”
“Kira, I know this isn’t easy, but I need you to talk to me.”
She took a breath and with a reigned tone asked,
“What do you want to know?”
“It’s cliche, but why don’t you start at the beginning?”
She made a rude noise. “I hope you have a lot of time.”
Anne smiled, “It’s Friday and I didn’t make any plans this weekend.”
It was a story that she had never shared, of a past she would just as soon forget.
As she began to relate her tale, Kira closed her eyes and let her mind drift. So many thoughts and images to sort through, so many things she hadn’t thought about in years. So many things she didn’t want to remember at all. People and places, moments she would never forget.
She spoke of her dysfunctional home life, Her abusive step father and alcoholic mother. She spoke of school with no friends and fewer dates. The weird kid, the loner everyone talked about, laughed at.
She talked of finding a small book of short stories that had miss-sorted and forgotten, just like her, and the one that changed her life forever.
Finding herself, finding her name, amongst the books and dust.
Her name was Kira.
“I learned to laugh.”
She finally ran out of words.
“I think these need a refresh, just give me a minute.”
Anne took their cups and went to the kitchen.
She sat and watched to other woman as she moved. Anne was just trying to help a friend, she knew. it’s was one of the things she always loved about her. thinking on it, she is struck by one simple truth;
Anne wasn’t trying to help her. She’s helping Eric.
To her Kira is a wall, something that is between them, keeping her from him. When Anne was watching her, talking to her, looking into her eyes, she was looking through not at her, searching for him. Like everyone else in her life, Anne had mistaken the frame for the picture.
She couldn’t blame her for that, not really; after all, she had known Eric for years. She didn’t know Kira and from her view, they were and would remain two different people.
It was Eric that she wanted.
Anne’s back was to her as she slipped from the couch and quietly moved to the chair next to the kitchen window. She sat looking out at the dark on the other side of the screen.
“You didn’t have to get up,” Anne said.
Kira took a deep breath. Her heart was beating too fast and she felt sick to her stomach, but she had to do this.
“Anne, can I ask you something?” She didn’t turn around, she couldn’t bear to see her face.
She took a breath. “Would it make it easier if I changed?”
Time seemed to stretch. She closed her eyes and awaited her sentence.
The answer came as softly as a teasing wisp of air, “Is that what you want?”
It was like a bullet to her heart. Of course it wasn’t what she wanted. She wanted to be herself as she was right now, exactly as she was meant to be, forever and the world be damned.
“It doesn’t matter what I want.” She whispered.
It never had, never would.
Arms slipped around her shoulders embracing her, she felt hot tears on her neck.
“Of course it matters,” Anne whispered in her ear. “It’s all that matters.”