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Slice 342 of 365

I’m pretty darn tired today, not sure why. I got to bed early enough to get over eight hours sleep, in theory at least. Took me over an hour to fall asleep, and I woke up twice during the night, but it seemed OK this morning. Although, I did start the day putting both my contacts in my right eye. So, there’s a pretty reasonable chance I’m wrong about the enough sleep factor.

I’d like to get to writing for Novel month, so that I can get to bed at a better time tonight. I’m going to give you some of the next part of The 7th Realm to fill the white space.

Again, raw and unedited since I have to write so fast. Have fun, I hope.

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As usual her mother was on her case. Clean your room, do your laundry, is your homework done? You’d think she was talking to a child instead of a nineteen-year-old college student. Fortunately her mother was a nurse and working the night shift right now so they were not seeing much of each other. That helped keep the war down to a few battles a week. There was no foreseeable victor, but in the Texas heat was there ever a winner?

Katherine Cortell, nicknamed KC by her father the day she was born, felt like an invader in her mother’s world as of late. KC’s dad had died of pancreatic cancer almost two years ago and life had just fallen apart since. Her mother had gone into a deep depression for six months after the funeral. She took a leave of absence from work. Thank heaven for the life insurance or they would have lost the house.

Friends and relatives were worried the first two weeks, and then began to drift away back to their lives. For KC and her mother though, life seems to stop. They watched the rest of the world pass by through the front window of their home.

Then one day KC’s mother woke up. Like nothing had happened. She was a different person, an angry person. This once cheerful, happy person who had become a nurse to help people now did nothing but find the blackness around her.

KC’s brain knew it was not her fault. Her heart on the other hand, had a hard time with this new person. It wasn’t enough that she lost her dad, but she had lost her mom too.

It happened quickly. KC’s dad was diagnosed the last day of her junior year of high school and the funeral was a week before she started senior year. All her friends were strange about it. Treating her like she had a disease. KC didn’t have that many friends to begin with. Her one confidant was Gerald Helms. He lived next door and they had been best friends since they were three.

Gerry was the only thing keeping KC sane right now. They were taking the same classes at the community college. When she needed to talk he listened. Gerry was never awkward, he was normal, and normal was what she needed right now more than anything.

When KC’s mom stayed in bed for six months and KC couldn’t be at the house, Gerry was always there. There wasn’t a best friend in the world like him. There couldn’t possibly be. If he wasn’t so much like a brother she would fall in love with him. They talked about dating several times but they both knew it was a horrible idea. Things like that never worked.

She talked to her dad about it the night before he died. He said, “Honey, There are six billion people on this planet and Gerry is one of the best one’s there is.” He fell asleep after that and didn’t wake up again. KC wasn’t positive what he meant.

“KC!” a voice bellowed, from down the hall.

There were boxes everywhere. KC’s mom had suddenly decided it was time to get rid of all her dad’s things. They’d been fighting about it all week. Her mother didn’t want to keep anything. KC needed at least some things to remember her dear father by.

Before answering she took a deep breath. She tried hard to imagine what this was like for her mom. KC wished her mother would do the same for her. Kc opened her door. “Yes mother?” There was more sarcasm in her response than she intended.

“Please come here,” he mother said.

KC slammed her text book closed and rose from her bed where she was doing Chemistry home work. She had no idea what she wanted to do with the rest of her life but she did know it would have something to do with science and the universe.

“Yes?” KC said, walking through the door, arms crossed, ready to do battle.

“I want these dishes done before I get home from my shift, understand?” Mom said, as she packed herself a lunch.

KC looked at the sink, “There’s a week’s worth of dishes in there. I have homework, how do you expect me to get all that done?” KC didn’t even convince herself, she was just being lazy.

Her mother looked at her, crossing her own arms now, she said, “Katherine, this is not a castle, and you are not a princess. I don’t care if you’re over eighteen and in college. You will do your chores. I did not raise a pig.”

Mom scooped up her lunch and headed for the door without another word. KC thought she heard her start to cry on the way out. The crying came in waves. It had been several months now since the last bout. When her dad first died KC could hear her mother every night sobbing in her bedroom. KC never let on that she could hear. She didn’t want to be sad too. She had to be the strong one since her mother had fallen apart.

Gerry came through the door and went straight to the fridge. His normal routine. He pulled out a diet Dr. Pepper, which KC’s mom bought special for Gerry. That was one that she still did regularly. KC guessed it was just so ingrained in her shopping schedule. When KC shopped she got the soda. This had been going on for twelve years. It started when Gerry saw one of those “I’m a Pepper, you’re a Pepper” commercials, and he hasn’t stopped drinking it since.

“What’s shaken bacon?” he said, cheerfully. Gerry was always smiling. He was one of the happiest beings that KC had ever met.

“Nothing, just went another round with Broom Hilda.” KC went to the sink and ran hot water.

“Yep, I saw her heading to work as I came in. She looked somber.” He took a swig from the can.

KC started doing dishes feeling guilty that she had fought with her mother again. It was a right, wasn’t it? For mothers and daughters to fight. KC often felt pangs of guilt for not supporting her mother more during this awful past two years, but her mom had not exactly been mother of the year either. Still, that was no reason to be a bitch.

Sometimes KC just had feelings she could not control, more often than she’d like to admit. These feelings she didn’t even talk to Gerry about, and she told him everything. She told him about her first kiss, when she lost her virginity, heck she even told him about her first period. He did not enjoy that story.

Except for Gerry, KC felt completely out of place. Like the world didn’t want her, and was trying to vomit her up. A malady to be gotten rid of. Her father was the only person who seemed to understand her. She never discussed with him her odd feelings, but he knew. She didn’t know how he knew, she only knew that he knew.

Snapping his fingers, Gerry said, “Woo hoo.” KC became alert again. “Penny for your thoughts sunshine.” He’d called her sunshine since seventh grade when he’d heard it in a song.

“Was just thinking about my dad.”

“You OK?”

“Yeah.” She thought about telling him more and changed her mind. “Yeah, I’m fine. Why don’t you get the water boiling for the pasta while I finish these dishes. At least something will make my mom happy.” She rinsed a plate free of soap.

“Good,” he said. “Your mom deserves to be happy.”

He pecked KC on the cheek before grabbing a pot to fill with water. She smiled, she liked his pecks. Gerry sidled up next her with his pot in hand to compete for water. He hip checked her lightly and she moved slightly. KC retaliated harder and Gerry moved slightly farther. Jerry came back slamming into KC’s body this time and she went flying.

He filled his pot ignoring KC while she raised herself off the floor smirking, showing the devil inside. On her haunches she leaped for the small hose attached to the sink. Before Gerry could turn, KC was spraying water in his face. In one sift motion Gerry took the half full pot of water and dumped it over KC’s head.

He smiled. KC pulled wet hair from her eyes, she smiled. Gerry let a giggle escape. KC coughed out a laugh. Gerry’s sniggers turned to laughter. KC could hold it in no more, her laughing fit began and could not be contained.

After several minutes of laughing Gerry said, “Hey, your high beams are showing.”

“What?” KC looked around and realized she was wearing a white shirt with no bra, and was soaking wet. She punched his shoulder and crossed her arms over her chest. “Jerk.” She ran upstairs to change and let the embarrassment wear off. They’d never seen each other naked. She hadn’t been naked of course, but that was more than she thought Gerry would every see of her. Big deal, she thought, they were adults. It was fine. No big deal. They’re only nipples, who cares.

KC marched downstairs with confidence. Upon arriving in the kitchen she saw a pasta dinner laid with salad and garlic bread.

“Mademoiselle, dinner is served.” Gerry, with a towel over his arm, pulled out the chair for her.

“Gracias,” she said.

“Wrong langua-“

“Shut up.”

They spoke of school and future plans as they enjoyed dinner. Gerry made her clean up everything to avoid another mother/daughter battle. Gerry made her mom a plate of food and put it in the fridge, but he made KC write the note.

“Homework time?” Gerry asked.

“I guess we have too,” KC responded unenthusiastically.

Gerry followed her up the stairs to KC’s room. They had spent many happy hours in that room playing, laughing, studying and planning out their lives.

They both sat on the bed, KC opened her chemistry book and they both moved in to see the book, bonking heads in the process. Each rubbing their own forehead they looked at each other. There was an unexpected awkwardness that never existed before. Suddenly KC was acutely aware of how close Gerry was.

Gerry tilted his head. It seemed unnatural, and perfectly reasonable at the same time. KC looked into his eyes and moved forward.

As their lips were about to meet, a flash of light exploded through KC’s closet door along with a burst of smoke. KC let out a scream.

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