Long one this time!
Kim sat on the edge of her seat, unable to tear her eyes from the screen as she watched some crazy chick running through the woods outside a cabin.
Simon kept glancing at her; she supposed to gauge her reaction.
How could she have been so wrong about him? A sceptic? Of course he was a sceptic; he’d lost his father when he was just a child. The love of horror, the comment about her seeming normal, it was all to do with his past, it was all emotional scarring because of the death of his father.
“You OK, Smurfy?” Simon asked her, “Not too freaked out?”
Kim laughed, choosing to ignore yet another Smurf reference.
“Not at all, this wasn’t what I was expecting…”
“What were you expecting?”
Simon laughed, “This is scary!” he said.
Kim cocked an eyebrow at him, unsure if he was having her on.
As the film progressed, Kim was surprised to find herself enjoying it which once again made her wonder how long she’d been judging things without actually experiencing them.
“More wine?” Simon asked towards the end of the movie, pausing the screen.
Kim nodded and he filled her glass. He was being so kind to her, and after she’d blown him off and labelled him as some sort of weirdo.
Sipping her glass tentatively she carried on watching the movie, gripped by the overzealous acting, the creepy atmosphere and fast pace and almost jumping out of her skin at a couple of points.
“Whoa, are you OK?” Simon laughed at one moment, “Come here,” he said, beckoning her closer.
And so they snuggled and it was… nice. Kim felt nothing for him, but she did feel safe. The sharing of their stories had made her feel closer to him, like the trauma of their past had helped them understand each other better.
As the credits rolled they broke apart.
“So what did you think?” Simon asked, shuffling forward and reaching for the DVD remote.
Kim placed her empty wine glass on the coffee table in front of her.
“I actually really liked it,” she said. Swallowing her last mouthful of wine.
“How could you not?” Simon smiled, “I told you to trust me…”
Kim smiled, finding his confidence amusing.
“I really should go now though,” she said, getting up and retrieving the bag containing her dirty clothes.
“Ok,” Simon said, getting up with her, “this has been… fun.”
Kim nodded enthusiastically. “It has, thank you… for bringing me here…”
Simon pulled her into a tight hug.
“I know it’s hard,” he said, “and don’t let anyone tell you how you should or shouldn’t react, things will get better when you least expect it.”
“How do you know all this stuff?” Kim asked.
“I’ve been there,” Simon said, “I’ve had longer to come to terms with things…”
They broke apart and Kim smiled at him.
“Well, I’ll see you around,” she said.
“Yes,” he replied, “you will.”
Kim arrived home at 2am and quietly slipped off her shoes before taking the stairs two at a time and letting herself into her room.
It was amazing to her how much better she felt since speaking to Si. He really was a kind person and she knew she was lucky to have met him.
Stripping and changing into her sleepwear, Kim slid under her comfortable bed covers – she was asleep as soon as her head touched the pillow.
Kim awoke groggily, her eyes were stinging and her neck ached. That wine had felt like such a good idea at the time, maybe not so much now.
Sitting up, she rubbed her temples and looked at her bedside clock which read 8:07am. It was Sunday.
Kim’s iPhone lit up on her bedside table – a message from Lily, she chose to ignore it.
Sliding off the bed and placing her feet snugly inside her slippers, she left her room and headed downstairs to make her breakfast.
“Oh… Hi Kim…” a voice greeted her as she entered the hallway. It was Ava who Kim hadn’t really spoken a word to since Kye brought her home, but that was mostly because she was always attached to Kye via his lips.
“Morning,” Kim managed brightly, “I’m making pancakes if you want some?”
Kim saw Ava’s grey eyes taking in her attire – Kim was still in her flimsy camisole and shorts. Maybe she should have got dressed before coming down, or put on a dressing gown…
“Do you always walk around the house half naked?” Ava asked her, she smiled but it didn’t meet her eyes.
Kim laughed nervously, unsure of how to respond.
Ava brushed past her and went upstairs.
Well it is my frigging house… Kim thought, entering the kitchen and reaching into the cupboard for a frying pan.
Why is she always here – every day, without fail… and he hasn’t even asked me. Simon may be right – everyone you meet is there for a reason – Ava’s reason is to royally piss me off!
Kim heard the front door click closed a few moments later, Ava had left.
I doubt he even knew I wasn’t here last night, he probably didn’t have a clue that I walked in on those two…doing it. Ugh.
Kye entered the kitchen wearing an open robe and his boxer shorts. Kim swallowed. Damn he is fine.
“Morning!” he said happily, opening the fridge and grabbing a juice.
“Hi,” she said, cracking an egg into a bowl before whisking it, she methodically tipped the flour into her mixture, whisking as she did so.
“Making pancakes?” Kye asked, wiping his mouth on his arm.
Kim nodded. Something about his presence irritated her.
“Cool, I got the job at the gym by the way…”
“Can I have some pancakes?”
“No, no you can’t…” Kim said.
“Wh-? What’s wrong?”
Kim stopped whisking. “I don’t appreciate you having guests over all the time,” she said, “Ava has been here pretty much every night since you got back from Sunset Valley and to be honest it’s really grating on me. I can’t even watch TV without the two of you being there… eating each other’s faces…” There, I said it.
Kye laughed, “Oh my god, she was right…”
Kim glanced at him.
“Ava said you were jealous, but I thought she was just being bitchy… But she’s actually right!”
Kim felt her temper rising. “Excuse me? I’m jealous?”
“You deny it?”
“Yes I fucking deny it!” Kim spluttered, even though she knew she was lying, “This is my house Kye, and I don’t appreciate you taking advantage!”
“Taking advantage? What am I supposed to do? Just sit around and wait for you to come home when you’re always other places or staying out until 2am? Where were you last night anyway?”
So he had noticed she’d gone.
“I was with Lily…” Kim lied.
“Oh really? Because Lily came around, which I might add was pretty fucking annoying – do all your friends just burst in unannounced?”
“Lil came over?”
“She wondered where you were… she was worried about you…”
Of course she was, she must have felt bad after our argument…
“So where were you really?”
“At a friend’s…” but she could tell by his expression that he didn’t believe her.
“I don’t have to explain myself to you!” Kim shouted, “Can you just spend some time at Ava’s instead of here all the time? Otherwise this really isn’t going to work out…”
“Whatever,” Kye said dismissively as he exited the kitchen.
Kim didn’t finish her pancakes, the mixture ended up in the bin and she decided to release her stress her usual way – by heading to the gym.
Slapping the treadmill with her feet she turn up the speed faster and faster, letting out all of her anger. What the hell is going on? How did everything get so messed up? I’ve fallen out with my best friend and my housemate… the only person who understands me is some random guy I don’t really know … she felt so frustrated. What was she meant to do? So she suspected she was in love with Kye, who didn’t know she existed, at least not in the way she wished he did… but they weren’t getting on… he was being a total jerk and she knew that. Depite his shortcomings Kim still felt strongly for the guy… her head was telling her to kick him out – to tell him to find another place to stay, but her heart screamed louder, telling her that if she made him leave he would never speak to her again and then where would she be, heartbroken and alone. Again.
“Hey Kim!” Seb approached her as she shut off the machine.
“Oh hey!” she replied stepping off the convayor belt.
“Everytime I see you you’re exercising,” Seb laughed, “You’re a total fitness freak!”
Kim chuckled, “Nah, not really,” she said.
“Listen, I was gonna tell you at work but I’ll tell you now instead – I’m leaving Elite Insurance, I handed my notice in…”
“Oh my god…! Why?” Kim asked.
“Well, I was only a temp anyway, I’ve got a new job…”
“Well, good for you…” Kim said.
“I’m having a leaving do –on Friday, after work in the work building but I think we’re all gonna head into town afterwards, you up for it?”
“Totally,” Kim said, happy to be asked, “I’ll definitely be there.”
“Great,” Seb said, “Tell Crys she can come so long as she doesn’t make a scene…”
“She didn’t tell you?”
“Tell me what?”
“Never mind, it’s no biggy – but yeah… she can come if she wants…”
“Anyways, I’ll see you at work…”
Kim sat quietly and alone in Wang’s office.
Uncertainty clouded her mind – worry about her reasons for being here, and first thing on a Monday morning too…
As far as she knew she’d made no mistakes, she certainly hadn’t received any complaints that she was aware of… maybe they had changed their minds? Maybe they planned on letting her go…
Kim swallowed, Could they do that? Take you on and then sack you? I should have read my contract properly… Kim pondered, I bet there’s something in there saying they can fire me so long as it’s within a set time period… That was all she needed…
Wang entered the room, paperwork in her arms, she shut the door behind her and made her way to her desk, her hair looked different, it looked nice – somehow she looked softer, more approachable. Maybe I should comment on her hair? Kim mused, All women like compliments… maybe then she won’t sack me? If someone said I had nice hair I wouldn’t sack them…bah, who am I kidding…
Kim felt like a naughty child about to be chastised by the principal.
Wang sat at her desk, making no eye contact but clicking periodically on her computer mouse, Kim had no idea whether to speak or whether to keep her mouth shut.
Suddenly, Wang’s gaze met her own, and she turned in her chair, facing Kim.
“So, Ms Carbelle,” Wang said, Kim had no idea what to say, “How are you finding the job?”
“Um… OK I guess…”
“Good…Antony wanted me to speak to you…”
Wang got up from her seat, “about how you’ve been progressing…”
Wang approached some files which were on shelves near her desk, she reached up to the top, standing on her tip toes and attempted to pull down a file.
What is going on?
As Wang pulled the folder, some sheets fluttered out and scattered onto the floor. Wang cursed.
“Let me help you…” Kim got up and approached her.
“It’s fine…” Wang snapped, losing her calm composure.
“No, I don’t mind…”
Kim reached for a sheet of paper just as Wang did, and that’s when she noticed.
As Wang had reached forward, the sleeve of her black sweater had pulled up, exposing part of her fore arm… there, just above her wrist was a blatant purple and green bruise… in the shape of fingers.
Had Wang… Had Wang been grabbed? Hurt?
“Oh my god…” Kim whispered.
Wang stood up abruptly, pulling down her sweater. “Get out.” She said.
“Wang… I… are you –“
“I said get the hell out!” Wang yelled.
Kim swallowed. “I’m sorry…” she said.
Wang said nothing.
“Listen…” Kim began, “If you ever need to talk…”
“Please…” Wang said hopelessly, “Please just get out…” there were tears in her eyes and Kim didn’t know what to do, this woman, she was asking her to leave… but her eyes asked her to help.
“What are you? Deaf?!” Wang suddenly spat, springing forward and opening the door, “Get out of my office!” she yelled. The usually bustling office was suddenly silent as Kim’s co-workers turned to look at her in shock. Head down, Kim left the office – her mind racing with what she’d seen, depsite not knowing for sure what that was.
“So what’s the deal?” Crys asked, sitting next to Kim in the staff room and digging into a giant sandwich.
Kim had no idea where the slim brunette put it all. Crys was always eating, and it was usually crisps, chocolate… bread – all the things Kim had to so much as look at and put on half a stone.
“The deal?” Kim questioned.
“Oh please, pretend like you don’t know… You? Wang? This morning? What the hell?”
“Oh…” Kim frowned and took a bite of her Rye cracker. It tasted like cardboard. “It was nothing… in fact… I don’t even know what it was… I think she’s just having a rough time or something…”
Crys laughed, “A hard time? Whatever. Wang doesn’t have hard times, she just gives them to everyone else…”
Kim didn’t respond, Crys was right, but that mark on Wang’s wrist… Kim couldn’t help but worry for her boss.
“So you really don’t know what her problem is?” Crys queried, “What exactly happened?”
“Well it was really weird…” Kim closed her lunchbox, her Rye crackers discarded. “I thought I was going to get the sack… and then she went to get these files from the top shelf-“
“Uh-oh…” Crys picked a tomato out of her sandwich and tossed it into her lunch box, “What did you do?”
“Um… nothing as far as I know,” Kim laughed nervously.
“Well, top shelf is where all our records go… staff records… sales… blah blah…” Crys inspected her sandwich closely, obviously looking for more tomatos.
“It could be a good thing,” Seb said from behind them, a hot mug of coffee in his hand, “Maybe they’re really pleased with you and they want to update you on your progress…”
“You think so?” Kim said, hopefully.
“No-one asked you,” said Crys impatiently; she tossed the rest of her sandwich into her lunch box and started unwrapping her Twix.
“They usually have a review with you around about a month after you started,” Seb continued, ignoring Crys’ pointed looks.
“Well it’s coming up for a month next week…” Kim said, “So I suppose it could be that…”
“Don’t you have somewhere else to be?” Crys glared.
Seb shrugged, “See you later Kim,” he smiled.
As the staff room door closed, Kim turned to her friend.
“What’s the deal?” she asked, savouring the sweet aroma of Seb’s coffee and glancing down begrudgingly at her untouched camomile tea. This health kick was becoming a head-doer.
“Ugh… he’s a dick…”
“I’d really rather not talk about it…” Crys screwed up her Twix wrapper and threw it into her lunchbox before getting up.
“Yeah, I have loads to do this afternoon…”
With that, she left the staff room and Kim was left alone.
“Thank you for calling Elite Insurance, have a great day,” Kim finished the phone call. Another satisfied client and she was feeling pretty good about herself – if what her colleagues said was true she was doing a great job.
Smiling, Kim glanced out of the window, looking out to the ocean – it was beautiful… sea birds flew low over the water, dipping close enough to pull fish which wiggled desperately – plucked from the safety of their world… on the horizon a yacht glided effortlessly over the calm waters, it’s bright white sail glowing in the afternoon sun.
Movement in the car park caught Kim’s attention.
Wang Zute was being led towards her car by a dark hairred man… her head was down and he was speaking animatedly – angrily?
Wang turned to look at him, and he grabbed her arm roughly, giving her a slight shake.
It was at that moment that Wang looked up at the window – Kim quickly ducked out of sight.
“Kim, a word please?” Antony appeared by her station before Kim had chance to think over what she’d just seen.
Kim glanced at Crys – Antony only dealt with really important issues. Crys winked and crossed her fingers.
Kim stood up and followed Antony into the office, as she passed Seb he gave her the thumbs up.
“Take a seat,” Antony smiled and Kim did as she was bid.
“I hear you had a bit of a fiasco with Wang first thing this morning?”
“Oh.. yeah, it’s fine though…”
Antony nodded, “Wang assured me it was just a misunderstanding… she’s not feeling well so I’ve sent her home.”
“Wang and I have recently conducted a review of current members of staff… I appreciate you’ve not been here long but we feel it is in the company’s best interest to make sure our staff members are happy and are working to the best of their abilities.”
Kim nodded once more.
“We’re extremely happy with you, Kim.”
“Wow, really?” Kim could not hid the smile which formed on her lips.
“Yes,”Antony smiled, “We’d like to offer you a payrise.”
“How does 7% sound?”
“Seven?!” Kim shouted eyes wide. “Um, sorry…” she swallowed and Antony laughed.
“I guess that’s ‘good’ then?”
“Great… here’s some paperwork, have a read through and if you could sign them tonight I’d be grateful.”
Kim took the papers from his outstretched hand.
Kim unlocked her front door and kicked off her work shoes, she sighed at the feeling of her feet being released from the confinment of their prison.
It was getting late – she’d gone for a couple of drinks to celebrate her pay increase with Crys, who she was fast becoming close friends with.
Crys was unlike anyone she’d ever met, confident, funny, her rebellious attitude to life … Kim needed people like that in her life to make her more outgoing, to help her come out of the shell in which she’d been hidden since her mother’s death.
Kye wasn’t home, Kim assumed he must be with Ava, but she found it hard to care.
Kye obviously didn’t care about her, so why should she care about him?
Slumping onto the sofa without bothering to turn on the lights, she flicked on the t.v and began channel hopping – Depsite the lateness of the hour she didn’t feel tired.
Zero. Zip. Nada. There was nothing on. Flicking the television back off, she sighed.
The room was dark – outside the sun was starting to set, decending on the horizon to allow the moon to have her reign once more.
Suddenly, the sound of the garden gate banging closed clattered into the silence, breaking it and making Kim jump.
“What the-?” she stood up, listening. Silence… and then… the back door slowly creaked open.
The lights were off… and there was an intruder. Did they think that because it was dark there was no-one home?
Kim cursed under her breath, she’d left the back door unlocked… again. It’s such a pain in the arse to remember… Oh crap… what if I’m being burgled?!
Rooted to the spot, she listened, unable to move for fear. Looking around herself, she tried to lay her eyes on something to use to defend herself.
Reaching over to the drinks cabinet, she grabbed a bottle of Jack Daniels and crept around the sofa to the corner of the room.
Listening, she could hear her ‘visitor’ in the kitchen.
Bringing the bottle over her head, ready to slam it down on whoever this imposter might be, she was suddenly aware of a gentle sniffing sound, and then a hushed sob.
Kim took a deep breath, fear deep in her core – then, she flicked on the kitchen light…