Kate awoke in a cold sweat. Her comforter had fallen in a heap at the foot of the bed, and she was lying sideways on her bed, her head hanging from one side. Wide-awake now, Kate pulled herself upright. She was having trouble breathing and found herself gasping for air. Kate knew that it had just been a dream, yet the sense of falling seemed so real. She was afraid to close her eyes again for fear of more bad dreams. Sleep pulled at her eyelids as she struggled to stay awake. Sleep won the battle at last, and Kate drifted down into darkness and mist.
It was Friday morning and after a poor night of sleep, Kate made her way downstairs to brew a much-needed pot of coffee. Kate preferred a latte from the café next door to the bookshop, but plain coffee would have to do this morning. Her mom was due to arrive in an hour, which left Kate half an hour to get herself ready. Rain pounded the roof, causing Kate to groan wearily. She hated driving in heavy rain. It would take twice as long to get to her mom’s office.
Finishing her coffee, Kate headed out the door, donning her raincoat. She drove slowly and cautiously all the way to her mother’s office building. She had always been nervous driving in heavy rain. As she had predicted, it took her twice as long to reach her destination.
A blur of gray was headed straight towards Kate’s car as soon as she had found a parking space in front of her mom’s building. Kate’s mother slung the passenger’s side door open and plopped down into the seat, slinging rain droplets onto Kate’s right side.
“Sorry, sweetie,” her mother offered apologetically, “I’m soaked through.”
“That’s okay,” Kate replied. “Did you forget your umbrella?”
“Of course I did. You know me. It was so sunny in Dallas. I completely forgot how awful the weather was here.”
“Welcome home,” Kate laughed.
Kate spent the rest of the day filling her mom in on the last week’s events. She saved mentioning Aidan until last.
“So he’s from Ireland, huh?” Her mother quizzed.
“Yeah, well, he never said so, but I could tell by his accent.”
“You didn’t ask him? British accents sound so similar to me. I can’t tell them apart most of the time. What kind of work is he into?”
“Uh, I don’t really know. We didn’t get that far,” Kate answered.
“Well, what do you know about him, other than the fact that he has an Irish accent?”
Kate stammered, “Well, he’s here on business…and he reads Erasmus.”
“Who? Honey, didn’t you ask him any important questions?”
“Mom, we just met. I’m going to see him again tomorrow, so I’ll ask him then.”
Kate knew her mom, Karen, was a bit of a worrier, especially when it came to men and relationships. She had urged Kate to abstain from dating as long as possible, at least until she had made some solid plans for her future. Karen had married Kate’s father, Greg, during college and had ended up pregnant and married before graduating. It wasn’t until after Kate was in school that she had finished her business degree. Kate knew that her mother didn’t want her to repeat the mistakes she had made. Karen had always told her to make a plan, finish college, and then worry about relationships. The problem was Kate hadn’t really come up with a plan yet. She loved to read and loved selling books, but she was only in her first semester at the community college and was still finishing her basic courses. She hadn’t even declared a major yet. Kate was hoping a career plan would fall into her lap, so she wouldn’t have to decide for herself how to spend the rest of her life.
“Well,” Karen continued over lunch, “I want to meet this guy if you think you might get serious with him.”
“Mom,we just met. I’m not sure how long he’s even going to be here. So, don’t get worked up.”
“Just stay in public places when you meet up with him from now on, Kate,” her mother cautioned. “You can never be too careful, especially with people who aren’t from around here.”
“I will, Mom, I promise.”
Kate helped her Mom unpack her worn clothing from the past week, and then repack for the following week. Karen would be away twice as long this time, so she had Kate help her pack extra clothes for her extended stay. Kate was used to this routine. She spent as much time packing with her mom than doing any other activity with her.
Kate and Karen looked almost identical, other than a span of twenty years between the two. Karen’s light brown hair was beginning to give way to a few stray gray streaks, but other than that, she still looked young for her age. Both mother and daughter had the same color hazel eyes as well. Kate had the advantage of height that her mother lacked, being some four inches taller. Her height was the only feature that Kate felt she had inherited from her father’s side. Sometimes Kate felt she had been spawned from her mother. Her dad had come and gone so infrequently that she barely felt like she had a father. He tended to pop in for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but mysteriously disappeared the rest of the year. He worked for the government, but Kate knew nothing else about his job. He traveled constantly and had no permanent residence. He seemed more of a restless spirit than a man to Kate. She loved him dearly and still called him dad, but other than that, he might have well been a complete stranger to her.
Kissing her mom goodnight, Kate made her way to her bedroom. Closing the door behind her, she grabbed her journal from her nightstand and began to write. She felt obligated to write twice as much tonight since she had missed last night. She hadn’t missed writing in her journal daily for the last six months.I was just too tired last night, she tried to convince herself.
Picked Mom up this morning and spent the day together. She leaves again tomorrow, which sucks, but that’s her life right now. Aidan spent time with me last night at the bookshop after a random meeting in town hall parking lot. He’s supposed to come to the shop tomorrow. I hope he does. There’s something about him that makes me sweat…physically. Being next to him is like standing too close to a campfire. I’m really excited about tomorrow. I just hope he shows up.
Kate tossed and turned the entire night. She was physically tired, but her mind wouldn’t shut off long enough for her to sleep. She kept running over scenarios in her head about tomorrow’s meeting with Aidan. What am I going to wear?Ugh, I hate my work clothes. I wish Anne would pick something more stylish. I look so dumb in khakis and polo shirts. An hour passed and Kate was still awake, turning questions over in her head about what would transpire the next day.
Daylight and chirping birds interrupted Kate’s thoughts. Realizing she hadn’t slept all night, she groaned and rolled over, burying her head in her pillow. She began to drift off into sleep when the alarm clock sounded. It was time to get up. Kate felt like kicking herself for staying awake all night. I should’ve taken some melatonin. I’ll probably have circles under my eyes all day. That’s just great.