Karen shivered. No reason to heat a storage unit much, especially this late at night. Shame she hadn’t grabbed more of her clothing before bolting out through Martin’s back door.
But no more. She mustn’t think about Frank, not now, not ever again.
“Karen, how could you?” Frank’s startlingly formal words when he kicked the front door open at Martin’s. His words that seemed to ricochet endlessly off the corrugated metal walls inside a space where no human was ever meant to spend the night. Karen couldn’t even stand up in it. How high was her storage unit? What had that horrible rodent of a man at the front desk said when she first rented it and he’d broken the glass “friends forever” plaque Marie had given her? Didn’t matter. Where else could she go at this hour with little money and fewer clothes. She checked again to be sure. And no phone.
She’d actually managed to imagine she heard him kicking a door in again. Karen’s stomach clenched remembering the first time. It had been just like when she’d come in on Frank in bed with her best friend Marie! But Karen had ended her relationship with Frank, who didn’t even know Martin. So why did she feel so damn…cheap…that she wanted to cry?
Karen was sure she heard a footstep. But it was so soft it didn’t seem quite real. She moved toward the door of her unit, which she’d left open a little for light and air, and felt a yearning. Frank! She realized with disgust that she actually wanted it to be Frank and backed away into the darkness of her unit. She thought she’d glimpsed something, but it was more like a mist than anything physically solid, a trick of the street lights glaring through the windows, no doubt. She shivered in the dark.
Then she remembered. In her boxes. Hadn’t she wrapped her grandmother’s warm shawl around her grandfather’s little metal horse with all its paint chipped off? Still shivering, Karen dived into her boxes in the dark, but she couldn’t find it. Just as she remembered she hadn’t included it after all, because there wasn’t enough room, she heard the telltale clanking of glass. A huge piece of Marie’s shattered “friends forever” plaque stabbed her hand.
It might as well have been her heart. She had to take off most of the little she was wearing and use it to staunch the bleeding. Sobbing and shivering even more violently, she finally began to lose consciousness, half hoping that, rather than falling asleep, she was bleeding to death.
Was it minutes, hours or days later? Or a century earlier occurred to her for some strange reason. Half asleep, Karen’s eyes flickered open briefly. That mist she’d thought she saw before seemed to be seeping ever so slowly into her unit. Perhaps it was just moonlight. She dozed.
A speech in some ancient, far-more-formal English that she knew was terribly familiar teased at the corners of her consciousness. She barely caught the sense of it, but it was something about comparing her to a summer’s day.