Karen shivered. But there was no reason to heat a storage unit much, if at all, and certainly not this late at night. Shame she hadn’t been able to retrieve more of her clothing before bolting out 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 door down 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 this storage unit, and he’d broken the glass “friends forever” plaque Marie had given her? Four feet high? Karen couldn’t lie down in it either, couldn’t have even if her boxes weren’t there. Not unless she curled up in a very tight ball. But she couldn’t imagine where else she could go at this hour with little money and fewer clothes.
She’d actually managed to imagine she heard him kicking a door in again. Like he had when she and Martin had been… Karen’s stomach clenched. It had been just like when she’d come in on Frank with her best friend Marie! At least Martin wasn’t Frank’s best friend. Frank didn’t even know Martin! So why did Karen 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, quite physical. Karen moved toward the door of her unit, which she’d left open a little for light and air. Then, disgusted with her wishful thinking, she backed away into the dark. Still, 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 grandfather’s little metal horse with all its paint chipped off in her grandmother’s warm shawl? 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 in the end, she heard the telltale clanking of glass. A huge, sharp piece of Marie’s shattered “friends forever” plaque stabbed her hand.
It may as well have been her heart. She had to take off what little she was wearing to use to staunch the bleeding. Sobbing and shivering even more violently, she finally began to lose consciousness, half hoping she was bleeding to death, not falling asleep.
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. A trick of the light coming through the windows no doubt. Perhaps the moon had risen. Or it was all a dream. 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 just barely caught the sense of it, but it was something about comparing her to a summer’s day.