Karen’s eyes were still half-closed, but she was beginning to feel something so unfamiliar, so alien, that it startled her and sent a little shiver up her spine. As the pain receded from the homeless woman’s ministrations, Karen was just barely beginning to feel, ever so slightly…better.
Some confused thoughts about how this might improve her upper-body strength, witnesses, and jugular veins slithered through her consciousness, but a spurt of joie de vivre pushed aside what she wrote off as random subconscious nonsense.
Grateful. What she was feeling was grateful. So grateful she could even forgive…
Her thought was interrupted for a moment with some more nonsense she didn’t understand about the person she’d been thinking of forgiving being a witness if she’d just come inside. And another stray bit of absurdity about “great titties.” Then she shivered again when her thought about forgiving her best-friend Marie for sleeping with Frank returned with such force that she could envision every elaborate cable stitch of the sweater she had knit for Marie stretched tight across Marie’s chest.
Karen hadn’t even remembered that intricate cable pattern; it had been so long ago.
She drowsed, half dreaming, half remembering. Ski trip. They’d gone for the majestic beauty of the snow-covered mountains. Everyone else in their tour group had gone to flirt with each other. Stuck in the lodge with a cacophony of lame boasts about mythological skiing triumphs, lamer jokes, and canned laughter, Karen and Marie had cuddled up together on a window seat, watching the mountain’s silhouette against the night sky. It was then that Karen gave Marie the sweater. Marie burst out with the pet word she always used when pleasantly surprised: “Fabuloso!”
Karen’s eyes flew open to the lobby of the storage space when she actually heard: “Fabulo…” The first thing she saw of the speaker who’d suddenly cut herself off, was the sweater on the other side of the counter. Giggling with glee, she looked up just as the speaker resumed.
But two things were wrong: First, instead of continuing to say Marie’s pet word, the speaker said in a voice suddenly too low to be Marie’s, “Fabulous facility you have here.” Second, her face absolutely could not be Marie’s.