Soulmate — Part 7

7

FEAR. TREPIDATION. To say they were the only things Kate felt as she tried to eat some breakfast. All the while avoiding direct eye contact with the other table guests. Would be an understatement. She also felt a certain sense of elation, nausea and a whole gamut of conflicting emotions. It was Sunday. It was her birthday. She had finally turned that magical number everyone always talked about. And, in a few hours, she was about to add to that long list of craziest things she’d done in her life.

This could turn out to be either the best birthday ever or—she didn’t finish the thought. The four other guests sat around her were bright and cheery chatting. And, in turn, it was inevitable they directed questions to her in making polite conversation. She met them as best she could with a painted smile. Meanwhile, strange butterflies stomped round her stomach. Twenty minutes later, upstairs alone in her room, she threw up in the toilet.

Nerves won out.

Kate wretched into the porcelain, on her knees; it was quick, bitter, and over in moments. Relieved, she sat on the corner of the bed and began chewing three sticks of gum at once. All the while fiddling with the gum packet unaware she was shredding the wrapping onto the carpet. The tiny fluttering pieces, gathered in a pile at her feet.

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Soulmate — Part 6

6

Don’t do it!

The words rung in Kate’s mind, as she stowed her single bag and coat in the overhead compartment on the plane. Well, too late now, she had gone and done it. Done what Susan had feared. Booked a flight. Despite Susan trying to talk her out of the decision she knew she had taken the minute her friend had said the words.

Kate had gone into work early Thursday and had surfed a few of the major Airline carriers trying to book a flight for Friday afternoon. With, she hoped, a return either Monday or the latest, Tuesday morning.

Silly her.

Who would have thought she’d have such difficulty getting one lone seat out of London to New York. She would have taken baggage space in the hold if it had been available.

As it was, her first trip was a lunchtime trip to one of the many local travel agents on the high street. To get what she wanted Kate flexed her plastic to its breaking limit.

Having booked for early Saturday morning, Kate also paid the extra to have an open-ended ticket for the return journey. Something she knew was in and of itself a dangerous act. There were no guarantees a seat would be available when she wanted it, but this again, was another risk she was willing to take. Whatever the consequences, she’d told herself.

She had to conclude, when packing her bag late Friday, that she was indeed off her meds.

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Soulmate — Part 5

5

“Is there something you’re not telling me?” Susan asked confused. She thought she knew her friend. Knew her well enough, but this? This was something altogether new. She’d never known Kate to be either this rash, or irrational. Not over anything, especially something as inconsequential as an ad in a newspaper.

“What haven’t you told me?” Susan tried again to read between the lines. And fill in what she didn’t know about Kate.

“What haven’t I told you that’s relevant you mean?” Kate was quite aware she wasn’t making much sense to her friend, someone who’d known her longer than anyone. Who knew she could be impulsive at times, but never usually irrational, well, not like this.

“It’s not just that the Poster chose the Tribune and only the Tribune to place the ad in, it’s also the place and time that’s relevant.”

Relevant, at least to me, Kate added to herself. Susan already knew it was her birthday this coming weekend. It was another reason why they had both wanted to get together and celebrate the milestone.

Kate couldn’t see Susan shaking her head in despair at the other end of the line.

“The museum? The Met, the one you took me too?”

“Yes,” Kate paused then spoke about that period in her life, and her daily visits to the Metropolitan. After moving to New York, and working for a year at Doubleday, she’d moved when a head-hunter had poached her on behalf of his client. She’d taken up a position with a small boutique literary agency, up near Columbus Circle. She explained to Susan how at lunchtime, come rain, shine, or snow, she’d walk through Central Park across to 5th and into the Met. Taking her lunch at about the same time, in the same place, every work day. Every work day for over a year.

“So you think this stalker, watched you eat lunch in the cafeteria while reading the Tribune, wrote this ad just for you?” Susan asked with a touch of exasperation if not, sarcasm.

Kate winced at Susan’s bluntness well aware of how this all sounded, even to her own ears. It was wild. But still, she couldn’t let it go. Couldn’t stop thinking about how, if she did nothing, sat still and ignored her heart that she was going to miss an opportunity. To find that missing something in her life. Love. And more, that missing someone she’d always been looking for. An opportunity she might end up regretting not having taken, for the rest of her life.

Susan was a step ahead of her.

“Don’t do it!”

TO BE CONTINUED …

Soulmate — Part 4

4

IT WAS TWO LONG BORING tedious days that Kate thought she’d never get through. Twice she picked up the phone to call Susan. But, by Wednesday lunchtime, she decided Susan would probably call her that evening, and held off. On a whim she went back to the cafe she had stolen the Tribune from, having avoided it the day before. Just in case.

Wary of the healthy looking wraps, Kate took a kebab and rice with her coffee. She made for the back of the crowded cafe hunting for a table, a space, anything amid the throng. She was in luck as a young woman left a table where a scruffy looking student-type occupied the other seat. He munched a rather large greasy-looking burger, oblivious to what was going on around him. He was reading a book.

A paperback.

Asimov.

Kate approved and, with a soft smile, took up the vacated seat before it got cold.

Around a bite of her kebab she scanned the far wall and newspaper rack. The papers had changed, or at least she thought they had. She looked for a copy of the Tribune but saw nothing. She did spy a lone American title, the Washington Post. Mid-mouthful she put down her fork and went to get the paper.

The student-type never looked up as she re-seated herself.

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