Chapter 7: Kate
Pete and I met up the next morning for breakfast. It was strange, I didn’t think I had ever been on a date where me and the guy went to get breakfast. Which didn’t make any sense because breakfast food was the best food.
There was no awkwardness between the two of us. If anything, we were comfortable, like we had never broken up. Things were light, easy. I was surprised, actually. I thought it would be much harder to get back into the swing of things. Hell, I didn’t even know what this was or what this would be.
“You look tired,” Pete said quietly, after we got our food.
I took a sip of my orange juice, nodding my head.
“Jennifer is getting to be a lot,” I said. “Not that she wasn’t already and I’m not trying to be mean about it. I just… I don’t know how to handle her. You know me. When things get hard, I just move forward. I don’t dwell.”
“You shut down in your own way,” Pete pointed out. “It’s not healthier or unhealthier than what Jennifer is doing, that’s the thing you need to understand. Everyone handles grief differently.”
“Sure, but how long should I let it go? How long until it’s no longer acceptable behavior for her to be staying on my couch and using my cable and eating my food?” I said. I took another sip of my juice before cutting into my pancakes. “Does she not think I’m not going through shit too? That I’m not sad about it? Because I am. I knew Blake my whole life. She knew him for a few years, maybe?”
“It’s not a competition, Kate,” he said. I could tell he was trying to be gentle but it still miffed me that he would even say something like that. And part of it stung because I knew it was true. It was just in my nature to be the best.
“I know, that isn’t what I’m saying.” I shoved a big bite of pancake in my mouth. “I’m saying, we are all sad about Blake. But she has taken it to a whole other level. She quit her job by refusing to go. She’s not eating so she losing all of this weight. And she cries all the time. I get it. Everyone grieves differently but now I’m not getting sleep because her crying is keeping me up.” I shook my head. “God, I sound like such an asshole.”
“You’re not an asshole,” Pete insisted. I knew he was just being nice – or kissing my ass so he would get laid again – but it felt nice to hear him say that. “Look, you and Jennifer are two different beings. You both want the same thing: you want Blake back. You’re both feeling the same thing: you miss him. Maybe you’re angry at the driver. Maybe you’re frustrated and sad and lonely and you’re questioning God’s existence. I don’t know. I’m not you and I’m not Jennifer. But you’re expressing those same feelings in different ways.”
“Yes.” I nodded my head before taking another bite of pancake. “Yes, exactly.” I swallowed my food, nodding my head enthusiastically.
“Well,” Pete said, splattering ketchup on his scrambled eggs. “Have you thought about talking to her?”
“What?” What kind of question was that? Talk to Jennifer? About what?
“Talk to Jennifer,” he said as though it was obvious. “Come on, Kate. You can come into the board room and give the best pitch Valmores has seen in his thirty plus years of heading this company. Hasn’t ever crossed your mind to talk to Jennifer? Maybe throw together a powerpoint or something?”
I laughed, despite myself.
“I’m being serious!” he exclaimed through a chuckle. “Maybe not about the powerpoint. But about talking to her.” He locked eyes with me, his gaze making me want to be a better person, to reach out of myself and try harder. “Think about it, Kate. She’s hurting. Put yourself in her shoes. Sure, maybe you knew Blake longer than she did. Maybe that made you closer to him in that way. But she knew him in a way you never will. She was on the outside looking in. She was his confidant and he was hers. And that’s gone now.”
I pressed my lips together and considered what he was saying. I lost Blake but Jennifer did too. I knew that seemed like something that should have been easy to understand but it was something I needed to be reminded of.
“I don’t even know what to say,” I responded honestly.
Pete shrugged, taking a bite of his eggs. Once he swallowed, he leaned back in his chair and looked at me. “Be nice about it,” he said, as though it was the easiest thing in the world. To be nice.
“Pete,” I said. “Look at who you’re talking to. I am not a nice person. I don’t give flowery speeches like you do. I shoot straight.”
“Figure it out, Kate.” He was blunt and I probably deserved it. “You can’t expect that everyone is like you. You need to adapt. If you care about Jennifer, and I think you do, you need to take your time and figure it out. But if you’re over it and you’re over Jennifer’s attitude, then you need to stop complaining it and start doing something about it.”
I hated when Pete was right about something. We had only been back together for twelve hours. Bastard.
When I got home, I found Jennifer sitting on the couch, her feet on the sofa, her knees bent, her chin resting on her knees. She didn’t look at me when I got home. It was encouraging, however, to see her out of bed. I didn’t think she had been wearing that oversized sweater when I left which meant she had changed half of her clothes. The yoga pants, on the other hand, were definitely worn in.
“Hi.” My voice was awkward and loud to my own ears. I stood just inside the door, my purse and laptop bag still in my hands.
Jennifer looked at me with genuine surprise on her face, an immediate sense of guilt washed over me. This was way late in coming, she was clearly craving attention.
“Hi,” she said back. Her voice was tentative, like she didn’t quite believe I was talking to her. She even grabbed the remote to turn off the television. “Is everything okay?”
“Yeah, of course,” I said with a nod. “Nothing to worry about at all. I just think… I just think it’s time if we start going out and, you know, spending time together out of the house. Maybe…” This was the hard part. Everything inside of me resisted. I did not want to do this. But I knew I should. For me and for her. Especially for her. It was only then that I realized she didn’t have anyone but me. “Maybe we could go to that new steak restaurant a couple of blocks over? Just grab dinner together. We can come right back home.”
She was going to say no, I knew. I could tell by the look on her face. But then, she started to think about it.
And then, she locked eyes with me and the first hint of a smile spread out across her lips. “Okay,” she agreed. “I’ll meet you there in a couple of hours? I want to do a little shopping.”
Shopping was good, of course. It meant she would be out of the house. I nodded with enthusiasm that was suddenly radiating through my body. Jennifer might be moving out of her funk. I couldn’t wait to tell Pete.