Chapter Eight

So, needless to say, I didn’t rest very well that night. I realize of course, that I have been asking you all these questions as I go here, and even to this point in time, I don’t have all the answers myself yet, but I had even fewer at that point--nor were you there to give me your opinions on the matters at hand so I was pretty much alone, at the mercy of my own imagination gone mad. Reality as I knew it, and had always known it, was crumbling at my feet. Okay, maybe that’s actually a little over dramatic, at least at that point. Suffice it to say that once again, hostilities had broken out from within. Combat was fierce with no room for a compromise in sight.

The main issue on the table was obvious even though the answer was not. To tell or not to tell. That was indeed the question. But it had a hundred spin-off questions like, How is she to die? Why is she to die? And of course the million dollar question of the day; Does she really have to die at all?

It wasn’t until morning that I finally decided that a proper decision can never be made without all the facts. I needed to know more. I needed to know if she was healthy. I needed to know why this young woman only had thirty days left to live. I needed to know if I could somehow postpone her departure from this world.

By six in the morning, the battle had finally grown sluggish enough for me to get some much needed sleep. I set the alarm for three pm. I figured I would have about a half an hour to repair any damage done by yesterday’s performance and try to learn a few more facts. I know I dreamt of Katelynn. I remembered a little after my alarm suddenly stepped in to pull me from my own deep well--and it hadn’t all been pleasant.

* * * * *

"For some unexplainable reason, I didn’t think I had seen the last of you yet. But I must admit," Katelynn said, as she approached me a bit apprehensively, "I didn’t think it would be quite this soon."

"I’m really sorry for yesterday," I said sheepishly, pulling my hand out from around my back. I held out my peace offering of a single rose I had picked up at the Kwik Trip before I left. "Happy birthday," I said. "I hope you didn’t have any trouble covering the tab. I totally forgot when I bailed out on you. I wanted to try to make that much right at least, if I could."

"They know me there. I have a tab," she said, looking a little longingly at the flower.

"Ah. Good." I felt very awkward being here so soon myself, but need had intervened, so here I was. I held out the rose and she accepted it graciously.

"Thank you for the flower," she said, as she touched the tip of her nose with its petals. "But I guess you should know that this is my last birthday," she added with a smile.

Hold on! Stop the press! What was that? She does know? I felt my heart skip a beat or two and then try to catch up again. "What do you mean?" I asked, trying to sound more shocked by her statement than I actually was.

"You know," she half giggled. "There are more twenty-nine year old women in the world than any other age."

Oh. Yeah. A joke. My heart tried to slow back down, though I didn’t know which was worse--for her to already know about some irreversible, tragic fate waiting to claim her life in the very near future, or for her not to have a clue that her daughter will be an orphan by this time next month.

"I have that same half hour available if you want to try again," she said when I didn’t respond quite right to her joke. "Just don’t get mad if I am the one that gets up and walks out first this time. Okay?"

I forced a smile. "Deal."

We walked in silence across the street, at least I don’t think she could hear the loud argument going on inside my head on how to proceed. I got another hot chocolate. She got coffee. Black.

"Well you look better today than you did when you left yesterday," she finally said, breaking the ice, but not yet cracking the smile.

I didn’t feel any better, just a little more under control. "Yeah," I said.

"Half an hour," Katelynn repeated as she brought her coffee towards her lips. "Clock’s a tickin’."

"Thanks," I said sincerely. I’d take anything I could get at that point. "I’m not really sure where to begin."

"With the accident?" she intuitively suggested.

No. Not yet.

Katelynn put down her coffee. "You said you needed some advice."

Yes. But not yet.

"You know, I can’t read your mind, John."

"Yes. Sorry. I know." I took a long sip of the steaming, creamy hot chocolate and burned the back of my throat. "Let’s take you, for example," I said, deciding to go fishing. "You are a healthy young woman, right?"


Good…I think.

I took another long sip of my hot chocolate, collecting as many seconds of thought as I felt I could get away with and winced from the pain at the mouth of my throat. But there simply weren‘t going to be enough of them. If what I know is right, she has a right to know, I finally conceded to myself. If I am wrong, what’s the worst that can happen? She’d be still alive in thirty days. "I guess the truth is always best," I said out loud, though I was probably still talking to myself…and then I sarcastically added in a half mutter, "not that you are going to believe me." Then looking back up at Katelynn, "I know some things I am not supposed to know," I said. "I am probably the only one in the world that does know. I am not sure what I am supposed to do with this information." I paused to see if she was still with me.

"So why are you coming to me? Does this mysterious knowledge somehow involve me?" she asked.

"Yes," I said simply, abandoning my original plan.

"Okay. Enough. Spit it out," Katelynn said, trying to sound impatient. And understandably so, I had to admit.

"First of all," I said slowly, locking her eyes to mine from across the booth. This above all else I hoped she understood and remembered. "I am only here right now because if I can, and I don’t know if I can or not, but if I can, I want to help you. I am your friend, though you might not think so in a minute. Just try to remember that much, please."

"And why do I need your help?" she asked, nonchalantly picking her coffee back up.

"Because I have reason to believe that you only have twenty-nine days left to live."

Katelynn put her coffee back on the table in front of her, stood without looking in my direction and turned towards the door.

I didn’t try to stop her. A deal is a deal. And I figured I still had twenty-nine more days--actually 28 and counting after my latest failure of a few moments ago.

I left the rose on the table for the waitress along with a ten.

* * * * *

"We have got to stop meeting like this," Katelynn said without a trace of humor in her voice.

"I didn’t want you hating me for the wrong reasons," I said, hopping down from my new daily perch atop the four-foot stone wall. I stood where I landed, taking no steps towards her. "If you still hate me after I have had the chance to explain, then so be it."

"I could call the police," she said matter-of-factly, stopping just short of the entrance to the parking lot. "I’m sure this is beginning to border a few stalking laws."

"I am not the enemy here," I said calmly. "And before you ask, I haven’t a clue who, or what, is."

"So," Katelynn said. She crossed her arms and settled into her left hip. She was not looking directly at me as she spoke. But at least for the moment, I held her curiosity. "According to you, is the whole world doomed in twenty-eight days and you are out to inform us one by one? Or is this a more personal problem you think I have?"

I started with the accident, the woman in my window and the medic. I finished with Dr. Getz and the calendar on my refrigerator door. Twenty-five minutes after I had begun, Katelynn hopped down from the stone wall where she had sat patiently and silently listening to my story and stood for a moment saying nothing, looking off in the distance at nothing.

When she finally spoke again, her voice cracked a bit on the first word from dryness. She stood in front of me, took a deep breath, and asked, "You gonna be here tomorrow?"

"If you want me to be," I said.

"I think you are wrong. I think there must be another explanation,." she said soberly, looking at the thin white-silver watch on her wrist. "But I’m going to be late for Faith if I don‘t go right now. I don’t have time to think about all this right now." She looked back up at me, more at my bald head than my face, I think. "Yes. I want you to be here."

"I’ll be here."

* * * * *

Chapter Nine


Front Desk

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The Master Plan

Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight
Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten
Chapter Eleven
Chapter Twelve
Chapter Thirteen
Chapter Fourteen
Chapter Fifteen
Chapter Sixteen
Chapter Seventeen
Chapter Eighteen
Chapter Nineteen
Chapter Twenty
Chapter Twenty-One
Chapter Twenty-Two
Chapter Twenty-Three
Chapter Tweny-Four
Chapter Twenty-Five
Chapter Twenty-Six
Chapter Twenty-Seven
Chapter Twenty-Eight
Chapter Twenty-Nine
Chapter Thirty
Chapter Thirty-One
Chapter Thirty-Two
Chapter Thirty-Three
Chapter Thirty-Four
Chapter Thirty-Five
Chapter Thirty-Six
Chapter Thirty-Seven
Chapter Thirty-Eight
Chapter Thirty-Nine