Read Kathy's World Online

Authors: Shay Kassa

Kathy's World









All Rights Reserved


Kathy dashed through the rain, holding her leather case over her head. It was bad enough getting home so late, and the taxi ride from the airport had been an exercise in nail-biting terror because of the weather, but she was not about to let either the dampness or her fraying nerves ruin her hair.

Still, she had made it home to her cozy little townhouse in one piece, and now she would be able to enjoy her and Mark's one year anniversary. Kathy scooted into the darkened porch, and scrabbled around in the bottom of the case for her keys. The conference papers were going to get a little wet, but she could live with that. Most of the seminar transcripts would be emailed out to the attendees next week.

Inside, she leaned against the door for a moment and sighed in relief. The jet lag would kick in soon. All the lights were off downstairs, so it was likely that Mark was already asleep, and she really wanted to join him soon. Kathy smiled, thinking of how surprised he would be to see her. Leaving the conference early? Worth it. The last-minute flight? Worth it. The ridiculous cab fare? Totally worth it. She hung up her coat, left her case by the table in the hall, and crept upstairs.

By the time she reached the top step, she heard the sounds coming from her bedroom. For a moment, she was confused. Yes, that was her boyfriend's voice. That other voice was a stranger, a woman. Those two voices belonged to two people having sex. Two people having sex
in her bedroom
. Her bedroom was only for her and Mark, when he stayed over.

Kathy froze. Mark was having sex with another woman in her bedroom. Mark was cheating on her. The knowledge punched her in the gut, and left her wanting to curl up and cry. A year of good things – of feeling happy, of fun and laughter, of having someone to hold her – was dead and buried under the shock and betrayal. The whole world flipped upside down, scattering the debris of her personal life everywhere.

The door to her bedroom was closed – her bedroom, oh god, she'd never be able to sleep in those sheets again – but the light was on. Good. That would save her the trouble of hitting the switch as well as hitting Mark. She had to do this, and it was going to hurt.

Kathy slammed the door open with all the force she could muster. Her room was no more a mess than usual. The other woman was a skinny redhead with a lip piercing, who stopped bouncing on her boyfriend's lap and turned in surprise. The look of horror on his face said everything that needed to be said.

“What the fuck is going on here?” Kathy snarled. “WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON HERE, MARK?”

He shoved the redhead off him hastily, leaped out of bed, and put his hands up. “Kathy, wait, it's not what -”

“Not what I think?! Fuck you, it's EXACTLY what I think! Get out of my bed and out of my house RIGHT NOW, YOU CHEATING ASSHOLE!”

The other woman stood up and pulled a sheet around herself. “Oh my god, you said you were single!” She began to pick up her clothes from the floor, shooting filthy looks at him. “I am so fucking sorry, lady, I am so, so sorry!”

Kathy ignored her, and glared at Mark. “I never, ever want to see you again,” she said spitefully, feeling her throat start to choke up. “This was our anniversary, Mark – how could you do this to me?”

“Look, I... I know this looks bad, but... you know, we could still all just go back to bed, have some fun? Sorta like, my present to you...” He gave her a sheepish smile.

Kathy's jaw almost hit the floor. He wasn't suggesting...

The redhead dropped her clothes and the sheet, strode up to Mark, and slapped his face so hard he nearly fell over. The impact sounded like a whip crack. He sat down hard on the bed, holding his bright red cheek. “AH FUCK!” he shouted.

“You son of a bitch,” she said savagely, “You really are a piece of work. You call me again and I'll get a few of my buddies to beat the shit out of you.” She turned to Kathy. “I am really, really sorry and I am leaving right now, and I will totally call the cops on my way out if you want.”

“Please, just go!” Kathy said, now on the verge of tears.

The redhead picked up her stuff and ran downstairs without even getting dressed. Mark pulled on his pants and T-shirt, and tried to plead with her. “Kathy – ow – just give me a chance to -”

“JUST GET THE FUCK OUT!” Kathy screamed, and he finally made himself scarce.

She looked around at the mess in her bedroom. The sheets were all over the place. There was a used condom on the floor beside the bed. Mark's underpants were draped over her bedside lamp.

She sat down and began to sob.


At least the rain had eased off by the time she was woken up. It was the middle of the afternoon the next day, and the doorbell was buzzing loudly. Kathy had slept on the couch, in her pajamas, with only her dressing gown to cover her. The bedroom was not an option until she could replace everything that had been soiled by Mark's infidelity.

She stood up groggily. The room spun for a moment until her sense of balance returned, then she staggered out into the hall and to the door. The bell rang again, and she finally managed to work out the latch and open it. Almost immediately, she held up her hand to keep the painfully bright light from her eyes.

A woman of medium height, short red hair, and narrow stature stood outside, in ripped jeans and a tank top. She stared at Kathy for a moment. “Uh, hi. Remember me?”

The lip ring was what brought back the memory. Kathy looked her up and down, and her first instinct was to close the door. Just the sight of her was enough to bring back the twisting pain in her stomach, and the knowledge of everything she had lost. The woman was much quicker than her still-woozy reflexes, however, and she caught the door before it slammed shut.

“Please! Please, just wait a minute, I just want to talk, okay?”

Kathy groaned. “I don't care what you have to say, I don't want to talk to you.”

“Please, just give me a chance? I didn't know he's your boyfriend. I'd never, ever sleep with another woman's guy. I'm not a bad person, I swear.”

She was so earnest. Kathy didn't know what to make of her. “Why are you here?” she asked weakly.

“I, uh, I think I left my phone here last night. And I figure I owe you an explanation, or whatever.” She shifted uneasily. “I guess you should know what he was doing, right?”

Kathy leaned against the door and rubbed her eyes. She couldn't deal with this right now. She couldn't deal with anything, not after a week long actuarial conference and the events of the previous night. It was too early to process it all, especially with her head swimming with fatigue. “I'm jet-lagged really badly and I had to sleep on my couch. Could you at least have waited until this evening or something?”

She winced. “Shit, I'm sorry. I didn't think about that. And I can't come back later, I have to work,” she said, then sighed. “I'm really sorry about all this. Can I please just have a few minutes to find my phone? I know you don't want me here but, well, I can make you breakfast or something. You don't look so good right now.”

Kathy considered this. It wasn't really her fault if Mark had lied to her too. And she had slapped him... “Are you a hooker?” she asked.

“Holy shit, no. You think I'd be dressed like this if I was?”

She gave up. The world was apparently still out of whack if she was even talking to her and not clawing her eyes out. She just didn't have the energy to be angry right now. “Alright, c'mon in.”

The redhead followed her inside. Kathy lead her into the kitchen, and pointed at the coffee maker. “Breakfast first, then you look for your phone, okay?”

“Sure. My name is Gina, by the way.”

She sat down heavily at the table. “I'm Kathy. I guess you know that already?”

Gina set the coffee brewing, and began to investigate the fridge. “No, I didn't. Your guy didn't say much, just that he'd gotten out of a bad relationship and he wanted to have some fun. You okay with eggs and bacon?”

“Oh god,” Kathy said, putting her head in her hands. She was developing a headache. How many other times had Mark gone out chasing tail when she was away? She had been at one other large conference this year, and had taken three business trips. What else had been a lie?

“Okay, I'm just going to make eggs and bacon with toast,” Gina said quickly. She puzzled her way around the kitchen, opening every cupboard and drawer to find what she needed, without help from Kathy. She knew how to cook at least, and the smell of breakfast filled the room soon enough.

Kathy stared listlessly at the table until a mug of coffee was plunked down in front of her. She stared at it, then sniffed. As she pulled it towards her, tears dripped down her face and into her hands. She looked at her reflection, and it seemed as if it had aged twenty years overnight. Her hair, which she had protected so carefully the night before, was limp and lifeless, and hung in frizzy brown curls around her face. Her skin was pale and sickly, with none of her usual sparkle. Her eyes looked dead and jaded, and her mascara had run.

“We were going out for a year,” she blubbered. “I got an early flight back just so I could be here on our anniversary, and he...” She began to cry again, feeling utterly overwhelmed by the reality of it all over again. Mark had been so good for her. She had even planned to ask him to move in with her – he spent all his free time at her townhouse anyway, rather than his own small apartment. Now the suspicion arose that he was just using her; for sex, for money, for a comfy place to stay in a nice part of the city... Kathy sobbed her broken heart out.

“Hey,” Gina said gently, “hey, it's okay, at least you found out now, right? It'd be worse if you were married or something.” She patted Kathy's arm in sympathy, and passed her a plate of eggs and slightly burnt bacon. “Here, just eat something, you'll feel better. There's toast here too.”

Kathy tried to pull herself together. Yes, at least all he had really hurt was her feelings, but it didn't make it any less hurtful. She could cut him out of her life without too much trouble – but she didn't want to. She wanted to go back to yesterday, when he wasn't a two-timing bastard.

The eggs weren't bad. She forced herself to eat. Gina only helped herself to a cup of coffee, and watched as Kathy picked through the food.

“He came to my bar every night this week, that's how I met him,” she said. “I bartend at this really cool place called Gun Metal. He seemed like a nice guy, you know? I mostly see these grungy rockers, and that gets kinda old. He said his name was Dave.”

Kathy just kept her eyes on her mug. This was hard enough to listen to without having to look at the woman who was screwing her boyfriend last night – and yes, that thought was completely irrational. It wasn't Gina's fault that Mark was an asshole.

“I saw him flirting with a few of the regulars, so I figured he was available, and we got talking.” She shrugged. “He looked cute, so I went home with him. He said this was his place too.”

The words twisted in her gut like a knife wound. “I don't need to hear this,” Kathy said. “Why are you telling me this?”

“I feel sorry for you, okay? I've been cheated on too, and it sucks. I know he's going to come back and spin some line of bullshit to convince you it's all just a big misunderstanding, and he'll try to make me look like a crazy bitch, as if the fact that I like to sleep around makes me nuts.” Gina sneered into her coffee. “Fuckwads like him don't deserve a second chance. I'd like to make sure you don't give him one.”

“What did you do when you found out your boyfriend was...?” Kathy asked.

“Piled all his stuff in his front yard, threw petrol all over it and lit it up,” she replied. “Nobody fucks around on me and gets away with it.”

Kathy was appalled. She stared at Gina, forgetting her own pain for a moment. “Did you get arrested?”

“Nah, he wasn't gonna press charges. He knew he deserved it.”

“...Would you really have had Mark beaten up?” She was starting to wonder whether Gina had a criminal record or something, and whether inviting her in was a good idea or not.

Gina laughed. “Not really. My buddies are just good at scaring people. Real useful when I don't want to do the scaring myself.”

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