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A fine state of affairs, part 3 by Marieke Vink


O God. Why were mornings always so bad after great nights out? She tried to open her eyes but it felt like the bright winter sun burned right through her retina. Hang on, was that the smell of coffee? Forcing her eyes open a little further, she noticed something unfamiliar about the room around her. Abby immediately swung her legs over the edge of the bed as she tried to make sense of her surroundings. Kim appeared in the doorway with a steaming mug of coffee.

“Good morning. Did you sleep well? I thought I would make you some coffee since I am guessing your head is pounding like a Japanese drum.”

Abby groaned. Kim wasn’t far off with her Japanese drum, but as far as Abby was concerned, there was something more important to clear up than her screaming headache. She had been totally drunk last night and Kim had dragged her to her place. Now she was in bed at Kim’s place, wearing nothing but her knickers. What had happened? She swallowed hard and looked up at Kim. She remembered she was going to talk to Kim about Kerry and now she couldn’t remember if she had or not. Hoping to find the answer in Kim’s eyes, she stared just a little too long. Nothing came back from the tall blonde leaning against the doorpost.

“Erhm…….. Kim………..about last night……………”

“You must be joking if you are thinking what I think you are thinking.” Kim shook her head and her eyes were full of mock anger and surprise. She tried to contain her laughter but failed miserably.

Abby realized with some irony that Kim thought Abby was going to ask if they had ended up sleeping together. Just like Kim to think the world revolves around her and that all straight women she goes out with end up in bed with her. Or at least that she has the power to get them there.

Abby actually thought Kim’s mistake was quite funny so she left it at that and played along with it.

“Just checking. I know I am so gorgeous that straight women wish they were gay when they see me, so I don’t even want to think about what a lesbian could do to me when she finds me naked in her bed. And now if you’ll excuse me, I want to have a shower. Would you please be so kind as to show me the shower?”

Kim chuckled at what she thought was Abby’s miserable attempt in trying to be cool, calm and collective about her silly thought. “You know bloody well where the shower is. Here’s a towel. Don’t use all the water or I shall be forced to kill you. I never told Kerry, but I hated it when she used all my hot water.”

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The hot water made Abby groan with pleasure as it ran down her skin. Instead of talking to Kim about how she felt, she got drunk.

The door to the bathroom opened and through the shower curtain Abby saw Kim putting the lid of the toilet down and taking a seat.

"So what was it you wanted to talk about last night? And don't try to pretend there wasn't anything to talk about. I have seen many people who try to squirm around the edges of their problems but you, Abby Lockhart, you are a professional at this. I didn't want to push it but do you want to tell me now? If it is so big it gets you in to drinking, then it must be pretty bad."

"Why didn't you stop me loading myself up?"

"Because I think it is not my responsibility. If I had stopped you last night, you would have gotten pissed another night. It doesn’t help if I tell you not to drink. YOU have to tell yourself not to drink. So if you wanted to drink, you could better do it with me around to get you home. But don't change the subject here. I may not have stopped you drinking, but I sure as hell don't want to see you doing it again. So you better tell me what is bothering you so much."

A sigh came from behind the shower curtain. It seemed like minutes passed but Kim knew Abby was about to tell her so she didn't want to push too hard.

Barely audible came the answer: "It's Kerry."

"What about Kerry? I told you last night you don't have to worry about her. She likes you and she thinks you do a great job. You shouldn't take her hard façade too seriously. You should get worried once she gets soft on you." Kim chuckled.

"That's not it. She confuses me. I want to work harder for her, I want to be on time for her, I want her to like me, I want her to appreciate my work, I want her to acknowledge me as a nurse, I want her to notice me when I walk in the room, I want her to drop everything she is doing just to say hello to me, I am annoyed when she doesn't lift her head when I pass her by in the hallway, I sleep badly if she yells at me, hell, I don't sleep at all lately because of her. And I don't know what is wrong with me, now please hand me the towel or I'll be late for work."

The stream of words had taken Kim aback and still gob smacked she handed Abby the towel. As she did so, she stuck her head around the shower curtain and saw Abby hunched over with her back turned towards Kim. Kim wanted to reach out to her and hold her friend and tell her it would be OK but maybe it wasn't the best place to do it, in the shower, naked and wet.

"Abby.............Abby sweetie, here's your towel."

Abby turned around and the confusion on her face took Kim's breath away. Her eyes were full of questions that Kim just didn't have the answer to. Kim hadn't been too successful in her own relationship with Kerry so how could she possibly tell Abby what to do. Helping people through their coming-out wasn't Kim's strongest point. Well, professionally it was but not with friends and lovers.

“How long have you been feeling like this?”

“Well.......erhm...........ever since the two of you split up and I saw Kerry falling apart. You weren’t there and everyone seemed to ignore her and think she was just being bitchier than ever but I knew it was because of you. Kim, she must have told you about how she felt then. She was a mess. And my heart just broke as I saw she had nobody to talk to. I tried to show her I was there for her. But she never opened up. I just became intrigued. And then since you returned and managed to force a friendship, I could see how she finally started to pick up the pieces of her life again, how she got closure................. And she started to smile again.............................. And then I noticed how beautiful her smile was.............................. And how I get upset when you two go out for dinner and I see her looking forward to that............................ And how I want to take her to dinner and make her smile like you do. We had lunch a few times at Doc Magoo’s but I don’t know if that means anything.”

Abby wrapped the towel around her and looked up at Kim who was trying to look anything but stunned, shocked and flabbergasted. Her skills as a psychiatrist came in useful in situations like this.

"I can't give you an answer Abby. I know she likes you. I know she has a soft spot for you but I just don't know how she feels about you in a erhm.......romantic kind of way."

Abby shot her a pleading look.

"No, no no, no way I am going to ask Kerry how she feels about you!! This is up to YOU. I am here to talk to and listen anytime you need me to, but I am not getting mixed up in this. Romance and Kerry do not mix very well with Kim Legaspi. You know that. I'll make you some coffee or you'll be late for work. And you don't want the Chief of Emergency Medicine to get angry at you now would you?"

Kim wished she could slap herself at that very moment.

“Oh Abby, I am sorry. I really didn’t mean to........Oh God....I can be so stupid sometimes.”

Abby managed some kind of wry grin but Kim was right. She had been meticulously on time in the past few weeks to avoid Kerry having any reason to yell at her. That is why she was so angry at herself yesterday for lingering in Doc's too long: it gave Kerry a reason to get angry at her. She dried herself and stepped out of the shower. Her clothes were sprawled out on the bedroom floor. For a second she curled her lip when she smelt the smoke from last night in them. Yuk. That would go down very well with Kerry.

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In the kitchen, Kim had prepared coffee and some toast. The thought of Kerry Weaver getting her first toaster oven soon made her smile. She remembered when Christy had mentioned toaster ovens and U-Hauls to Kerry and Kerry had just looked embarrassed at her ignorance in the matter. And now she was about to get her own.

"I hope she is smart enough to accept it," Kim thought. But then again, would Kerry be strong enough already to be with someone who was going through coming-out troubles?

Abby raced past her, grabbing the coffee, obviously hoping to avoid any more questions on the subject. But Kim wasn’t going to let her get away so easily.

“Abby, hang on. I am sorry if you feel I didn’t acknowledge your problems enough just then. I was a bit stunned. You know you can always talk to me about anything. There is only one advice I can give you right now. Before you talk to Kerry about it, think, think again and then think a third time. Make sure you know what your feelings are. Not because Kerry will laugh at you, you know she would never do that, but if you talk to her without feeling totally sure of how you feel, you will feel like an idiot if she doesn’t respond the way you hope she will. You understand what I am saying? When you are sure of your own feelings, it is harder to get hurt by other people’s responses to them.”

Abby gave a slight nod and hugged Kim. “Thanks. I’ll call you later today OK. And I promise I will be a good girl. Bye.

The door closed behind Abby and Kim pondered on her actions for a moment. Then she picked up the phone and dialed the all too familiar number.

“Hi Kerry, it’s Kim. Are you free for dinner tonight? You pick the place and I’ll pick you up at 7:30. Luciano’s it is then. I can handle Italian. See you then.”

A fine state of affairs, part 4