Monday, July 11, 2011

Chapter 21: In which Katie and Eoin sit on a fire escape and fall in love a little bit.

And then a familiar voice, disembodied, "Don't you ever call me again, not unless you've got weed," filled the room. 

Eoin laughed, his mouth still against hers. "You must have activated it, let me take that from you," and he pulled the iPad from her hands, but not before she'd seen, on the screen, a blurry photo of her sister. And under that the words: Anne. Location unknown.

Eoin bent down towards her, to kiss her again. Katie pressed her hands against his chest, and pushed him off. She felt like she couldn’t breathe. “No,” she said, and her hands reached for the iPad. “Let me see that."

She stared at the iPad. The screen was blank. She shook it, she raced her fingers across it. “Katie?” Eoin put a hand on her shoulder. She jerked away and started pacing in front of the giant map, holding up the iPad, aiming it at various twinkly lights. “Katie?” Eoin’s voice again. “What’s going on?”

“How do you get it to work? Why won’t it come on?” Katie’s voice shook. There were tears in her eyes. “Eoin. You need to help.” Her blood was humming with a high-pitched anxiety. She handed the iPad to Eoin, roughly. “Find her again. Please. Find Anne.”

“What? Who’s Anne?” He looked so worried. Katie realized he might be a bit confused -- after all, she’d had a pretty significant personality switch in a very short time. She took a deep breath, and then hovered, hesitated, on the edge of speaking. She wondered if maybe she should keep this a secret; she knew telling Eoin about Anne would ruin the mood, shake things up here in a way that might make it impossible to get back to where they’d been. But keeping Anne a secret would mean she was ashamed of Anne, and she wasn’t. She exhaled and spoke.

“Anne is my sister. And she’s in your project.” Katie pointed towards the blinking lights. “She’s in there somewhere.”

“Anne -- the one who came up accidentally when we where....” He didn’t say it. Somehow the universe in which they were kissing was so far away from the place where they stood now. Eoin came towards her. “Are you okay?”

Katie remembered her sister’s voice, harsh, laughing. Asking about weed. Is that who Anne was now? Is that who she’d always been? Katie didn’t know this sister anymore. “I need to find her.” She was pleading now. The map on the wall was so vast, and there were dozens of lights blinking against the dark room. Location Unknown. Anne could be anywhere. “Eoin, find her again.”

“I don’t know which light is hers,” Eoin said. “Sorry. She wouldn’t tell me. She was a little....”

“Spacey? Vague? Sketched out?”

“Yeah ... I guess. She was a bit off, sure. She wouldn’t tell me where she was, so I couldn’t chart her. So I just stuck her in the middle.” He gestured towards the centre of the map, where a cluster of lights shone.

“Please, Eoin, just bring her up.”  Katie could feel her impatience with this man rising with every single second.

“Okay...” Eoin aimed the iPad at the lights.  A teenaged boy appeared on the screen. Eoin frowned apologetically. “It’s not an exact science yet. I have to talk to my tech guy....” An older lady appeared on the screen. Katie bounced on her toes. 

“So why do you want to find her so badly anyway?” Eoin glanced over at her.  “Didn’t you realize she was a part of this? I mean, didn’t you guys tell each other about how you answered a stranger’s phone? .... Oh, okay. Here she is.”

Katie snatched the iPad from his hands. There was a close up of Anne, just a view of her face, angled sideways at the screen. She wasn’t smiling at the camera, but she wasn’t frowning or angry. Just looking serious. Her hair was long, loose, blowing around her face. It must have been a windy day. “What’s that in the background?” Katie thought she could see the name of a shop behind her but it was too blurry. “Can we get some lights on in here?” It looked like a 7-Eleven.

“Sure. Okay. But only if you tell me what’s going on.” Eoin put on hand on her shoulder, and with the other he tilted her face up towards his. “Please, Katie. I’m confused.” His eyes were so kind.

Katie pulled the iPad with the picture of her sister to her chest. “Can we get out of here?” She turned her back on the vast, blinking map. Location Unknown.

                                                         *          *         *          *

“And you have no idea where she’s been living?” Eoin passed Katie the can of Harp lager. She took a long swig, and stared out at the city. They were sitting on the fire escape of Eoin’s building, lights and sounds of Toronto floating up through the darkness. It was as though Eoin’s map project had come alive beneath them, 6 stories below.

“For a while, for about a year, we knew where she was most of the time -- she was still in contact with Jason, her husband. She stayed with some old supportive friends, but for the past six months or so she’s been essentially MIA. It’s really scary.” Katie shivered against the chill in the night air, and Eoin pulled her against him in a hug. She allowed herself to take comfort there for a moment, and then pulled away, put her hands on the cold metal railings and looked down towards the city.  “I worry about her. And my parents have given up. And Jason .... I don’t know how long he’ll put up with this, either. What she’s doing to her kid .... Everyone has lost patience with her.”

“But you haven’t.” Eoin took the beer back from her, took a sip.

“No. Because I’m her sister.”

“The two of you must have quite the bond. I’ve got four brothers and I never speak with them. In fact, for all they know I could be sleeping in the streets myself and they’d not have any clue.”

“She was always there for me. She was … when everyone thought art school was a terrible idea, she encouraged me. She used to buy me paint, and canvas, and she even helped me to organize my first art show when I was a student. She got her company’s head office to buy one of my paintings for their lobby in Calgary.” Katie smiled at the memory of her sister insisting the visiting businessmen take home an original Katie Christensen because it would be worth millions one day. Katie had stopped by the office to meet her sister for lunch in her paint-spattered overalls and Converse sneakers, carrying a piece she was bringing home from her studio to store at her parents’ place, and her sister had been proud, defiant, compelling. Katie had sold her first painting for $200 to a man who was swayed not by her bold use of line and colour, but because Anne was a terrific salesperson who believed in her product.

“You’re an artist?” Eoin poked her in the arm. “I didn’t know that.”

“Oh, I’m not really one anymore. I was and then....” The story was so long. And she was so tired, the beer, the excitement of finding Anne, Eoin’s kisses, the fact of Eoin himself, pressed close to her on this too-small fire escape. Katie sighed. “I just haven’t been up to art lately. But I was going to do it. Be an artist. And Anne believed in me. But then then I moved away.  And then she got … sick. And now....” She turned to look at him. God, he was a good listener.  “Sorry. This isn’t much of a first date. I mean, I’m laying a lot on you.”

“Yeah,” Eoin pulled her closer to him, turned her so they were facing each other. “This is much more like 3rd date material.” He smoothed his hand over her head, with a firm, warm palm. It was soothing and sexy at the same time. He cupped the back of her neck gently, his fingers tangling up in her hair. “Don’t worry, Katie. We’re going to find her.”

His words were so strong, so definite. He really meant them. Katie leaned forward and kissed him once. “Thanks, Eoin,” she said, and settled into him, her back against his chest. They finished the beer in silence, passing it back and forth. Katie knew Eoin believed that they would find Anne somewhere out there, but she wondered, with all that space, and all those lights, and all that darkness that could hide a person, if Anne would ever be found at all.

Eoin’s heartbeat was steady against her back. Katie closed her eyes against the city and allowed herself to feel hope.

You Decide!

Katie goes shopping for art supplies because she suddenly (finally!) feels a creative impulse! 


Katie tries to track down the 7-Eleven where Anne picked up Eoin's phone!

Also -- does she do this thing alone, or does Eoin come with her?

Two choices to be made this time, friends!


  1. Art supplies, alone.

  2. 7-Eleven alone. At first, at any rate.

  3. 7-Eleven with Eoin!
    He said he would help, so I think he should go along..

  4. Eoin helps her track down Anne.

  5. so 'important people'? we can't swear or something? never mind.

    Why is the 'making of art' mutually exclusive to finding Anne? buying 'art supplies' is so turn of the previous century. I mean here's Eoin using cell phones, randomness, and conversation as his art supplies and what? Katie's stuck in some nineteenth century fantasy of art production?
    She should start making art now, with the boy, using the Metaphoric elusive Anne as the goal. Find Anne find Katie find more.