Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Chapter 22: In which Katie and Eoin come closer to finding Anne

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.

The next morning Katie woke up feeling complicated. She and Eoin had left everything kind of vague; he’d walked her to the streetcar stop and they hadn’t kissed goodbye, they’d just stood together under the streetlights in a quiet, calm silence, but they hadn’t made any plans, there had been no talk about tomorrow, or the weekend, or any sort of future. And now, lying in her room, she could remember his hands in her hair and his mouth on hers and she felt an excitement, and a happiness, but it was all mixed up with Anne. And that soured the sweetness, just a little.

Katie leaned over to her bedside table and looked at her phone.  Eoin had sent a text message last night.  Katie. I had a great time. And I’m glad my art project has brought you closer to your sister. Talk soon. She’d read it a million times, but she hadn’t replied yet. She wasn’t sure what it meant.

Had the art project brought her closer to Anne? Maybe that’s how it felt to him. But to Katie, in the light of this early June morning, it felt like maybe it was making her realize how far away Anne really was.

Eoin’s optimism about Anne was charming but he didn’t really know her, or Katie,  or the story, not really--he knew the bare bones of the narrative, but he was missing the feelings, the context, the living of it. Katie suspected that sharing in this charming optimism could be dangerous. Or it could be what she and her family needed to bring Anne back to them. Either way this whole thing with Eoin was definitely far messier than a new relationship should be. Katie pulled her sheet up over her head and tried not to wake up quite so fast.

By the time she climbed onto the streetcar she was already running 15 minutes behind. She was all confused, tired, and the early summer heat wave wasn't helping. Temperatures had risen dramatically, and the humidity was awful. It wasn’t even 9am and already the sweat was gathering at her hairline, and pooling in the small of her back. She reached into her bag, one she’d hastily grabbed on her way out the door, feeling around for a Kleenex to dab at her dampening skin. Instead she pulled up something else entirely: the note from her sister, written on creamy paper from her office building. You were going to be fantastic, it said, in her sister’s once-tidy cursive writing.

It had been crumpled at the bottom of her bag all this time. Katie felt a surge. The past tense of her sister’s statement clawed at her heart.

She reached for her phone and found Eoin’s message from the night before. Me too, she wrote, and she hoped he knew that she was agreeing with all that he’d said, terrifying as it all might be.

Katie slid into her desk at 20 after 9. “I’ll take a shorter lunch,” she apologized to Paul, Mike, and Erica, who were all seated at their desks when she got there.

“As long as you let us come in late too, we don’t care what you get up to,” Paul told her, and Erica shushed him from across the workspace. “Well, it’s not like she’s our ‘Boss’ boss,” Paul shrugged, and Katie knew these were the types of insubordinate attitudes that Katherine should be squashing. But Katie didn’t care. She had other things to worry about.

Her only clue to Anne’s whereabouts was the possibility that she had been standing in front of a 7-Eleven when she took that photo for Eoin’s project. According to Canada411 there were 26 7-Elevens in Toronto. She began going through the list, looking for the most likely locations where she might find her sister. She’d start with central Toronto first.

Katie opened up Excel and began creating a spreadsheet of shops she should visit. She decided to create a corresponding map, too.

She was hard at work when she heard a voice beside her. “Katie?” Mike was standing at her elbow. “Sorry to interrupt.” Katie felt herself blushing, and quickly minimized the documents.  

“Oh, no worries.” Katie smiled at him brightly. “What’s up?” She saw that Mike was glancing at the screen from where the documents had disappeared.

“Oh, I just wanted to make sure it was cool I left a bit early for lunch today. ” Mike stared again at her computer screen.

“Sure.” Katie agreed, knowing, as did the rest of her staff, that she had no leg to stand on when it came to keeping proper office time, as was evidenced this morning.

“Um...” Mike looked around, and then leaned in, asking quietly, “You’re working on the Hilltop project, aren't you?”

“The what?”

“The Hilltop project. I heard that the meeting last night didn't go well. Melissa must be devastated. So she’s got you on it, trying to fix things?”

Katie glanced across the room. Melissa wasn’t at her desk. She remembered how flustered, anxious, Melissa had been last night. So she’d been on her way to a big meeting. Katie had never felt so out of the loop, Melissa-wise.

“Yeah....” Katie smiled that bright smile again.  “Yeah, she’s asked me to help her revise stuff. But listen, it’s totally secret, right? You never saw this. Not even Paul can know, okay?” She lowered her voice conspiratorially at Mike.

“What are you doing?” he whispered back, pointing at his eye.

“Winking,” whispered Katie. “Can’t you tell?”

“Not really. You look like you have a wayward contact,” he patted her on the shoulder and went back to his desk.

By the time lunch rolled around, Katie was printing out the map and the spreadsheet of all the most likely 7-Elevens in the city. She found her phone and texted Eoin. “R u busy tonight? I have a plan. Need your truck. And need your belief.”

Eoin was waiting for her at the end of the day, his big rusty pickup rattling in front of the glass and chrome building. She didn’t know if she should hug him, kiss him, or high-five him, but his car was a standard and he was too busy shifting gears to engage in any contact, so she was off the hook, greeting-wise.

“So you need my belief, hey?” Eoin shouted over the wind rushing through the windows. They’d unrolled them as there was no air conditioning, and Katie’s hair was blowing everywhere.


“That text message. You said you needed my truck and my belief”.

“Oh, right.” Katie felt slightly embarrassed. That was such a dramatic thing to text. “I guess I”m just a bit skeptical that this is going to work.” She rolled her window up; the air blowing across her face had been hot, humid, not at all comfortable.

“But--” Eoin shouted, not realizing that the rolled-up window negated his need to yell."Sorry." His voice was normal-level again. "
Doing this was your idea."

“I know. But it’s just that I don't want us to fail.”

"Who said we’re going to fail?" He reached across the seat and put his hand on her knee. Which he left there until he had to shift into 4th, but she could feel his fingers for the rest of the ride.

They struck out at the first two places. The first 7-Eleven said they would never sell to “those kinds of people”, which Katie assumed either meant they didn’t sell to white people, women, alcoholics, the homeless, or any combination of the above.  At the second place a very sensitive and patient older woman with very little English but a warm heart promised to keep an eye out for “su hermanita”, which Katie hoped meant “your sister” and not something unsavory.

The third 7-Eleven was right downtown, on Yonge Street. Eoin had a bit of trouble finding a spot on the busy street for the truck so he let Katie out first. “I’ll drive around until I find parking,” he said. There's that optimism again, Katie thought, staring at the giant pickup truck and the tiny downtown-Toronto parking spaces.

The bell at the top of the 7-Eleven door pinged, indicating her arrival. The shop was empty except for the cashier, a young woman with long dyed black hair and a lot of facial piercings. Katie approached her. The pierced girl barely looked up. “Hi....” Katie started, and the clerk asked, “King-sized or regular?”


The girl reached under the counter and pulled up a pack of Dumaurier cigarettes.

“I’m not here for cigarettes.”

“You’re not?” The girl finally looked at her, really looked at her and shook her head. “Oh, sorry. I thought you were someone else.”

“Really?” Katie held up the iPad which Eoin had brought along and showed the girl Anne’s picture. “Did you think I was this person?”

“Yeah. Her." The piercing girl sounded surprised. "Are you related, or something?”

“She’s my sister,” said Katie, breathless, and the door bell pinged again. She spun around, wondering if it were Anne. Because wouldn't that just be amazing? Instead Eoin loped in, smiling sheepishly. “Sorry -- it took a while to find a spot.”

“She knows her. She’s seen Anne. She sells her cigarettes.” Katie didn’t even realize Anne was smoking again. Katie thought she hadn't smoked since that summer she was 16 and smoked to impress the bad boys who'd moved in three houses down from theirs. She'd quit because she knew it would ultimately kill her, the irony of course was that now smoking might just save her life.

“That’s terrific,” Eoin grinned widely at their facially-pierced guardian angel.  

“I didn’t say that,” she said, frowning. “I said I sold her cigarettes. Past tense. She hasn’t been in in a long time.” Face-piercing girl was rapidly losing her angelic status.

“What do you mean?” Katie gripped the counter in front of her.

“I mean, she used to come in a lot, maybe 3, 4 months ago. With this guy. Long hair, with a jean jacket? Anyway, I caught him stealing one too many times, and he got banned. Haven't seen either one since.”

Katie sagged a little, hanging on to the counter, and the cashier smiled at her kindly. “Sorry. She’s missing?”

Katie nodded, and felt Eoin’s hand on her elbow, steadying her. “If you do happen to see her again, please leave her this?” Eoin handed over one of Katie’s business cards. “Thanks for your help.” He led Katie out of the shop.

“Goddammit!” Katie yelled, and kicked the side of the building, (realizing as she did so that no passersby even noticed. Such was life on Yonge Street.)

“Yes, goddammit is right.” Eoin kicked the building with his black Converse-sneakered foot. “Now let’s go take a break.”

They walked up to the truck, which was parked in front of Seven West, in a tow-away zone. “Want to get a coffee in here?” asked Eoin, indicating the restaurant behind them.

“What about your truck?”

“Ah, let them tow it. I’ve never been to an impound lot before. It could be an adventure.” He took her hand and let her up the stairs. 

You Decide! 
A tornado warning traps them inside the coffee shop 
After they have their drink, Eoin's truck has been towed


  1. Hmm... tornado warning, I think!
    Great chapter!

  2. the weather suggest that a tornado wouldn't be unlikely....

  3. Truck gets carried away in a tornado! - just kidding - truck gets towed.
    Cyndi who shall someday come downtown and visit you

  4. (none of us 'downtown' really believe you Cyndi)

    Can a tornado actually happen in downtown Toronto? Has it ever happened? Sorry, I don't really care about veracity i'm just curious.

    I'll have one tornado, please.