Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Chapter 33: In Which Katie Comes Out Of The Closet (then goes back in again, and then comes out a second time)

Just then the door swung open and Nora glared at them. “Hurry the hell up!” she hissed. She yanked Katie inside. “Don’t you know she’ll be here any second? She just texted that she’s on her way!” Nora shoved Katie and Eoin into a closet, and Katie wondered if she could start being a better person tomorrow.

The lights were off; it was pitch dark in the closet. There appeared to be some other bodies there, with them. Katie could feel Eoin in front of her but she was being pressed in on either side by taller, bulkier bodies. Someone shifted and squished her toe. “Ow!” she whisper-cried, and someone at the back said, “Quiet!”

Katie was suddenly seized with panic. She knew that voice.

It was Rebecca.

What was she doing here? This was insanity. Who had invited her? Katie bit her lip, hard. Who knew that one little impersonation, (followed by a second impersonation in which one pretends to be the first impersonation’s identical cousin), could end up like this? Hiding in a closet at a surprise party? Katie hoped that the lights would never come on, that they’d be stuck in this dark closet for the rest of their lives.

But no. The closet door would eventually have to open, the lights would come up, and the party would go on, regardless of Katie’s fervent hopes that they get to live with the winter coats for the rest of their lives.

There was a knock on the apartment door, and the people in the closet held a collective breath. The front door opened, and Nora said, “He-ey, Melissa!”

“Open the door!” Someone hissed from behind her. Katie pushed open the closet door, and the crowd of 5 or 6 people behind her fell out into the living room. “Surprise!’ they called, along with the 12 guests who’d jumped out from behind furniture, curtains, and popped in from the kitchen.

But the person at the door was not Melissa. Standing there was a man, mid-30s, with short black hair and a somewhat stocky build, holding a bouquet of flowers, his green eyes wide, an amused look on his face.

Katie stumbled a little, Eoin catching her elbow before she pitched forward on her entirely impractical heels. “Careful, Kate,” he said, just as Rebecca caught her other elbow and said, “Watch yourself, Violet!”

And Bobby, Katie’s ex, the man whose heart she’d broken into a million-trillion pieces and then left alone after crushing their seven-year romance, lowered the bouquet and said, “Still clumsy, eh, Katie?”

Her heart seized. She had imagined this day, this minute, the moment when he’d come and find her. She’d thought about it, agonized over it, worried and dreamed about it, especially during those Terrible Four Months following the breakup. She looked at his completely familiar face. Did he want her back? Was he angry? Were those flowers for her? Had he found another girlfriend? Was he here to murder her and Eoin? Katie cleared her throat, prepared to speak --

“Everyone back in their hiding places!” called Nora, oblivious to the intensely dramatic scene that was about to unfold in her living room between Katie, her old lover, her new lover, and the woman who thought she was someone else entirely. “She’ll be here any minute!”

The crowd dispersed, Bobby heading into the kitchen. “Who was that?” asked Eoin. “And who is Violet?” Adventure-seeking Eoin could sense a mystery, and he was intrigued.

Katie had no idea what to tell him. Well, she knew what she should tell him. He had a right to know all of it, but of course she didn’t know how to tell him all of it, especially not while crammed into a coat closet with a bunch of other people.

They settled into the closet. Nearly immediately, there was a knock. Again, the group held their collective breath, as they heard Nora swing open the front door, say, “Well, hello, Melissa!”, and once more Katie pushed open the closet door and out they all tumbled, into the light.

“Surprise!” they called, with perhaps less enthusiasm than they’d had the first time around.

“Oh my goodness! A surprise? I’m delighted!” Melissa clapped her hands and squealed with such delight that only Katie would have known that Melissa wasn’t surprised, or delighted, at all.  

“Was it a surprise?” Nora came forward, clapping her hands excitedly. “Did we get you?” She slid her arm through Melissa’s and led her off toward the kitchen.

The party-goers began to drift. Someone had put on some music, and bottles were opening, drinks were flowing.

“I’m going to get us a beverage,” said Eoin, “and then you’re going to tell me who Violet is.” He ruffled her hair in a way that was surprisingly not infantalizing, headed to the bar, and Katie was alone.

Bobby was to her left. Rebecca was to her right. But the bathroom was just behind her. Katie turned on her heel and fled.

Well. So she was hiding in yet another bathroom. That made three times in as many months that she’d taken refuge in a powder room.

But seriously. Could you blame her? That was one crazy party out there. Katie sat down on the edge of the tub and wished that she’d brought a drink in here with her. There was a knock at the door.

“Just a minute!” Katie called. “I’ll be out in a sec.” She stood up and ran water into the sink, buying time. Her fingers began to prune, and she heard Bobby’s voice.

“Katie? It’s me.” He cleared his throat. “It’s Bobby.” And that made her feel so terrible. That he felt as though he had to remind her who he was. “Can I come in?”

Katie took a deep breath and opened the door. It was a moment she’d been trying to avoid for months, nearly a year. But here it was. She was doing it. She was going to face him. Finally.

But he wasn’t alone. Standing there, behind him, was Rebecca.


“Violet!” She said. “How’s it going?”

“Um....It’s Katie, actually.”

“Really? You look so much like your cousin. How did that happen?” Rebecca twirled her long blond hair. She was already a bit sauced. Clearly they’d been drinking in that closet for quite some time.

“Cousin?” Bobby asked and Katie shot him a look. It was not the tender, “I’m sorry and I’ll always care for you” look she’d been planning on bestowing upon him when she saw him again, this was a look that said, “keep it zipped if you know what’s good for you.” Luckily, their telepathic skills, honed during their 7-year relationship, were as good as ever, and Bobby knew to keep his mouth shut.

“I guess the genes are strong?” Katie shrugged.

“I suppose they are. Look, I’d love to meet up with her soon, in the near future. Her long-standing relationship with the company is really inspiring.”

“Yes, she’s really devoted.”

“Listen, honey, are you going in there?” Rebecca nudged Bobby. “Because I’ve really, really got to pee.”

“Oh, go ahead. Sorry.” Bobby stepped aside and Rebecca tottered into the bathroom. “Thanks kid.” She chucked Katie under the chin. “Come to think of it, you are Katie. Your cousin has a much prettier mouth.”

“I’ll let her know you think so,” Katie said, as the door shut on Rebecca.

“So,” Bobby said. “You’ll have to fill me in on all of that.”

“Yeah,” Katie said. “It’s a complicated story.”

“I’m sure it it,” he said. “I would expect nothing less from you.”

They stood there in silence for awhile. The party was in full swing in the next room, but any minute now Nora would appear to whisk them off to the VIP lounge. Or Eoin would show up. And Katie hadn’t really told Eoin anything about Bobby, about the breakup, about any of it. And Rebecca was going to come out of the bathroom eventually.  Katie needed to take action, she needed to make a move. But she was frozen -- it was those Terrible Four Months all over again, when she was overcome with fear.

Luckily she didn’t have to say anything, because for once Bobby spoke first. “Listen, Katie, I didn’t come back for you.”

“You didn’t?”

“No. I’m actually here …”

You Decide!

Bobby is a lawyer, and he’s here to represent Jason in his divorce with Anne


Bobby is an art collector for a major gallery in Vancouver and he’s come to check out a hot new artist’s work. “Perhaps you’ve heard of him? Eoin Verdon?”


  1. Yes yes, the 2nd one. And thank you SO much for getting both Rebecca and Bobby in there. I laughed and then I cried...and then I laughed again...

  2. Me too. Art collector.

    I'm your mother and all, but this is a very funny chapter!