Carry Me Swiftly to Salvation
March 2, 2010
Katelyn had always felt she had something of a sixth sense. She called it her “Spidey-Sense,” perhaps because she had watched the Spiderman cartoons too much as a kid. There were many occasions when she just got a feeling about something. Something that didn’t feel quite right. A particular route to somewhere. The timing of leaving a place. And more than once, that feeling turned out to be right. She had avoided being in the area of bad car crashes by leaving earlier or later than planned. Or at a bank when it was robbed. Now, that sense had become attuned to her partner’s illness. She didn’t even need to be in the same place to feel like something was about to erupt. Many mornings, she woke up sick to her stomach.
This was one of those mornings. Katelyn woke up and stared at the ceiling for several minutes. Mostly she just wanted the nausea to go away before she actually got out of bed. If her stomach was any indication, this could be a bad day. Her nerves were frayed and it didn’t take much to put her on edge. Katelyn often knew before her cell phone rang that there was some sort of “problem” at home that she was going to have to deal with. If she wasn’t the one being blamed, she’d still have to talk Heidi down or listen to the rant before she could get back to work.
For the first few years they were together, those calls came almost every day. Heidi was overstressed, depressed, and exhausted. Katelyn was too, but she was better able to handle it most days. If she wasn’t panicking about school, then it was about being able to pay the bills, or some new job prospect. Or they were out of something and it was Katelyn’s fault because she was the one who did the majority of the grocery shopping and had the money to pay for them. On a good day, Katelyn would just let Heidi get it all out and do her best to diffuse the situation. On her bad days, Katelyn would snap and tell Heidi it wasn’t fair to place the blame on her when she was doing her best. Those conversations usually didn’t end well, and more often than not, spilled over to several nasty emails. By the next day, things were usually calm and back to “normal.” But a few days later, the exhausting cycle would start again.
There were also months where they didn’t argue at all. There were few meltdowns and they spent most of their time talking and laughing. Katelyn did her best to not let her friends and family know how hard things were, but sometimes she just needed to vent. Heidi was a wonderful person. Smart, funny, generous, loving, beautiful. When they met, they were both graduate students. Katelyn had been in the program for about a year and Heidi was just starting. But they both worked for the department and it turned out they had two classes together that semester. The second week of class, Katelyn caught herself casting small glances across the conference room table at Heidi. She didn’t know what it was, but there was just something drawing her towards Heidi. And seeing as how Katelyn was married, that proved to be problematic.
Katelyn finally managed to drag herself out of bed and into the bathroom. “Might as well get out of here before anybody else wakes up,” she thought. As she got ready for work, she tried to remember if anything happened the day before that could possibly account for the feeling she had today. Nothing. It had been an ordinary day, but that didn’t always mean something wouldn’t be dredged up to start a fight if Heidi was in a mood. Katelyn finished getting dressed, tip-toed down the hall, and turned off the alarm. She looked over at the couch. Heidi was still asleep. Heidi often slept on the couch. She always had some reason. Insomnia. Homework. Restlessness. But when she felt like starting shit, Heidi would somehow make her sleeping on the couch some sort of martyrdom, like it was Katelyn’s fault she slept there. That bit had gotten old fast with Katelyn. Grabbing something for breakfast and lunch, Katelyn unlocked the front door and headed for work.
By the time she got to her office, the feeling in her stomach had gotten worse. Sometimes she felt like it was just anxiety tearing up her stomach. There had been plenty of false alarms over the years, but it had become difficult to tell the anxiety apart from her “spidey-sense.” Walking up to her office, Katelyn hoped that this was just anxiety and that the day would go smoothly. She was tired and just not in the mood to deal with any bullshit today, whether it came from home or work. Plopping down into her chair, Katelyn turned on her computer and waited for about 10 minutes before it was finally done loading. “God, I just love Windows,” Katelyn sighed. She opened up her work email and browser and waited another few minutes before everything was ready to go. Taking a deep breath, Katelyn logged into her personal email account. The first thing she saw was a message from Heidi written a few minutes ago. No subject. That was rarely a good sign.