When Kate returned from the park on Sunday afternoon, she had a splitting headache. She wasn’t sure if it was due to the bright sunshine or the uncomfortable stroll down memory lane. It was probably both.
She put a saucepan of water on to boil, intending to make some pasta for the convenience store had nothing that appealed to her, wondering all the time what it would take to make her forget Michael. God knows she had tried hard over the years to put him out of her mind, but nothing seemed to work. She was tempted sometimes to try and find him, hoping for a glimpse of him. She knew it was stupid, for his memory seemed to be linked to everything else that had gone wrong in her life. It would be impossible to flush all of it out of her mind, and she should try harder. Hadn’t Jack taught her that any relationship with a man was doomed to fail? The differences between men and women were just too great.
There might be a decent film to watch on the TV, or she could try and finish the painting she had been working on when her heart had screamed uncle on Friday night.
Thinking of the artwork reminded her she was supposed to call Sam about another commission. With a bit of luck, it would be a definite booking, not just an enquiry as her bank balance was looking a bit bereft.
Waiting for the pasta to finish cooking, Kate wandered about the flat trying to decide what she would do with the rest of the day. Dylan was snoring gently on the couch, seemingly oblivious to her presence. Well, that was cats all over. Humans were only supposed to be acknowledged when a need arose.
She stopped at her studio door, taking in the gentle clutter, but since the break-in, she couldn’t shake the feeling that everything was ruined. It looked and felt spoiled, almost like a rape, and she knew deep down she would have to find somewhere else to live and soon. The thought of packing everything up, not to mention trying to find a place she liked as much as this flat was becoming a bridge too far. She didn’t think she could do it again, but she might have to, for like it or not, living here now was getting increasingly uncomfortable.
The intense colours of her painting glowed like a beacon, drawing her into the studio. There was something unfamiliar about it, almost as though someone else had painted it.
Looking closer, she found herself trying to focus on a particular spot in the waves. There was something there but it was so small. What was it?
There was a magnifying glass somewhere in a drawer but the question was, which drawer?
Of all the faculties you start to lose as you get older, Kate’s memory would be the one she would miss the most. Aches and pains, creaking joints, plus all the side effects from the medication she had to take for her heart, these were all the things she knew were inevitable. Two things she couldn’t afford to lose were her eyesight and her memory. Not the old memories, they could go to hell for all she cared. Just leave her with the day-to-day stuff, like where she left her keys, or what she did ten minutes ago.
She found the magnifying glass at the back of the drawer where she kept her photo collection. Logical place, she thought, wondering why she hadn’t looked there first. As she approached the painting, she wondered what she was going to see. It was probably nothing important. In the pain and confusion of Friday night, anything could have happened. It was some kind of miracle she hadn’t ruined the entire canvas.
She leaned closer, trying to focus on the tiny detail bobbing about in the water. What she saw almost made her drop the glass. It was a woman’s face.
Hang on, she thought, not just any woman’s face. It was Sam, and she looked worried, almost scared. What on earth? Where had it come from?
She didn’t remember doing it, but why would she paint Sam in the sea? She couldn’t swim. It had always been a joke between them, the fact they got on so well together but had such contrasting opinions about water. Kate loved it, whereas Sam loathed and detested it.
Kate would never imagine her going anywhere near any sort of water, so what was going on?
That night, Kate was plagued by nightmares. All she kept seeing was Sam, struggling in the water, panic distorting her face into that of a stranger. She opened her eyes in the morning, surprised she had managed to get any sleep, and resolved to call her friend and check up on her. She hadn’t hinted at any problems when they met up for lunch last week, none Kate could remember anyway.
She was always reluctant to call anyone on a Monday morning, remembering how disorganised the start of any week could usually be so she forced herself to wait until after lunch.
The office junior answered the phone and said Miss Cameron was having a few days off, and no, it wasn’t because she was ill.
Kate hung up, puzzled and worried in equal parts. As far as she knew, Sam hadn’t mentioned this either, or had she forgotten? She tapped her home number into the phone, and while she waited for her to answer, tried desperately to recall everything they had talked about.
Kate suddenly realised no one was picking up. There was obviously no one home.
Suddenly, what the voice had said earlier had a more sinister tone and she worried that something had happened to Sam.
Kate wandered into the kitchen to make a cup of coffee, trying to think and thoughts of Sam kept getting in the way.
They had met when Kate had almost decided to quit her tailoring job. She had moved from tailoring to an executive position in a fashion firm, and although it could be exciting, most days it bored her to death and was not what she wanted to do at all. She was painting in her spare time and having a modest success at local fairs and exhibitions. People loved her art and she had sold several canvases, which told her it was time to concentrate on her passion full time, even if it meant sometimes going hungry in the beginning.
She smiled at the thought of losing some weight. Always a bit on the chunky side, she was always thinking about going on a diet but somehow it never happened; which was odd, considering how skinny she was as a child. The way her hips were aching lately, they would probably appreciate a little less of Kate.
Sam had been at one of the locally run art exhibitions and started a conversation with Kate about the paintings, unaware she was one of the artists. In turn, Kate thought Sam was somebody who lived locally and appreciated the artwork. Samantha, or Sam as she became, was roughly the same age as Kate, and that was where the similarity stopped. They turned out to be as different as chalk from cheese. Everything about Kate was on the verge of being out of control and not just her weight. She wore scruffy casual clothes, (comfortable, she called them) and her mane of mousy curls had a life all of its own. She was unorganised and messy, and magic seemed to happen every time she picked up a paintbrush.
Sam, on the other hand, could not have been more different. She was always neat and tidy with short dark hair that seemed glued in place. Never to be seen wearing anything remotely ‘comfortable’, always looking as though she was late for an interview or important meeting, and she usually was.
Like Kate, Sam also lived alone, and that was where the similarity ended. She was a social butterfly; having so many friends Kate couldn’t keep up, not that she wanted to.
Because they were so different Kate always wondered why Sam had bothered with her in the first place, but they got on like a house on fire right from the start, almost like sisters.
Sam ran a successful local art gallery and was thinking of opening another one in London. Their friendship had led to a business arrangement that worked well. There was that awkward time years ago when Jack was getting her down. Sam had strong feelings about that and became quite upset when it looked as though Kate’s work would suffer. At least, that’s what Kate thought it was…