Catrine Teddi rolled onto her stomach and pulled the pillows until the mound under her head was a little higher. She didn’t bother to open her eyes because she was so tired and angry with herself for wasting her sleep dreaming of Austin. Time had changed nothing. The man was still her every thought after nearly four years. He was the last thought she had at night and the first thought to wake her. Sometimes the regret was so over whelming she would find herself reaching for her phone to call him.
Lifting her congested pounding head from the half dozen pillows encased in their flowered patterned cases, she pulled a Kleenex from the matching tissue box hidden in the pillows. Rubbing the scented piece of paper under her dripping nostrils, she yawned, ruffled her hair and focused her sleepy eyes on the square face of the clock sitting next to the telephone.
Six o'clock? Six o'clock. I can't believe it. Where is Phalene? She questioned the validity of her eyesight and the location of her sister within the same thought.
"Jeez." She exclaimed out loud. "Have I been asleep all evening?" Continuing to talk aloud as was a habit when she was upset Catrine checked the time on the clock again. "I wonder why Phae hasn't brought Brhin home. She could have at least called to let me know that she would be keeping him at her house. Maybe she had called and I didn't hear the phone."
Searching the table next to the bed, she saw the light flashing on the identification box sitting next to the phone. It showed that a call had come from The P.S. Center, but no message was on the answering machine. Phae, who could be an extremely impatient person, had probably started to call and didn't have time to leave a message.
Pressing the buttons to activate the intercom system on the telephone and the programmed number that would dial her sister, Catrine pulled the blankets up to her neck and pressed her back into the pillows. Swiping at her nose and closing her eyes against the pain in her head, she waited for the answer.
"Yes?" asked the cheerful voice on the other end of the phone line. "Hey," Catrine croaked. "Whatcha doin'?" She coughed to clear the phlegm from her throat. "I thought that you would have been here by now. You could have called."
"Me, call?" Phae bellowed angrily. "I have been waiting for you to call and apologize." Brushing her nose with a fresh Kleenex and clearing her throat again, Catrine pushed herself into a semi-sitting position and adjusted the straps to her gown. "What do you mean 'apologize'? What do I have to apologize for? Brhin didn't tell that silly little thing I told him about Road kill this morning did he? I was only kidding it was a joke."
"Brhin didn't tell me anything. I want you to apologize for having me drive twenty minutes across town to get your kid from that stupid, death trap of a...."
"I hate it when you call The P. S. Center by that name." Catrine broke into the tirade. "Brhin loves it there. The center is very pretty and well equipped.”
"That's all it is. You know how I feel about it, and you know how Frank feels. It is not a good place. You can't just go by the name, The Perfect Solution, ha." Phae's words sped out of her mouth in a tirade of irritation. Once she started on listing the faults of the center she was hard to stop. "None of the teachers have a clue as to why they’re there. The place is run in total chaos. You of all people, the owner of your own security firm should be worried about the way that center handles its business. They are so darn careless. What I want to know is how could you have me drive all the way across town to the center and then have Brhin not be there? I had to rush all the way back to this end of town so that I could get my girls from school. I was barely on time for the Girl Scout meeting and now dinner will be late. You know…"
"What." Catrine screeched and sat ramrod straight in the bed. The roughness in her throat caused her voice to rasp."What are you saying? What do you mean he wasn't there? Where is Brhin, then?"
"Isn't he there with you?"
"No, oh my God, what are you saying?" Fear knotted Catrine's stomach and made her nauseous. "I wouldn't have asked you to get him if he wasn’t going to be there. Are you playing a joke on me? I am not well Phae. My head is killing me and I don't find this in the least bit funny. Put Brhin on the phone."
"Are you serious, Cat?" The anxiety in Phalene's voice was clearly heard through the phone line. “I thought that you had gotten someone else to get Brhin. He's not here.”
Catrine looked at the small double heart picture frame that held a picture of Brhin in one heart and a picture of herself and Brhin in the other and her own heart skipped a beat. Dragging nerveless fingers through her already mused hair, Catrine swung her legs over the edge of the bed and stood up slowly. Her head felt as if it was about to burst and the pain behind her eyes made her want to lie back down.
"Who else would I send? Phae, you are kidding aren't you? This is a joke, right? This can't be real. My baby is sitting in your den playing with your crazy little dog, right?"
"No, he isn't. Come on, Cat, think. You’ve been really sick, running a high fever, taking medication. Maybe you asked a friend to get Brhin for you and just forgot. The little thing that was supposed to be substituting in his class told me that a friend of yours had come and gotten him. I just assumed you had called Linda."
"No, I called you last night why would I call anyone else? Anyway, Linda goes to college now. She hasn't even been here in over two weeks. I called you. I even sent a note to the school to make sure the workers knew you would be coming. I should have called those idiot people this morning like I started to, but my head was killing me. I didn't even get out of the car when I dropped him off this morning. I just kissed him good-bye, watched him go into the building, came home and crawled into bed. I haven't even had the strength to get out of the bed to go to the bathroom. That Julioux woman from the office opened the door for him. I saw him take the note out of his pocket to give to her as I had instructed him and she waved it away. I should have gotten out of the car and gone in, but all I could think about was getting in the bed. Oh, God. I think I am going to throw up."