I have been busting my butt today. Errands, gardening, housework. My brain is fried. I should give you a new chapter of Sian, but I can’t get there. So, I dug another chapter of Sheeple out of the files. Now I’m headed to bed. We have a long trip ahead of us tomorrow.
Eric started working at the hospital that week. Computer data entry wasn’t a great job, but it put money in his pocket. Plus, on the side he was starting to do a decent business in computer repair work. He had a sliding scale for payments that really helped garner clients. Word of mouth was a wonderful way to do business. After six weeks, he’d already made as much from repairs as he had working at the hospital.
Today he was suppose to be moving into an apartment about a block away from Kate’s house. No more shelter. Suzanne and Kate had helped him get the place. It wasn’t too shabby, and came furnished which was a real help. Most of their possessions were clothes. Eric had a few books, and the kids had a few toys and that was it. For once, he couldn’t wait for work to be over.
“Hey there! You ready to go move into that apartment?” Zach said from the door.
“I sure am.”
“Good, cause I have your stuff and the kids in the car with Anne.”
Eric looked a bit panicked. “What? You packed all my stuff?”
“Yes. It wasn’t that hard. I even got the stuff you had under the mattress.”
“I… umm…” Eric tried not to be upset. “I… “
“Eric, it’s okay. Nothings lost. I made sure I had everything and then asked Jamie if we’d missed anything. She’s the one who showed me the stuff under the bed. She got it out and put it in the box, so just relax.”
Eric took a deep breath. “Ok. Sorry. It’s just that…”
“Don’t worry. I understand. Remember, I have little brothers… who stole everything at one point or another. I’m not the snoopy type anyways.”
Eric relaxed. He realized that Zach was honest and not out to get him. “Thanks. Let’s go okay?” He stood and headed towards the door. The time clock was by the back entrance which Zach breezed out of ahead of him. Eric punched out and followed Zach.
They had most of the stuff up and in the apartment in less that twenty minutes. It helped having Zach there. Jamie and Mark were trying to put their clothes away when Zach came up to Eric.
“I have a question to ask you that Mom said you might be able to help with.”
“Well, ask. I’ll help if I can,” Eric said.
“I feel a bit stupid asking, but…… I keep having these dreams where I’m a wolf. Or, at least I’m running with a wolf. Do you have any idea of what they could mean?”
Eric sat down. He thought long and hard about what to say. “Zach, I’m not sure. Tell me a bit more about them.”
The two men talked for twenty minutes. Eric realized that Zach was having very intense realistic dreams. Ones that echoed things in his own realm of experience. “Zach, have you done any shamanic work?”
“No, but I’ve had fun with a friend of ours who is a shaman. He shifts.”
Eric tried not to stiffen. “What do you mean by shifts?”
“Well, he goes to sleep and changes places with an animal on the astral plane. Or, he takes on the attributes of an animal, and you can’t hear him or see him at night. Freaked me out the first time he did that. And, Mom swears that he slept across the foot of her bed when Dad died. Stayed there almost every night for a week to keep an eye on her.”
Eric nodded. He was trying to buy some time as he wasn’t sure where to go next with this. “Zach, it could be that you are just tapping into some of that same energy that your friend does. Or, you could be astrally traveling with a real lycanthrope.”
“Real lycanthrope? What do you mean?”
“There are people who really do become wolves or bears or even cats. They shift on more than just the astral plain.”
Zach took a moment to let his words sink in. “So, you’re saying that there really are werewolves, and that might be who I’m visiting on the astral?”
“It’s one possibility. Or, you could be tapping into the lives of real wolves.”
“Ok. So, how am I to know which this is?”
“I’m not certain. You probably aught to keep a dream diary and see what you can match up from your dreams. Like if you see any areas in your dreams that you recognize. Mountains, rocks, etc.”
“That sounds logical. Thanks. Oh, and before I forget, Mom says come over for dinner. There’s chocolate cake too.”
Eric took about thirty seconds to decide. “We’ll be there as soon as the kids get done.”
“Ok, see you in a few minutes.” Zach called back over his shoulder.
“Dinner was great Kate.” Eric put his plate in the sink.
“Glad you liked it.” She she sat down next to him. “You know, I’ve missed seeing you at the shelter.”
“Yeah, you know how you get use to seeing people, and then when they’re gone, it makes a difference.”
Zach walked in the room about then, having heard part of the conversation. “Mom, why don’t you just say you missed Eric? Wouldn’t that be easier?”
Kate went red in the face. “Zach, you have no tact!”
“Yeah, and you have no life outside of work. Get a life!”
Eric decided to study the dishes in the drain. No way he was stepping into this conversation. Not that he didn’t find Kate attractive, because he did. However, he didn’t know if he was ready for anything in his life besides his two kids. He still felt like he was walking on tenter hooks with everyone in town.
“Eric, you could say something you know!” Kate was exasperated.
“I… umm… I think I’d better go check on the kids.” He got up and headed for the dining room.
Kate watched him go and wasn’t sure if she should be mad at Zach or Eric. She sighed deeply and turned back to Zach.
“Mom, you know how you always told us kids when we were really screwing up our lives?”
“Yes.” She wondered where he’d take this.
“Well, take it from me, I think you are screwing up your life. Stop mourning, and get on with living. Its been over four years. Dad wouldn’t have wanted you to be a dried up old biddy.”
“Oh! You are impossible sometimes.” She got up to do the dishes and hoped that Zach would disappear.
“Mom, Zach’s right. Get a life,” Andy said as he entered the room. “You need people in your life. People you can touch. We all know that. Little hugs at work and sleeping with the cats and dogs isn’t enough.”
Kate rolled her eyes. Its frustrating when your kids know you better than you are willing to give them credit for. “So, what do you expect me to do?”
“Start by treating Eric as if he was a possible date and not one of us boys,” Andy said. Zach nodded in agreement.
“Haven’t you noticed that he is here at the drop of a hint of chocolate cake?”
“I just figured he liked the cake. Not me.”
“Well, how are you ever going to find out if you don’t ask?” Zach thought mothers could be almost as frustrating as girlfriends. And there was no way he was going to mention that it was Anne who first made the comment that Eric and Kate would make a good pair.
“Mom, the kids are falling asleep in front of the TV. Take Eric out back and talk to him. Not about the weather. Not about anything but you two. See what happens. Give it a chance,” Andy said. “Hell, give him a chance.”
Kate put her head on her hand as she leaned on the counter. She knew she wasn’t going to win this fight. No more so than when the boys all agreed that David wanted a Viking funeral. Especially after they had figured out how to fix it. She sighed. “Alright, I’ll take the first step.” Shaking her head, she went towards the other room. Oh hell. Eric was bending over the two little ones who were fast asleep. He’d been covering them over with the blanket off the back of the couch.
“Kate, sorry, they fell asleep. Do you mind if they stay here?” he said in a rush, not realizing that she had started talking to him first.
“No of course not Eric. But that isn’t what I came out to talk to you about.”
“Oh,” Eric was afraid that this was not going to be easy for either of them. “You want to talk about what went on in the kitchen?”
“Yes, and what the boys said after you left.”
“Ah, okay. Can we have a cup of tea?”
“Sure.” Kate headed back to the kitchen. It was empty of course. Andy and Zach had headed out for parts unknown. She put the kettle on and got tea mugs out of the cupboard. After the kettle popped, she made tea. Neither of them said a word as it brewed. Kate finally spoke as she handed him his cup. “Do you want to go sit in the garden?”
“Yes. That would be fine.”They walked out the door and down the stairs.
“Eric, I.. I have missed you. The boys were right. I’ve been doing a real good job of lying to myself.” She was staring down at her cup.
“Kate, its okay. I enjoy coming over here, and it isn’t just for the cake. I enjoy your company.”
Kate looked up. “Thank you. When you first got here, I had the weirdest feeling. One like I’d known you forever and I couldn’t explain it. So, I shut it off. I figured that I was just being a nosy and lonely widow when the last thing you needed was someone barging into your life. You were hurt on some level I didn’t understand, and was afraid of making worse. So, I dealt with seeing you at the shelter and that was fine for a while.” She took a sip of tea.
“I felt the same way Kate. And yes, you were right. I was hurt. Hurt and didn’t know how to share any of what I felt. That first night when you opened the back door, I felt so lost and there was this beautiful woman welcoming us in and not caring who we were. Just that we needed help.”
“I am not beautiful.”
“Yes Kate, you are. You are beautiful on so many levels.”
Kate blushed. Felt like she was glowing in the dark. “I’m not. I’m a short, fat, 45 year old woman with gray hair.” She was trying not to let this go further.
Eric sat his cup down and moved closer to Kate. “Yes, you are all of those things and you are still beautiful. Not in a glamorous way, but in every way that really counts. You are beautiful in here.” He reached up and touched her face.
“Shush.” He took the cup from her hand and then hugged her. Slowly, tentatively, she brought her arms up and hugged him back.
“Shush, just for a minute.” He held her.