There was deep silence that seemed to fill the entire park. Erica couldn’t believe something like this happened without her knowing. She remembered then, how after Karen’s “trip”, they didn’t have sex for a while. At first, it was a UTI, then cramps and of course her cycle. When Erica finally confronted her, it was wanting to be more spiritually connected.
Erica sighed, “I’m sorry I couldn’t protect you.” Then, she squeezed Karen tightly.
Karen felt so relieved that she was able to finally tell Erica what happened. Now, maybe she could understand why I left, Karen thought. All I have to do now is tell….
Erica interrupted her thoughts, “I would have been there for you baby.” She paused, wanting to sound compassionate and understanding. “Why did you keep it a secret and then wait three months to leave me?”
One of Erica’s best qualities was how perceptive she could be. It was also her worst. She could always tell when there was more to be said.
“I know you would have been there babe,” Karen said as she sat up. “There was just too much to handle, it would have been such a burden on you.”
“A burden!?” Erica replied in an offended tone. “What? The rape? I would have been there for you. You didn’t even give me a chance.”
Erica raised her voice with her last sentence. It was out of hurt and frustration more than anger. Still, it caught the attention of the moms with their toddlers on the playground and the homeless guy on the bench.
“Babe,” Karen responded while touching Erica’s cheek, “I know now that I was wrong to not tell you.” Karen sighed, “I planned to come back. It’s just that so much happened and it was too late. You would’ve hate me.”
Erica stood pulling Karen to her feet. “Baby,” Erica said in a soft and sweet tone. “Tell me. Tell me and I promise all I’ll do is love you. Just tell me.”
They were in a full embrace now, Karen’s head lay on Erica’s chest. Erica was fighting back tears again, processing what was happening at that moment. Was she making her choice? Did she want Karen regardless of what happened? What about Kim?
Karen sighed, lifting her eyes to Erica’s. “I left you because….”
The song blaring from Erica’s pocket stopped Karen mid-sentence. Erica pressed her phone through her pants to silence it. As she did, it began again. Taking the phone out so she could turn it off, she saw that it was two text messages from Kim. She sure thought her up. Quickly she pressed the view button so she could hurry up and turn it off. She read both messages.
Erica’s eyes widened. Kim had to be in trouble. She had to go.
“Umm, I have to go. I really want to stay, but….” Erica paused. “My friend…..yeah, my friend needs me. It’s an emergency.”
Karen stepped away slowly. “It’s okay,” she replied. “Go ahead. We’ll talk later.”
Erica kissed Karen’s forehead and turn quickly, running to her car as she dialed Kim’s number.
Karen began to pack the picnic, partly worried for Erica’s friend, but also wondering how important this friend was in her life and who Kim, the name she saw attached to the text, was. I almost told her, Karen thought and she continued to pack up her things.
Don’t Forget to Come Back Next Tuesday for Chapter 10
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