A Different Breed

Part 3: One Constant

One constant. Since the age of twelve, Katrina was the opposite of stable. It wasn’t because she had a bad upbringing. From the outside looking in, most people would assume she had the perfect childhood and an enviable teenhood. Every Christmas the tree was cluttered with mounds of gifts just for her. Being an only child was a splendid thing. Her mom spoiled her and her dad spoiled her mom so Katrina still won. Her birthday parties were lavish-themed events that her friends would chatter about with gleeful memories on the first day of school.

If she wanted a puppy, her mom called up a friend, and a floppy-eared pooch was waiting for her when she slid into the backseat of her mom’s Mercedes SUV. There was no riding the bus for mommy’s little princess. Every day she woke up with a smile and every night she greeted a sandman after a kiss goodnight on the cheek from her mom. It wasn’t just the thick quilt that kept her warm, it was a mom’s love enveloping her that still her heart and calmed her nerves.

That was what life was like before she turned twelve; meandering through cotton candy fields with rose-colored glasses. The year that led up to her thirteen birthday showed her the many downsides of being an only child. Moment one was the starkest reference point during her journey of being the lone offspring. It was one day that changed the course of her life from sunshine and rainbows to angry clouds and thunderous skies.

To lose a parent was difficult but to lose two; one immediately and another gradually over time was soul-crushing. The day her dad sat her down in the living room to tell her that her mom wasn’t ever coming home was hard for her to grasp; she had just gone out to pick up pizzas: one pepperoni and one cheese-lover. Their evening of pizza and a movie was never ever going to happen because her mom had an aneurysm at the red light. It was a word she never knew until that day and she wished she never had to learn it. But she did. And she knew nothing lasts forever; good or bad.

This too shall pass. Her mom’s favorite adage streamed through her mind as she crouched down on the floor with a bottle of red wine and an empty glass she desperately needed full. She leaned her back against the couch that was delivered hours ago and tipped the bottle over the glass letting the crimson liquid slosh inside the bowl until it was near the rim. Her head throbbed and her calves ached. This Saturday had been too much for her to take; the delicate sip morphed into a gulp as she thought about the dent she made into her savings account over the last month and a half.

Returning to her old title of just Katrina Bailey, theoretically not yet legally, was expensive. The beach house she bought accounted for the biggest expense but it was what she needed to soothe her mind and heal her soul. The tranquil crash of waves during the midnight hours when her thoughts ran wild and the sand crushed beneath the bare soles of her feet warmed by the receding sun eased her anxiety. It was the rehabilitation her wounded heart needed so she signed the paperwork with a quick flick of her wrist and took the keys.

Terrence didn’t like the beach and maybe that played a part in it too but it wasn’t a big enough portion for her to dwell on.

“Should you be chugging that?” Imani questioned, joining her on the floor but on the other side of the also new coffee table.

Katrina lowered the glass from her lips actually thinking of a reason she should be taking it to the head but didn’t come up with any. The pregnancy test was weeks ago and thankfully it had been negative. The first few seconds she read the word sadness washed over her body but as minutes became hours she realized it was a blessing. She could truly leave her marriage without baggage.

The boxes of various sizes littering the living room were packed with her things and only her things. She left everything that he bought, everything that reminded her of him, and everything that was a product of the union. She didn’t want it. She didn’t need it.

“Why not?” Katrina’s eyebrow lifted.

“Because…” Imani glanced around the room but found nothing but naked walls. She flipped over her phone and showed it to her. “It’s 7:23 and you haven’t eaten since morning. You’re going to be drunk off your ass before 8.”

Her friend was wrong. She was already tipsy and by the top of the hour, she’ll be beyond inebriated.

“So what if I get drunk. I have nowhere to go.” Katrina shrugged and took another long sip.

Tomorrow was Sunday and she could sleep in however long she wanted. No one would be there wanting her to prepare a continental breakfast with fresh-squeezed orange juice. She made pancakes so much and knew the recipe by heart. It wasn’t something Terrence asked for but the peck on the cheek he gave her before she handed him the steamy cup of coffee made the work worth it. He’d slice into the fluffy flapjack, crispy hash browns still sweating from its oil bath, or spicy Italian pan sausage and tell her about his busy night of saving lives and defeating death. It was their Sunday morning ritual. Now, the only thing she had to do was whatever tickled her fancy although she was beginning to crave a warm, syrupy pancake.

That was probably just the alcohol seeping into the liner of her stomach, flowing in her views, and making her heart get nostalgic. She didn’t need pancakes. She was going to eat grits, smoked sausage, and a scrambled egg in the morning. Her Bay Area bae wasn’t fond of the white grain sprinkled with salt swimming with butter or maybe sometimes embellished with cheddar.

“No, bitch.” Imani hissed, leaning over the table and yanking the glass out of the clutch of her fingers without fear of spilling the red elixir. The glass was almost empty. “You are not about to drink yourself in a stupor just because things didn’t try out the way you wanted them.”

Didn’t turn out the way I wanted them,” She repeated with her other hand still wrapped around the neck of the wine bottle. “You make it sound like I just burned the crust of a blackberry pie. No. My marriage failed and I no longer have the one man I love. This shit hurts.”

“But guzzling this won’t help.” Imani held up the glass. “It’ll just postpone the inevitable and give you a cluster headache.”

Katrina rolled her eyes, “Everybody always thinks they’re a therapist after one psychology class.”

“I don’t.” Imani tipped the glass to her mouth and let the remainder of the liquid roll over her tongue before swallowing. “But I know this is hard to believe but I had my fair share of breakups and heartbreaks.”

Katrina’s mouth twisted with no believing any of those words. Breakups. Yes. Heartbreak. No. Imani didn’t stay in a relationship long enough to know the first names of the person’s parents let alone catch feelings for.

“I’m being real,” Imani added, reading her face. “I’ve been there. My third boyfriend nearly broke me but while I was drowning in tears and Brownie Batter I read an article in some magazine about rediscovering your single self.”

Katrina sat up, braids spilling over her shoulder as she listened more intently.

Her friend continued, ignoring the new message that vibrated her phone. “You do the things that you did when you were single. Discover new hobbies that make you happy. Get a coloring book for God’s sake but don’t reminisce over memories that are just snapshots of the good times while trying to find solace at the bottom of a bottle.”

“I’m n—” Before Katrina could finish, she gave her a look that prevented her from believing the lie. The wells of her eyes watered. “There were good times.”

She wiped her eyes before they rolled down her cheek. She took in a deep inhalation then shook her head trying to will those memories to the back of her mind. All it took was the remembrance of what he did to push her away and the tear ducts turned into deserts.

“You’re right.” She set the bottle on the table and threw her braid over her shoulders. “Gotta keep busy and keep moving.” She hopped up with a wobble and held her stomach feeling the alcohol roll around her stomach… “Woah. I need food. You’re driving.”

“Hell yeah,” Imani added, following her to the hallway. “What are you craving?”

“Fried fat and juicy meat.”

“So, southern comfort food.” Imani slipped her feet into her all-white Nikes. “To Lilly’s it is.”

“To Lily’s!” Katrina shouted with vigor as she struggled to get her foot in her Sperry’s.

Once she got her last shoe on she realized what her one constant was since her mom was no longer there.


Do you think Imani gave her good advice?

What hobbies do you think Katrina should do?

What do you think happened between Katrina and her dad to make her feel like she gradually lost a parent?

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