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Not From Different Worlds

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   Kat didn’t allow herself to cry on her way back to her apartment, but, as soon as she stepped inside after coming back from Adena’s, she came undone. She didn’t even dragged herself to her bed, she simply collapsed on the couch and started sobbing.

   The way her body was reacting to what had just happened was truly scaring her. Her hands were shaking, her legs and stomach were all tensed up, her chest was hurting from all the crying and heavy breathing and the scariest part was that her heart was beating unprecedentedly fast in pure discomfort.

   She had never had an anxiety attack before but her parents had told her about its symptoms, which were pretty much what she was feeling right now. “Almost everyone will have at least one anxiety or panic attack in their life”, Kat remembered her mother’s words and lay on the couch with one hand pressed to her chest and the other one pressed to her stomach to try and do the diaphragmatic breathing exercises that the woman had once taught her, “just in case”.

   It worked a little, but it was even harder to get the air to fill her stomach instead of her lungs considering that she was still copiously crying. She stopped trying eventually and hid her face in her hands. She felt so alone and so much like a failure. Her stupidity had pushed Adena back to Paris and, especially, back into Coco’s life. Because of her and her damn fears, Adena was now trying to make a worn-out relationship work again. And she was probably never coming back. Kat wouldn’t come back to an immature mood swinger like herself, either.

   What did I do?, Kat kept asking herself, What did I fucking do?

   She thought that she would have to have sedatives for dinner if she wanted to be able to sleep that night, and she did want that. She was exhausted. Mentally, physically and spiritually. Although, she was suddenly reminded of a healthier soother than a handful of sedatives.

   Kat grabbed her phone, wiping her tears away, and dialed her mother’s number with still trembling fingers. The woman had a conference to attend in Newark the next day, so she was staying at a hotel there. Kat didn’t believe in fate, but it was like her mother was supposed to be there to comfort her.

   Of course the woman noticed something wrong with Kat’s voice tone right off the bat. Kat didn’t tell her anything just yet, simply asked her if she could stop by there to talk.

- Absolutely – her mother immediately responded. – Don’t you want me to come by your place, though? You sound so shaky.

- No – Kat shook her head to herself and sniffled. – I really need the subway ride.

   She just couldn’t spend another minute alone in her apartment, pacing and replaying her and Adena’s last conversation in her head for the thousandth time and counting, so she grabbed a backpack and stuffed it with a nightshirt, a change of clothes for the next day and her tooth brush. She knew that her mother would try and talk her into spending the night with her rather than let her go back to New York after dark.

   Kat spent the entire subway ride with an empty mind and dry eyes, looking idly down. She got to Newark by the beginning of the evening and, once she found herself standing before her mother at the door to the hotel room, she bit hard on her lower lip, grabbed onto one of the straps of her backpack really tight and began sobbing once again.

   The woman with longer and a little less curly black locks opened her arms to her daughter. Her brown eyes were as kind as ever. She didn’t ask anything at first. Kat clung to her mother’s body as if to save her own life.

- I was gonna check in on you tomorrow before going back home – the older one stated in a smooth tone once everything was quiet again. She was dipping a tea bag into a cup of hot water. Kat didn’t like tea, so she had just made her daughter coffee. – Dad will try and come too so we can have lunch together.

   Kat gave her mother a weak smile without really raising her gaze from her cup of coffee; she was too entertained swirling her spoon around. The two of them were in the room’s small kitchen, seated on the counter stools, facing each other. Kat missed her dad, but she was kind of glad he wasn’t there right now. He was just as a great listener as her mom was, but that was precisely the moment for girl talk.

- What’s gotten into you, honey? – the woman asked in an even softer tone. She was clearly worried.

- I fell for someone – Kat responded, straightforwardly and finally looking into her mom’s eyes.

- Oh, my – the woman teased with a smirk. – I don’t think I’ve ever heard you say those words before. But that’s not the problem, right?

- She’s a woman.

   There was a short moment of silence after that information. The older one’s eyes widened just a bit. Not in a particularly bad surprise, though.

- I can see why that would be scary at first – she said, tactfully. – But that’s also not the problem, is it? We didn’t raise you for that to be a problem.

   Kat shook her head immediately and gave her mom a real smile. She had always heard her parents talking to each other very naturally about homophobia and homosexuality in general, mostly because a great portion of their patients were LGBT people – youngsters and adults – who lived a daily struggle. On many occasions, the two of them had come up with ideas to help those people together.

- You didn’t – Kat reached for her mom’s hand across the counter and squeezed it tenderly. – And thank you for that, by the way.

   The woman smiled proudly and kissed the back of her daughter’s hand.

- What’s wrong, then?

   Kat took a deep breath.

- Well, first I punched a bigot on the street for her.

   The older one stared at her daughter as if she didn’t know what to make of that particular information.

- Okay – she said, calmly. – Let’s not jump into the “what the hell were you thinking?” rabbit hole because, again, I feel like that’s not the point. What happened next? Was she flattered? Was she freaked out?

   Kat giggled at how easy it was talking to her mom. They had always been open and honest with each other, but things had gotten even easier once Kat reached adulthood.

- She thanked me later, in more ways than one. But then…  – her smiled faded away – then she broke up with her long-term girlfriend because of me. Things were getting serious. My feelings for her were growing in a way that scared me and it got to a point where I didn’t know what to do with them. I know that you and Dad always encouraged me to share my feelings, but… I’ve never had enough feelings to share until I met Adena.

   The woman was staring softly into Kat’s eyes and had her own slightly wet. She was smiling just barely, as if she was so proud of her daughter for finally finding someone who made her feel things worth sharing.

- Adena… – she mused as if she had seen that unusual name somewhere before. Probably on last month’s edition of Scarlet.

- Adena El-Amin – Kat clarified.

   The older one took the full name in, not failing to notice her daughter’s googly eyes.

- Arabian?

- Iranian – Kat corrected, unable to stop smiling now. – Such a smart, courageous Iranian beauty.

   Kat’s mom’s smile widened at the compliments.

- What happened, baby? – she whispered, as if she already had an idea – Did you run away?

   That perfectly accurate guess was like a sledgehammer beating Kat’s heart up. She bit on her lower lip again, harder than before, enough for her to almost taste coppery. A part of her wanted to punish herself. She nodded as the tears filled her eyes.

- She’s heading off to Paris right now to try and work things out with her ex-girlfriend.

   The older woman let out a loud sigh, closing her eyes for a second as if she wanted to say a fuck in solidarity. Instead, she rose to her feet and put an arm around her daughter’s shoulders, kissing the top of her head.

- I don’t get it – Kat said, still crying in anger, head resting on her mother’s chest. – I really don’t get how you and Dad, two amazing therapists, had me. I’m so fucked up.

- Hey – a hand brought Kat’s face up to meet determined brown eyes. – You don’t get to talk about yourself like that. There’s nothing wrong with you. Was it a bad move to run away? Yes, but you did it because you were afraid, and when we’re afraid, we’re not ourselves.

   Kat lowered her head again, staying silent. Normally, she would agree every time her parents defended her or gave her compliments, but now she was thinking too little of herself to do that.

- Adena and I are from such different worlds – she muttered, because if she said it any louder, her heart would shatter for good. Fortunately, it was loud enough to make her mother frown as if that had been the stupidest thing she had ever said.

- You two are from the same world, Kat – the woman said, as if it was ridiculously obvious. – You’re just different. And differences like those shouldn’t keep people from being together, if that’s what they truly want.

   Kat blinked her tears away. She really wanted to believe that. She really wanted to believe that there was still hope; hope that she could change to a less fearful person, hope that Adena could take her back.

- I don’t know what to do – she whispered, still sounding pretty hopeless. She looked up at her mother in supplication. – Please, Mom, tell me what to do.

    The older woman was quiet for a moment, searching for something in her daughter’s eyes while stroking her curls soothingly.

- Do you love her?

   Kat didn’t pull her eyes away from her mother’s. She wasn’t afraid to answer that anymore.

- I’ve always been so scared of that L word – she smiled, almost trailing off. – But now I’m way more scared of living without her. So, yeah, I love her.

   The woman smiled proudly once again.

- Well, then I think you should wait for her. You said she’s gonna try and work things out with her ex-girlfriend, right? – Kat nodded at that – It might not work out. So you wait for her, for as long as you feel like you need to.

- What if it does work out?

   There was another moment of silence. Her mother took a deep breath.

- If it does work out, then… you should be happy for her. Because that’s what the L word is all about. You want her to be happy, don’t you?

   Kat grinned to herself as she thought of Adena’s smile. It was the most beautiful thing ever.

- God, yeah.

   Being with Adena was the second thing Kat most wished for. The very first thing she most wished was for Adena to be forever happy, wherever she was, with whomever she was. She deserved it. More than anyone Kat had ever known.