What Karen wants to do - needs to do - is cry, but she can't. Here, alone, when she could howl, beat the sofa cushions, scream; now, somehow, she is unable. It's for fear that if she gives in to it, she'll lose all sense of who she is. She is afraid that if she falls apart in private, then she'll fall apart completely. That if she crumbles, like a house in an earthquake, she will disappear down some deep, dark crevasse, and never be able to pull herself out and put herself back together again.
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Her stomach lurches. She fancies him sooo much - she is powerless to resist. How can she possibly? She knows it's wrong: he has a girlfriend - he lives with her, for goodness' sake - and what they're doing is unfair, cruel. She is not sure what he's said to his girlfriend to wangle a night away and she doesn't want to know. She would hate it if it was done to her - she has never seen herself as the kind of girl who would steal another woman's man. She and Anna have always been most disapproving about women who do that, arguing through college and beyond that there are plenty of available men out there, that it is quite unnecessary to go for those already spoken for. But she has liked Simon since day one, and he is the one who initiated this whole thing. He is the one who blew her away with a clandestine kiss just a week ago, who asked if he could come back and stay at hers afterwards; he is the one who doubtless made unconvincing excuses when he returned home the next day. And it only took that single night to open this Pandora's box of mutual passion, being together was far, far better than it should have been, were it only a one-night stand. Karen senses that he really likes her.
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She watches Simon's profile as he drives, concentrating, but he keeps turning to her, and every time he does so, he is smiling. He doesn't seem to care, and she wonders if, actually, he wants to be caught. In some ways she does, because she knows, already, albeit crazily swiftly, that she wants more of this man, that once was never, ever going to be enough.
Isn't she doing this too? Connecting and disconnecting. Facing grief then turning from it. One minute she is caught up in minutiae. Will her feet get sore standing in heels at the church? Have they made enough food? Will the kitten get scared by dozens of strangers in the house? Should she shut him in a room upstairs? The next moment she is weeping uncontrollably, taken over by pain so profound she can barely move. Then there was the salad bowl incident; her own fury scared her. But maybe these are different ways of dealing with events for all of them. Molly and Luke are infantile echos of her, their emotions paired down, their reactions simpler but similar. For if they have difficulty taking in what has happened, then so too does she. Why is she dressing up, for instance? Why can't she wear clothes to reflect the fact that she is at her lowest end? A tracksuit, a jumper full of holes, dirty jeans? Why can't she leave her hair a mess, her face unmade up? The crazed and grieving Karen doesn't care about her appearance. Yet she must go through with this charade, polish herself and her children to perfection. She, in particular, must hold it together. Oh, she can cry, yes, that's allowed. People expect that. They will sympathize. But what about screaming, howling, and hurling plates like she did yesterday? She imagines the shocked faces as she shouts and swears and smashes everything. But she is so angry, surely others must feel the same. Maybe a plate throwing ceremony would be a more fitting ritual than church, then everyone could have a go... smashing crockery up against the back garden wall.
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She has no regrets; she knows now he could never have made her happy, even though he has, apparently, joined AA, is doing better. But sobriety is his journey, not hers; he needs to do it for himself, alone. Still, she misses him hugely, doesn't feel ready for another relationship yet. But as time passes, she hopes that she might be, eventually, with someone new, easier, kinder.