Night had fallen and the two women were sitting in bed watching old movie re-runs, delaying the inevitability of sleep. The more potent pills stood, untouched, on the table alongside Catherine’s pillow; sleep was still the main enemy.
Catherine was the first to slide out of consciousness, leaving Jacky sitting sentry a further hour; eventually she too succumbed.
Television’s uncanny ability to rise suddenly in volume, to invade sleep, wrenched Jacky from her dream world. She woke with a bolt of shock, disorientated.
Wrapped deep in the warm and comforting folds of sleep, Catherine remained oblivious to the world.
The time on the bedside clock read 03:39, they’d been asleep for more than six hours.
Jacky cut both the television and bedside light, and covered Catherine properly before turning in.
In four hours she would be welcoming passengers aboard the flight.
The nightmare was over.
“Where on earth have you been, Cath?!” Nancy was verging on anger, fueled out of concern. “I’ve been going out of my mind calling your office!”
“I’m sorry, Nancy. I’ve had a hell of a time with those nightmares. It’s really been very bad.”
“Well, why didn’t you return my calls? I would have phoned you at home but I still don’t have your number, and your office won’t give it to me.”
“I think it’s best if I see you to explain. Will dinner work?” Catherine had come to the conclusion that to remain friends, she would have to disclose her personal life to Nancy.
“Great. That will be absolutely super. My place again?” Nancy responded.
“No, mine this time. You won’t find it on GPS, the area’s too new. I’ll message you a map now."
Jacky would be abroad for two days, providing Catherine the ideal opportunity to reveal her secret. She’d first show Nancy the warm and nurturing home she had built; and let the conversation unfold from there.
On her drive in to the office Catherine pondered the mysterious stalking episodes; if they did not soon resolve, she felt little option but to reveal her indiscretion to Jacky.
Tough days lay ahead, but fortunately the good sleep of the previous night had sharpened her wit and she felt competent to cope with the prospect of either predicament.
With her private life partitioned off and put aside, she prepared for a full day at the office.
With five days of unattended work piled on her desk and every electronic device screaming for her urgent attention, the hours evaporated.
Looking at the mountain of work, she was on the verge of canceling the dinner date, when the uneasy sense of being watched crept back. She surrounded herself with people all day long, but every time she went to the toilet, the terror returned.
Doubt crept back, her confidence quailed and her productivity plummeted. She simply could not go home alone tonight.
Suddenly, in the late afternoon, the uneasy feeling went away, she felt fine. Testing it, she went to the loo... nothing. She got into the lift alone, rode 2 floors and returned... fine.
Again those piles of files and insistent electronics insisted she cancel, but when she looked out through the windows, the sky was already darkening—to cancel with Nancy would be too rude now.