I Become Kitt Ch. 3 (Toadstool Shore)

There is something isolating about being someone no one knows anything about.

There is something freeing about it, too.

Because I don’t have to close my eyes and wait for sleep and hope that, by the grace of some watchful god, I am allowed to dream of being Kitt.

I can pick up a pen, and I become Kitt.

____________

The boats start rowing in around noon, and from then until early evening, Pear and I are bringing in fish by the school. Each net smells worse than the next, Pear says, but my nose becomes numb to the job that ensures we eat.

When I turned eighteen and Pear fifteen, I thanked Charlotte and Yvonne for everything they had provided us in our parents’ absence, and bought Pear and I a cottage on the shorelines. It was a closer walk to work than their big farmhouse was, a better situation than the feeling of living in a stranger’s home.

Like I said before, it was small, but it was home, and we did our best to make it look and feel like ours. Which, really means

By which I meant

____________

“Damn it!”

All day, anything I write doesn’t feel the way it should.

Words are falling short, and I feel like I’m running out of time.

In fall, school starts. Classes from eight in the morning to three in the afternoon. Work from 4 in the afternoon to midnight. Homework and studying and sleep and then I start it all over again, no room for anything remotely close to writing about her.

Unless I sneak writing in during work, like usual. But it seems like now, it isn’t quite working out.

Because I can’t think of words to write to save my life.

I hear a throat clear.

Christina. And, some guy.

A cute guy.

At least I think.

I can only see his eyes, but, he looks cute.

I stare for a bit. I might have stared for a while.

Christina clears her throat again, and gestures toward my mask, which hangs now around my ear.

I rush to put it on, snapping it back against my cheeks before I’m successful.

“Sorry.”

Cute guy laughs.

“How long have you been on your break?”

“Ten minutes.”

“Really? Computer reads twenty.”

Damn it.

“Oh, sorry! I was-“

“Writing.”

“Writing.”

I get up a little slower, trying not to knock anything over. There’s people in here, watching me now. The break room is so tiny, I’d barely call it a room. Maybe a break closet would suit it more.

It’s got enough room for two tables that are pushed in each corner that opposes the door. Four chairs for each one, two facing the door, two facing the wall.

As if it wasn’t cramped enough, our lockers and a row of hooks foar coats and purses are thrown in there too.

If the dining room was and option, I’d sit there. But because of last time, I’m not allowed to do that anymore.

“Pick up the pace, Cortez. You’re already five minutes over.”

I knock over three chairs. Christina sighs. Cute guy moves them out of the way for me.

“Thanks.” I forget how to look up from the floor.

“No Problem. Emilio.” He sticks his hand out to shake mine. I stare at it.

“Kit-Katherine. Katherine.” My God.

“Katherine. Nice to meet you, Katherine.” He retracts his hand slow.

Embarrassment has never eaten away at my stomach as painfully as it does now.

____________

Pear’s in better spirits now.

Down at the docks, she has a favorite gal.

Her name is Penelope, daughter of the boss. Penelope and Pear used to sit on her fathers’ boat all day the first few years that we were here.

I would work and they would play, and at the end of the day I’d get paid two wages. One for the help I gave him, and the other for the work Pear did to keep his daughter busy.

It still works like that, except now he pays me three. One for working. One for Pear keeping his daughter occupied. And the other to keep them from dating each other.

I collect the last without putting in any effort to actually getting the job done.

Both of them have been playmates forever, since I was able to get us out of the home of the couple that took us in and into our own.

They know each other as well as Pear and I do, maybe even a bit more. Adoration is all that has ever existed between the two, and wheteher or not it turns romantic is absolutely none of my business.

Still, I pretend it is and take the money anyways.

It’s allowed us to buy and keep our little cottage on the shore, and buy a boat that takes us to and from the island, which is the only thing I’ve ever really cared about.

Penelope’s father, Manny, is the only father I’ve ever really known. The only person I trust, beside Penelope and Pear.

The couple that took us in, they were both women. They loved Pear and they liked me well enough, but there was never anything more than shelter and food that connected us.

So when Manny offered me a job for his fishing company, and the promise of helping us get on our feet, I jumped at it and got us out of there. Normally, I wouldn’t have taken anything from another stranger, let alone a place to eat and sleep. But Manny wasn’t a stranger.

He knew our father.

Him and Papa had grown up together, like brothers.

They built their own boat, to fish and visit the island they called “Toadstool Shore”. They spent their days catching toads and hunting wild turkeys and rabbits, running home and wooing my mother and her best friend, their future wives, with what they could bring back. Flowers and vines that they could keep in their gardens, meat and fruit that could feed their families for weeks.

When they were both married, their first action was to draw up plans to live on the island, where both couples had said they’d their build homes.

Papa was the only one to follow on his promise, because Manny never took the chance. The second they had set their sights on the island, rumors of it’s spiritual plague swirled around the village, cursing both families to a never-ending frenzy of witchcraft accusations and Before he could begin, his wife became pregnant, and both of them became weary of bringing their child into a world where a target was ready to be placed on their back.

So they backed out. And Penelope was born, to a new widower with a fish company.

Ever since, Manny has been trying to make up for my parents’ dissappearances, which he believes to be his fault.

He raised us for the years as children that we had left, and then sent us off on our own, his money still making sure we were fed.

For a while, we were satisfied with that. With maintaining ourselves, here, in our tiny cottage with friends as good as family so close by.

But Manny and I, we both agree.

There’s much more to life than what the village seems to think.

It’s time for the island to come alive again. And it’s up to Manny and I to make sure it happens.

____________

Clocking out, I’ve forgotten the woes of the day.

My veins feel electric, my skin just as alive. Every touch my fingers makes against the clock’s keyboard makes my heart race faster.

I just hope my hands touching the wheel of my car won’t put me in any danger.

“Your eyes are so wide. Are you high or something, kid?” Pearl is untying her apron and folding it while she waits for me to get out of the way.

“I’ve finally got it, Pearl.”

“Got what?”

“Pearl.” I grab her hands so tight, she tries to pull them back. I stare at her, eyes wide as I could get them.

It takes years for her to return the look.

“OH, KID!”

In the middle of the kitchen floor, we’re squealing and jumping, Christina, Eve, and the kitchen boys staring at us in judgmental silence. But I don’t care.

I’ve got an idea. I’ve finally got an idea for a book.

An idea that’s going to get me and Pearl the hell out of here.

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