Once and Again
Gardenia

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Niki: A | 1 USERS: A+
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Gardenia

Over at Karen's place, Eli shuts the front door loudly and strides into the kitchen to drink yet more liquid straight from the container. He turns around and finds Karen in the doorway, looking at him. Startled, he lowers the carton and sighs, "Dad must've called." "Three weeks," Karen grits. "You lied for three weeks!" Eli protests that he didn't lie. He just, er, didn't actually tell the truth. He tries to explain what a lie is, as if she needs his help with vocabulary. Karen shouts, "What do you think is going on here?" Veins pop. Eyes bulge. She's wild. The ass-pole whoops. "Well, I'm not sure, but I think you're gonna tell me!" Eli hollers. Karen yells that she's tired of all this, while Eli yells that she should just tell him he's an irresponsible loser, like she wants to. Karen cries that she doesn't have the strength to tell him one more thing. Eli bangs his hand on the counter. "Then why don't you just write me off? If that's what you want to do, why don't you just get it over with?" Karen looks as if he struck her. They eye one another for a second, breathing hard, before Karen, struggling to keep her voice level, says he should just go. "What?" Eli says disbelievingly. She repeats that he should just get out, because she can't take him living there any longer. "You want me out of here?" Eli repeats, his voice cracking. She repeats it one more time. Eli throws up his hands and mutters, "Oh, this is great." "Get out, Eli!!" Karen wails so hard, I half expect her lungs to come launching out of her throat. Eli shouts that he'll get his stuff, but Karen's hot on his heels, giving him the bum's rush and yelling all the while. Eli slams out, and Karen screams at the door, "GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!" Somehow, the hinges hold. Karen slams her fist against the door and breaks down. I mean, even more.

We return from commercials to find Karen sitting in her van, staring vacantly. There's knock on the frost-covered passenger window, which yanks her back to reality. Judy wipes off the window and smiles in at Karen. As Judy fumbles to climb inside, Karen takes a deep breath and refrains from beating her head against the steering wheel. She puts a smile on her face by the time Judy's in the van. Judy clutches a bag of groceries and says she's been concerned about Karen -- she's called her three times in the past day and can't get a hold of her. Karen understates that things have been "a little chaotic" at her place. Judy says she's having some girlfriends (who knew she had any?) over on Friday for "cheeseless pizza" and Sex and the City. Karen says it sounds great. "Does it?" Judy asks, smiling but doubtful. Karen assures her that it does. Judy stops smiling and looks earnest. "How are the meds?" she asks gently. Karen's smiles fades slowly. She nods her head and looks out the windshield, exhaling loudly. "That was abrupt," she mutters. "Life is short," Judy says. She asks if Karen's having side effects. Karen says she's a little spacey and dizzy. "Yeah, I couldn't sleep for the first month," Judy admits, which grabs Karen's attention. She looks more closely at Judy. Judy adds that the pills cut her sex drive, too, "which was actually kind of a blessing." She laughs. Karen deadpans, "Well, that wouldn't be a side effect for me. For me, it would be a side effect to have a libido." She smiles wryly and her eyes go a little unfocused. She says she has to go pick up Jessie, and Judy tells her to call about Friday, "or about anything." She departs with, "Hang in there, okay hon?" Karen tells herself to smile and wave, but as soon as the door closes, she returns to zombie mode.

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Once and Again

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