SIXTY, 2.0

Gordon stared at Katie shocked, beyond words. He was speechless, and wanted to tell her so, but for being…speechless. He felt that whatever he did say would come out forced, so he shut his mouth and just stared at her. He furrowed his brow, hoping she’d pick up on his anger and might even be afraid of him, and take it back.

But she didn’t reply as such. The only thing she said was, “I’ll take the first payment next week.” She truly had no fear of him, and quickly picked up her suitcase and left.

That suitcase.

It’d sat in their closet for six months. The only thing she’d left behind when she disappeared last year, and the only thing Gordon still had that was hers. Katie had told him over email and text that she’d be back for it, but he never pushed her on when or how long it would take. He wanted to respect her space. And the space of their child.

When she arrived yesterday, Gordon had asked to see a photo of the child. He still had to call it “the child” because he didn’t know if it was a boy or a girl. She wouldn’t tell him that much. Even if he demanded it, she told him he’d have to get a court order to reveal that information.

“You gave up your rights to have any sort of contact with him the minute you lied to me, the minute you revealed your identity. Even the courts will see the danger you really are.”

The courts. She kept threatening him with the courts. Child support payments being the number one threat. He knew that if he fought it she’d somehow suck out more than what she was currently demanding — $500 / month, reasonable for most folks, but not for Gordon.

He’d cashed in most of his stocks, and all of the city’s lawsuits were hitting at once, which left little to no wiggle room for other essentials like rent and interest payments. So he’d gotten her down to $400 a month, and that was where their conversation had ended.

He called her after she left, and after his speech returned. “Hey, hi, it’s me.” Voicemail. Of course she wouldn’t pick up. Their in-person interaction would likely be the last time they spoke to each other directly, outside of a Court.

“I’m sorry for…everything. Whatever. Look, I know you think I deserve to be punished or whatever, but I really did do great things over there. When I was there. you’d have loved it, and if I could have, or had known about it, I would have invited you. But we talked about this already. I guess you remember. But look, this is still…it’s robbery is what it is. Just let me be a part of his…her… life. I can make it as a dad, I know I can, and maybe you and I could –”

The beep. End of line. Voicemail full, etc.

He waited for her call, but the only reply was a text, a reminder to send her a check. That night, Gordon wrote three checks to her, through the end of the year, and dropped them in his mailbox. He gathered his things, the essentials, into one suitcase, and drove away from his home. He made sure to leave out a full food bowl and water bowl for the stray cat that sometimes visited. He hoped someone would take over for that cat, and the same for their child..

When he reached the Collider, he barely slowed down. He’d called ahead. Told the team to start it up. “I received a distress call. I’ve got to cross over again.”

He was the boss, no other requests were needed.  He drove straight down the ramp and sped up when he reached the tube. Before this, Gordon considered selling off his shares of the company, the few that he had, but nothing would ever be enough for Katie. They both knew it, and she held that over him. Would always hold it over him.

But she wouldn’t find him Over There. She’d never be able to follow, in any case. No one could.

When he reached the other side, he collapsed the doorway. He found the Other Katie, the one he had purposefully avoided until now.

And he started all over again.

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