It was late when Jim had finally gotten out of Pam's, but he figured that Karen still might be up. He really needed to talk to her. Especially now. If she didn't answer he'd leave a message, that way she would know that he at least tried to call her.
He was sitting in his car, in her parking lot. Why didn't he just go see if she was home? Somehow that didn't seem like a very good idea, and it was already getting late.
Now he was starting to feel guilty. Jim wasn't sure if he should call her or not. He might just leave it until later. No. This was important. So, he picked up the phone and dialed her number.
Just like he had expected, she didn't answer and the machine picked up.
"Hey Karen. It's Jim. I-uh-need to talk to you. I'm in your parking lot right now but-Anyway, it's late. You're probably asleep. I'll see you tomorrow, then. Bye."
Karen was brought out of her half-asleep state by her phone ringing; before she picked it up it had already gone to her answering machine. It was Jim and he sounded --- nervous.
Hey Karen. It's Jim. I-uh-need to talk to you. I'm in your parking lot right now but-Anyway, it's late. You're probably asleep. I'll see you tomorrow, then. Bye.
Her heart sank when the 'I need to talk to you' part came in. She picked up her phone and called him back; it sounded like he picked up but no one responded.
"Jim," She said quietly. "Are you there?"
There was a shuffle.
There were a few moments of tense silence before Jim finally replied. "Karen."
He was suddenly regretting his decision to call her. He hadn't really thought over what it was that he was going to say to her. There were a lot of ways that he could tell her what had happened. It was just a matter of finding the right way.
She hadn't done anything to him and now here he sat, nearly sick to his stomach with guilt.
Things had not exactly been peachy at work and he hadn't really tried to fix it. In fact, he'd made it worse.
"We need to talk. In person." He had to be careful with his words. The last thing he wanted was to hurt her.
She fiddled with the bracelet on her wrist nervously; she wanted to throw up. What she feared the most was finally happening; something happened between him and Pam. She could feel it; but she didn't want to believe it.
She inhaled deeply and nodded to herself.
"Okay -- I'll let you in."
Suddenly, she was regretting calling him back; her gut feeling knew that this was most likely it for them.
"Okay, just a second."
He didn't really know if this was really the right thing to do. It had to be the right thing. He couldn't lie to Karen, that wouldn't feel right at all. He had to be honest with her. Keeping things from people had never worked out well for him in the past.
After he'd parked the car, he walked quickly to her door and knocked waiting for her to open it. Suddenly he didn't feel so well.
Her hand shook as she let him in; when she looked at him he looked pale. Sickly almost, like he was gonna get sick in the next five seconds. She let him him and he bit his lower lip.
She hesitantly took his hand and rubbed it gently.
"What's the matter Jim? I'm -- you're making me nervous."
Jim looked down at the floor for a few seconds before looking back up at her again.
This was hard. Harder than he thought it would be.
"I'm sorry." he said.
She was confused, -- extremely confused.
She knew what was coming and squeezed his hand harder.
Jim looked down at his feet again. He wasn't sure how to say what he was trying to say. Being careful was important. Karen was important to him, he didn't want to lose what they already had.
"I just-" he figured that he might as well be blunt about it, "Pam kissed me. And I-I kissed her back. I didn't mean for it to happen, I swear. I just-" Jim paused and then spoke again, "I'm sorry Karen. It just- I don't know how it happened. She was yelling at me and then the next thing I knew we were- I didn't mean it. And I feel horrible. And I'm- I'm really sorry. I know that's not enough, but I am. I'm so sorry, Karen. The last thing that I want is to hurt you."
He stopped, nearly forgetting to breathe as he waited for her to say something.
Her heart stopped and she let go of his hand. Everything he just said got glued in her brain; she knew something was gonna happen. She knew it. Why did she fall in love with a guy from work who had a history?
She looked up at him and his eyes darted back and forth waiting for her response.
"I-" Her throat closed and she felt tears start to form in her eyes. "I don't know what to say to that. What do I say to that? There's nothing I can say that will change anything; just --- did I do something wrong? Was I not like her? You say you didn't mean it but --- you're much smarter than that, Jim."
She had more to say but it was just stuck. She felt like she was trapped in a box that she couldn't get out of.
"You didn't do anything," he paused and took a deep breath, "It doesn't have anything to do with you. It just happened. It just- it was an accident."
Jim shoved his hands into his pockets. It was crazy, how fast everything could change in one night. Of course, like always, it was his fault. It seemed like things were always his fault. Now he was stuck with figuring out how to fix them.
"How was it an accident? You love her Jim, I know you do," She let out a short sob. "Do you know how fucked up this is? This isn't something I expected, especially from you. Even Pam. How -- did you sleep with her?"
She held onto her side, feeling like she was about to keel over. Ever since she was fourteen she would get these pains in her sides whenever something was going on. The doctor said it was a form of anxiety. The pain seemed to get worse everytime she would look at him.
This really was a huge mess. Now he had to deal with Karen not trusting him and thinking that he would be going behind her back? This hadn't been what he'd wanted at all.
"What?" Jim said, taken aback. "No! I told you, I'm sorry. I didn't mean for any of it to happen. I'm sorry, Karen. I really am. I can't believe- how could you even think that I would do something like that?"
The pain kept getting worse and tears escaped her eyes; she wiped them away quickly.
"I don't know!" She cried. "I don't know what to think anymore, I know you're sorry -- it's just -- this really fucking hurts right now. I'm sorry I would think that you wouldn't be faithful to me -- I know you wouldn't do anything like that, I don't know why I said it. Just answer me this one question, do you love her?"
More tears escaped and she leaned against the kitchen table; her sides were numb with pain now and her legs felt like jello.
Jim shrugged his shoulders and did his best to avoid looking at her. He couldn't look at her; every time he did he began to feel even worse about what had happened, what he had done.
"I don't know."
She looked at him sadly; slowly moved herself off the table and walked over to him. There was nothing she could do or say. She reached up and touched his face.
"Be honest with me, Jim," She whispered. "Please."
She pressed her body against his and sighed.
He smelled like her.
Jim sighed and bit his lip. He didn't know what to do. He had never imagined that it would all be this hard. It was too much.
"Karen." he paused "I just- I'm- I'm not sure."
He brushed a hand lightly against her back and then pulled it away.
She looked at him with tear stained cheeks and bit her bottom lip. Everything was happening so fast -- everything.
"Well, what - what do you wanna do?"
Jim shrugged again.
"I don't know. I mean, I'll do what you want."
She shook her head.
"This isn't what I want Jim, it's what you want."
"Karen. Don't- don't make it this way."
She was putting him on the spot. Making him choose like this. He didn't know if he could. No. He was sure that he couldn't.
She went on her tip toes and kissed the side of his mouth.
"Jim, I love you, I do --" She stopped to think of the right words. "But, I want you to be happy. I don't want us -- right now, what's happening right now -- I hate it. I hate this tension. I don't want to lose what we already have."
He backed away from her and nodded.
"Okay. I mean, I get it. I guess I should probably go then."
She grabbed his hand before he could go.
"Can you just tell me -- before you met me -- what happened between the two of you? So I can understand a little better. I really -- I wanna be with you; I just want to understand what's going on."
He turned to look at her. Everything that had happened between he and Pam had been so complicated. It was just hard to explain. It struck him as odd that she wanted to know about it.
"There was a lot of it. It was just...a really big mess."