The Puny Human
Karen was raised middle class by an engineer father and a mother who was a closet alcoholic. Not that she was a bad mom, just more absentee parent, and since her dad was mostly busy working, Karen raised herself from the time she was old enough to open the door with her own key. This let her spend her time doing what she enjoyed doing, which was mostly reading and playing with her ‘imaginary friends’ as her mom called them. Karen read everything she could get her hands on, and she’d exhausted the library at school and learned how to walk to the local public library before she was out of grade school. She’d loved fantasy books and anything where the hero or heroine had magical abilities. Her father took an interest in her once she was old enough to take an interest in engines and mathematics. She would sit in the garage and watch him work building “the better mousetrap” as he called it. Mostly just repairs and small improvements to the house. He’d taught her the basics of how to work with tools and once she’d won the school math championship he’d begun actively overseeing her class curriculum and choices and had pushed her into the gifted program despite her shyness. It had been good for her. She’d made a few friends and had even had a boyfriend her junior year. She just wished her dad had taken more interest in Mike. Mike was her baby brother, born when she was eight. Born with fetal alcohol syndrome that her mom had always passed off as Down’s. Karen had raised Mike, by that time her mom’s absentee parenting style had become full blown drunken stupor most of the time, and Mike’s “challenges” were far more than her mom could handle. So Karen had raised him, loved him, taught him, been patient with him, and was fiercely protective of him even now years later. Even though now he was fifteen and only two years behind in school and a star on the football field where his bigger size and dogged determination were assets. It was in caring for Mike that Karen had really developed her ‘sixth sense’. She’d always known when he was in trouble, even now when they were miles apart. And, she’d developed a sense for ‘bad stuff’. She could never explain it more than that. But, she’d felt it many times as surely as she’d felt the breeze on her face. And once she’d started doing the research she’d almost inevitably find that the spot of ‘bad stuff’ had been the site of a murder. Then she’d gone to college on a math scholarship. She’d chosen a college close to home so that she could still keep an eye on Mike. But took a class in theology with a girl who introduced her to mysticism. Lily had been a Zen Buddhist and gifted. Lily had explained some of the theories of the energies within and finally Karen had a theory that had explained everything that she’d been feeling all of her life. Her ability to sense when Mike needed her. Her sense of places, how she’d know things about people. Her Religions teacher had specialized in Eastern Religions and had opened her eyes to the world of mysticism as separate from the occult and had believed in her “Gift”. That’s where she met Doug Longnecker. He was in his third year of college and prided himself on being open-minded and very empathic. They’d hit it off and within a month were ‘an item’. They both loved biking, and exploring and they’d go ‘ghost hunting’ together, researching old sites known for their paranormal activities and taking day trips to see if they could find a ghost. Two years later he was graduating and she was pregnant. They ‘d been so happy, so full of dreams. He’d gotten a great job offer back home in Wichita. And she’d dropped out to follow him. Her dad had disowned her, but only temporarily, and she’d promised him she’d go back to college part-time after they were settled. They’d moved and found an apartment. She’d had the majority of the responsibilities for moving while he started his new job. And it was on one of the trips up and down the stairs that shed tripped and fallen. The sudden sharp pain in her abdomen had been excruciating. And terrifying. She’d called an ambulance. A few hours later she’d lost the baby. The anger, depression, shouting and back and forth recriminations had torn their relationship apart. She and Doug broke up. She didn’t have the money to get back home. And Doug wouldn’t pay for it either. But, he’d helped her find a part time job at a thrift store. Now she spends time in libraries and in biking, she also attends poetry readings and talks on the metaphysical. That’s where she met Mike One-Shoe, she recognized him immediately has having the ‘Gift’, as he did her. Mike had introduced her to Trish who’d taught her a little about Native American lore, but had refused to teach her about shamanism. Stacey-nosy neighbor has brought over food a few times when Karen hadn’t eaten in a few days. But, then Karen has to listen to advice and neighborhood gossip. Doug, her ex, sometimes comes over for sex, but, he did help get her the job and he’s still good in bed. Fred, owner of the café where she goes for poetry. He’s asked her out on a few dates, but, he’s a lousy kisser and a bit ‘handsy’, shame ‘cause he’s a great conversationalist and has a genuine interest in her ghost hunting abilities. Or at least she thinks it’s genuine, he asks questions about it with even more intensity and attention than he asks her to go back to his place.
She’s shy and quiet and more than a bit absent-minded. She spends time in libraries and in biking, she also attends poetry readings and talks on the metaphysical, she is casually groomed, clothes are clean, but of easy care fabrics, hair is brushed, but then worn in a headband and it gets mussed in the wind. Jewelry is simple handmade beads and shells, 4 bracelets and 3 necklaces. sandals on her feet. they’re thong style and beaded, but do have a lasso style ankle strap. no heel, soft sole, rounded toe, cloth, good but not new. Money, survives month to month, with a part time job at a thrift store.