Chapter One

“You’re late,” Chase scolded as the bell that hung on the front door jingled.

Kasey held the door open with her foot and she struggled to close her umbrella. She blew her bangs out of her face.

“I know, I know. Are you going to jump all over me too?!” she spoke harshly.

“Jeez, what’s your problem?” Chase growled.

“What do you think?” she said. She set her umbrella in the stand by the front door of Summer’s Coffee Shop, as the door banged closed behind her.

She walked behind the counter and set her purse down with a thud.

Chase had seen her in this mood before, too many times to count.

“Your mom?” he asked, with a little more compassion.

She didn’t answer, which let him know he was right. He reached in the front glass display case and grabbed two pastries, set them each on a plate and then onto his serving tray.

“You’d think if you had to ask ten times where your shoes were that they wouldn’t be on your feet, right?” Kasey said sarcastically.

“Did you find them?” he piped back.

“Very funny,” she said as she went about her business of setting up the coffee machine.

Chase tried to stay out of her way as best he could. She was in a mood, and he didn’t want to be another casualty.

“Well, she’s the adult daycare’s problem now. At least for a few hours,” she said.

“Why don’t you have a cup of coffee before we get too many customers? I think the croissants are fresh,” Chase said, feeling guilty for coming down on her. He knew she had her hands full with her mom.

Without a word, she started the coffee machine and went to the kitchen to get a croissant. She returned just in time to get the first drips out of the coffee machine. She held her cup under the spout as the black elixir filled her cup.

The bell on the front door rang as a customer walked in and made her way to a table.

“Oh, great…she’s here already?” Kasey grumbled.

“I got her. You eat,” Chase said as he walked out to the dining area.

“Morning, Willow. You want the regular?” Chase asked.

“Thank you, Chase. That would be lovely,” Willow said. Willow tied back her grey hair with a red ribbon, pulled out her notebook and began to write.

Chase went back behind the counter where Kasey had poured herself a full cup of coffee, and was in the process of drinking it down. He noticed Kasey kept her eyes on Willow.

“What does she write in that thing anyways?” Kasey whispered to Chase.

“Who knows? You know she’s an author, right?” Chase mentioned.

“Aren’t they all?”

“No, really. She’s published and everything,” he said.

“Yeah. I bet,” Kasey said. She was skeptical. It seemed every artsy-looking customer with a notebook or a laptop thought they were a writer.

“I think she writes novels,” he continued, ignoring her attitude.

“Just what the world needs. Another writer.”

“Look, you better change you attitude before any more customers come in,” Chase suggested. He knew he was poking the bear, but someone had to tell her to get a grip.

He waited for the rage, but was surprised when she only sighed and rested her head in her hands on the counter. She didn’t want Chase to know that she really was concerned about her mom. You can’t live with someone with Alzheimer’s and not worry about them. But it just got so tiring, day in and day out. She didn’t want Chase to know that she was barely making ends meet. Between the coffee shop and the night job at the Rusty Anchor, she hoped they would be better off than they were. But her mom’s disability barely paid for her daycare, forget about daily expenses. Some days she felt horrible about the way she treated her mom and the things she wished on her. If anyone knew her deepest thoughts they’d have her thrown in jail. But no 25-year-old should have to take care of their aging parent. It wasn’t fair, but such was life. At least her life.

 

Kasey took a cup of coffee to the two moms at the table near the window. She smiled at the toddlers that were dropping their toys on the floor and laughing. The moms were not amused.

“Cute, aren’t they?” Willow said to Kasey as she walked by.

“Huh?” Kasey asked. She wasn’t sure that Willow was talking to her. “I guess.”

“Do you have any kids?” Willow asked.

Why did she want to talk? Couldn’t she tell Kasey was working? She tried her best to be polite. “No, no kids.”

Kasey cleared the table beside Willow.

“Do you want kids?” Willow asked.

“Pardon me?” Kasey asked. “I’m sorry, but isn’t that kind of a personal question?”

“Oh, dear. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to pry. I was just making conversation. I won’t bother you again,” Willow apologized.

“Yeah, well…it’s okay,” Kasey said, and got away from there as quickly as she could.

“What’s wrong with that woman?” Kasey asked Chase.

“What? Who? Willow? She’s harmless,” Chase said.

“Harmless, maybe. But she’s a little pushy.”

“Pushy?” Chase asked, baffled.

“Yes. She was asking me if I had kids. That’s not any of her business!” Kasey complained.

“Oh, I’m sure she didn’t mean anything by it. She’s just a little, well, eccentric, that’s all,” Chase defended.

“I know, I know…she’s a writer. What should I expect, right?” Kasey said, and cracked a smile.

Chase smiled back. He took the coffee pot out to refill Willow’s cup.

“Refill?” he asked Willow.

Willow looked up from her journal.

“Oh, thanks, Chase. I think I offended your friend,” she said.

“She’ll be fine. She’s tough. Trust me, she’s done her share of offending too,” Chase said.

“Still, please tell her I’m sorry.”

“Will do,” Chase said.

 

After a busy morning, they got a break in customers. Chase brought a box of books out from the back room and set it on one of the tables. Summer’s Coffee Shop was an old building, originally a shoe shine business in the 1920s. The walls were lined with mementos from an era long gone. It had gone through several owners since then, and had been several different kinds of businesses. It had been a barber shop, a pawn shop, and a book store. When the current owner took over, he’d found an old shoe shine chair in the back room. He restored it, and installed it in the front window. It was a conversation piece for sure, and kids would climb on it and pretend to shine each other’s shoes. The parents always thought it was cute, but Chase and Kasey found it annoying, especially when they’d have to clean up the sticky fingerprints or crumbs.

The built-in book shelves had survived the many changes, and now Summer’s used them to their advantage. The shelves were filled with all sorts of books, from children’s books and classic reads, to modern sci-fi and romance. Chase had a box full of books that someone had donated. He pulled them out one by one and found space on the shelves for them.

“Anything good?” Kasey asked.

“Eh, not much. I didn’t know you read,” he teased.

“Of course I read!” she said and threw her towel at him. “When I get the time,” she mumbled.

“In that case, here’s a nice book for you,” he said and handed her a book.

She took it and looked at the cover. There was a photo of a couple standing on the beach silhouetted by the sunset. “What the…?” she tossed it back at him, and he laughed.

“What’s the matter? Isn’t ‘A Walk Along the Shore’ your kind of book?” he laughed.

She glared at him.

“Then how about this one?” he said and tossed her another.

“Buddy’s First Day at School? Very funny! Closer, but no!” she said and tossed it back.

He laughed so hard he nearly fell off the ladder. He was more amused at his comment than Kasey was.

Kasey laughed when he stumbled. “Serves you right!” she taunted. “Are you sure you can you handle that by yourself? My shift is about over, but I’d hate to leave you crashed on the floor,” Kasey said, and laughed again.

“It’s that time already?” he asked.

“Yep. Time to go pick up Mom and straighten out any problems she caused at daycare,” Kasey said, and exhaled slowly.

“Good luck with that. See you tomorrow!” Chase called, but she was already out the door.

“That girl has got a lot on her shoulders. Hope she’s okay,” he said quietly to himself.

 

Kasey pulled into the parking lot at Cornerstone Adult Daycare. She sat for a moment to enjoy the peace and quiet before she picked up her mom. When she started to get suspicious looks from other people coming and going, she decided it was time to go in.

Helen was working at the front desk.

“Afternoon, Miss Kasey,” Helen said in her syrupy southern accent. Kasey wasn’t sure where she was from, but that accent…some days it was the best sound she’d ever heard, and other days it grated on her last nerve. Today was somewhere in between.

“Hi, Helen. Is my mom ready?” Kasey asked as she signed in on the clipboard.

“Let me check,” Helen said and picked up the phone. She called back to the nurses’ station and mumbled something that Kasey didn’t quite hear.

“They almost have her cleaned up. Why don’t you go on back? She’s in the TV room,” Helen said and smiled a toothy smile.

“Thanks.” Clean her up? What had she gotten into now?

Kasey walked down the long sterile hallway to the activity room. She pushed the buzzer and the nurse buzzed her in to the room. She pushed on the heavy door. Clarence sat playing checkers with Mr. Hall. Kasey wondered how long their games took and if they ever finished one. She never saw them speak to one another. Her mom sat at the table on the patio. The nurse waved Kasey over.

“Look who’s here, Naomi. It’s your daughter,” the nurse said.

“Hi, Mom,” Kasey said, and kissed her mom on the top of the head.

Her mom smiled. “Well, hello sweetie. Aren’t you a lovely girl.”

Kasey turned to the nurse. “Everything okay? Helen said you had to clean her up. She wasn’t any trouble, was she?”

“No, not today. Just spilled a little juice on her sweater. I tried to get it cleaned off as much as she would let me. You may have to use some spot cleaner on it though,” the nurse said apologetically.

Kasey looked at the 3-inch round, purple spot right on the front of the lapel. It didn’t look like she had tried to clean it up at all. But, then again, her mom could be cantankerous at times. Maybe she didn’t want the spot cleaned.

“Thanks. I’ll see what I can do. Ready to go, Mom?” Kasey asked.

The nurse helped her mom stand, and Kasey took her hand. Her mom smiled, and went willingly with Kasey. Kasey often wondered how easy it would be for a stranger to take her mom with them. She would go with just about anyone, at least on her good days.

Kasey eyed Clarence and Mr. Hall on the way out. Nothing had been moved on the chessboard.

Naomi hummed to the radio on the way home. She didn’t know the song, but that didn’t stop her from trying to hum along. At least she was on key.

When they got home, Kasey helped Naomi into the house and reminded her to use the bathroom. She’d made the mistake of not reminding her once, and there was still a spot on the carpet as a reminder. She fluffed up the pillows on Naomi’s chair and turned on the TV to the Shopping Network. She wasn’t sure why, but Naomi could watch that channel for hours, and so long as she was safely occupied, Kasey could make dinner and get ready for the evening shift at the Rusty Anchor.

Advertisements

I think it’s time to serialize…

 

I’m a writer…or at least a self-proclaimed writer. Though I’m not sure when the appropriate time to call oneself an official “Writer” is. Is it when you’ve been published? Is it when you completed one novel, or two, or three? Is it when you’ve been rejected by agents and publishers? Because I hear that’s when you should really give yourself a pat on the back, because rejection should be considered a compliment. It means that agents/publishers are finally “reading” your manuscript…or at least a Query and the first 50 pages or so. Or maybe that’s just what writers tell ourselves to keep pushing forward, chasing the brass ring.

But here’s the thing. It isn’t working for me.

Some call these excuses, but I call them valid reasons for not pursuing a career in writing: I’m a wife and a mom; I work full time, and mother full time (yes, when you’re working full time, you ARE still mothering full time); I have bills to pay, college to save for, a household to run, homework to help with, dinners to make, and don’t get me started on how far behind we are on saving for retirement. At this rate, we may never retire.

The truth is that “Querying” is almost a full time job in itself. It can take hours upon hours of researching agents that might give your Query a read, let alone get to the first 10 pages of the manuscript. It’s not only exhausting, but it’s time-stealing. For every hour I spend sending out Queries, that’s an hour I can’t get back from being with my family.

Again, I’m not making excuses. But I’m a practical gal. I know my limits, and I know what’s required of me to raise my family, and keep a roof over our heads. I know that I could easily waste 20 more years, taking hours and hours away from my family in pursuit of something that may very well NEVER happen…getting published.

I’ve thought about self-publishing, but I’m still on the fence with that one. I know I can publish for “free,” but let’s face it…nothing is ever really free, is it? My time is not free, and neither is my family’s.

I have 3 novels under my belt, and basically under my bed. Only a handful of people have read them. I’ve never been able to find a critique group. Again, the time factor.

So, maybe it’s time to “serialize” my novel on this blog. I know, it’s taboo…they say it means that you don’t believe in yourself enough to pursue a writing career. I disagree. Maybe it just means that I want people to read my stories and relate to them. THERE IS NO SHAME IN SERIALIZING.

I think, as writers, we must decide for ourselves what we want from our writing. So, I asked myself these question:

Do I want to be famous?   Not really.

Do I want to make money from writing?  Of course, but at what cost?

In the long run, what is the reason I write?  To connect with other women (I write women’s fiction) in a way that makes us say, “I’ve been there,” or “I know someone like that,” or “How did she know what I was thinking?”

And I think that’s where I have my answer.

Famous – shmamous. I just want to connect.

I think it’s time to serialize “Understanding Kasey.” Coming soon to a blog near you.

Getting Real – what real friendship is about

There we were, 12 women, sitting on the patio of a neighborhood coffee shop on a balmy summer evening as the sun set behind us. We saw each other nearly every weekend at church. We passed in the hallway, and waved or nodded “hello” as we dropped our kids off at Sunday school and then headed back to the sanctuary for service.

But as we sat on that patio and discussed our study, we began to realize that we were virtual strangers.

We shared the same beliefs, and were friendly enough to carry on small talk about school being over, and swim team starting up, but we never really got into the nitty-gritty of life. We never got messy, or shared the dirt of our lives. We kept that to ourselves, to guard like some dirty secret.

We never really got “real” with one another.

That’s what it’s like for so many women in this technological age. We communicate quickly, usually through a text, and in abbreviations. But we never really hold each other up and bear with one another under the weight of life.

How many times have you answered “Fine” when someone asked how things were going, when you wanted to scream the truth…that you really needed a friend and wanted to just sit and talk about life for a while?

But we say we’re busy…but are we really?

We can’t afford to be that busy. We can’t afford to be autonomous islands who can do ten things at once and still have dinner on the table at 6:00pm and the kids in bed by 9:00pm. And who really reaches that goal anyways?

If we would just be “real” with one another we’d know that there are no Jones’ to keep up with…they don’t exist. The Jones’ are a myth, an anomaly, that we created just to keep us feeling like we’ll never measure up.

So, there we were…12 women, sitting on the porch on a balmy summer eve, learning something about each other. But more importantly, learning something about ourselves. We aren’t so different from one another. I fail just like you do. I will never get the kids to bed by 9:00pm, and dinner might be on the table by 6:00pm, but you can bet it will be take-out picked up on the way home from soccer practice.

Therein lies the beauty of being a woman: we are flawed for a reason. We are flawed so that we can be empathetic and supportive to one another. We’re flawed so that we can hold each other up when life seems too big to stand alone. We weren’t meant to go it alone.

We were made flawed so that we can be “real,” not some fictional character that we can never reach.

Right there on that patio, we decided to be “real” from then on. We decided not to hide behind smiles, or schedules, or texts. We decided to be accountable to one another. To say how we really felt, even if it wasn’t fine. To ask for help if we needed it, and not be ashamed. And to laugh…I mean one of those laughs that starts at your toes and makes your eyes tear and your head hurt where you can’t catch your breath.

Because being “real” is so much better than pretending. Being “real” is the best part of having female friends.

What do you need to do to be “real” with your friends?

The Free Ride is Over

 

A few weeks ago, before I went back to work full time, evenings at my house looked something like this:

  1. 4:00-5:00 – Help kids with homework until it was time to start dinner
  2. 5:30-6:00 – start dinner
  3. 6:30 – Dinner was on the table, just as my husband walked in the door
  4. 6:40 – Everyone was done with dinner, except me, because I don’t eat like a pig
  5. 6:45 – Kids and husband would put their dishes on the sink, then go to the electronic device of their choosing: son – computer, daughter – kindle, husband – computer.
  6. 6:50 – I would finish my dinner alone, because it took me a while to make the darn thing, I may as well savor it
  7. 6:52 – wash dishes by hand (I hate the dishwasher…it’s too noisy and takes too long)
  8. 7:00 – remind son for the second time he needs to get in the shower
  9. 7:25 – sit down to do some writing, usually on my current manuscript
  10. 7:35 – remind my son FIRMLY for the THIRD to get in the shower
  11. 8:00 – write some more or watch TV.

You get the idea. I didn’t require much from others because I was home and had all day to take care of things. I’m one of those “I can get it done faster, I’ll just do it myself” Moms.

Well, things have changed since I started working again, and I didn’t realize how much I’d been taken for granted or how much I had failed at teaching my family to do things for themselves…and others!

Now, like all other working parents, I have a much smaller window to get things done. And I REFUSE to do it alone!

So tonight, after everyone got up from the table, and I had finished my dinner (which did NOT make it to the table by 6:30), and was left alone with the mountain of dishes, it was already 7:30! Everyone had disappeared to their electronic devices (or should I say VICES), and I still needed to wash my hair and maybe throw in a load of laundry, if I could muster the energy.

They got a wake-up call!

I called everyone back to the kitchen to clear their dishes, and the rest of the table, and gave each one a specific job.

They don’t seem to realize that from here on out, things are going to be different. EVERYONE must participate. The Mom that used to take care of EVERYTHING, because she had the time to do so, is gone.

I’ve been cheating them out of the joys of responsibility for far too long. But no more. That stops now. And I say this with as much love as I can…I am going to LOVE them into responsibility. They have it in them, I know they do. Maybe it’s time I put my foot down.

And maybe it’s time to start using the dishwasher after all.

But the laundry can wait until tomorrow…I need to go wash my hair.

The Foster Parents…a short story

Kevin and I hated having to give up Elijah. He was our third foster child, and we wished he would be our last. But we knew it was temporary when our caseworker contacted us to tell us that Elijah’s mother wanted him back. I know we should consider it a blessing when a mother cleans up her act and regains custody of her own child. But it felt as if we were losing our own flesh and blood. We never expected her to complete the program, but somehow, she’d managed, and Elijah went back home to his birth mother. We prayed she would stay clean.

When the agency called us in the middle of the night with an emergency situation, we were reluctant to take the plunge yet again. But a baby needed us, so we acted on it.

The tiny baby was wrapped in a pink blanket when I took her into my arms. Her big black eyes seemed to stare right through me. She was beautiful, with a full head of black hair at three months old, and rosy cheeks. Kevin filled out the paperwork as I nuzzled her close. All we were told was that she was dropped off in haste by her mother who seemed desperate. The woman had left the baby on the doorstep of the agency and knocked loudly on the door. She’d run off before anyone could talk to her. The baby was accompanied by a paper sack with the name “Alicia” written on it, and filled with clothes, nice clothes, that I would never have the money to buy. But no story to accompany her. She needed some place to go while the authorities tried to find her parents.

I slept on the floor next to the crib the first night we had Alicia so she wouldn’t feel alone. We called her Alicia since that was the name on the paper sack. She slept most of the way through the night, and woke around 4:30am hungry. I picked her up and she nuzzled into my shoulder. She took to the bottle just fine, so it was possible she wasn’t nursed.

In the morning, Kevin opened the front door to leave for work and on our front porch was a paper sack with “Alicia” written on it, just like the one that came with her.

Kevin picked it up and looked around the neighborhood for a sign of how it got there. Mrs. Shafer was just coming out to get the morning paper.

“Morning, Kevin,” she said and nodded his way.

“Morning. Did you happen to see anyone at our front door this morning?” he asked her.

“No. Why?”

“No reason,” he said. “I thought I heard a knock, that’s all.” No sense bringing her into his business.

He carefully opened the bag, assuming there’d be more clothes, but he jumped when he saw what was inside. He quickly brought the bag in to the kitchen where I was feeding Alicia.

Without a word, he held up a wad of cash in his hand.

“Where did THAT come from?!” I asked.

He set the bag on the table.

“It was on the front porch. In here,” he said, baffled.

“How did it get there?”

“I don’t know. Should we call the agency?” he asked.

The thought suddenly occurred to me that Alicia’s mother must know where we lived. A chill went through me.

“Yes. I think we should call them right now!” I told him.

“You don’t think that the mother…” Kevin said, catching up to my fear.

“That’s exactly what I think!”

“But how?” he asked.

I shrugged my shoulders, feeling a little violated.

“Did she follow us?” he asked.

“Oh, God! I hope not! That’s so creepy! How much is in there?”

He dumped it out on the table and counted it.

“There’s got to be over $5000.00 in here!” he said.

“Call the agency! Right now!” I said.

He called and talked to the receptionist, but our case worker wasn’t in the office yet. He left a message for her to call us back as soon as possible.

I went to the front window and peeked through the still-closed curtains. I looked up and down the street and saw no one.

Alicia began to cry and I took her into the nursery to change her diaper.

“Where did you come from, little one?” I asked her as she gurgled and smiled.

Kevin came into the room behind me.

“Look, I need to get to work. Can you handle this?” he asked.

I was still a little unsettled, but I lied and told him that we’d be fine. He kissed me on the cheek and I listened as he locked the front door behind him.

“We’ll be just fine, won’t we,” I said to Alicia and she smiled at me again.

I watched the news while I waited for our case worker to call me back. I’m not sure what I was thinking, but I was hoping I’d see some clue on the news about where this baby had come from. Of course, there was nothing. I wanted to call my best friend, Shana, but I was a little worried about getting anyone else involved. I wasn’t sure what we were dealing with, and I couldn’t risk it. What if this was some gangster’s baby, or a criminal’s child who was on the run?

The phone rang and I jumped.

“Hello?”

“Hi, is this Anna?”

It was our caseworker, Jennifer.

“Yes, it is.”

“Hi, it’s Jennifer. My assistant said your husband called. Is everything okay with the baby?” she asked.

“Yes, yes…the baby’s fine,” I said, stalling.

“Oh, good. I thought something was wrong. Is she eating and sleeping okay?” she asked.

“Yes,” I said.

“Then what can I help you with?”

“Well…did you find out anything about the mother yet?” I asked.

“No, but you’ll be the first to know. Why do you ask?”

“Well, I think she might know where we live,” I said. That same chill ran through me as I said it.

“What?! That’s impossible! Why do you think that?”

“Well, Kevin found a bag on the porch this morning with Alicia’s name on it.”

“That’s odd. Maybe it was from one of your friends as a welcome present,” she said.

“I don’t think so. We haven’t told anyone yet. And it was full of money…lots of it.”

“Money? What do you mean, money? How much?” she asked.

“Kevin counted about $5000.00.”

I heard her gasp on the other end of the line.

“That’s crazy! Are you sure it’s real?” she asked.

“I’m pretty sure. But besides the money, we’re very concerned that the mother knows where we live. What if she’s dangerous?”

There was a long pause. I knew that Jennifer was grasping the possibilities too.

“Well, we don’t know if it is in fact from the mother. And she probably isn’t dangerous since she left the money anonymously. But this is definitely a new one. Let me talk to my colleagues and see what they suggest. Is Kevin home today?” she asked.

“No, he had to work.”

“Do you feel comfortable being at home? I mean, I’m sure everything will be fine,” she tried to assure me.

“What should I do with the money?” I asked.

“Just hold onto it for now, okay? Don’t go on any shopping sprees,” she said, trying to lighten the mood.

“I won’t,” I said. I didn’t appreciate the levity.

“I’ll call you back as soon as I can, okay?” she said.

“Thanks. I’d appreciate it.”

I had hoped that talking to her would make me feel better, but it didn’t. She clearly had not dealt with a situation like this before, and I doubted that any of her colleagues had either.

After I put Alicia down for a nap, I turned the TV back on. I flipped around the talk shows, and the news shows, still hoping to find some clue as to who Alicia belonged to.

It was several hours before Jennifer called back, and I picked up the phone on the first ring.

“Hello?”

“Hi Anna.”

“What did you find out?” I realized I probably sounded more concerned than the last time we talked.

“Well, not much. It seems that we’ve never had a situation like this. Especially where the money is concerned,” she said.

“The money is the least of my worries. Do we know if she’s dangerous?” I asked.

“No, we don’t know anything about her still. But as I said before, I think we would have known by now if she was dangerous, especially since it appears that she knows where you live.”

Her words still didn’t assure me.

“If you’d like, we can place Alicia with someone else,” she suggested.

“I’ve already thought about that, and I don’t want to do that. It isn’t her fault. If anything, it’s your fault…the agency’s fault.”

There was silence on the other end. Jennifer knew I was right.

“Look, that’s all I can offer you right now. I wish we could do more, but I just…uh…” she stammered.

“I know, I know. Kevin should be getting home any minute. Let me talk to him and I’ll get back to you tomorrow,” I said.

“Okay. Don’t hesitate to call the police if anything seems out of the ordinary,” she said.

“Thanks. I’ll do that,” I said, disgusted.

Kevin was a late. I was feeding Alicia her evening bottle when he came home.

“Is that you?” I called from the kitchen.

“Yes!” He called back.

He came into the kitchen and had in his hand another paper bag just like the last one. He set it on the table.

“You’ve got to be kidding me!” I said.

He opened it up and spread the money on the table. Another $5000.00.

“Maybe we should call the police,” I suggested.

“Why? She hasn’t done anything wrong. What can they do?” he said.

“Maybe they can fingerprint the money or something?” I offered.

“Oh, I think they’d just laugh at us. No crime has been committed.”

“But what if it’s stolen? They could at least figure that out,” I said.

He thought for a moment.

“Maybe you’re right. Okay, I’ll call, just to be sure.”

When the police arrived, we explained the situation and handed over the bags of money. They assured us that this didn’t seem like a person that was unhinged, but rather someone that had their child’s best interest at heart. I wished I could believe them.

That night, as I lay on the floor in Alicia’s room, I heard every creak and moan in the house. I looked out the window several times hoping that Alicia’s mother, or whoever it was, would make another appearance. I wasn’t sure what I would do if I saw her, but I just wanted to see who it was.

I barely slept more than an hour that night. Kevin let me sleep in and checked on us in the morning before he left for work. Alicia had slept clear until 7am.

“Will you be okay?” he whispered.

I nodded.

“Call me if you hear anything,” he said.

“Do you think there’s another bag on the porch?” I asked.

“Maybe.”

I listened as he opened the front door, then he came back in with another bag. He smiled.

“Leave it on the kitchen table. I’ll deal with it later,” I said, exhausted from this strange situation.

Jennifer called later to check in with me and I explained that we gave the money to the police. She thought that was probably a good idea. I also told her there was another bag that morning.

The phone rang around 10:15am. It was my friend, Shana.

“Oh, my Gosh! Did you see the news?” she said, sounding like a gossipy teenager.

“Not yet. Why?”

“You know that teen actress, Clara Barton? The one that’s been missing for like almost a year?”

“I guess,” I didn’t recognize the name right away. “Why?”

“You know the one. She’s the daughter of Mimi Sheldon and Harry Barton…the actors. My gosh, it’s like you live under a rock!”

“Very funny. What about her?” I asked.

“She’s being accused of leaving her baby on her friend’s porch! She just abandoned it! Gave birth and walked away! What kind of a dirt bag does that?! I mean she probably has servants and everything? Why would she abandon a baby?! It has to be drugs!”

“You don’t know that,” I tried to defend the poor girl.

“What else could it be? Said she named the baby and everything and then just bailed!”

My head started to spin. “What did she name it?”

“What?! I don’t know. Something like Felicia or something like that.”

“Alicia?” I asked, slowly.

“Maybe. Wait…hold on…they’re talking about it on TMZ…Yeah…they said Alicia. How did you know?”

I was feeling nauseas. “I gotta go. I’ll talk to you later,” I said and quickly hung up before even saying goodbye.

I called Kevin and then called Jennifer at the agency. She said she’d check into it, but that it sounded like a long shot to her. I picked up Alicia and looked in her eyes. Something inside me told me this was that young actress’ child. I had to get Alicia back to her mother. She deserved a second chance at motherhood. She was just a scared and mixed up kid. Maybe with the right support, she could give Alicia a good life. Still, she did abandon her. It was entirely up to the agency what would happen.

 

Six months later, Kevin and I watched Clara Barton on the morning talk show. We listened as Clara talked about her upcoming movie and confirmed her engagement to a famous baseball player. The host joked about the rumors of Clara having a child. Clara laughed and posed majestically, “Does this body look like I’ve had a child? Please!” She laughed wildly with the host.

I looked at Kevin and sighed. “That’s pathetic.”

Kevin agreed and picked Alicia up as she toddled over to the couch where we were sitting.

“That mean old actress doesn’t deserve you anyways,” Kevin said to Alicia, and nuzzled her as she giggled.

 

The End

Too Tired

I just started a new job. For the first time in 15 years (since I had kids), I’m re-joining the full-time-employed.

It’s only been a week since I started. I’m not digging ditches, or building buildings, and I’m not a machinist or even an iron worker. All of which I have mad respect for. Heck, I’m not even waiting tables (also, mad respect).

But MAN, AM I POOPED!

Crazy, right?

Apparently, years of working a part time desk job out of my home, and being a SAHM has taken a toll on my stamina. That, and well…I’m 15 years older than the last time I worked full time.

But I love it! I’ve missed the independence and sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.

It’s a huge adjustment for the whole family…especially for my kids. And my husband too, but he’s a big boy, he can handle it.

My kids are suddenly going to have to take more responsibility, and it’s about time. So far, they’ve responded well. They’ve done their dishes, and done their homework without me (as much as they could), but it’s only been a week.

I wrote a post some time ago about trying to teach my kids basic life skills. I must admit, I didn’t do as well with following through as I wanted to. But maybe that’s about to change.

My husband could de-bone a chicken and have dinner in the oven before his parents got home from work by the time he was 11 years old, so they should be able to do it too, right? Hey, a girl can dream.

I think I’ve sold my kids short by not giving them opportunities to prove to themselves that they can do things on their own. I know they can do it, now THEY need to know they can do it.

I know once I get a rhythm going, I’ll feel much better, and have more energy (at least I hope I will), but for now…I’m tired.

It feels great to feel like I’m part of something again. Please understand, I’m not criticizing SAHMs at all. Everyone needs to choose what’s right for them. As I said, I stayed home for 15 years to be with my kids, and I don’t regret a moment of it.

It’s just time for a new Chapter.

It’s now 8:15pm…is it too early to go to bed? LOL

Make home improvements OR remain happily married?

 

Years ago, I worked at a carpet store, where I constantly heard stories, nightmares really, of how miserable it was to go through a home improvement. Couples couldn’t agree on carpet color or texture, and deciding between hardwood floors or laminate proved equally objectionable.

My husband and I have never gone through anything as extensive as a remodel, and I dread the day that we do. I think moving might be a better choice than coming to verbal blows over tile or hardwood.

It’s that time of year for us when the H.O.A. (Home Owner’s Association) makes its annual assessment of our properties. HOA’s are great for keeping property values up, I suppose, but their “improvements” never seem to improve my checkbook or my marriage, and this year is no exception.

This year, it’s our deck. Though it can hardly be called a “deck,” rather more like a balcony. It’s on the second level and measures all of 6’x8’. We never even use it because it faces our neighbor’s living room, and unless we suddenly develop an interest in peering in on our neighbor’s lives, we will continue to not use it.

Now my husband and I complement each other, in that his strengths are my weaknesses and vice-versa. It’s how we work. But when it comes to working together on a home improvement, we’ve learned that it’s best if we stay out of each other’s way.

I’m usually the DIY person around the house, so I was really surprised when he said that he wanted US to do part of the improvement. What?! Is he crazy?! We can’t do that! We’ll kill each other! Not to mention that we don’t have the proper tools, or expertise to do said improvement.

We compromised: we hired a handyman to do the actual repairs, but my husband insisted that we could do the painting. I was skeptical to say the least. That meant renting a ladder (we don’t own an extension ladder) and one of us would have to go up that ladder and do the painting, and it wasn’t going to be me…not this time. But he assured me that we could get it done.

I called my brother who happens to be a handyman in another state (he inherited my Dad’s skill), and I was feeling pretty confident. Maybe we could do this. Maybe if we pulled together, and had a plan, we could work together and paint the balcony, without ending up in divorce court.

That was two weeks ago.

Since then, we’ve argued about getting it done, having enough time to get it done, doing it right but quickly, getting it done in the timeframe the H.O.A. allotted.

Just to add more stress, my husband suddenly got really busy at work, I got a new job, and time was still ticking. Tensions were running high!

I started with a coat of primer on the deck today, and realized…we are in over our heads!

I put in a call to a handyman, and he’s coming tomorrow.

Now, maybe I reacted to soon. Maybe we could have done it ourselves. Maybe we could have done it without killing each other.

But it just seems like a couple hundred dollars for a handyman will be much less expensive than marriage counseling would have cost.

How about you? Have you and your significant other ever attempted a home improvement together?