Excerpt #5, from my short story, Mommy

“Hi Sal, it’s Veda, I have great news!” I said drumming my fingers across the kitchen table.  “I’m going to open up to Ron and tell him that I want to try to have kids again.”  There was a pause on the line before Sal answered.

“What spurred this sudden change, Veda?” said Sal.

“Well,” I said, “I think I realized that Jayden doesn’t have to stop Ron and I from having kids.  We can start trying again.”

“Do you think that’s the best option for your family?”

I scrunched my eyebrows, flustered by Sal’s question.  How rude, I thought.  “Of course it’s the best option for us! Why would you say it isn’t?”

“Veda,” Sal said with a gentler tone, “I’m not saying it is or isn’t the best option.  I just want you to know for sure whether it is or not.  That’s what I’m here for.  Just think about it for a moment.  What is truly the key thing here?”

I stopped and looked over at Jayden’s cupcake on the table.  “Jayden…” I mumbled.

“What’s that?” Sal said.

“Oh, nothing.  I have to go Sal, thank you for taking my call.”  I hung up the phone and fondly picked up the cupcake for a moment.  “Maybe if I want to be a mother, then I should start being one.”  I set the cupcake down and smiled, imagining how excited Jayden would be, and then ran outside to blow up several pool floaties.

***

I already had my swimsuit on under my clothes when Ron pulled into the driveway.  I ran outside and went to get Jayden out of his car seat before Ron could even got out of the car.

“What are you up to?” Ron said, noticing a smirk on my face.

“Oh, you’ll see,” I said, picking Jayden up and kissing his cheek.  Ron raised his eyebrows and laughed.

“That’s the girl I fell in love with,” he said leaning over to give both Jayden and I a kiss each.

“Go wait out by the pool,” I said trying to hide my excitement, “Jayden and I will meet you in a minute.”

I hurried inside with Jayden and set him down on his bed to find his swim diapers in his dresser.

“I want to teach you my favorite thing to do in the summer,” I said kneeling down to him and holding out a turquoise swim diaper. Jayden looked at me swinging his legs back and forth, the biggest smile on his face.  I felt a tear slide down my cheek.

“Mommy, why are you sad?” he said patting my cheek.

“I’m not sad,” I said, scooping him up into my arms, “I’m just sorry I’ve been so angry at you.”

“It’s okay,” he wrapped his arms around my neck, “I love you, Mommy.

I smiled and kissed the top of his head, “Let’s go swimming, sweet pea.”

 

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Excerpt # 4, from my short story, Mommy

Ron and I had only been married for two years when his brother, John, and sister-in-law, Kate, had been in a tragic car accident.  The police pronounced them dead at the scene, and suddenly Ron and I became parents before we could even have our own children.  I was angry: at John, at Kate, at the drunk driver who hit their car; but mostly, I was angry towards Jayden.  He’d stolen my chance of my own first child away, and I couldn’t find it in me to love him.

I let my anger at not having my own child grow and I took it out on Jayden.  But maybe, Ron had a point.  I thought back on the times Ron and I would babysit for Kate and John and we’d take Jayden to the park and swing him on the baby swings, his blond curls bouncing in the wind, giggling the whole time.

I snapped back to the present and thought of what Ron had been saying for over a month: Jayden was happy with us, and he loved us as if we were his real parents.  Perhaps it was about time that Ron and I talk with everything out in the open and with no more bottled up emotions.

“Ron!” I said running down the hall to our bedroom, “Ron, I’m sorry!”

I opened the door to our bedroom, but Ron wasn’t inside.  I sprinted to Jayden’s room, but no one was there either.  I ran through the house frantically, checking everywhere from the garage to the basement.  They were gone.  My world was spinning again, and this time I felt nauseous.  Silent tears streamed down my face, as I walked in a numb stupor to the kitchen.

I grabbed a glass and filled it with water from the sink and sat down at the table.  I took a sip and stared down at the table.  A piece of notebook paper with Ron’s chicken scratch sat in the middle.  I picked it up and read:

Sweetheart,

I’m sorry I was so short with you.  I understand that this situation is stressful.  It’s stressful for both of us, but try to hang on. We can do this.  I ran to the store to get the things we’re missing for the party tonight, Jayden is with me.

Love, Ron

 I read it again and pinched my arm to make sure that I wasn’t dreaming, but the note was real.  Relief flooded my body.  I knew Ron and I still had a lot to talk about and it would have to begin with the fact that I desperately wanted to have a child of our own flesh and blood.  I smiled as I thought of asking Ron if we could try again for kids, and decided to call our couple’s therapist to tell her that things were looking brighter for Ron and I.

Excerpt #3, from my short story, Mommy

“Jayden, go to your room,” I said opening the front door, “And put that cupcake on the table.” I handed him the cupcake.  “Bad boys don’t get cupcakes.”       Jayden looked up at me, his lips quivering downward.  “Now, Jayden.”

A tear slid down his pink cheek and he ran down the hall to his room screaming.

“Jay, baby, what’s wrong?” called Ron’s voice from the other end of the house.

I sat down on the couch flustered, and a few minutes later, Jayden’s crying stopped.  I heard a door creak open and shut and Ron’s bare feet coming down the hallway.  I got up to meet him and find a place in his warm arms.  All I wanted was to put the afternoon behind me and enjoy our evening.

“Sweetheart, I’ve had the worst day,” I said.

“Veda, save it,” he said pushing me away, “What is up with you lately?  You’ve been treating Jayden like garbage for weeks.”

“Ron—”

“Don’t try to make excuses,” Ron looked into my eyes and took my hands, “V, did you really lose him?” I looked down, feeling as though guilt were radiating off me like a nightlight.  “I thought having Hannah babysit him tonight would let you have a small break so you’re not so stressed, but you’re completely ignoring him!  He’s two and a half years old, he needs a constant eye on him!”

I startled back, pulling my hands from his, my mouth gaping open, “He’s not even our son.  I didn’t sign on for this!”

“Didn’t sign on for this?” He was fuming now. “When you married me, you signed on for anything that life would throw us.  Do you really think anyone could have planned on my brother and sister-in-law dying?”

He stormed out of the room, leaving me breathless.  The room was spinning around me.  How did all of this happen, and why couldn’t I bring myself to love Jayden as if he were my own?  I walked into the bathroom, turned on the cold water, and splashed my face.  The water trickled down my face, catching in a few of my red curls around my forehead.

I stared in the mirror for a moment.  My skin was smooth, without a single blemish; my lips hued red like my hair; but my make-up hid the bags beneath my eyes.  I frowned.

“I’m too young to have bags under my eyes,” I said to the mirror.

Excerpt #2, from my short story, Mommy

Jayden sang the whole car ride to Pick N’ Save, “I’m going with Mommy! I’m going with Mommy!”  When I finally parked and turned around to glare at him, he stopped.  I got out of the car, unclipped Jayden from his car seat, and picked him up.

“Mommy, let me down.  Let me walk,” he said.

“Aunt Veda,” I said.  I let him down and took his sticky hand as we walked up to the automatic doors, “Please be good,” I said down to him.

I let go of Jayden’s hand to grab a cart and we walked in heading towards the fresh produce.  I made a mental list of everything I needed for dinner.  I already had chicken, pasta, bread rolls, and sparkling cider.  What was it I needed to get?  I stopped in front of the shelves of produce.  I could get apples and make a pie, or perhaps bananas for a mousse?  I turned around to pick up Jayden and put him in the cart seat, but the only thing beside me was an elderly woman picking up some lumpy peaches.

“Jayden?” I said looking around to the other side of the aisle, “Jayden, where are you?”

“Miss?” said the elderly woman, setting down a peach, “Is everything alright?”

“My nephew,” I said still looking around, “ I turned around for just a minute. It was just a minute. Now he’s gone.  I only had my eyes off him for a minute.  Where could he have gone?  He’s just a toddler.”  My stomach started twisting as I thought of the worst possibilities, what if someone kidnapped him, what if he ran away.  Ron would never forgive me.

“Calm down, miss,” said the elderly woman as she patted my shoulder softly, “We’ll find him.  Toddlers get distracted and wander off sometimes, you just have to be watchful of them.”

The woman and I were pacing up and down the aisles together when the intercom speakers suddenly came on, “Could the party of Jayden please come to the front of the store?”

“Oh! That’s me!” I said.

“Good,” smiled the woman, “You take care of your little tyke.  Enjoy him while he’s still little, they grow up too fast.” She turned away and went back to looking for peaches.

***

I walked up to the front help desk, to see Jayden smiling and holding the hand of a young store clerk.

“Mommy!” he said, jumping and tugging at the hand of the clerk.

“Jayden, honey, you can’t scare me like that,” I said bending down to his level, “ I thought I’d lost you.”

“He was standing in front of the bakery display,” said the clerk laughing, “He really wanted one of those big cupcakes with a ton of frosting on top.”

“Yeah, cupcake!” said Jayden clapping.

“And since we’ve found Mommy, if you promise not to walk away anymore, I can give you this,” said the clerk smiling and holding out a large chocolate cupcake with lime green frosting.

I frowned at the clerk, but Jayden was ecstatic.  He licked his lips and hugged the clerk.

“This one’s on me,” the clerk whispered to me and winked.

“Oh,” I said blushing, “Well, we’d better be going.  My husband will be worried where we are.”

“Oh, have a nice day then, miss, thanks for using Pick N’ Save,” said the clerk.

I nodded, picked Jayden up, and walked out to my car.  I was so embarrassed I couldn’t bear to finish shopping.  I couldn’t believe that I had let Jayden wander away like that.  I told him he shouldn’t walk off anymore as I strapped his car seat and took his cupcake away for the drive home.

Excerpt #1, from my short story, Mommy

Mommy

I was looking forward to a romantic date night with my husband.  Ron and I had been walking on eggshells around each other for almost ten months.  It all started when we adopted Ron’s nephew and put a pause on trying for our own kids—something we’d been trying at for over a year.  We finally agreed to try couple’s therapy a week ago and our new therapist, Sal, suggested that a bit of relaxation from our normal schedule might ease the tension.  Aside from a few groceries I still needed to pick up, almost everything was in order.  My cousin Hannah had even offered to take Jayden for the night, so I was very excited Ron and I would be having the whole night alone.

I was getting ready to head to the store when the phone rang.  I ran from the living room to get the phone from the kitchen.  As I came through the doorway, one of Jayden’s Legos managed to find its way under my foot.

“Ouch! Jayden! I just cleaned, not again, put the toys away!”  I said grabbing the phone and trying to pretend my foot wasn’t burning in pain, “Hello?”

“Hi Veda, it’s Hannah.  I’m sorry.  I can’t babysit tonight.  My boss asked me to come in,” said Hannah.

“Hannah, I really need you,” I said, “I really can’t have Jayden tangled up in my hair during dinner tonight.

“I’m sorry, Veda, really I am.” A dog barked loudly through the receiver, “I have to go, I’ll call you later,” the phone clicked and went silent.

“Just great,” I said slamming the phone down, “Jayden, go get your shoes!”

He ran into the room, carrying his Spiderman light-up sneakers, “Mommy!” he beamed, “I get to go with you?”

“I’m Auntie Veda, and yes.  Sit down,” I said taking his shoes and sliding his tiny feet into them.  He smiled up at me.  Gosh, he looks just like Ron when he smiles, I thought furrowing my eyebrows, “But nothing like me, not like my own child,” I muttered under my breath.  I picked Jayden up and slid him onto my right hip, “Ron, I’m heading to the store with Jayden, but I’ll be back soon!” I called down the hall.

“Drive safely!” he said.

I turned around heading to the door, but Jayden was rubbing his fingers across my swimming trophy.  The gold trophy wobbled for a moment before crashing to the floor into three jagged pieces.  I took a gulp and caught myself before cursing.

“Veda? Jayden?” Ron said running out of our bedroom and down the hall to me, “You okay?”

I clenched my lips tightly together.  Feeling the flush enter my cheeks, I set Jayden down.

“Mommy, I’m sorry.” Jayden was frowning.

“I told you, I’m Aunt Veda,” I said rubbing my forehead.

“Honey, that’s not what we agreed on,” Ron raised his eyebrows, “We are his parents.  That’s how he knows us.”

I sighed and ran my fingers through Ron’s pale blond hair, “Can we talk about this later?”

He seemed disappointed, but nodded.  “I’ll clean up this mess, you two go ahead to the store,” I noticed the bags under his eyes, but looked away, reached down to pick Jayden back up.  I stared for a moment at the cracked trophy, the last trophy I won before I tore my rotator cuff and had to retire from competitive swimming.  I wiped my clouding eyes and headed out the door.