Strange, I know, but I wanted to be “the social worker” to make miracles happen, especially for girls and boys like me who got left behind. Kids were not just a case number but actual people.
My first apartment had more roaches than the foster home. Fuck, I remember sleeping with a hat on just so they wouldn’t crawl into my ears. But the first of my luck changed when a new co-worker started. She had just moved into town and was looking for a roommate. Same rent as what I paid now, but the utilities were going to be shared, so I jumped on it. My life was just starting to pan out when I walked to a table late Saturday night, early Sunday morning.
“What can I get you?” I asked the blond boy sitting there opening five or six books.
He didn’t look up. “Coffee, just lots and lots of coffee.” When he finally looked up, my stomach went into a loop. He had the clearest blue eyes I’d ever seen. “Just keep it coming.” He smiled at me, and his dimple made my heart sputter. Nodding at him while I looked down at my notepad, I was hoping to God I wasn’t blushing.
I looked back up at him, smiling shyly. “Coming right up.” I turned and walked away and watched him for the next seven hours as he studied. He came back the next night, and the night after that. His smile made my belly flip and my heart race, and when he finally got the nerve to ask me out, I couldn’t say no.
“Has Daddy called?” Lizzie’s question snaps me out of my daydream.
I shake my head. “Not yet,” I say sadly, the whole time actually fucking cursing him. Lately, he’s just fucking absent, and I hate it. “Maybe when you get back.” I smile at her as Daisy runs down the steps one at a time, picking up her backpack.
“Let’s go to the bus.” I kiss Lizzie’s head, grabbing both girls’ hands, and walk them to the corner to wait for the yellow school bus. “Have a great day at school,” I tell them when the bus pulls up, and they climb on.
I make my way to my house, our house—another dream come true for me. Walking inside, I go to the kitchen to clean up the plates from this morning. Once everything is finished, I pick up my phone to call Eric.
“Hey, you’ve reached Eric, leave a message.”
I breathe out. “It’s me. The girls tried calling you last night and this morning. I know you’re busy, but can you call me back?” I toss my phone down, making myself another cup of coffee.
My stomach turned and roiled, my hand resting on my now empty stomach. Our third baby was not meant to be. Two days after we found out, I miscarried. I didn’t know what to think about it. If I’m honest, it was a relief to both of us.
The pregnancy was a shock, especially with Eric’s crazy travel schedule.
He’s hardly home anymore, and when he’s here, he isn’t really here. I had a mini breakdown seven or eight months ago because I thought he was cheating. I looked for the signs, even looked in his phone when he was sleeping, but didn’t find anything. Even when I sat him down as I cried in his arms, he told me I was being silly and crazy. But something was there, something I couldn’t explain or put my finger on. I’m lost in my head today, so much so I don’t even notice the leak coming from the dishwasher till it’s all over my floor.
“Fuck,” I say, running to get towels to mop it up. It takes me a full hour to finally get the floor clean. I pick up my phone and call my brother-in-law Elliot, who answers on the first ring.
“If it isn’t my favorite sister-in-law,” he says, laughing.
I roll my eyes. “I’m your only sister-in-law.” I laugh. Eric has two brothers, Elliot, and then his younger brother, Ethan. If there wasn’t a difference in ages, you would think they were triplets.
“Okay, you got me there.” He laughs. “But no matter what, you’ll always be my favorite.”
I shake my head, smiling. “Because I cook for you and wash your clothes.” With Eric out so much, Elliot usually joins us for dinner whenever he can, but lately, it hasn’t been that much. I think he has a new girl, and it’s getting serious. “My dishwasher is leaking again.”
“Where is Eric?” he asks.
“He left yesterday,” I answer and then look at the clock. It’s almost pickup time. “Do you think you can come and look at it?” I ask him. “I’m making chicken enchiladas.”
He groans. “Fine, twist my arm. I’ll be there after I finish work,” he says, and I hear a drill in the background. He’s a mechanic who just opened his own shop in town.