I have been a writer for as long as I can remember. I wanted to be a journalist in High School but that is just not the way the cookie crumbled. Instead, I became a habitual runaway, addicted to cocaine, and in a relationship that was not healthy. Over the years I have put pen to paper through some of my most difficult times and it has served its purpose more often than not.
While not writing here I have utilized my outlet to begin a story. This story has some elements of my life but the characters and places are entirely random…Here is a chapter from the main project I am working on. It is untitled at the moment as it is not finished. Any feedback is welcome, please be courteous and respectful. I am rocky and still trying to simply type, I will go through and edit things after the first draft.
“Mom! Alan and Tommy are fighting again,” yelled Rachel from the top of the stairs with her hand on her hip. Kitt narrowed her eyes in frustration while taking a deep breath and trudged up the steps to see which of her two boys was causing the bulk of the trouble. It was a short walk from the kitchen to the raucous sounds emanating behind the door decorated with cutouts of construction trucks and schoolwork with brightly colored smiley faces. As she opened the door Kitt was hit with a barrage of stuffed animals from one side and balled up dirty clothes from the other. The boys froze as if they have been touched by one of those cartoon ice princesses. “Boys! What the hell do you think you are doing? Look at your room, it is a complete and utter mess!” she shouted at the top of her lungs. By the time she realized exactly how pissed she was her head was pounding to the beat of her heart and was left standing there breathless.
“It is the first day of school, this is not how I want to start the year,” Kitt said exasperatedly, “please just find your backpacks and come down for breakfast.” She headed down the stairs with a black mark on her soul, knowing that she could have handled things better but didn’t. After scrambling to make breakfast she sat down for a cup of coffee before acknowledging the other responsibilities calling to her. With the warm sugary elixir coursing through her she began to feel better by the time the kids were safely on the bus. Only 5 hours and 59 minutes until they are home again, dammit.
Turning the radio onto the local Top 40 station she tried to get into the groove of tending to the insurmountable tasks in front of her. She walked to the middle of the hallway and began surveying the damage from the Labor Day weekend. To the left were piles of questionable smelling laundry spilling out from the laundry room, the outline of muddy footprints on the kitchen floor going every which way, and down the short hallway was the tiny bedroom she shared with her husband, overflowing with things that had no place. It seemed as if every week the boys found some new and creative way to destroy the order from the previous cleanup, her husband would discover another abandoned bicycle that needed tending to, while she was left pondering how in God’s name she was supposed to rearrange things in their modest ramshackle cottage.
She shook her head and grabbed a notebook, found a page that had not yet been scribbled on and began her daily “ta-da” list. After years of making to-do lists and feeling disappointed when she couldn’t accomplish it all, Kitt came up with a solution. She would go from room to room and after doing any task she would write it down, by the end of the day she would be able to look back at all of the things that she completed. Sometimes the only things on her list would be that she did the dishes or the kids had a bath, but on good days her list would be filled with meaningful accomplishments that even her husband would be compelled to compliment her on. Today was not going to be one of those days, at least that is how she felt. She started some laundry, wiped the footprints up, and sat down on the kitchen floor to start looking up ideas for dinner on her phone. While scrolling through her favorite idea site she quickly became distracted by the multitude of crafts that could be made and sold. Her thoughts then drifted to how she wished she could have a job that she loved doing and would provide an income to their family, despite her lack of diploma or degree. Without seeing it coming she suddenly found herself doubled over sobbing and dry heaving. It didn’t take much these days to send her spiraling into despair, hopelessness, and regret.
Lately, she had become increasingly angry and frustrated by the lack of fulfillment in their lives. Her husband Bradley was a modest man with a decent job as the head mechanic at a local body shop. He was taller than average, clean shaven, well built, and had always stayed in good shape, despite having just turned forty. They had met fourteen years ago and it was almost love at first sight, he had been finalizing his divorce when she was introduced to him. Bradley was still dealing with leftover anger and disappointment making it hard to see the opportunity presented to him; he promised himself that if given the chance he would seize it without hesitation.
Lucky for Bradley a few months later they were re-introduced and immediately there was a deep connection, within the year they were married. He was down-to-earth, playful, outdoorsy, and comfortable with who he was. Bradley appreciated his job for what it was, a hands-on position that provided for his family. The thing that bothered Kitt the most was that he had no desire to move up the management ladder even though he already did everything a salaried manager was supposed to do. It was a running joke in the family that he would retire on a grunt wages and in truth Bradley did not mind the notion because he hated the thought of dealing with the bureaucracy of upper management.
After gathering her thoughts she got up from the kitchen floor and thought maybe it would be a good idea to distract herself with a workout when her phone started to ring. Instantly she perked up when she saw who was calling.
“Good morning gorgeous, how did it go with the kiddo’s?” Bradley asked sweetly.
“Well, it was a tough start for the boys, but you should have seen Rachel. She has grown up so much, I just can’t believe she is in junior high this year,” said Kitt nostalgically.
“Well, love I just wanted to hear your voice and see how things went. They ran a company coupon in the Sunday paper so we will be having our asses handed to us the whole week. I might be a little late getting out tonight so don’t wait on me for dinner,” he sighed.
“Okay hon, I’ll keep your plate in the oven for you. I love you,” she said as the dryer buzzed loudly.
“Love you too.”
The rest of the day was filled with Kitt trying to beat the clock before the kids came home and keeping herself distracted from her earlier emotional outburst. She settled on making her turkey meatloaf, which always went over like a lead balloon, but she simply didn’t want to go to the store to get groceries for anything else. With the brunt of chores done she decided to take a nap, in hopes that it would help her to be refreshed for all the paperwork she’d undoubtedly have to fill out for the kids’ teachers. Once her head hit the pillow she was able to detach and breathe without the usual elephant on her chest, leaving her relaxed enough to rest. Her dreams were a mash-up of nightmares and flashbacks to a time in her life when she had little choice in the things that made her unhappy.
“Mom! Mom! Mom!” shouted Tommy from the door. “Guess what, Shannon down the street is in my class! We got to play tag at recess and the bus driver said we could be seat buddies if we are really good.”
Kitt slowly pulled herself up and realized that she’d slept through every single alarm on her phone. “Hey guys! Glad to hear you liked your first day, Tommy. Go put your things away and bring me all the paperwork that needs filling out,” she said fuzzily.
“Mom, Tommy was standing up on the bus. You know he’s not supposed to do that, right?” Alan huffed.
“Give your brother a break, it’s his first day. I remember a certain someone who used to get into trouble all the time for standing when the bus was moving,” Kitt responded. Attempting to get his brother in trouble was Alan’s newest hobby, anytime and anywhere.
“But Mom, maybe the bus driver ought to give him an assigned seat. That is what they did last year for the little kids,” Alan implored.
“Just drop it son, he will get the hang of things soon enough. And maybe, instead of tattling you could help to remind him what he should or should not be doing. You aren’t making yourself look better by telling me what he is doing wrong all the time,” she said irritated by his lack of brotherly love.
The kids were uncommonly good that evening as they cleaned their rooms and talked to each other about all the excitement on the first day of school. By dinnertime they were starving and ready to happily eat whatever was put in front of them.
“So Mom, how was your day?” asked Rachel as she shoveled a steaming pile of mashed potatoes in her mouth. “It was okay, had a rough start but after my fiver I felt better. How about you, how was your first day in seventh grade?”
“Honestly Mom, I think the boys in my grade have lost brain mass over the summer. It was so hard trying to hear what they teachers were saying from one class to the next because they were being so loud and rude,” she replied with frustration. Rachel had always been top of her class and eager to learn in any environment, especially school. Kitt loved how easy learning was for her daughter, it was about the only trait that Kitt passed on to her besides her stormy gray-blue eyes. They enjoyed light conversation and a few laughs and before long Bradley came home to join them.
“Dad, today was so awesome! We found out that this year we get to go on a class camping trip and they are looking for parents who want to supervise. Think you can take a couple days off?” Rachel beamed.
She had been a daddy’s girl from the minute she was born and the bond they shared was noticed by everyone who saw them together. “I don’t know hun. It’ll really depend on when it is and what the schedule looks like for the other guys,” Bradley replied.
Once bedtime came around it was back to the kids’ usual antics; constant trips to the bathroom for Tommy, Rachel getting bent out of shape because she misplaced her favorite shirt, and Alan getting up to see what his hermit crabs were doing in their aquarium. By ten o’clock the house had quieted down enough for Kitt and Bradley to talk for a few moments and smoke a joint. He always fell asleep before her, it was her curse but she had grown accustomed to being up later than the rest of them.
The stillness of the house bothered her, yet the “alone” time was something that she relished. Sometimes she would watch television or read, but more often than not she would play games on her phone or computer until she’d catch herself nodding off. She grabbed the stack of papers from the kitchen counter and mindlessly filled them out until her eyes became dry and painful from exhaustion. Turning off the lamp, she laid down and within moments their cat, Coffee, nestled himself into the crook of her arm.
The following morning was a bit calmer, which was a welcome change. Without the emotional distraction from the day before she set out to workout in the bedroom to an internet coaching video she had downloaded. She had only bought the first one because it was on sale and she really couldn’t bring herself to workout on a regular basis anyhow. After having Tommy she had lost all the baby weight within a a couple months but then was diagnosed with IBS and it changed everything. Her diet was so limited in the beginning of diagnosis that her metabolism went into “starvation mode” and she packed on the pounds.
Many times she would head to the local gym, plop Tommy in the daycare, and do her sets on the weight machines. Ultimately, she didn’t know what she was doing and they simply didn’t have the money for a trainer to get her on the right path. Eventually she would give up, like most of her hobbies. Instead, in the comfort of her own home, she could do jumping jacks and not have to worry about her flabby muffin top creeping over her sweatpants. A half hour later, sweaty and red faced, Kitt guzzled down her fruit infused ice water and jumped in the shower.
Later in the evening as she and Bradley readied themselves for bed they enjoyed the usual smoke session and talk, Kitt confided in him that she was feeling lost in their life together. “I just don’t feel like myself anymore. It has nothing to do with you or the kids, it’s me,” she assured him, “I don’t know if I need a hobby or to go back to school or what. I just know that I feel boxed in and unhappy.”
After a few moments of silent contemplation Bradley reached over and grasped her hand, “Honey, I love you and no matter what you need to do to be happy. I am behind you completely. I can try to get the boss to let me off early a few nights a week so you can go out and do something you want.” She smiled and felt better knowing that in all their years together he hadn’t really changed. He had always only wanted her to be happy, no matter what it took. They sat there talking for a little while longer and then curled into each other before he fell asleep snoring contentedly. Kitt lay there pondering what she could do to change her outlook on life but sleep came sooner than she expected and it was hard for her to tell her dreams from thoughts.