The Seed of Hardship - Chapter 11
Kristel gently stroked her son’s hairline. Daniel was fast asleep in his bed, arms and legs sprawled out, his mouth wide open, emitting soft breath sounds. She looked at the time. It was 5:03 on Friday morning. It didn’t make much sense to wake her child at such an early time but Kristel knew herself; she knew if she didn’t talk to him while she was in the right mood, she would never discuss what she needed to.
“Daniel,” she quietly called. The 8-year-old didn’t stir. “Danny?” Kristel rubbed his arm until he stirred. Daniel moaned softly and his eyes fluttered open. His dark eyes focused on Kristel for a moment and then began to close again. “Daniel, wake up,” Kristel said, slightly louder.
Daniel’s eyes opened again. He stretched his arms above his head and stretched his legs out rigidly. Then he let out a huge yawn before looking at his mother with a confused expression. “Hi, Mommy,” he said.
“Good morning, sweetie,” Kristel responded, trying to sound as cheerful as possible. “Can we talk about something important?” Kristel asked him.
“About what?” Daniel asked, sitting up in his bed. He sat with his legs crossed Indian style and gave his mother his undivided attention.
“Your father and I,” said Kristel.
“Oh.” Daniel’s shoulders suddenly slumped and he looked down at the bed. For a moment, there was an awkward silence, then Daniel loudly asked, “Why’d you and daddy have to split up?”
Kristel took a deep breath and thought of how to explain it to her son. After a few seconds of deep thought, she took a shot at an explanation, hoping it came out much better than it did in her mind. “Because, baby,” she began. “Your daddy and I just don’t get along anymore. And when mommies and daddies fight all the time, it’s bad for the children; worse than being separated.”
“So you don’t love each other anymore?” Daniel tearfully asked.
“Of course we do,” said Kristel. Tears rolled down Daniel’s face and Kristel was a bit surprised by how instantly he had begun to cry. Seeing his sadness brought tears to her eyes as well but she blinked quickly to keep them barricaded. “We can never stop loving each other,” said Kristel.
“Then will you get back together some day?” Daniel hopefully asked.
Kristel barely shook her head as she looked compassionately at Daniel. “I don’t know, baby,” she quietly told him.
Saturday afternoon, Kristel and Tori returned to their eldest children’s school to await the bus’ arrival. Daniel was with his father after Kristel insisted that Matthew spent some time with him. Kristel sat in the passengers’ seat of Tori’s van. Kezia was in her car seat playing with four-year-old Hailey who sat in her own car seat beside Kezia. Tori turned up the volume slightly on the car radio to ask Kristel a question.
“So how are you going to break the news to Hazel about what happened between you and Matt?”
“I don’t know,” Kristel responded, looking agonised by the mere thought of it.
They heard the sound of the bus. Kristel opened the car door and stood up outside of the car, standing on her tiptoes to see the main road. “The bus is here,” she told Tori. Tori turned off the car completely and got out. Kristel opened the back door to take Kezia out of the car. Tori did the same, taking Hailey by the hand and leading her onto the sidewalk.
They all walked over to the bus as it came to a stop near the curb. Other families excitedly gathered to greet their children who had been gone for nearly a week. As the bus came to a full halt and its doors opened, the teachers and chaperones first dismounted, followed by the students, most as excited to see their parents as their parents were to see them.
Finally Stephanie and Hazel came out of the bus. They spotted their families right away and ran to greet them. After a cheerful reuniting, Hazel realised that someone was missing. “Where’s Daniel?” she asked. .
Tori glanced at Kristel nervously but Kristel calmly replied, “With your father.”
“How was it?” Tori asked, wanting to change the subject.
“Fun,” the girls replied in unison.
“Glad to hear it,” said Kristel. “Did you miss me?” She playfully pinched Hazel’s arm.
“Of course,” Hazel responded.
Kristel smiled. Hazel and Stephanie returned to the bus to retrieve their suitcases then they got into Tori’s van and talked about the trip nonstop on the way back to Kristel’s house.
When they reached the Reid family home, they went into the living room to talk more about the wilderness trip. Kristel went into the kitchen to get juice for everyone. Hazel, Stephanie and Hailey sat on the ground and Tori sat on the couch, bouncing Kezia on her knees. Stephanie and Hazel retold their exhilarating experiences of hiking, swimming, berry-picking, fishing and all sorts of other wilderness activities.
They bragged about their new knowledge of survival skills and then Stephanie abruptly said, “Mom, I got bitten like a million times!” She pulled up her sleeves to show Tori and Kristel her insect-bitten arm.
“Didn’t I warn you about insect repellent before you left the house?” Tori asked her.
“I did use it. But it seems like the insects like it, because they kept biting me,” she explained. “And now I’m itching like crazy.”
“Me too,” said Hazel.
“There is some cortisone in Kezia’s drawer in my bedroom. It should soothe the itching. You can go with her, Steph,” Kristel suggested.
“Thank you,” said Stephanie as she and Hazel stood up. As they left away, the doorbell rang. Kristel stood up and went to the door. She opened the door to Matthew and an extremely excited Daniel.
“Is Hazel here?” Daniel asked.
“Yes,” Kristel replied, looking at Matthew’s tense expression.
Daniel greeted Tori, Hailey and Kezia then he loudly called out to Hazel and began walking out of the living room.
Matthew looked as though he had a huge predicament on his hands. “Tell Hazel I said hi,” he told Kristel. “I have to go,” he added.
Kristel slowly shook her head. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
Sorry,” said Matthew. “I really gotta run.”
“Whatever,” Kristel replied, being careful not to slam the door as she closed it. “Unbelievable,” she muttered under her breath as she returned to the couch and sat down. Kezia crawled into Kristel’s lap and rested her head against her chest. “I’m okay,” Kristel whispered to her.
Hazel came back into the living room. “Is Dad home?” she excitedly asked.
Kristel looked up guiltily at her. Daniel ran to Hazel and hugged her. “Hazel!” he exclaimed. “I missed you!”
“I missed you too,” said Hazel, hugging her younger brother. After she hugged him, she looked around and asked, “Where’s Dad?”
“Daddy went back to his apartment,” Daniel told Hazel.
“Daniel,” Kristel moaned, holding her head.
“His apartment?” asked Hazel. Stephanie looked as confused as Hazel.
“Yeah,” said Daniel. “Dad doesn’t live here anymore.”
“Mom, what’s he talking about?” asked Hazel.
“I will explain everything to you later in private, okay?”
“No,” Hazel boldly said. “I want to know now. “Did you and Dad get a divorce?”
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