The Seed of Hardship - Chapter 14
Tuesday morning. A loud wail pulled Kristel right out of her sleep. She sat up quickly. Small beams of sunlight streamed through the blinds. Kezia lay beside Kristel, kicking and flailing her arms as she cried. Her eyes were closed tightly but tears ran down her cheeks.
Without hesitation, Kristel scooped Kezia up into her arms. She patted her bottom and rocked her. “Shh,” she said. Kezia continued screaming. She grabbed Kristel’s shirt with both hands and tugged hard.
Kristel quickly got up off the bed, ignoring the light feeling in her head. She walked out of the room, rubbing Kezia’s back. Kezia’s crying slowly diminished. Kristel went into the kitchen to put a bottle of baby formula in the microwave and by the time she got up the stairs to the second floor, Kezia’s crying had completely ceased. Kristel reached Daniel’s bedroom door but as she was about to open it, she heard quiet talking coming from the other side.
Kristel froze with her hand outstretched to the doorknob. “Baba,” Kezia fussed.
Kristel put her hand over Kezia’s mouth to silence her. She placed her ear against the door and listened in silence to the speech behind the door. “What about Saturday? Can we go to the movies?” It was Daniel’s voice and he sounded very disappointed; hurt really. “No?” Kristel could imagine him pouting but who was he speaking to in that sad manner?
“Are you coming to our play in church?” There was a pause and then Daniel said, “It’s on Sunday! You said you would come!” There was another pause, followed by a quiet, “Bye.”
Kristel lowered her eyebrows and bit her lower lip to prevent saying anything. Anger crept up on her and she had to fight it before entering her son’s room. She slowly shook her head as she thought about the person who she knew Daniel had been speaking to; his father. The disappointment in her son’s voice was enough to make her want to slap Matthew.
As Kristel opened the door, she saw Daniel wiping a tear from his face and looking dejectedly at the cordless house phone. Daniel heard the sound of the door open so he quickly slid the phone underneath his pillow and plopped down onto it. He began stretching and rubbing his eyes as though he had just awaken.
Kristel opened her mouth to inquire who Daniel had been speaking to, but she changed her mind. “Good morning,” she said with a small smile. “Go get washed up.”
Daniel nodded and ran past Kristel, out of his bedroom. Kristel waited until she saw Daniel disappear around the corner of the hallway, then she walked further into his bedroom and took the phone out from behind the bed. She pressed the redial button without hesitation and held the phone to her ear.
The phone rang twice and then she heard Matthew’s voice respond. “Daniel, I’ll call you back tonight, okay?”
“Don’t bother,” Kristel replied. “You’ve disappointed him quite enough already.”
Matthew was standing at an office desk, packing picture frames and other items into a large cardboard box.
“Kristel?” he questioned.
“Matthew, all I have to say to you right now is that you better be at that church play. The kids have been working hard in rehearsals and they’re excited for their father to see them.”
“Kristel, I’ll try but—”
“It’s the least you can do, Matthew” she said. Without giving him a chance to reply, Kristel disconnected the call and put the phone back underneath Daniel’s pillow.
“Baba!” Kezia demanded.
“Wait a minute!” Kristel snapped.
“Mmm!” Kezia responded, smacking her hand against Kristel’s chest.
“Stop,” Kristel ordered, grasping Kezia’s wrist. “Not nice!”
Kezia frowned and began to cry. Kristel completely ignored her.
After Kristel woke Hazel up, she went downstairs to begin preparing the breakfast. She put Kezia into her high chair and handed her the baby bottle of warm formula. Then she stood at the counter and began mixing pancake batter in a blue plastic bowl. She cracked three raw eggs into a small yellow bowl and took a spatula and a fork out of the dishwasher.
Kristel was pouring some of the pancake batter onto the griddle on the stove when the cell phone on her waist beeped. Kristel picked up the spatula and flipped over the three pancakes on the griddle. She then picked up the bowl of egg yolks and began to quickly mix it with the fork. As she was mixing the eggs, she noticed that the pancakes on the griddle were ready so, without thinking, she quickly placed the bowl on the edge of the sink and rushed to deal with the pancakes.
Just as Kristel picked up the spatula from the counter, the phone rang. Kristel’s eyes opened widely. She quickly flipped over the pancake and ran to the phone mounted on the wall. “Please be a job,” she said before answering the call. “Hello?” The bowl of egg yolks fell into the sink. Kristel grinded her teeth so she wouldn’t yell in frustration. She banged her fist against the counter and stared at the yolky mess on the previously-clean kitchen floor.
“Kristel, sorry to bother you,” she heard a familiar voice say.
“Matthew?” Kristel disappointedly asked.
“Yes, can I just borrow 50 bucks? Please, I promise I’ll pay you back A.S.A.P.”
“Matthew! I don’t have time for this. I’m trying to make breakfast.” She heard the doorbell ring. Tilting her ear towards her shoulder to hold the phone in place, she walked back to the griddle and realised that the pancakes were burning.
“It’s me!” she heard Tori’s voice announce from the living room.
Kristel looked back and yelled, “In the kitchen!” She then turned her attention back to the phone.
“Matthew, what do you need the money for?”
“Well, I was going to make a payment for something but… I don’t have the cash.”
“Why not?” Matthew didn’t respond. “Okay, tell me the truth, Matthew. What’s going on?”
Matthew hesitated for a moment. Then Kristel heard him sigh. “I lost my job, Kris,” he said.
Kristel held her head and gritted her teeth in agitation.
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