The Seed of Hardship - Chapter 4
The next day, when Kristel and her children returned from church, she went straight to Daniel’s room. It was June but Kristel had yet to do the normal Spring-Summer transitions around the house. There was still winter clothes to be packed away, Daniel’s heavy wooden wardrobe was still in front of the window and his bed angled oddly to avoid covering the heat radiator.
Kristel thought now was a time as good as any to finally do the “spring cleaning”, especially since she didn’t want to be in the same room as Matthew. As she was struggling to push the armoire away from the window, she heard a voice ask, “Need help?”
Kristel stopped pushing the heavy wardrobe and leaned over with her hands on her knees, panting. She looked up at Matthew, standing in the doorway and said rather breathlessly, “I got it.”
Matthew looked at her with an expression of disbelief as Kristel gripped the wardrobe and got into the appropriate stance to push the furniture again. Matthew looked at the bed and saw that Kristel had already shifted it. “Kristel, you’re going to hurt yourself,” he said.
“I already moved the bed,” she stubbornly said. With a quiet grunt, she resumed in pushing the heavy wooden dresser. Matthew walked swiftly into the room and gripped the wardrobe. Kristel nudged him away with her elbow and kept her focus on the task at hand.
“Oh, come on, Kristel,” said Matthew, trying to help.
“I don’t need your help,” Kristel insisted.
“You don’t need my big, strong, manly help?” he teased, smirking slightly.
Kristel stopped to wipe sweat from her brow. As she prepared to commence, she felt slightly weak. She couldn’t continue; she was too tired to move. Matthew looked and her and saw that she was exhausted. “Kris? Are you alright, babe?” he asked her.
Kristel placed her hand on the dresser again, preparing to move it but she was too tired. She walked to the bed and sat down to catch her breath. Matthew took that as an opportunity to quickly move the armoire for his wife. When it was in the proper location, he turned to Kristel and asked, “Anything else?”
Kristel looked at him with the most annoyed expression before standing up from the bed. She muttered a word of thanks under her breath as she walked towards Daniel’s closet.
‘Kris, you’re tired,” Matthew observed. “Why don’t you just take it easy?”
“Because, Matthew,” Kristel began, opening the closet. “If I take it easy, nothing will get done around here.”
“That’s not true,” Matthew disagreed.
Kristel’s eyebrows shot up with a forced look of surprise. “Oh it isn’t?” she loudly asked. “Excuse me, I must be mistaking you with the other Matthew Reid.” She abruptly closed the closet and walked out of the bedroom, leaving Matthew looking sad and dejected. Matthew looked at the moved armoire and bed before walking out of the room.
Kristel walked into the bathroom and knelt in front of the cabinet below the sink. She opened the cabinet and began taking cleaning products out. She placed aside of a bottle of bleach, a spray can of Lysol, a spray bottle of Scrubbing Bubbles brand cleaner, a sponge and a rag. She thought of how many times she had asked Matthew to clean the bathroom. It always came down to her doing it instead.
“I don’t know why I bother,” she said to herself.
Sitting at the edge of the tub wall, Kristel tossed some bleach into the tub. As she turned the faucet on, Matthew came into the bathroom. He approached Kristel cautiously, thinking through carefully the best way to handle the situation. He looked at Kristel nervously and opened his mouth to say something but the right words escaped him.
Kristel picked up the spray bottle and stood to begin to coating the bathroom sink surface with the foamy chemical. “I don’t want your help,” she said. “You were supposed to do this days ago.”
“I know,” Matthew shamefully said. “I forgot.”
“You forgot,” Kristel dryly repeated. She gave a small, sarcastic chuckle and then abruptly became serious again. She looked over her shoulder and coldly asked, “What’s new?”
Later that day, Matthew was in the living room playing checkers with Hazel while Daniel watched television. Kezia was in the bedroom with Kristel, who was packing warm clothing into boxes.
Hazel gazed thoughtfully at her father as he mentally planned his next move. His black pawn had two chances of being jumped by Hazel’s red pawns. A few more bad moves and he would lose the entire game. He placed a finger on his pawn and slid it forward, preparing for the inevitable. However, when he made the move, Hazel continued staring at him.
“Hazel, your go,” he reminded her.
“Oh,” said Hazel, appearing to have been yanked out of a deep thought. “Sorry.” She moved one of her double stacked—the queen—pawns, right into the path of her father’s lonesome black pawn. Matthew looked at her as though she was crazy.
Hazel recaptured the contemplative expression and said, “Dad? Are you and Mom gonna be okay?”
Not expecting that question from his daughter, Matthew was lost for words. “You two don’t get along much anymore.” Matthew opened his mouth but Hazel intercepted. “Before you lie, I should warn you that us kids know a lot more than you adults think we do.”
“Yup, we do,” Daniel agreed from the couch where he was sitting.
Matthew looked at his son then back at his daughter. He looked down at the checkerboard and said, “Let’s play a different game.” He began hastily packing the game parts back into the box and refused to look at his daughter’s concerned expression.
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