The Seed of Hardship - Chapter 7
“Separated!?” Daniel loudly questioned. Kezia looked at her brother with bright eyes, seeming startled by his sudden loudness. Daniel stared at the back of his parents’ heads as Kristel continued to drive and Matthew continued staring straight ahead at the road. “Why?” Daniel whined, fighting the seatbelt that had him virtually stuck to the backseat.
“It’s just something we need to do, son,” said Matthew, turning to look at him. His eyes were sad, yet compassionate.
“Am I going to see you ever again?” Daniel loudly asked.
“Of course you will, sport,” said Matthew, reaching back to ruffle Daniel’s curly hair. “I won’t be living with you but I’ll come visit you every day. I promise.”
Kristel grimaced from Matthew’s pledge. She only shifted her eyes to look disappointedly at Matthew and she restricted a sigh.
“But why do you have to leave?” Daniel fussed. Kristel kept her mouth shut, refusing to say a word. Matthew looked to her for help but she kept her eyes on the road, even though she was at a traffic light. “Is it because you’re always fighting?”
“Kind of,” said Matthew. Kristel’s face remained stoic; not giving away anything she was feeling or thinking.
“Do you have a new house, Daddy?”
“Well, I’ll be living with Rob for a little while.”
Daniel leaned back and folded his arms, pouting as he did so.
When they got home, Daniel ran right up to his room, too upset to talk to either of his parents. Kristel didn’t want to speak with Matthew and Matthew didn’t want to start anymore trouble. Yet, he didn’t want to leave right away either.
Kristel sat in the living room, slumped on the couch, watching Kezia play with her blocks on the carpet. Matthew was in his bedroom, packing all his necessities. Kristel’s head continued to throb and the pain in her back was coming and going. She felt too tired to do anything but she had frozen food cooking in the oven. She could only hope that the oven didn’t beep any time soon because she really didn’t feel like getting up from the couch.
Kezia turned and semi-crawled, semi-walked to the couch. She grabbed on to Kristel’s knee and tried to pull herself up onto the couch. “Hi mama!” she squeaked.
Kristel couldn’t help but smile. She reached down and lifted Kezia onto her lap. Kezia buried her face in Kristel’s bosom and grabbed her shirt. “Hey,” Kristel quietly exclaimed, moving Kezia’s small hand from her shirt. “No, no, no,” she said. “We discussed this, sweetie.”
Kezia looked up at Kristel and squealed, “Ba-ba!”
“You want your ba-ba?” Kristel asked.
“Ba-ba!” Kezia repeated, slapping her hand against Kristel’s chest.
“Ouch, okay, okay,” said Kristel. She held on to Kezia and stood from the couch. Her head felt alien to her body; as though it didn’t belong there. She closed her eyes and remained still for a moment, trying to get rid of the odd feeling. When the feeling ended, she made her way to the kitchen.
It was 6 PM; around the time when Kezia usually became fussy and cranky. The time when all the baby wanted was to be fed and rocked to sleep. Kristel placed Kezia in the high chair and ignored the child’s protests. She opened the fridge to retrieve a bottle of formula.
After standing for only a few minutes to prepare Kezia’s night-time bottle, Kristel felt as though some invisible force was tugging at her body. She walked over to the table and sat at one of the chairs. Kezia fussed and tried to reach out to Kristel, who put her head down on the table and tried to relax. She knew this feeling oh too well and that frightened her.
For a while, she remained with her head rested on the table until Kezia began to cry. When the child’s shrieks reached the climax, Kristel gave in and stood to retrieve the bottle from the microwave that had beeped in the minutes before. She handed the bottle to Kezia who began greedily gulping down the warm liquid.
“Matthew?” she called loudly, walking out of the kitchen. Matthew poked his head out of the doorway of their bedroom. “Watch Kezi for a moment please?” she asked, beginning to walk down the hallway.
“Sure,” said Matthew.
Kristel passed Matthew in the hallway and walked into their bedroom. As she entered the room, she froze. Matthew’s side table was completely empty, the dressing table was lacking, half of the clothes in his closet were missing and a few framed photographs were missing. The reality of the situation hit Kristel hard. That's it, she thought. This is really happening.
Ignoring the tears accumulating in her eyes, Kristel refocused on what she had gone to the bedroom for. She quickly walked to her side of the bed and sat down. She picked up the cuffs of the automatic blood pressure monitor on the side table. Working quickly, she wrapped the Velcro cuffs around her upper arm and closed her eyes.
Inhaling and exhaling deeply for a moment, she tried to clear her mind and calm down before pressing the calculate button on the monitor. She remained silent and motionless, keeping her eyes closed as the cuffs tightened around her upper arm. When she felt the pressure in the cuff release, she slowly opened her eyes to look at the reading on the monitor.
When she saw the 144/94 reading she closed her eyes again and slowly shook her head. “You okay?” she heard Matthew’s voice question. Kristel opened her eyes to Matthew, standing at the door holding Kezia as she drank greedily from her bottle.
“Yeah,” Kristel answered. “Never better.”
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