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The Seed of Hardship - Chapter 12
“Mom,” Hazel whined. She was on the verge of tears and hastily following her mother down the hallway.
“I leave for only a little while and you get a divorce?” she asked as they entered the master bedroom.
“We are not divorced,” said Kristel, making herself busy by walking to the closet. She quickly began pretending to search for an article of clothing.
“Divorced, separated, what’s the difference?
“Paperwork,” Kristel muttered under her breath.
Hazel stood behind her mother and asked, “Is he coming back?”
“He doesn’t live that far away, sweetie,” Kristel explained. “He lives at Rob’s house 10 minutes from here.” She continued shifting clothes aside. Hazel fell silent as she stared at her mother’s back. Kristel paused from her pretentious search for clothing. Her daughter’s sudden silence was slightly worrisome but Kristel didn’t want to turn to her right away.
Tears welled up in Hazel’s eyes and spilled onto her cheeks. “But you always work things out,” she quietly told her mother. “What happened?”
Kristel turned to Hazel and enveloped her in a tight embrace. Hazel released the sob that she had been holding back. Kristel patted her back and assured that they would be alright. Suddenly, Hazel pulled away and ran out of the bedroom. Kristel did not even make an attempt to intercept Hazel’s swift escape. Instead, she made her way slowly to the bed and sat down.
Closing her eyes, Kristel cradled her face in her hands and propped her elbows on her knees.
As Hazel ran down the hallway and turned to run up the stairs, everyone in the living room turned just in time to see her disappear. Stephanie immediately stood and went after her. Likewise, Tori stood from the couch with Kezia in her arms. She quickly made her way out of the living room and down the hallway to Kristel’s bedroom.
Kristel looked up at the doorway and when she saw that it was Tori, she covered her eyes and leaned over again. “Just give her some time,” Tori gently told her. She sat on the bed beside Kristel and put a comforting arm around her. Immediately, Kezia somehow managed to climb right into Kristel’s lap.
“This is exactly why I stayed with Matthew for so long,” Kristel sniffled, rubbing Kezia’s back. “I did not want to put my kids through all of this. I tried so hard to avoid hurting them.”
“But then you were hurting yourself. Kristel, you did what you had to,” Tori assured.
“It doesn’t change the fact that I feel awful about it.”
“I know it doesn’t change how you feel but… Kristel…” Tori sighed and looked towards the door. She couldn’t think of what more she could say to Kristel; she was lost for words.
Tori just continued comfortingly rubbing Kristel’s back until Kristel asked, “Can I have a moment alone?”
“Sure,” Tori replied. She took Kezia from Kristel and swiftly left the room before Kezia could protest. Kristel picked up the phone from the side table and quickly dialled a number. She held the phone to her ear and listened as it rang.
After two rings, she heard Matthew’s voice: “Hi, you’ve reached Matthew Reid. Unfortunately, I can’t come to the phone right now so leave a message and I’ll get back to you.”
Kristel agitatedly tapped the phone as it beeped, and then she left her message: “Matthew, please call Hazel. Talk to her. As a matter of fact, come take her to the mall or to dinner or something. And call me back. Bye.” She disconnected the call and sighed harshly.
Her head was pounding again. She lay down on the bed and tried to relax. She had been getting too worked up too often lately. It was not good for her health, not good at all. Then thinking about her health possibly deteriorating made her feel even greater stress.
Kristel lay still in bed for a while until she felt an obvious twitch in her lower leg and realised that she was drifting off to sleep. She sat up and felt a slight pinching twinge in her hip. Her lower back throbbed. She wanted to lie right back down and go to sleep but she had yet to prepare dinner.
Walking down the hallway, she made up her mind that she would be as cheerful as possible… for her children. She smiled as she entered the living-dining room area. Daniel and Hailey were watching a move on the television but Hazel, Stephanie, Tori and Kezia were absent from the scene. Kristel looked straight ahead at the kitchen and noticed the lights were on.
As she walked into the kitchen she saw Kezia sitting in her highchair, happily munching on a cracker. Tori was peering into the fridge. “What are you doing?” Kristel asked.
“Looking for veggies,” Tori replied.
“For the salad.”
Kristel looked at her friend as though she was insane. Tori turned towards Kristel and closed the fridge. “You’re right,” she said, noting Kristel’s expression. “How about my hubby and I treat you and your family to dinner and desert at… Ruby Tuesdays?”
“No,” said Kristel, wearily sitting at the kitchen table. “You don’t have to do that.”
“I want to,” said Tori. “I’ll call Hank now. He should be home from work soon.”
“Kristel, don’t argue with me. You need a dinner at Ruby Tuesdays to take your mind off all this.”
Kristel couldn’t deny it. She shamefully shook her head and looked at Kezia as the child munched on her cracker. It seemed that younger children were so easily satisfied, so easily contented. She wished she could be that way; if only a small cracker boosted her mood.
“I’ll get the girls,” Tori excitedly said. Before Kristel could argue, Toni left the kitchen. Kristel felt so tired, certainly too tired to commute to a restaurant. She didn’t feel like driving and she wasn’t in the best of moods to sit at a table in public and put on an ‘everything is fine’ face for Tori’s family and her own children. Then again, maybe being in the company of her closest friend’s family would do her some good.
Kristel picked up Kezia from her highchair and walked out of the kitchen. “Danny,” she called. “Go get a sweater or a light jacket from your room.”
Daniel looked at his mother curiously. “Why?” he questioned.
“Because I said so,” Kristel replied, walking down the hallway.