The Seed of Hardship - Chapter 23
Tori lowered the volume on the television as Kristel gently rubbed Kezia’s back. The baby was fast sleep with her head up against her mother’s chest. Even Kristel’s eyelids drooped, and her head was getting heavy. Tori turned the television completely off and looked down at Hailey, whose head was resting on her lap.
“Hailey,” she whispered. She looked at the time. It was almost 10 PM.
“Wake up, baby.” Hailey didn’t stir. Tori paused for a moment, thinking about what she should do. Then she slid towards the front of the couch, and gently lifted Hailey’s head just enough to stand without disturbing her.
Kristel awakened, but her eyelids were still heavy. Tori stretched out and gently grasped underneath Kezia’s armpits. “I got her,” she whispered.
“It’s alright,” Kristel said with a smile. She sat upright, though she appeared exhausted. Tori stood back. Looking at Hailey, Kristel quietly said, “You should get her home. I’ll be fine.”
Tori looked at her sleeping toddler as well, and then at the dozing baby in Kristel’s arms. “I’ll get Steph,” she said.
Kristel nodded and held Kezia’s head against her shoulder. She stood as Tori walked away. She walked to the nursery to put Kezia into her crib, and then she went to the base of the stairs to wait for Tori. After a few minutes, Tori came down the stairs with Stephanie trailing behind her. As usual, Stephanie wasn’t very happy to leave but Tori was ignoring her disgruntled appearance.
“Steph, you know you’ll be right back here tomorrow. Maybe you can even talk your mom into a sleepover,” Kristel hinted. She looked at Tori and smiled.
“If you get all your chores done,” Tori added.
With a huge sigh, Stephanie agreed to do her chores. Tori smiled at Kristel and mouthed the words thank you. She then walked to the couch to pick Hailey up. The child’s arms dangled listlessly over Tori’s back. Tori held Hailey’s head to her shoulder and made her way to the door. Stephanie had already said goodnight and gone to the car.
“Sleep well,” Tori told Kristel.
“Drive safely,” said Kristel. She smiled again as Tori waved and carefully made her way down the porch steps.
Once Tori had driven away, Kristel checked on Kezia, and then she went upstairs to check on Daniel and Hazel before going to her bedroom. She thought about crawling right into bed, but she remembered that she had to take a shower. Just as she began getting undressed, her cell phone rang loudly. She considered ignoring the call, but when she looked at the time, she realised that the call may be important.
Kristel picked up her phone, but didn’t recognise the number. Still, she answered. “Hello?”
“Kristel?” It was Matthew’s voice. He was speaking very quietly.
“Matthew? Where are you calling from?”
There was silence on the other line. “Hello?” Kristel asked. She looked at the phone to make sure the call was still connected.
“Kris, please don’t be too mad at me,” she heard Matthew utter.
Kristel sat down on the bed. “Let me have it,” she reluctantly told him. She heard a muffled male voice on Matthew’s line, but she couldn’t decipher what was said.
“Kristel, I’m at the County Jail,” Matthew blurted.
“What!? Matthew, what did you—?” She couldn’t even complete her sentence. She held her head and allowed her body to flop back onto the bed.
“Kris, I really didn’t want to bother you with this, but your number is the only one I know by heart.” Matthew let out a shuddering breath. “Babe, I’m so sorry.”
“Matthew, what did you do?” Kristel almost shouted.
“I was on my way to see you,” he said. “The police caught me speeding – I didn’t mean to – then he asked if I had been drinking…”
“Matthew,” Kristel moaned. She rubbed her forehead agitatedly. Tears were stinging in her eyes. She opened her mouth to say something, but no words came out.
“Luckily, I can be bailed out in the morning,” Matthew said. He spoke faster. “It’s fifteen thousand.”
Kristel pursed her lips, and swallowed an oncoming gasp.
“Where am I going to get the money from?” Kristel flatly asked.
Matthew was surprised by Kristel’s sudden calm tone. “Call Rob,” he quickly said. “I gotta go. Babe, I’m so sor—”
There was a click and the line went silent. Kristel looked at the display screen of her phone before shakily putting it down. She released the breath she had been holding and immediately picked the phone up again. She searched her contact list for Rob’s number, and quickly called him. Tapping her index finger against the back of the phone, she impatiently waited for Rob to answer. However, she received no response.
Rob’s automatic voice mail hijacked the phone call, commanding Kristel to leave a voice message. Kristel took a deep breath and tried to speak as steadily as possible. “Rob, this is Kristel. Please call me back, it’s urgent. It’s about Matthew.”
As Kristel was about to disconnect the call, she heard a beeping sound. Looking at her phone, she saw that there was an incoming call. It was from Rob. Quickly, she connected to the incoming call. “Rob?” she hopefully asked.
“Hey, Kristel. Sorry about that,” Rob answered. He was sitting in his car outside of his house. “I couldn’t find my Bluetooth,” he explained. “Just got home.”
“It’s okay,” said Kristel. “Rob, Matthew’s in jail,” she sputtered.
Kristel heard an elongated sign on Rob’s line. Then, “Don’t tell me it’s a DUI…”
Kristel sniffled loudly. “Rob, the bail bond is fifteen thousand dollars. I can’t afford that. Matthew said to call you.”
“I know a bondsman,” said Rob. “He takes fifteen percent though. So… about twenty-two-fifty in this case. Do you need a lawyer?”
“Yes,” said Kristel.
“Okay, I’ll start making calls now. I’ll text you back if it’s a go.”
“Thank you, Robbie,” said Kristel. “I’m going to kill Matthew once he’s out.”
“Me too,” Rob agreed.
“Can you do me a big favour?”
“Sure,” said Rob.
“Can you get Matthew from County?”
“Oh, and tell him that I don’t want to see him, and I don’t want to talk to him. And I’m dead serious. Thanks. Goodnight.” Before Rob could reply, Kristel disconnected the call.