The Seed of Hardship - Chapter 24
A loud, customary wail commenced the early morning. As was routine, Kristel climbed out of bed and practically sleep-walked to the nursery. As usual, Kezia’s eyes were not open yet. Still, she was on the verge of a grumpy awakening. Kristel lowered the crib railing to gain access. She lifted the infant from the crib and went into the kitchen.
The events of the previous day played in her head. She had returned home with a feeling of satisfaction. Having had a good first day on her new job, she felt things were changing for the better. Yet, her day had been ruined by one call from Matthew. Kristel shook her head as she thought about Matthew’s DUI arrest.
Kezia let out another wail, similar to her wake-up cry. This started Kristel, who turned quickly to see what had occurred. Kezia reached out to Kristel, opening and closing her hands. Completely ignoring her, Kristel turned back to the fridge. Kezia began shrieking.
“What’s the problem?” Kristel blurted.
Kezia continued opening and closing her hands, as though calling out to her mother. Kristel placed a bottle of liquid formula on the table, and plucked a baby bottle from the dish drainer. Kezia’s bewail continued. It wasn’t until Kristel finally picked up the infant, did she stop crying. Immediately, Kezia dipped her hand down Kristel’s T-shirt.
“You’ll get your bottle in a minute,” Kristel impatiently told her. She poured liquid formula into a baby bottle, and put the bottle into the microwave. Kezia slapped her hand against Kristel’s chest, and Kristel grabbed her wrist. “Stop that,” Kristel commanded. Kezia fussed and wiggled in Kristel’s arms.
“You’ll get your bottle in a minute,” said Kristel, pulling Kezia's hand away. She poured liquid formula into the baby bottle, and put the bottle into the microwave. Kezia slapped her hand against Kristel’s chest, and Kristel grabbed her wrist. “Stop that,” she commanded. Kezia fussed and wiggled in Kristel’s arms.
“Baby, what’s going on with you this morning?” Kristel asked the infant. Kezia let out a long waaah sound and began shrieking again. Kristel put her hand against Kezia’s forehead and neck. “No fever,” she muttered to herself.
The microwave beeped. Kristel tested the temperature of the liquid on the back of her hand before giving it to Kezia. Without hesitation, Kezia pelted the bottle to the floor. Kristel bent to pick up the bottle, and when she stood upright again, her head swam. She stood still for a moment to collect her bearings. Then she rinsed the bottle nipple off under the faucet and returned it to Kezia.
“Mm-mm!” Kezia turned her entire body away, twisting in Kristel’s grip.
“Kezia, stop it,” Kristel ordered. Kezia’s crying commenced.
With a sharp sigh, Kristel returned Kezia to her high chair and went upstairs to wake her older children. Then she returned downstairs to prepare breakfast. Kezia continued crying but somehow, Kristel managed to ignore her.
As usual, the doorbell rang and there was Tori, full of morning cheer. “Need help?” she chirped as she entered the kitchen.
“Yes, please,” Kristel replied. She pointed to Kezia.
Tori took one look at Kezia and said, “Uh-oh.” She lifted her out of the high chair and said, “Someone’s upset. And I don’t mean Kezi.”
Confirming Tori’s suspicions, Kristel marched around the kitchen, smashing down the lever on the toaster, yanking open the microwave. She stopped and pressed the palms of her hands against the counter, taking a deep breath, and slowly exhaling.
Then she quietly said, “Matthew got arrested.”
“What!?” Tori’s reaction startled Kezia, causing her to cry again. She immediately tried to calm her, but it was no use.
“DUI,” Kristel explained. “And the bail is fifteen thousand.”
“Yowza,” Tori muttered. She remained silent for a while, patting Kezia’s back to comfort her. Then she said, “Me and Hank will help you out with the bail bond. Need a lawyer?”
“Well, Matthew’s friend, Rob, knows a lawyer and a bondsman. So I’ll pay him fifteen percent to pay off the bail. Tori, you and Hank have already helped me out too much.”
“Too much?” asked Tori. “Look Kristel, that’s what friends are for. So do you or do you not still need help with bondsman fee?”
Kristel slowly twisted her hair around her index finger. Then she reluctantly said, “I guess so.” She turned to continue working on the breakfast preparations.
“I don’t even want to see or talk to Matthew at this point. He’s so ridiculously irresponsible. This has got to be one of the densest things he’s ever done.”
“I have to agree with you on that one,” said Tori. “This doesn’t seem like him though.” She stood up to get the baby bottle from the counter, as Kristel gave her an incredulous look. “Think about it,” said Tori. “Matthew’s usually careful about his drinking.”
Kristel took the toast out of the toaster and put them onto plates. While she spread Nutella over them, she thought about what Tori said, then she muttered, “Maybe you’re right.”
Tori’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. She sat at the table again, still holding Kezia. The infant greedily gulped down the formula in her bottle. “Are you admitting that you’re wrong about something?” Tori asked.
“No,” she heard Kristel say. “I’m just saying… Matthew’s usually more responsible about his drinking. You’re right about that but I still think this is the densest thing he’s ever done. Which is further proof that I did the right thing by drawing a line. What if he was still living here with the kids, drinking to the point of DUI?”
“Hmm…” Tori stared up and off to the right, thinking about her words. “And do you have any idea why he’s at the point of DUI now?”
Something about the tone of her voice, indicated that she was trying to give Kristel a hint. Kristel glanced back at her but completely ignored the question. Instead, she asked, “Where’s Hailey and Steph?”
“Hank’s driving them today,” said Tori. “But you didn’t answer my question. Why do you think Matthew’s at the point of DUI now?”
Without hesitation, Kristel said, “Because he’ll never change.”
Tori slowly shook her head,
disappointed in Kristel’s answer.