The Seed of Hardship - Chapter 5
Part 5 --
Monday morning came. It was the day that Matthew had agreed to chaperone Hazel and Stephanie’s wilderness trip but had backed out at short notice Sure it was due to a miscommunication but that made Kristel especially upset. That night, Kristel took her sheets and pillow and went into the living room. As she lay on the couch in the dark, staring up at the ceiling, she thought about her marriage.
When Kristel was only eighteen, she married Matthew. He was twenty years old then and his goal in life was to make Kristel happy. He was getting his life together. He had a stable job in accounting, he worked for a company and he was attentive to his wife. As newlyweds they couldn’t be happier. They always made time for each other. Kristel was going to school full-time and, since she was studying musical theatre, she spent her free time volunteering for her community theatre.
Matthew was extremely supportive and attended Kristel’s rehearsals whenever he could. Kristel graduated from college when she was 21 and that year, she gave birth to Hazel. That’s when their lives were flipped upside down. They had to provide for their child and the freedom they once had was gone. Matthew didn’t take it well but he adjusted. Then 4 years later, Daniel was born. Suddenly, Matthew seemed to be spending more time escaping his responsibilities.
Four years later, Kristel discovered that she was pregnant with their third child. By that time, they were not sound financially at all. Matthew had been fired from his job and was seeking another alternative. He began gambling to make ends meet and Kristel was having a hard time keeping jobs as well. In the years between Daniel and Kezia’s birth, things were tense between the couple. They stopped agreeing with each other; the bond was gone.
Kristel felt as though she had reached a stage of maturity and responsibility and left Matthew behind in his twenties – when they were still newlyweds and their first priority was fun. Now, they were struggling to pay bills and get rid of debts and Matthew was constantly frivolous with his money. Kristel couldn’t take it anymore. She was tired of arguing, tired of nagging, tired of babysitting her husband.
Sighing loudly in the dark, she rolled over onto her side. She felt strange and not just emotionally; she felt odd physically. She couldn’t describe the feeling exactly but she was almost sure she felt that way before. She squeezed her eyes shut, trying her best to ignore the dull throbbing in her head and in her lower back. She didn’t have a good day health-wise and the thought that her health was spiralling out of control again made her stomach lurch.
Had she remembered to take her medication tonight? She thought about it…
“Crap!” she exclaimed, sitting up a little too quickly. Her head spun. She squinted her eyes and rubbed her forehead. “Stupid, stupid, stupid,” she muttered, standing and beginning to walk out of the living room. She went into the bathroom to take her pills then she sat on the tub and heaved a sigh. “I can’t give up,” she said aloud. “We gotta work things out… for the kids.”
Putting a new attitude on, Kristel went to the living room to gather her sheets and pillow. Then she returned to the bedroom and got into bed beside her husband. Though she placed a pillow between them because she still felt annoyed by him, at least they were in the same bed.
Kristel looked at the time and realised that she only had a couple more hours to sleep. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Within seconds, she was fast asleep.
“Kris?” As the sun peeped through the curtains in the bedroom, Matthew gently shook his wife. “Kris, wake up. I have to go to the office to make sure that everything is cleared out, okay? I’ll actually be back in a few hours.”
“Mm-hmm,” Kristel replied, feeling extremely groggy.
“And I suggest you wake up. “It’s five o’clock. Remember you have to get Hazel to school by 6:30.”
“Okay,” she sleepily replied.
“Have a good day, babe,” said Matthew, bending over to kiss Kristel before walking out of the bedroom.
By 6:30, Kristel, Daniel, Kezia and Hazel were at the school along with Tori, her husband Hank, Stephanie and Hailey. Hazel and Stephanie’s families escorted them to the buses and waved them off as they drove away.
After seeing Hazel off, Kristel took Daniel to school then she went grocery shopping with Tori. Before she returned home, she received a text from Matthew: went to the store. Brb.
When Kristel did return to her own home, the house was silent, except for the hum of the dishwasher. Hearing the sound, Kristel became instantly upset. “Matthew,” she growled under her breath as she put the sleeping Kezia into her playpen in the living room before marching off to the kitchen. She stopped the process of the dish washing right away and opened the dishwasher door.
There were only a few plates and silverware in the dishwasher. She looked around and saw that most of the lights were on. She sighed and began walking around, turning all the lights off. As she walked past Daniel’s room on the second floor, she noticed that the door was open and the lights were on. As she entered the bedroom to turn the lights out, she spotted a television – the television that was once in her bedroom – on Daniel’s dressing table.
Kristel couldn’t understand why there was a television there but she hurried downstairs to their bedroom only to discover a brand new, widescreen television there. Her blood boiled. As she returned to the living room, she heard the jingle of keys outside the main door of the house. She sat on the couch, crossed her legs and looked in the direction of the door.
When the door opened, Matthew entered the house. Kristel remained silent, patiently looking in Matthew’s direction as he locked the door. As he turned to face Kristel, he jumped, having not expected to see her there. “Hey, babe,” he greeted, dropping the keys on a small table beside the door.
“Hi,” Kristel brusquely said. “We need to talk.”
Matthew looked at Kristel, knowing that something was wrong. “What’d I do?” he asked, approaching Kristel and sitting beside her.
“The dishwasher, Matthew. I’m convinced that you didn’t see our last water bill… or our light bill.”
“I just wanted you to come home to a clean kitchen but I didn’t have time to hand-wash the dishes. I didn’t mean to leave the lights on. I was in a rush.”
Kristel stared at him with hard eyes and said, “You seem to have an answer for everything. So… explain the television.” She glared at him as he fiddled with his thumbs.
“I received my pay cheque and a bonus today,” he said. “So we could finally afford that TV.”
“And instead of paying off what you owe, you spend it?” she asked. Matthew shifted his glance to avoid his wife’s glare.
Kristel stood up from the couch and walked to the window. She drew back the curtain and stared out at the street. “This is not working, Matthew,” she said. “This is really not working.”
Matthew stood up and went to stand beside his wife. “What’s not working, babe?” he asked, putting his arm around her shoulders.
Kristel shrugged his arm off her shoulders and made what she was saying clearer. “We’re not working.”