Week 4: Saturday

Exhausted from the events of the week, Marylee was looking forward to sleeping in on the weekend, but Mandy had different plans for her mother. At the crack of dawn, she started wailing in her crib, waking up both her parents sleeping just a foot away in their bed. Marylee grumbled moodily, getting up.

“I c’n git her…” Christopher mumbled, his face still buried in his pillow.

“No, it’s fine. I’m already up, anyway. Go back to sleep,” she assured him. Within a minute, Christopher’s light snores filled the room and Marylee picked her newborn baby out of her crib.

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“Good morning, Mandy. Shhh… it’s okay. Mommy’s here,” she soothed. “Do you want your bottle?” She fed Mandy, cuddled her and changed her diaper before gently placing her back in her crib with a kiss. She and Christopher had quickly discovered that Mandy was much more maintenance than Marcie had been. Mandy hated being left alone for too long and loved the constant attention of people. She seemed to thrive on it. She was also always staring at colours and pointing at them; all kinds of colours, it didn’t matter. She seemed to love admiring the paintings Marcie created and would giggle and point to any piece of art she saw in the house. “I’ll be back soon, baby. Don’t worry,” Marylee told Mandy before going to the kitchen to eat breakfast.

She was too tired to make anything, but Christopher usually stored leftovers in the fridge. They were mostly for Marcie when he and Marylee didn’t have time to cook her anything or when they went out, leaving her alone in the house, but really, anyone in the family could help themselves. Marylee grabbed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich from the fridge and sat down to eat. It didn’t taste quite right, but Marylee scoffed at herself. Stop being silly. Christopher made these, which means they have to be good. He makes his living cooking, she reminded herself.

Her stomach didn’t feel so good after eating the sandwich. She figured it was because peanut butter didn’t sit well in one’s stomach first thing in the morning and ignored it. Bad idea. Within two hours, she was bent over the toilet, heaving up her entire breakfast. She heard soft footsteps behind her.

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“You’re not having another baby, are you, Mom?” Marcie asked with a look of horror. Marylee laughed and shook her head.

“No Marcie. You and Mandy are quite enough for your father and me. I’m just not feeling well, that’s all, but I think I’m okay now,” she explained, getting up off the floor to flush the toilet. Marcie stood there, looking confused.

“How do you choose how many babies you have?” she asked. “Do you send a letter to Santa and ask him to bring you one?” Marylee nearly stuffed her fist in her mouth to keep from doubling over in fits of hysterics.

“Er… no, Honey. Santa has nothing to do with it,” she said, the corners of her lips twitching. She was still fighting very hard to hold back laughter. She knew it was time to tell her daughter all about the birds and the bees. She didn’t believe in lying about something that was natural and beautiful when it was done with the right person. “Sit down on the couch and I’ll tell you,” she told her. “Marcie, when a mommy and daddy love each other very much, they do something that’s called…” she began. When Marylee finished, Marcie had a pinched nose.

“Ew. That’s gross. I don’t ever want a baby,” she said, walking away to play with her dollhouse. Marylee laughed to herself, but quickly called her daughter back.

“Marcie, I’ll take that dollhouse away if you stop practicing painting,” she warned. “Easel. Now.” With a resigned sigh, Marcie dragged her feet to the easel and picked up a paintbrush.

Marcie soon lost herself in the plethora of colours on a white canvas. It wasn’t that she liked painting; she hated it, in fact, but it did give her an excuse to be left alone and not have to deal with or think about Mandy. She could forget that her parents didn’t love her anymore and just focus on her pictures. She also enjoyed the solitude. I don’t mind art, but I’d rather look at it than make it, she thought to herself.

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“I heard throwing up this morning. Is Marcie sick?” Christopher asked with concern when he woke up. Marylee shook her head.

“No. I was. I think those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches you made went bad,” she said. Christopher’s face fell with guilt.

“I’m sorry. I should have made a fresh batch sooner. I can’t believe I made my wife sick,” he said, smacking his forehead. “I could have made our daughter sick, too.” Marylee hugged him reassuringly.

“Honey, don’t worry about it. I cleaned out the fridge and everyone’s fine now. Why don’t you go fishing? You still have a few hours before work,” she suggested. Christopher smiled, obviously cheered up.

“Actually, I think I will. Hopefully, I’ll bring home a new perfect fish for my collection,” he beamed. Marylee wished him luck before he left. She had no idea why anyone would want a bunch of fish swimming around in bowls, even if they were “perfect”, but collecting them seemed to make Christopher happy, so she supported him. She even made sure she fed all the fish whenever Christopher forgot. He’d be so upset if he lost even just one.

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Soon, Mandy started crying again and Marylee rushed to her daughter’s crib. Behind her, Marcie came in holding a painting she had finished. “Mom, Mom! Look at my painting! I think it’s my best one so far! Do you like it?” she asked, but Marylee shooed her off.

“Not now, Marcie. Mandy needs attention,” she said. She was too busy playing with Mandy to notice the hurt tears streaming down Marcie’s face as she left the room.

I thought it was a good painting… she sniffled, staring at the shades of greens, reds and yellows surrounding a blazing blue sun. She tried to make it abstract by using unique colours. Sadly, she hung it up in her room and framed it, but spent the rest of the day lying on her bed, crying. I thought if I got better at painting, Mom would love me again… I can’t fish; I hate being outside, so I can’t make Dad love me again, either… Mandy ruined everything, she sobbed.

At work, Christopher got called into his boss’ office. Christopher still missed Gunther, and didn’t particularly care for his new boss, but was trying to build up a relationship with him anyway for the sake of advancing in his career. “Ah, Christopher Charm. Sit down,” he ordered. Christopher did as he was told. “I want you to learn how to make ratatouille. It’s a simple dish that every chef should know, so get to it!”

“I’ll try my best, sir, but I can’t guarantee I can get around to it. I love my job and do everything I can to make sure I’m working hard and giving it all I’ve got, but I have a family, too. My wife and I have two girls at home; one is a newborn. My wife is still fragile after having two difficult deliveries and-”

“Excuses!” he barked. “I have no time for excuses or for sappy men who get sucked into the daddy role. Get out of my office.”

Christopher left the office, fuming. Gunther understood, he thought to himself. Gunther was a family-man, too…

When he got home, he told Marylee all about his terrible boss. She frowned. “Chris, I know you really liked Gunther, but he’s gone now and you can’t bring him back. This new boss may be a jerk, but he’s acting like most bosses do. Gunther treated you differently because you were friends and because Gunther had a family and understood why your family’s important to you, but that doesn’t mean that every boss will. You just have to deal with your new boss the best you can until you’re the one on top, ordering him around.” Christopher sighed. He knew she was right. In an effort to cheer him up, Marylee decided to bring the topic to a lighter subject. “How was fishing this morning?” she asked. Christopher smiled broadly. He had forgotten all about his great catch!

“Oh it was great! I caught a new perfect fish for my collection! It’s just a goldfish, but it’s still perfect and I think he’s kind of cute. I was waiting until I got home to put him in a bowl of water.”

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“That’s great! What are you going to name him?” she asked.

“Actually, I’m running out of names, so I want you to name him,” he told her. He pulled out the perfect goldfish and introduced him to his new home beside Ervin and Dina. Marylee stared at him for a moment, then grinned.

“I want to name him Chris,” she announced. Christopher gave her a funny look.

“Well, aren’t you creative?” he said sarcastically, but grinned to show her he was just teasing. “Okay, Chris it is. Hey Chris. I’m Chris. Nice to meet you,” he chuckled, looking at the goldfish swimming around in his bowl.

“I have great news!” Marylee announced. “We have enough money to finally build Mandy’s room and redecorate the rest of the house. I think we might even be able to squeeze in a teeny tiny little expansion to the living room.” That really lifted Christopher’s spirits. He had to admit that sleeping in the same room as a baby really deprived him of precious sleep, plus Mandy seemed to be getting too attached to sleeping with her parents. She needed to adjust to her own bedroom and sleeping by herself.

They got to work right away, moving the bathroom closer to the front of the house and adding another bedroom where the bathroom had been. They expanded the bathroom slightly when they moved it. They added a square metre to the living room and pulled the kitchen back a square metre to accomplish that. They decided that the girls should have their bedrooms beside each other on one side of the house and they’d make the new bedroom Marylee and Christopher’s room. It would give them more adult-privacy and if they ever wanted to build another bathroom, they could easily add a door from their bedroom to the current bathroom to make it private.

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After all the building, there wasn’t a lot of money left, but Marylee insisted that the current decor of the house was hideous. That stung Christopher a bit; he had worked very hard to build and finish that house for his wife ten years ago, but even he had to admit, the wallpaper and carpets looked very outdated. They replaced the grey carpet with hardwood floors and repainted the walls a creamy beige with dark wood trim. Marylee put a brown slipcover over the white couch to match and got a rug with a new pattern. They changed the kitchen from blue to tones of yellow and cream and busted out the wall dividing the kitchen and living room, making both rooms look much bigger and brighter. They had just enough money left over to get rid of that ancient television from the 50’s and buy a more modern-looking one. It wasn’t a huge upgrade, but it was still better than what they had.

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They even added a walkway from the door to the sidewalk lined with pretty pink flowers; Marylee picked them out. They also laid down stones in the back to make a tiny patio. Christopher really wanted to buy a real dining room set and move the patio furniture that was currently in the kitchen out on the new patio. Maybe they’d be able to buy a barbecue and some fencing for the patio as well, someday.

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Marylee and Christopher stepped back to admire the brand new look. It was still pretty small, but their home had a bit more class now. Marylee hoped they’d have the money to move the bedrooms to a second floor someday and make one extremely large living, dining and kitchen area.

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