Week 8: Monday

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“Mmmff…” Marcie mumbled into her pillow as her internal alarm clock woke her up. Even though her body had adjusted to getting up at 5:00am every day to go to work, it didn’t make the experience any more pleasant. Josiah rolled over beside her, snoring lightly. She dragged herself out of bed and slumped to the kitchen to grab a bowl of cereal before her carpool arrived. I can’t wait until we have a stove. I never want to see another bowl of cereal again.

As she was finishing up her cereal and walking to the sink to clean up the bowl, she heard the wails of her son from upstairs in his crib. Marcie looked at her watch; she only had five minutes until her carpool arrived. Oh well. Someone else will get him, she shrugged. He gives me a headache when he cries, anyway.

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Upstairs, Mandy heard the cries of her nephew and was immediately up and standing over his crib. “Good morning, Chrissie-Bear!” she smiled. “Are you hungry? I think it’s time for your breakfast,” she told him, handing him a bottle. She wished they had a high chair for him to learn to eat properly, but they had to sell the other one to build the new house, so bottles would have to make do. She changed his dirty diaper and snuggled him, too, to put him in a good mood for the rest of the day. She lost track of the time and heard her bus honking from the street. Hurriedly putting Christopher down, she had another one of her famous freak-outs and ran to catch her bus. She barely made it, panting heavily. If Marcie would start acting like a mother, it wouldn’t be so hard, she thought to herself. I love taking care of Christopher, but I need to focus on other things, too.

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“Charm! Report to your supervisor!” Marcie’s drill sergeant barked once she had arrived at work.

“Sir, yes, sir!” Marcie shouted obediently, giving a proper salute before running to see her boss.

“Reporting to supervisor! Awaiting orders, sir!” Marcie said, standing at attention in her boss’ office. He stood up and looked her up and down.

“Impressive, Charm,” he praised her.

“Thank you, sir,” Marcie replied with a slight nod, otherwise keeping her position steady.

“I’m busy today, so I’ll keep this short. One of the fighter jets is damaged and we need it fixed as fast as possible so we can have all our pilots in the skies again. I’ve heard you’ve got some mechanical skill under your belt. You’ll be staying after hours tonight to help the maintenance crew with the repairs. That’s an order!” he barked.

“Sir, yes, sir!”

At the theatre, Josiah was called into his boss’ office, too. She smiled when he walked in.

“Josiah, just the employee I wanted to see. Have a seat.” Josiah sat down without a word.

“The band’s running behind on recording. If we don’t finish tonight, we’ll have to pay through the nose to book the recording studio an extra day. I need you to stay late to help the band finish recording,” she told him. Josiah sighed. He’d been hoping to have some time to play with his son that night, but he needed this opportunity; the whole family had to pitch in to help finish the new house and earning lots of promotions was key. He wanted his son to grow up with more than just bare rooms on a bare lot. He nodded.

“Sure. I’ll stay,” he agreed, but his heart felt heavy.

“I’m home!” Mandy announced, walking through the door. Marylee smiled and hugged her daughter.

“How was school?” she asked. Mandy smiled.

“Good. I got to talk to pretty much everyone at lunch, I got an A on my art project and I’m supposed to bring a fish to the Science Facility. I don’t know if I’ll have the time to do that, though, but my Science teacher said that if I can’t, it won’t hurt my school performance so I’m not too worried about it. Where is everybody?” she asked, looking around.

“Your father’s out fishing, your sister has to work late tonight. She said something about fixing a fighter jet to me on the phone, and Josiah’s staying late to help the band record our new album. I swear, those guys are never on schedule,” she sighed, shaking her head. “I recorded my part a week ago!” Mandy laughed.

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“I can’t wait to listen to it, Mom. I bet your guitar solos are amazing,” she smiled. Just then, Christopher ran over to his aunt, crying.

“Auntie Mandy! Hungry!” he wailed to her, rubbing his belly. Mandy chuckled and tickled her nephew.

“Okay, Chrissie-Bear. Here’s your bottle,” she told him, handing him some fresh milk. He gurgled happily as he drank and Mandy smiled. Sometimes she wished she really was his mother. She felt like she was most of the time. She couldn’t believe he was going to celebrate his birthday tomorrow. It seemed like he was growing up way too fast.

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Mandy was playing peek-a-boo with Christopher in the living room when her dad walked in the door, looking dejected. “No perfect fish,” he sighed. “I fished for almost twelve hours straight and not a single perfect fish.” Mandy gave her dad a sympathetic look.

“Aw, I’m sorry, Dad. Just keep trying. I know you can catch thirteen perfect fish. You’re a natural and you’ve been fishing your whole life,” she encouraged him. He smiled and walked over to kiss the top of her head.

“Thanks, Pumpkin.”

“Grandpa! It ma birthday too-more-o…” Christopher boasted. His grandfather laughed and picked the toddler up.

“It sure is. You’re such a big boy. Maybe you can come fishing with me when you’re just a little bigger,” he smiled.

“Ugh! It’s 10 at night!” Mandy groaned, looking at her watch. “I have to go to bed, and I didn’t get a chance to start Mom’s portrait!” she whined.

Mandy lay in bed that night, thinking. Christopher needs so much attention. Marcie probably wouldn’t even notice if he was kidnapped and Josiah’s spending all his time working to earn enough money to finish the house. I can’t blame him for that. Mom and Dad are too old to keep up with an energetic toddler. I’m the only one around to take care of him, but I have other responsibilities. I have to start these portraits and my birthday’s coming up in a week. I’m going to have to start looking for a husband and have children right away, then I’ll be preoccupied with my own family.

Her heart clenched painfully when she thought of finding a husband. She already knew who she wanted and she couldn’t have him. She closed her eyes and pictured Josiah’s lips touching hers and she shivered from the goosebumps popping up on her pale, soft skin. It’s wrong! she told herself. He has a baby with your sister! It’s sick and wrong and a betrayal!

“But I love him…” she whispered in the darkness to no one in particular.

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