Become a Fan
By Cassandra Lokker
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Rated "G" by the Author.
Karyn Lewis rediscovers the joy of family.
“It’s seven o’clock on a Monday morning, and you’re listening to 101.7 FM. In today’s news, a major snow storm is set to take aim on the Midwest over the next two days. It may be the first day of March, but it looks as if winter is here to stay.”
Karyn Lewis blindly reached for the alarm clock radio and slammed her hand down to activate the snooze. She groaned and burrowed down into the bedcovers. She was determined to take advantage of these quiet moments. It wouldn’t be long now before the kids would need to be up so they could get ready for school.
As if in answer to her thoughts, she heard the patter of little feet outside her bedroom door.
“Mommy, are you awake?”
It was her youngest, Katie, and Karyn lifted the blankets, holding an arm out to her daughter.
“Good morning, Katie,” she whispered. “Couldn’t you sleep anymore?”
“No,” the little girl said with a vigorous shake of her golden curls. “The wind is noisy, Mommy. I’m scared.”
“There’s nothing to be afraid of, Katie,” Karyn assured her. “Now, let’s try to get some sleep, okay? It’s almost morning.”
Katie snuggled close to her, and the room was quiet. But not for long.
“Mommy, is it time to get up yet?” came a small voice from the door.
“Almost, Justin,” Karyn whispered. “Ssshhh, Katie’s sleeping.”
“Can I lay down by you, Mom?” he asked. “Please.”
Karyn nearly melted at the child’s plea, and she patted the empty space on the other side of her in the bed. “All right, just this once. But you need to be very quiet.”
With both children huddled close to her, Karyn turned her head into her pillow and sighed. The bed didn’t seem nearly as empty now. For nearly two months, her husband Michael had been on tour with his Christian rock band, and he very rarely came home between concert dates. She missed him, but she had become accustomed to his absence. They talked occasionally on the phone and even more frequently over email. But Michael hadn’t written to her in over a week, and Karyn knew that the separation had begun to take its toll. At times, it seemed that his band was more important to him than his family. Karyn didn’t want to admit it, but she had a feeling that their marriage was in trouble.
She shoved aside her thoughts and closed her eyes, listening to the sound of the sleet pinging against the windows and the rhythmic breathing of Justin and Katie. She was almost asleep when she was startled by the piercing tones of her ringing cell phone. She launched out of bed and retrieved the object from the top of the dresser. By now, both kids were wide awake and sitting up in bed.
“Hello?” she mumbled into the phone. She felt only half awake. Maybe it’s Michael, she thought. But this early?
It was only a recorded message, alerting parents that school would be closed that day due to the impending storm. Karyn groaned inwardly. Now what was she going to do? She had four
orders to finalize for the greeting cards she designed and several phone calls to make. There was no way she would get all of that done with three kids underfoot!
“That scared me!” Justin exclaimed when she set the phone down. “It was like a dance party in here!”
Karyn couldn’t help but grin at his reference to the music that served as the cell phone ring. “All right,” she announced. “Everyone out of bed and back to your own rooms. You can go back to sleep for awhile.”
“But I’m not sleepy anymore,” Justin protested.
“Then read a book or something,” Karyn responded as she began to make the bed. “I’ll make breakfast in a little while.”
The two kids turned to leave the room.
“And whatever you do, don’t wake up Corey,” she said quickly.
With the children out of the room, Karyn finished making the bed. She could feel a headache coming on, and knowing it would be a long day, her first mission was to investigate the medicine cabinet. Then it was off to the kitchen to start a pot of coffee. She could hear the faint sounds of Justin and Katie in their rooms, but she decided to wait awhile longer before calling them to breakfast. Her head began to pound painfully as she booted up her computer in the living room. She was determined to catch up on some of her emails before the busyness of the day set in. Hoping there would be an email from Michael, she accessed her messages and waited for the new webpage to load. But when her inbox came up on the screen, there were only two messages from customers and nothing from Michael.
“I’m hungry, Mom.”
Karyn turned from the computer to see that her oldest son, Corey, had come into the room.
“Oh, good morning, Corey,” she said. “There’s no school today, so I was just waiting to start breakfast until you woke up.”
“So can we eat now?” The ten-year-old was always hungry, and it was no surprise to Karyn that he was thinking of food at such an early hour.
“Sure, how about pancakes?”
“Yeah, that sounds good.”
She followed her son into the kitchen and the two set to work mixing up the batter. In a matter of minutes, Karyn called Justin and Katie to the table.
“Yea, pancakes,” Katie cried as she clattered her fork against her plate.
But Justin’s response wasn’t as enthusiastic. He picked up his juice glass and then slammed it down on the table. “Orange juice,” he whined. “I want apple juice.”
“We’re out of apple juice,” Karyn told him as she used a spatula to remove the pancakes from the griddle. “Now sit down and eat your pancakes.”
“No more, Justin,” she reprimanded, coming to the table armed with a wet dishrag. She mopped up the spilled juice and then returned to the griddle.
The rest of the meal passed without incident, but it was far from quiet. Karyn couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like if Michael were with them. Would the kids be less
inclined to misbehave? Would he be making the pancakes while she set out the syrup and poured the juice? She missed those days when they had worked together in the kitchen, and she held out hope that those times would be more than just a distant memory.
While Karyn did the dishes, Justin and Katie colored at the kitchen table. Corey had disappeared to his room, but she wasn’t worried about him. When she finished her work at the sink, she was so impressed by the quiet, she figured she just might be able to sneak away to do some work.
Ten minutes into work on a card design she heard Katie crying. “Mommy, Justin took my crayon.”
“Justin, please give the crayon back to your sister,” Karyn called.
But when Karyn’s verbal intervention only resulted in more tears from Katie, she hurried into the kitchen to remedy the situation. Hoping a change of scenery would eliminate the conflict, she suggested a video. The kids’ eyes lit up, and Karyn made quick work of starting the DVD player.
She returned to her desk once the kids were settled, but now Karyn couldn’t seem to concentrate. “Oh, Michael, why can’t you just come home?” she whispered.
After a hurried lunch of hot dogs and macaroni and cheese, Karyn put Justin and Katie down for their naps. At last it was truly quiet! She actually managed to complete a few orders before the craziness began again. The TV blared in the living room while the boys chased each other around the house yelling something about catching the bad guys. Katie seemed content with her Lego’s on the dining room floor, but when the boys ran through the room, toppling her
towers in their carelessness, she screamed and cried for nearly a half hour. Karyn cradled her in her lap while she tried to finish an email to a customer, but the arrangement was hardly ideal.
An hour later, Karyn gave up on the idea of getting any more work done. She shut down the computer and set aside the stacks of paperwork. She lifted Katie into her arms and carried her into the kitchen. Soon it would be dinner time, and Karyn didn’t have the slightest idea what to make. She glanced out the window, hoping the weather would have cleared enough to order pizza. But one look at the wind-driven swirls of snow, and she knew it wouldn’t be possible. With the boys playing in the living room, Karyn figured she could handle a little cooking endeavor. She would make homemade pizza; the kids would love that.
Karyn preheated the oven and gathered up the necessary ingredients and utensils. She peered into the refrigerator, bending low to examine the contents of the bottom shelves. She found a jar of pizza sauce, and she was just shutting the refrigerator door when Justin came running into the room.
“Mommy! Mommy!” he cried. “Come see!”
He tugged at the bottom of her sweatshirt from behind, momentarily setting her off balance. She lost her hold on the jar of sauce, and it dropped to the floor. The jar shattered, splattering the red sauce everywhere.
Karyn covered her face with her hands and let out a strangled cry. “Please tell me that didn’t happen,” she moaned.
“It happened,” Justin said with a giggle.
“Oh-oh,” Katie said, her big brown eyes wide and her mouth open in disbelief.
“Oh-oh’s right,” Karyn responded. “Katie, why don’t you go play with the boys for awhile? Mommy has a big mess to clean up.”
“Okay,” she said as she hurried away with Justin.
Now that the only jar of pizza sauce in the house was a complete loss, Karyn knew homemade pizza was out of the question. A quick glance through the cupboards told her there were very few options for the evening meal. She sighed. Storm or no storm, she had no choice; she would order pizza after all.
Two hours later, Karyn closed the door to Corey’s room and headed downstairs. The children were all in bed, and the day was now behind them. There were a few chores that demanded her attention but nothing she couldn’t handle. Once the children’s lunches were packed for the next day and the kitchen was tidied, Karyn ventured into the living room. She decided she would check her email before bed. There was still no message from Michael, and she let out an audible sigh.
When had everything become so complicated? How had they allowed their relationship to reach this stage? If only they could find the time to simply communicate. She had always blamed Michael for the distance in their marriage. She was the one who experienced the day-to-day routine and witnessed both the joys and mishaps that came with the kids’ antics. While Michael was away, the children counted on her, and at times it was overwhelming. But Karyn knew she had to take responsibility for her struggling marriage instead of solely putting the blame on Michael. She had to make more of an effort to keep the lines of communication open.
Without another thought, she clicked into a blank email message. She selected Michael’s name from the list of contacts and began to type. It was then that she heard a sound at the door. Thinking it was just the wind, she kept her attention on the unfinished email. But then she heard the sound again. Her heart began to beat rapidly, accelerating with each passing second. What if it was an intruder? She was all alone with the children. How would she be able to defend her home and family?
But before she could conjure up another horrifying scenario, the door creaked open. Karyn’s breath caught in her throat as a figure emerged from behind the door and stepped forward. It only took a moment for her to recognize the supposed intruder, and she couldn’t contain a gasp of surprise.
“Surprise,” he said, pulling an arrangement of store-bought flowers from behind his back. He laughed lightly as he held the bouquet out to her.
“But you’re not supposed to be back for another week,” she exclaimed softly. She couldn’t resist a quick kiss from her husband as she accepted the flowers. “What about the tour?”
“Cancelled,” he said simply, a genuine smile brightening his handsome features.
“What?” Karyn set the flowers on a nearby end table and stared at her husband in disbelief.
“Yeah, cancelled,” he confirmed. “I decided that I missed you and the kids too much and I needed to come home. Besides, attendance at the concerts was lower than expected.”
“Oh, Michael, I’m sorry.”
“It’s all right, Karyn. I’m okay with it.” He opened his arms to her. “Come here.”
Karyn needed no further encouragement, and she let him hold her close for a long moment.
“You look exhausted,” he said as he brushed a stray hair back from her face.
“It was one of those days,” she said with a sigh.
“I’m so sorry, Karyn,” Michael whispered as he drew her closer. “I haven’t been here when you needed me.”
“I’m sorry too,” she said, her head coming to rest on his shoulder.
“For what?” he asked, seeming surprised at her apology.
“For all of the times I have blamed you for things that went wrong… like today,” she said softly. “I just missed you so much, and I wanted to make things right between us. It’s just been so hard. It wasn’t until today that I realized I wasn’t really doing my part.”
“So we both learned something today,” Michael said with a smile.
“About what matters most,” she finished for him. “Us… our family.”
“And that it isn’t always easy,” he continued. “We have to work for it.”
She nodded. “Maybe the next snow day will be different. I might actually accomplish something in the kitchen.”
“Ah, so it was one of those days,” he said with a laugh. He kissed her on the forehead and then took her hand. “So sorry I missed it.”
At first she thought he was teasing, but when she met his gaze, she found that his eyes were filled with a deep earnestness. “I love you, Karyn,” he said. “More than you’ll ever know. I missed you so much.”
“I love you too, Michael. You’re never going away again,” she said, leaning close to him.
“Well, we’ll see about that,” he replied with a grin. “But for now, let’s enjoy what’s left of this snow day. There’ll never be another like it.”
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|Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado
|Beautiful story; very well penned! BRAVA!
(((HUGS))) and much love, your friend in Tx., Karen Lynn. :D
|Reviewed by Charlie
|Beautiful story. Very well written. The morning scene in the bed? Decribed it to a T! --Charlie|