Before her eyes had even opened that morning she thought of him. Maybe he had been a part of a dream. A small fragment she clung tightly to. Perhaps it was simply an echo of a thought that lingered in her subconscious. Regardless, the shrill of the alarm clock viciously tore the thought from her mind.
Staggering out to the coffee pot Audrina was taken aback that it was not sitting there ready to be poured. She knew she had set it the night before. Someone had fidgeted with the settings over night and the clock was now hours off. Great, she thought, as she clicked the on button and flopped into a dining room chair to wait on the coffee to brew.
With thoughts of him still teasing the back of her mind she logged onto social media rather than getting to work on the novel that her publisher was expecting soon. Unable to refrain from looking, her eyes tore to his name sitting there innocently in the chat box. Six hours. That’s how long ago he had been logged on. The same time difference as yesterday and the day before, and the day before that. A small twinge of curiosity drifted through her mind as she wondered who it was that he stayed up until midnight every night talking to. It was no longer her business though. It hadn’t been her business for over a decade.
Completely distracted from typing a single word of her writing Audrina spent the morning talking nonsense with her sister rather than working. Finding any distraction that took her mind off of him and that today was Friday. Audrina had mixed feelings about Fridays. They were still as wonderful a day as society tried to tell her. The kids last day of school for the week. No alarm clocks the next day. No demanding bed time routines on strict schedules. No homework. Just laid back fun time with her family. Fridays though were also the day that he went home. Home to her. It was no longer her business though… it still burned like salt on a deep wound.
In only a few moments an hour had passed and she slammed her laptop closed and went to wake Riley and Raye for school. They quietly dressed, brushed their teeth, slipped their coats on and were out the door, not an ounce of Audrina’s faked enthusiasm about it being Friday rubbing off on them.
“Can I go to Charlie’s after school mom?” Riley asked in a slightly high pitched questioning tone.
“I don’t know, well probably,” Audrina answered, not ready to take on thoughts of after school so early in the morning.
Just then the bus pulled up and with a wave her children were gone for the day.
Aaron slept in for hours that morning. Though he said he was awake the whole time and simply laying under the covers to keep warm, Audrina had heard his snoring the entire time. She didn’t mind though, the next day was Saturday, her day to sleep in.
As the sun rose, warming their home with its soft orange glow, thoughts of him drifted in and out of Audrina’s mind as she set to the chores of the day. She cleaned and scrubbed. Swept and vacuumed. Not knowing what got into her she cleaned like she hadn’t cleaned in weeks. Anything to stay busy. Anything to not think about him.
Finally all that could be done was done and she kicked back on her bedroom floor, laptop in hand and began typing. Words came as they had been lately, like leaves falling on a cold November day. Rain on a tin roof. Horse hoofs in a stampede.
“Hey babe, I need you to do this one quest you always do,” Aaron walked in the room tearing Audrina from her writing.
“There’s a quest I do for you?” she asked, a trickle of humor tickling her sentence. Aaron was always the one that did the quests on the computer game she sometimes played with him.
“Yeah, this part, come on I’ll show you,” he motioned for Audrina to follow him.
As soon as she saw his computer screen she instantly remembered the quest he was referring to. She had done this same part of this same quest a hundred times over the years. It was a simple task, just requiring a little bit of creative math and critical thinking. Within a few minutes she had it done.
Pulled from her writing so abruptly, Audrina set it aside and went on to complete some house hold projects that had been nagging the back of her mind. Using a magic eraser to scrub off the pen Landis had scribbled all over the wall. Sorting through the toy box discarding all the broken toys.
Aaron left with his mom to run some errands. Audrina cleaned some more and typed while the children played.
“Hello?” Audrina answered the ringing telephone, “Hello?”
“Hey hun,” her mom answered, “I have a question for you.”
“Yeah, what’s up?” Audrina asked, partially curious.
“What do you think about the girls coming and staying the night with me?” her mom went on.
Uh, Audrina thought as she said, “well, I don’t know if they will, I guess I’ll ask.”
“We’ll have tons of fun” her mom replied detailing all the adventurous crafts she had planned for the two young girls.
Audrina couldn’t say no. It was her mom. Even if it wasn’t her mom, Audrina never knew how to say no. The girls would never want to go though. To stay away from home. Without her. They’d never agree. All she could do though was tell her mom that she’d ask, certain the girls wouldn’t want to go.
Within a few hours there was a knock at the door. There stood Audrina’s mom ready to find out if the girls were staying the night with her or not.
“Hey, Marie, do you want to go to sleep at Grandma’s house tonight with Raye?” Audrina asked her three year old grand daughter.
“Yeah!” she excitingly replied, much to Audrina’s surprise.
Raye would be home shortly and Audrina knew she would be the one certain to say no, changing Marie’s mind. There was no way that Raye would go an entire night without Audrina. She needed her. She was her mommy.
“Mommmy, mommmmy, mommmmmy,” Raye shrieked as she leaped off the bus running towards Audrina.
“Hey Raye, how was your day?” Audrina asked, smiling at her daughters enthusiasm to see her.
“Great. I didn’t cry all day Momma. And look what I got today,” she said, pulling a stuffed bear out of her backpack.
“Wow. That’s super cool baby,”Audrina replied,” Hey, do you want to go stay the night at Grandma’s house with Marie?”
“Yeah!” Raye replied as exuberantly as Marie had.
Left without any other choice Audrina packed them each a bag, buckled car seats into her mom’s car, and kissed the girls good bye for the night. Waving and blowing kisses until they were so far down the road they could no longer be seen.
Barely a moment to process the overwhelming emotions she felt as she waved good bye to her baby. Her youngest child. Her little girl. Riley was already packed and ready to go to his friends for the night. After driving him to his friends and wishing him a fun night, Audrina got back home and walked into an eerily empty house.
“Welp it’s just us now kiddo,” she said to a smiling Landis.
“Sissy and Raye buh-bye?” he looked up at her with expectant eyes.
“Yeah, they are staying at Grandma’s tonight,” Audrina replied.
“Ruh-ley buh-bye?” he asked.
“Yuppers, he went to stay at a friends house,” Audrina said,”you’ve got Grandma and Grandpa all to yourself tonight bud.”
Landis smiled and ran off to push his big metal truck across the dining room floor. Audrina looked over at Aaron playing his computer game and sighed. What was she to do now, she thought.
She spent the rest of the evening bouncing between cleaning what ever else she could find in the house to clean, watching television, cooking dinner, and thoughts of him.
Finally relaxing in her bedroom she logged back onto social media to talk to her sister. There sat his name in the chat box. Beckoning to her to type. To tell him. To demand he answer the age old why. His message box stood there. Tantalizing her. Tormenting her. Taunting her. Until she could no longer bury the pain.