It’s fall, the air is cool in the morning, and some days the edge doesn’t disappear with the afternoon sun. I’ve pulled out some old sweaters I still have with me, musty, ratted, and stretched out of shape. I spend my money on Ella; I splurged on an outfit for her, a cheerful one to show how she is the limelight of my life. I stopped working at the coffee shop, and got a full time position as a psychic telemarketer. I got the gig from my new neighbor, Michelle who works in the field.
Matt left the hospital after Ella was born, and we never heard from him again. After a month of living in South Port, just blocks from him and his wife, I moved out to Millwood. It’s quiet here, less crowded, and while I don’t fully fit in, the question of Ella’s paternity being quite the hot topic, I do have my neighbor Michelle, and Cara, my friend from boot camp. It’s two more friends than I had when I went into boot camp.
Michelle has a semi-serious boyfriend, plus works, but she make an effort to keep her schedule clear enough to grill out or sit on the porch with me. She babysits in the evenings when she can, sometimes her work schedule doesn’t permit it, and sometimes her boyfriend demands more private time together. It’s hard to say if she’ll marry him, or anyone, it’s hard to see her settling down. Which brings me comfort, because I’m far from settling down, in regards to having a husband.
While life is better than it was before, it’s far from easy. Despite Cara and Michelle’s efforts to be good friends, they still have their own roles to fill in their lives, and many times it’s just me and Ella. I take her on walks to the park here in Millwood, she watches the other kids and chipmunks scurry in the tall grass, but she doesn’t slide yet. The other mom’s will smile nervously towards us, or remark how cute Ella is, but never anything more. I worry about their reception of Ella when she’s older, will they let their kids play with her on the slide? Will they let her sleep over in their homes?
But most of the time, I can’t think past this moment of making her stop crying, or when do I need to lay her down for a nap. Or what time I need to wake her from her nap so she will sleep at night. Some days I really want to pass her off on someone else, let someone else change a dirty diaper, or rock her to sleep.
I feel horrible when these thoughts come in my mind. The darker ones, like wishing she wasn’t here, cause I don’t really wish it. Michelle says I’m just wrung out and lonely, and that’s why those thoughts come to mind. I do feel wrung out and lonely, so I grasp to her words to console myself.
Ella, the drama queen, I call her. If she isn’t in my arms, she’s never quite happy. I bought her a little toy to sit in while I prepared myself tv dinners and washed up in the kitchen, but she’s not happy in it. She cries while I cook my food.
By the time I get her calmed down, or laid down for bed, my food has burnt. I don’t know the last time I haven’t burned my dinner, probably before she was born. I’m a lousy cook without her aid though, and at least there’s fire alarms in the unit.
When she does finally sleep, I find myself utterly bored and lonesome. I watch static tv, I arrange the bunny ears on top in vain attempts to get a stronger signal. Sometimes I go on the computer, but I stare mindlessly at the screen. Cara suggested I check out a Mom forum, but whenever I lurk, all I see is drama, or even worse, happy fulfilled lives. I wouldn’t have anything to add to their conversations.
I miss work too frequently to take care of Ella when no one else can watch her, or if she’s sick. My boss is not one to be understanding, I’m a dime a dozen, he tells me often, his fat finger stabbing the air towards me. A dime a dozen. But this job isn’t, it’s hard to find work with a dishonorable discharge, and as much as I hate the man, I need him to keep me around.
So after my third warning in a month, Michelle gets forced to work a late shift, and Cara is out delivering supplies on the helicopter. I have no one else to call, no one but Oscar. We were in boot camp together, and while we had a fling, there wasn’t any emotion involved in it for ether of us. I hate asking him, though he considers us friends. A guy friend is different than a girl friend, and I worry about leaving Ella in his care.
He says he will though, that it’s no problem to watch the little tyke.
He arrives on time, and I realize it’s been months since I’ve seen him. It’s hard to keep up with a single male friend, he’s busy with the bar scene, and the girls. He wrinkles his face in disgust when he comes in, “Geez Annie, your place is trashed.” He picks up some trash off the floor. I should have remembered to pick up. I don’t have to for Michelle, but I do for everyone else. They judge me for it, like I’m a horrible mother if I forget a dirty diaper on the floor. I take a deep breath, and bite my tongue to stop myself from some embarrassing emotional outburst.
Work is horrible, it always is. The software pulls up random and completely vague readings that I have to give to the customer. The customers usually eat it up, incredibly thrilled that the reading was so personal, and right on. They really try to believe in this hogwash, I don’t know why. I imagine they are as lonely, and lost in this big world as I am, still trying to find magic in every day life.
I feel panicked when I get home and can’t find Oscar; I’m relieved to see Ella asleep in her crib, she’s not in her pajamas, but at least she doesn’t smell stinky. When I walk in my room, and see him with a nameless woman, I can’t help but smirk. It’s such an Oscar thing to do, that I yell at myself for even allowing him to watch my daughter.
He runs after me, he can explain. Really though there isn’t anything to explain. It’s not like I even care for him, I told him once that he’s a beautiful man on the outside, but darn dirty on the inside. I just can’t do any more unstable men. So at this moment, when I storm into my kitchen, I’m not mad that he’s with a woman, I’m mad that he’s doing this on my bed spread, that my baby girl is sleeping in the room right next door.
He apologizes. But I know he doesn’t get it. He doesn’t get that it’s not polite to have her naked ass on my bed. It’s not okay. I tell him to go get dressed, and to keep it down so he doesn’t wake Ella up.
I had seen the woman sneak past while we talked, and after Oscar went back into my bedroom, I went after her. My vision was beginning to turn black on the edges, I was furious with myself, but I wanted to take it out on her. This strange woman, who agreed, who said, ok Oscar, let’s do this. She’s a woman, she should know better, and she didn’t. So I chased after her, and yelled at her on my front porch, tore at this nameless woman until she cried.
Then I went back inside, and told Oscar to leave. He apologized again, but it didn’t matter anymore.
Michelle came over to talk, she had heard me shouting and had been concerned. She couldn’t stay for longer than a minute though, her boyfriend was jealously waiting to watch a movie with her. She promised the next day we could chat and hang out, and after a hug, headed out the door. Maybe I was wrong, maybe Michelle is the type to settle down. Maybe I only hoped she wasn’t.
The end of October brings beautifully colored trees, with multicolored leaves of gold, russet, and red. I had decided to stay home with Ella, she couldn’t eat candy yet, and I certaintly didn’t need any in the house. As the sun was beginning to lower and covered the world with a warm glow, there was a knock on the door and a little voice that shouted, “Trick or Treat!”
And I got to show off my little panda bear, Ella. Cara has always been understanding of the hardship of single motherhood, she went through it with Rachael. I’m grateful she is warm and excited over Ella, and can prattle on about how big she’s getting, and how cute she is. It makes me feel proud.
They come in for a little bit to visit before heading to the rest of the houses. When they ask how things are going, I can’t help but be honest. I don’t tell them so, but I’m jealous of Cara’s relationship with Charlie. He treats Rachael as his own daughter, while Ella’s father is perfectly living and well, and has never met her in person. He’s only seen her through the nursery window. But Charlie is always kind towards me, and is the one who found me this place to rent.
After they leave to go knock on other doors, and score more candy, I decide to take Ella out and around the block. I stop off at Myra London’s house right across the street. She goes on about how cute Ella is, as does Abby Creelman, and I feel good.
She had no wants for Matt, and Matt didn’t call her. He usually calls ALL the time, so maybe he just wants to focus on Jessica and Emma. Maybe he finds Annie too complicated for his little affairs. Who knows, but I’m leaving it as it is. He doesn’t technically know his daughter (she doesn’t show up in his relationship panel), and we’ll just see when he does finally know her.
I’m quite happy that it’s summer time, school is out, life is less busy (except for fun things like vacations and picnics, which I can handle).