narrated by: Annie
Sometimes I think that might be easier, if she’d do just that.
I have been working third shift since Ella was a baby, and Cesar would come by in the evenings to help out with the kids. He didn’t seem to undestand that working third shift meant that I wasn’t sleeping at night with everyone else. So while yes, I was home during the day, I had to sleep somewhere in there.
It caused endless fighting and strife between us, and a piece of me thought that if the twins were taken away, then I wouldn’t have to hear from him anymore. It was selfish, I could recognize that, but he was making life more miserable then it had to be.
Then suddenly in early September, I was given a promotion. My boss has always liked me, once I’d gotten my own car a few years ago anyway, and stopped showing up late. Instead of making up phoney predictions for people’s futures, I was going be working first shift, and working on this Conspiracy magazine.
There isn’t one thing I like about this job, except when I got this “rogue” botanist to spill the beans on some crap I couldn’t follow. It gave my paycheck a nice bonus, which was sorely needed.
But all it means is that now I’m home at night. I have to get on Ella about her grades, which are near failing, yet again. I wish Mrs. Miriam would just understand that me and Ella aren’t the brainy type, and just let it go.
I now have to bring work home with me, and write these articles. I’m not a writer, so this is practically punishment. I consider quitting, but there isn’t anywhere else to go.
With the surprise visit from Kenzie looming in the future, Cesar and his parents started crossing lines. Maria insisted on taking me to this cheerful boutique, Mini Sprout to get the twins all the things babies need and a million more that they don’t. The place was awful.
Maria was enjoying herself talking to the owner who had three sons of her own. They were swapping stories about their sons, and the mischief they can get into. I couldn’t be less interested, I’d rather be anywhere else then here in sunshine land.
Finally Maria decided on two swings for Marisol and Manuel. I tried telling her that in four months they will be too big for them, and thus, are a waste of money. She didn’t listen to me though, of course.
There just isn’t an end in sight, Ella cries regularly, and she’s not a baby. The babies cry all the time, I can’t keep one of them happy for even an hour.
Now that I’m home at night, Cesar has been leaving the dealership to poke around here during the day. We’ve had a roach problem for about as long as we’ve lived here, and Cesar decided he couldn’t take it anymore.
As much as he bitches at me about not caring or picking up, he was supposed to repair the shower head months ago, but it wasn’t until the leaves started to turn that he got his ass up there to do just that.
He’s such a hypocrite. He does one thing and I should be grateful forever, but nothing I do is ever enough for him.
He had his parents, Juan and Maria come to help clean the house as well, which was beyond rude. I’d think that they’d want me to fail so they could sweep Manuel and Marisol up for themselves.
Juan talks to the twins with this soft voice, that reminds me of the grandpas on television shows. My own Dad wouldn’t even try to pretend and care about my kids, and it’s because of this that I have a soft spot for Juan.
It felt like everything was building up, with Cesar and me at each other’s throats, and his parents cleaning my dishes and mopping my floors, nothing was mine, there was no refuge from people and their high standards. So when a letter came addressed from a lawyer named Cole London, I knew it was in regards to Matt before I’d opened it.
I’d heard through rumors that he’d gotten divorced, Jessica finally left his cheating ass. The fear that he would suddenly pop up on my front step had been in the back of my mind since summer began. But as the months passed, and he hadn’t, it began to fade into this hesitant relief. This letter though, it was worse than an impromptu visit from Matt, if he’d just showed up I could have called the police, shouted at him, and demanded he leave. If Cesar had been here, he might have even helped. But this letter was professional, it was from the courts, and no amount of screaming I did could make it go away.
I waited until the following day after Ella got off the bus to tell her about her real Dad.
I explained that her real Dad wanted to spend time with her, and get to know her.
I hated to explain who her Dad was, but there was no other way out of it now, so I explained that her Dad was Jett and Flint’s Dad from school. She knew of the fourth grade boys, and that was when she seemed to click pieces together, that their Dad just got divorced, and that meant we were seeing each other while he was married.
Everyone was going to know, she was afraid of it, and I couldn’t see how they wouldn’t. If Matt won for partial custody or visitation rights, then she would be spending time with her half-brothers, and it would get spread around school.
She fell back on the sofa, and in a pained whisper, asked if she was the cause of the divorce. I assured her she wasn’t, but I’m not privy to the details leading up to it all, for all I know, Jessica did find out about Ella and that was the final straw.
There wasn’t anything I could do to make her feel better. When the doorbell rang and it was the neighbor boy Emory to play, I was glad when she wanted to go out. Staring at her heartbroken face was difficult to watch.
It happened that after she went out, my old army friend Oscar called. We haven’t really spoken since Ella was about the same age as Marisol and Manny now, and when he asked for my address to stop by while he was in town, I didn’t hesitate.
We used to screw, he could have been Ella’s dad, sometimes I wish he were. Not that he’d be a stellar Dad, but maybe he would be, but mostly because he’s never in town, always traveling with the army, and he’s not married. It felt like that was the part that had hurt Ella most, she couldn’t know the words out of wedlock or bastard child yet, she was in first grade for pity sake, but her response had felt like she had. Or she at least knew it wasn’t good.
Oscar’s still doing the single scene, couldn’t believe I’d gotten myself a house and knocked up with twins. He’s always been a straight shooter, bitching me out if my house was a mess, but screwing cheap blondes in my bed while watching my infant daughter.
He starts railing in on why I haven’t gotten myself married, and started to really lead this straight arrow life. He pissed me off, he wouldn’t know if he had a kid out there somewhere, he doesn’t stick around long nor share his business card with his one night stands.
He’d always been good in bed though, and somehow in our arguing and catching up, I found us sneaking up to the attic to fool around. He didn’t last long, and we only stayed there for a moment, before we had to get back downstairs. I’d left Ella out front with Emory, and she couldn’t find me up here.
She came in momentarily after we’d resumed our sofa places.
Apparently she had told Emory about her real Dad wanting to spend time with her, and he’d made fun of her over it.
Ella can be meek, but she has a temper like me when provoked, and I guess she really laid it into him. She even shoved him, and he had ran home crying. I’m sure Janelle will give me a call later to chew me out over my daughter, but secretly I’m proud of her. Like hell if I want my daughter to be walked over by boys or told she’s not good enough.
After Cesar left, that was when I decided I had to work hard to keep the kids. I knew that Marisol and Manny would be raised well by Cesar and his parents, but the mere thought of Ella being raised by Matt made me sick. He wouldn’t build her to be a strong, independent woman. I could imagine him raising a floozy, with no esteem, as he womanized ladies in the next room. He made me sick.
I only had to make it through September, then Kenzie would come, give me a clean vote of confidence, and be on her way.
I told Cesar about Matt, and my desire to make this social visit go flawlessly, and he eased up. We stopped fighting and shouting about everything under the sun.
I tried to be patient when Ella would get upset about Marisol not liking her, explaining that she was a baby and sometimes they react in unexplainable ways. Ella was still hurt though.
Marisol was my hardest, she wasn’t as awful as Ella, but it’s rare to find Marisol in a peaceful mood. When it happens though, I feel touched to be there, to get to see her content, like maybe I did something just right and she liked it.
Me and Cesar started hooking up again, and it was a nice, familiar place to be. I remembered when he’d first met Ella, and came with that disturbing teddy bear in a jogging suit, and I felt a softness for him that I hadn’t in a long time.
Things were just complicated, all the time. There was no simple, boy meets girl, and happily ever afters, it was this spiderweb of people all connected, and fighting for their right to stake a claim. Matt trying to claim Ella, what right did he have? I’d tried to include him, invited him to the hospital to see her, and he’d just remarked on my fatness, and walked out of that hospital without a glance back. But now, after six years, he suddenly wants to be her Dad.
He makes me sick.
When Kenzie came at the end of the month, everything was in order. The shower head had broken yet again, but Cesar was on top of it.
I could tell it was going well, while Ella was not doing well in school, we’d been able to get her to a C-, and that was acceptable.
I hoped that there was good news about Matt, that somehow his lack of involvement for the past six years might mean something. But Kenzie didn’t think it would. She admitted that she was glad I’d gotten myself in order, because she’d hate to send Ella to live with Matt, but she didn’t think I could avoid the visitations.
Her advice was to get myself lawyered up. Even though we both know that I can’t afford that, there just isn’t anyway I could afford a lawyer for a custody battle. She told me that I’d have to do it, if I didn’t want to get creamed in the courts, or lose Ella entirely. She’s certain that these recent events with her and the previous assessment would be thrown in my face, and without someone with skill to defend me, I’d look like the worst mother in the world.
It’s with Ella in mind that I get Maria and Juan to come by and watch the kids, and go out with Cesar. I may only have two hundred dollars in my account, but I know someone who has a significant amount more.
And with a smile thrown in here or there, I might be able to get a piece of it to pay for a lawyer.
And that was the least I could do for Ella, to save her from her low-life father. I grew up with one, like hell would I just hand my daughter over to another.
Notes: Annie lives like a pig.
And there was a part of me during the playing of this household, that I thought it might be better for all these kids to get a new family. But that hasn’t happened, yet anyway. Kenzie will still do another visit, which will probably pop up with the custody battle for Ella.
Cesar and Annie are not each other’s ones, and have really fallen out of love with each other. However, Annie is motivated to keep Ella safe from Matt, as she’s quite motivated against deadbeat fathers. So in the best interest of Ella, she wouldn’t be opposed to using someone, and perhaps, her and Cesar will fall back in love with one another. I’m not certain how this will all pan out, I have 0 plans, just riding it out.
Thanks for reading!!