Baths were given. She read Maddie her favorite bedtime story, and turned on Tyler’s musical dancing lights. She showered, and then put on her pajamas.
Then she stopped. She stood in front of the mirror hanging on the back of her closet door, and she stared at herself. Next to Gabriela, she looked like a man. It had been six months since Tyler was born. She hadn’t lost the baby weight, yet, and it showed in her round hips and belly. She hadn’t done anything to her hair. She cut it and wore it in a pony-tail most of the time. She never wore make-up, and she couldn’t remember the last time she’d been to a spa for anything. Who had the time? She was a full-time mom—cook, maid, chauffeur, butler, teacher, and nurse.
Tugging at her stained blue flannel pajamas with little yellow ducks, she wondered if any man would think they were sexy. They were a gift Luke and Maddie had bought her for Mother’s Day, and they were comfy. Hurriedly, she tore them off, and searched through her dresser for something silky and more grown up. The only thing she could find was a black full slip she would normally wear to church under one of her dresses.
Rumer assessed herself again, and thought much better. The black slip had thicker bra-like straps, but the silky fabric flowed softly over her breasts and hips. It had a little split on the right side, and a little strip of lace encircled the hem. She sprayed a little cucumber melon body spray on her skin; turned the radio on to one of her favorite jazz stations, and lit some vanilla scented candles. Then she focused on the bed. Snatching at the covers, she searched through the linen closet for the black satin sheets that she knew were there somewhere.
They’d never used them.
She waited in bed propped up by black satin covered pillows, and waited for her husband to come home.
At 11:30 P.M., she heard the chime of the alarm system. Luke walked down the hall to Maddie’s room, then to Tyler’s, and finally he came to their room. She couldn’t hear his footsteps, but she knew his routine. The same thing every night.
Rumer sprang from bed, and bounced into her husband’s arms. She wrapped her arms around his neck, and attempted to kiss him.
He kissed her on the cheek before pushing her away. “I’m tired. I had a long day at work and then I had to drop by the church, too. I really want to go to sleep.”
She retreated at his rejection. Pulling at the bottom of her slip, she tried to stretch it to cover the rest of her body, but it wouldn’t budge. The lace at the bottom ripped. She grabbed her fluffy robe from the walk-in closet, and stood there in the closet doorway, watching as Luke undressed to his boxers, prayed, and then climbed into bed and covered himself with the covers.
He buried his face in the pillows, and conceded an unintelligible, “Good night.”
“Good night.” Rumer left the room, and padded barefoot down the carpeted hallway to the laundry room. Instantly, the overpowering smell of detergent and fabric softener flooded her senses. The chill of the tiled laundry room floor cooled her feet. She reached into the wooden cabinet behind the laundry detergent, and removed the letters Gabriela had given her. Leaning against the dryer with the pages crushed to her heart, she sobbed.
Rumer cried until she had no more tears to shed.
She checked on her son, and then walked into her daughter’s room where she curled up next to her on her tiny twin bed and prayed, “Give me the strength.”
She closed her eyes, and drifted off to sleep. Maybe it was all a dream.