Kaye missed her children. Kaye missed Sophie’s words, happy laughs, and the eagerness she showed when she woke up for her nap and went searching for her brothers. Kay missed her husband. No, Jacob still came home every night, but the poor man was stretched thin between taking care of her, bringing the kids to visit, and shuttling everyone back and forth. She noticed the children’s behavior was going downhill faster than anything she could have foreseen, and when notes started coming home stating that Trent wasn’t doing well in his schoolwork, she was ready to scream. It was time for the foot to heal.
Jacob, however, was determined that the last surgery would. be. the. last. With that goal in mind, he woke up early, got dressed, assembled everything she might need during the day, and then raced to get Sophie so she could ride with him while he drove the boys to school. He hurried back to her mother’s house to drop off the little girl and raced to work. During his lunch break, he did any shopping that could be done without spoilage, and left early to pick up the boys and take them home. Back to work to make up time, he counted the minutes until he could go get everyone, stop at the store, and then go home for a couple of hours before he took the children back to their respective parents’ homes.
“Why not just let them sleep here?” she’d wailed, but Jacob was adamant.
“I need every ounce of sleep. I can’t worry about if Sophie wakes up, getting the boys fed, or you trying to help. If they’re not here, you rest. It’s that simple.”
And that was how Kaye found herself sitting in her bed, her backside numb and her ankle aching and itching, while she tried to scrapbook pages that were not pre-planned and about things that she’d missed. The idea of missing Trent’s latest tooth loss, Sophie’s molar eruptions, and Miles’ championship game made her sick. The stickers mocked her. She didn’t like them. Every time she reached for a sticker, she shoved it back in the box of stickers that Jacob added to every few days.
Her crutches tempted her. The doctor did say that hobbling around on them a little bit per day was a good idea, but Jacob insisted she wait until he was at home. He was right, and she knew it. However, her leg was now growing numb and achy as she sat there. She didn’t WANT to sleep, rest, or in any other way subsist in a prone position. Throwing caution to the wind, she grabbed the crutches and slipped off the bed.
“That feels good,” she sighed to herself as she just hung her arms over the crutches and allowed the blood to flow properly to her toes.
Back and forth she hobbled around the room. Despite her desire to get a change of scenery, falling away from the bed was probably a dangerous idea. She only had one more week before they’d give her a walking cast. Just one week. She couldn’t wait.
Her cell phone dinged to announce a text message. Without looking she knew what it was– admonition to take her antibiotic and her pain pills. Jacob had agreed to cutting off the narcotics that weekend when he was home to help if it became too painful.
The sight of the bed frustrated her. The sheets were filthy, not changed for three weeks, and littered with paper scraps. She stared at the idea book and then her page in progress and frowned. Following someone else’s ideas wasn’t working. She didn’t like the page. She’d keep it, but Kaye realized her restlessness for what it was now– boredom. Copying someone else’s work didn’t grab her. A sinking feeling hit her. She’d been scrapping everything she could to use up all the supplies Jacob had purchased, and in doing so, she wasn’t enjoying the hobby that she had once thought she’d love.
Frustrated, she leaned the knee on her injured leg on the bed and began gathering up her pages, sliding them into a “keeper.” She’d finish them someday when she had the inclination.
Eagerly, she tossed the crutches aside and grabbed a particularly charming picture of Trent. Working on a Lego creation, the utter concentration on his face made for a particularly charming profile. She pulled out every neutral or masculine embellishment that she could find and began arranging them on the page in one large layered image. It took many tries, taking some down and adding in others, but eventually she found a combination of elements and picture that she found aesthetically pleasing.
Try as she might, Kaye couldn’t get the pieces down before they started to slip out of the order she’d layered them. It frustrated and irritated her until her phone buzzed again. Jacob’s text. She hadn’t let him know she got it. Before replying, she snapped a picture of the layout, took a few pieces out, and took another picture. Then, she typed a swift text back, assuring him she was all drugged up and safe for another eight hours. She grabbed her bottles, shook out the right pills, swallowed them, and then hit “send” on her text.
Even with her pictures, it took her a little while to get her pieces laid down exactly how she had them originally, but the result was perfect. Invigorated by her success, Kaye began an entirely new way of laying out pages. It had a double benefit– pages she loved and a way to use up some elements she might otherwise have discarded.
“This is gonna work.”
The dream haunted her. All the clutter in the basement joined ranks and formed a union. They would fight for their right to exist. Armed with frozen hams, they marched up the stairs and confronted her in her bedroom with an ultimatum. Allow them to go back into their original “homes” or they’d fire the hams at her, catapult style. She begged, pleaded, and even resorted to bribery, promising that she’d rotate the clutter in and out of the house on a precise schedule.
Her screams jerked Jacob out of sleep just as the first ham was a mere centimeters away from her forehead. “Wha–what?”
Shaking, she glared at him. “I want it all out of here. Tomorrow. I don’t care about the sale. I don’t care about any of it. I just want it gone. Maybe an estate sale type person might buy it all for a hundred bucks.”
“What are you talking about?”
“The clutter. It’s haunting me in my sleep now. I just narrowly escaped a crushed cranium.”
“A dream? You want to change everything because of a dream?”
Her glare intensified. “I am not responsible for my reactions to another dream like that.”
Frustrated, she rolled over, trying to eradicate the memory of a menacing waffle iron snapping at her like chattering joke teeth. The rows of books with angrily fluttering pages and the outgrown clothing tying themselves int a long rope with which to strangle her kept her heart racing at speeds it hadn’t endured in ages.
She kicked him, hissing, “Jacob!”
“Lock the bedroom door.”
“Just do it or I’ll kick you with my other foot.”
Grumbling, he threw back the covers and shuffled across the room. Just as he reached the bed again, she added, “Oh, get the bat.”
“The one behind the closet door. I want it.”
“I’m not going to let that waffle iron get close enough.”
His bedside lamp snapped on. “What is wrong with you?”
“Nothing, now get me that bat.”
“Yes, your highness.”
“Please,” she muttered.
When he returned with the bat, Kaye laid it beside her under the covers. “What are you doing with that bat in bed?”
“If I leave it out, they’ll see. Just turn out that light, and let’s try to sleep.”
Jacob didn’t listen. Instead, he leaned over her and reached inside her bedside table drawer for the information on her medications. Sure enough, a side effect of her narcotic was hallucinations. “How many of these did you have today?”
“Two. I skipped the one in the morning. I’m not insane. Just go to sleep. I’ll deal with the junk. It’s not going to beat me.”
“I think it already has,” he muttered as he shoved the paperwork back in the drawer, turned out his light, and rolled over, praying that her dreams would not turn him into a waffle.