The intention was to take a quick shower. However, standing under the cascade of warm water, Heather felt unable to move. I’m morphing into the new Calagon woman, she thinks. Take me away. Or at least let me nap. Without Ava knocking on the glass shower door, Heather could stay in here forever. Still, she rinses off the blackberry shower gel and forces herself out. Drying off and getting dressed feel like major chores. Ava had woken up twice during the night. Once for a drink of water, and the second time just to say hello. What Heather would like to do is to crawl back in bed, but what she needs to do is to buy Kaitlin new shoes. Her feet have grown an entire size in less than two months. It’s time to start back-to-school shopping, Heather’s least favorite part of summer.
She walks downstairs. Michael has taken Ava and Dylan to the park. It’s unusually quiet with only one kid in the house. It reminds Heather of her own childhood. As an only child, she spent most of her time reading. Kaitlin sits at the breakfast table behind Michael’s laptop.
“We’ll try Footlocker first,” Heather says. “They’re having a sale.”
Kaitlin nods, blue eyes glued to the monitor.
Heather fixes coffee. The aroma helps her wake up. She pours the steaming liquid into a mug and adds sweetener.
“Do you want a bowl of cereal?” Heather asks.
Kaitlin shakes her head.
“What’s keeping you so quiet over there,” she asks her normally active, talkative 6 year-old daughter.
“I found the best new website,” Kaitlin says.
“Better than Moshi Monsters?” Heather asks, taking a sip of coffee. Delicious, she thinks. The warmth travels throughout her body. She feels ready to face the mall.
Kaitlin nods, eyes still glues to the screen. “Even better than Club Penguin,” she says.
“What is it?” Heather asks, peeling a banana and taking a bite.
“It’s The Amazon,” Kaitlin says.
“Like a jungle adventure game?” Heather says, swallows and then takes another sip of hot coffee.
Kaitlin shakes her head, eyes still intently focused on the computer. “You hit this button called the “one-click” and they send all these toys to your house for free in two days!”
Heather spits out her coffee all over the kitchen counter. “Are you kidding?” she says, in a high-pitched voice that she barely recognizes as her own.
“I even ordered stuff for Ava and Dylan to try too,” Kaitlin says. “You know those big plastic kitchens that they had in my preschool? Well, I ordered two for Ava. Aren’t I nice?”
Heather stands speechless, eyes bulging, head throbbing. “Kaitlin Ann!” she hollers. “These things aren’t free. We pay for them.”
Kaitlin looks up from behind the screen. “No mommy, I just hit the one click, I swear! I didn’t give them any money or anything!”
“How many times did you do this?” Heather asks and sets down the coffee mug so that she doesn’t drop it onto the floor.
“Maybe 20 or 30?” Kaitlin says, her eyes filling with tears. “I was just trying better to be a good sister. I even got Dylan a new bike.”
I shouldn’t have taken such a long shower, Heather thinks. She imagines piles of boxes from Amazon arriving at her doorstep in two days. She sits at the kitchen counter and rests her head in her hand.
“Are you mad at me?” Kaitlin asks.
“No,” Heather says, honestly. “I’m mad at myself.”
“Good,” Kaitlin says. “Because I ordered you some surprises too. Makeup stuff and those paper towels you get at Ralphs. I think you’ll feel lots better when they get here.”
I doubt it, Heather thinks and stares out the window. Take me away.