I haven't gone to work for a while. Since they can't get ahold of me, because I've been ignoring their calls, I have a received an official-looking letter in the mail notifying me that I have been terminated. I don't know what else I really expected. I can tell you one thing though: I'm nervous about telling Scott. He has probably noticed by now that I'm never at work anymore, and honestly it's because I love his stupid daughter so much that I'd rather be watching her and picking her up from school and helping her with math homework while Scott is trying to restart his bakery from where he left off.
Lindsey has been back in school for a week and a half now and keeps complaining about all the sympathy she's getting and how people keep treating her different since her dad died. I tried to explain why they're doing that, but she doesn't want to hear it. It's nearing her Thanksgiving break anyway. I figure after that, she won't have to deal with it anymore. It'll be forgotten.
I bring her home and we wait for Scott together, discussing what dinner should be. We decide that making personal pizzas would be super fun, and they'd taste better than all the frozen pizzas we've been having lately. We go to the nearest store, which is incredibly close, and buy dough, sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni, and a lot of vegetables because if I know anything about kids- which I don't- it's that they're supposed to eat healthy or something like that. A lot of greens.
I don't know exactly how Scott likes his pizza, but Lindsey knows him pretty well, so we half-guess while creating his. He'd told me that he'd be home at six (and when he said it he had this certain twinkle in his eye which made me kind of hope that he meant he couldn't wait to come home at six. And also the fact he called it home!!!) So I place the pizza in the oven around 5:45 and help Lindsey set the table.
"Why doesn't Daddy stay until eight anymore?"
The question startles me because we haven't talked since we began gathering plates, but I readily answer it.
"He cut down his hours to ease himself back in."
"It's almost been a month," she counters, neatly placing the forks around the small table.
"He misses your father very much," I say, somewhere within me hoping that that's a lie.
She sighs and nods, and I'm glad Scott walks in because whenever Christian comes up in conversation I feel uncomfortable.
"Hey!" He greets and invites Lindsey into a hug. "Something smells good."
"We made you pizza!"
"All for me?" He jokes with her.
She giggles and shakes her head. Scott looks up at me, where I'm leaning against the counter, smiling idiotically. The timer beeps, so I check the pizzas. Scott comes over and peers in. "Looks done to me."
I slip on an oven mitt and take it out, allowing them to cool.
"This one's yours." I point. "I hope you like green pepper."
He examines it closely. "It looks delicious."
Lindsey offers to cut all our pizzas, so I set them on the table and hesitantly hand over the pizza cutter, watching carefully. Scott pats my arm, tells me she'll be okay, and asks if we can talk later. My heart jumps. Could it be something about us? Or does he know I no longer have a job? We haven't really talked about how I'm always home nowadays.
I've loved the late night talks that we've had recently and how the light has come back into his eyes when he speaks about what he's passionate about. Especially pastries. How could he ever have married someone who hates sweet stuff?
Would it be one of those talks? Where we tuck Lindsey in and then we pop in a movie on such a low volume that we have to strain to hear it just so she won't wake up? Then we end up talking over it about life instead?
I nod mutely for an answer, and he smiles, going back over to the fridge to grab drinks.
"Let me guess," I say, no longer watching. "You're grabbing a Pepsi for yourself, milk for Lindsey, and water for me."
There's a stunned pause as he walks over with those exact three things in his hands. I take my water from him with a satisfied smirk and sit in my place. He watches me slide the pizza onto my plate.
"Well dig in," I say, smirk still present as I take my first bite.
"What about saying grace?" questions Lindsey, and my face turns a bright shade of red as I quickly swallow and croak, "Oh, yeah."
Scott is (badly) holding back his laughter. "It's okay, Linds, we don't have to say it tonight."
"But we always had to say it at home." Her voice is starting to whine and it's annoying.
"Then go on, say it," and it may have come out as a snap because I'm quite hungry and embarrassed and the love of my life is sitting across the table from me, noting every mistake.
Lindsey is glad to get her way, grabs my hand with her clammy one, and begins to mumble her thankfulness to God. The only good thing that comes out of saying grace for me each night is getting to briefly hold Scott's hand. Even if it's only for a moment, it gives me chills.
After we're permitted to eat, we devour our food, and I kind of rush the night along so I can have the chance to talk to Scott. Once Lindsey is safely in bed after homework and bathing, I (casually) invite Scott over to the couch and say, "Oh, isn't there something you wanted to talk to me about?"
His face suddenly turns stern and solemn and all the things it could've in order to make me nervous. He shifts, but I don't know if it's because he's uncomfortable with the couch or the situation. His mouth opens a few times with no words coming out, so he finally says, "I'm just going to say it." Which is good because my stomach is doing somersaults.
"Okay," I reply tenderly.
"I think it's time for Lindsey and I to move out."
That hits me like a god forsaken whirlwind. Out of all the things I expected him to say, about my job or the bakery or Christian, that was not it. I sputter something gibberish-y.
"I'm sorry, Mitch, but we've burdened you enough. This was only supposed to be a week or two and it's already been over three. Lindsey and I can rent our own place with the money I have in my savings account."
How can I possibly tell him he hasn't been a burden on me whatsoever, that I love taking care of Lindsey, when my mouth won't even work?
"I also think it just needs to be me and Lindsey right now, to bond now that Christian's gone. Not that you're getting in the way but..." He sighs, an informal end to his uncompleted sentence. "She's my daughter, and we can't live here forever, so I need to be able to figure out how I can balance a job and her school."
Finally I find my voice. "I don't mind picking her up every day." He had smiled earlier when I told him I could talk with him tonight, but this is pretty much the most deflated I've ever felt. Why would he smile at the thought of this conversation? I bet it was a grin, a big, fat stupid grin, yeah. I am fully aware I'm contorting the image, but it fuels my rage.
He smiles sympathetically and I grimace.
"And," I continue, starting to let anger show. "A lot of people, when they lose someone like you have, like to have company all the time. I provide that."
"Well obviously you haven't lost anyone then, because that's not true. I'd rather be completely alone right now."
And he even says it in this super kind way, but it's like a knife in my heart. "Excuse me?"
"I said I think I just need some alone time right now."
"No, before that. Did you say that I obviously haven't lost anybody?"
He nods, almost weirdly proud, and now my brain is racing. My cheeks are getting red, I can feel them. "You have no fucking idea."
He looks alarmed. I don't know where that came from, but my body is getting so furious that I could say even more, but I know, somewhere in my rational mind, I shouldn't. So I stand up and walk to the door, fully aware of how dramatic I'm being. Scott stands in the living room looking bewildered as I throw him one last glance and slam the door behind me.
He doesn't know, he couldn't possibly know, but I lost my mother to cancer when I was fourteen.