Eighteen: Super Aunt Beverly

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  "The closest I get to a spa day is when I open the dishwasher and the steam hits my face."



I drink my iced coffee more slowly than I usually do. I spent all my cash taking the girls to a shady gas station for dinner, so I had to give Iris my credit card instead. Consequently, I paid the full $4.50 instead of $3.00 for the iced coffee.

That's part of the reason I'm taking my time. The other part is because Iris is getting ready to close, so I just want to drive her a little crazy to make up for having to pay full price.

I asked Sacha to go over to the house for a few hours. The girls would have a better time with her, anyway.

I just can't seem to get out of the fog that going to Principal Douglas left me with. Even for a cynical person who thinks every day is a bad day...this one tops the charts.

"I know what you're doing, Beverly," Iris grunts, cleaning off my table even though I'm still sitting here.

"What I'm doing is being depressed," I reply.

"Well, you can either be depressed somewhere else or do the dishes to stay."

"I'll be going in a minute," I say.

Iris huffs and goes to leave, but I speak up before she does.

"Hey, Iris?" I sit up, but try to remain nonchalant. "Do you...do you think I could ever actually do a good job with the girls?"

Iris turns and scans me up and down in confusion. "What do you mean?"

I swallow and shrug. "I mean, do you think I could ever do a better job than my parents did? Or is it some sort of...of hereditary thing to royally suck at raising children?"

Iris tosses her cleaning rag onto another table and props a fist on her hip. Her eyes get that motherly sort of look in them, which is something I used to roll my eyes at, but now it's actually comforting.

"Kindness isn't inherited," she says. "It's not something that always comes naturally. It's a choice. But it also means putting yourself second."

Her eyebrow quirks upward and she gives a small shrug. "Which is something you've never really had to do."

"How?" I ask quietly. And to my surprise, I really want to know the answer.

"Practice," she says. "Just like anything."

She leans down and squeezes my shoulder. "You're not their parent, Bev. They'll forget all about your rules or punishments. But if you can give those girls kindness...it's something they'll never forget."

I nod, understanding what she's saying, but feeling like accomplishing it is a million miles away.

Iris grabs her cleaning rag again and points at me. "Now I'm gonna need that table, no exceptions."

I walk home in the dark, feeling like a peak emo, and when I near the house, I make a decision.

I pull out my phone and stare at the screen for a moment, taking a deep breath.

"Here goes nothing," I mutter, pressing the call button.

It rings several times before someone picks up.

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