“Mommyca” Elle’s voice sounded frantic. Gerard jumped up from the computer desk and went to her.
“Hey Little Bug. Did you have a good nap?” He kneeled down by the sofa and gently stroked her head.
Elle looked around for a minute until she remembered that she was at Mommyca’s house. She nodded to him slowly.
“Me’s hungry.” She sat up and blinked at him.
He smiled, “Well it’s not dinner time yet. Monica went to the store and pretty soon Kelly’s gonna come home from school.
“Kewee comin” Elle said happily.
“Yep, she’ll be here soon. Let’s go in the kitchen and see if we can find you a snack.” He took her hand.
Elle settled herself in a kitchen chair while Gee looked in the fridge. “Uh, what does Monica give you for a snack?”
“Candy” Elle replied gleefully.
Gerard closed the refrigerator door, his eyes narrowed. “She gives you candy?”
Elle didn’t answer she only nodded.
“Ok I’m new to this but I’m not falling for that one. What does she really give you for a snack?”
“No candy?” Elle looked downright downtrodden.
Gerard spotted bananas on the counter. He asked if she would like one. Her answer was priceless. “Otays Gee. Me’s eat a nanna but candys what me’s wants.”
“Well Little Bug we can’t always get what we want.” He partly unpeeled the banana and handed it to her. “Mommy says that.” Elle said before taking a bite.
Gerard was momentarily stunned. He realized he hadn’t thought about Liv all day and it surprised him. He sat down at the table. “I know your mommy.” He watched to see Elle expression.
“Mommy gots picture of you.” She continued to eat her banana. “Me’s wip huts.”
“I’m sorry, baby.” He sat back and watched her. So Liv had showed her a picture of him. What had she told Elle?
Elle finished her banana. “All don.”
He laughed, “Yep, all gone.”
“Me’s pway witf Fwank?”
“Sure, he’s in the backyard.” They got up from the table and went out onto the deck. Elle laughed as Frank danced happily around her feet. The sound of her pure laughter caused his heart to catch. It wasn’t something he had heard often from Liv so it was a sound he remembered. Now there it was in her daughter. Beautiful, clear, pure, laughter.
. Gerard and Elle were sitting at the kitchen when Monica walked in carrying the groceries. She sat the bag and her cell phone down on the counter then walked over and kissed him.
“Ewee” Elle said watching the exchange.
“Oh, ewee to you.” Monica laughed. “Elle, I think one of your favorite TV shows is on. Wanna watch TV?”
“She can’t” Gerard answered. “She and I are trying to decide what to make for dinner. Actually we both were kinda hoping you could help us decide too. Then Bug is gonna help me make it.”
Monica stared at him. “Elle’s gonna help you make dinner?”
Gerard smiled, “Yeah, for sure. Little Bug is gonna help.”
Monica tried not to laugh. “So you two come up with any ideas yet?”
“Uh, nope. What do you think?”
“Oh, no. I’m outta this one. You’re supposed to make dinner tonight Mr. Way.”
Elle was watching both of them. “He’s Gee,” she said clearly confused.
Monica nodded, “Okay. Gee you are making dinner.” She took a seat with them at the table. Her cell phone rang interrupting the conversation. Gerard, who was closest to the counter, walked over and answered. “Hello?” There was silence. “Hello?”
“I need to talk to Monica.”
Gerard’s breath caught. “Hello Liv”
More silence. Finally she spoke, “Hello, Gee.”
Monica was staring at him. Gerard tried to make his mind work. Hearing Liv’s voice had stunned him. “Here’s Monica” He handed over the phone
Crossing to the fridge he pretended to be searching inside. He was listening to the conversation. Monica seemed to be agreeing with something. When she hung up she crossed to Elle.
“Baby, your mommy wants you to spend the night with us.”
Elle looked at Monica, “Hows come?”
“She just thought you might like to stay. You can sleep with Kelly in her room.”
Elle smiled “Otay”
Gerard spoke up. “Hey, Elle I’ve got to talk to Monica for a few minutes before we start dinner. You wanna play with Frank in the backyard again?”
“Me’s wanta plays with Fwank.” Once her jacket was on she and Frank headed outside. Monica smiled as they went out the patio door.
“What was that all about?” Gerard asked as soon as the door slid closed.
Monica knew what he was asking. Still she pretended not to understand “What?”
“The phone call from Liv. What the hell was that all about?”
“Liv asked if Elle could spend the night.”
Monica shrugged, “She didn’t really say.”
Gerard frowned, “Probably got a date and she wants to stay out all night.” He walked over to the refrigerator and pulled open the door again.
Gerard was shocked by her tone. “What?”
“Stop trying to make yourself hate, Liv. You can’t and you know it.” With that she turned and went to join Elle and Frank in the backyard leaving Gerard alone with his thoughts.
Monica sat watching Elle chase Frank around the backyard. Her sweet laughter blending in with Franks constant yapping, She sighed wishing she hadn’t lost her temper with Gerard over Liv. Still in her heart she had meant what she had said. Gerard spent so much time trying to hate Liv and yet it was in vain. He didn’t hate her. He was still feeling the pain of her leaving him. That was what he hated, that she had left him.
Glancing at her watch she realized it was about time for Kelly to be coming home from school. She got up from her spot on the deck steps and walked up to the sliding door. She could see Gerard sitting at the kitchen table lost in thought. Monica slid open the door and went inside.
“Monica, I’m sorry.” He said when he spotted her.
“Let’s not talk about this now. I want to wait for Kelly to come from the bus stop. Can you go out back with Elle?”
Gerard stood. He wanted to say more to her but could tell by the determined look on her face that now wasn’t the time. “Yeah, sure.” He moved past her without comment and went out.
Monica looked out and saw that Elle had spotted him. She ran to him and he scooped her up into his arms then spun her around. Beside them Frank jumped up and down happily. Monica turned away and walked towards the front of the house. She sat down on the sofa in the living room and watched out the picture window expecting to see Kelly any minute. She was surprised when she was Kelly’s friend Sarah walking down the sidewalk alone. As she watched Sarah came up the walkway towards the house. Monica met her at the door.
“Hi, Mrs. Knight. I brought Kelly’s homework.” She pulled out a piece of paper with homework instructions from her book bag and handed it to Monica.
Monica gave her a confused look. “Where’s Kelly?”
Sarah too was confused, “Uh, she left school early cause she wasn’t feeling good.”
“Are you sure? She didn’t call me.”
“Yeah, I saw her leave before lunch with Kara.” Sarah was beginning to think she may have just gotten her friend in trouble.
Monica nodded, “Okay, well thanks Sarah.”
“No problem.” Sarah turned, “Uh tell Kelly I hope she’s feeling better.”
“I will” Monica watched until Sarah was back to the sidewalk before closing the door and pulling out her cell phone.
“Hi Mom” Kelly answered.
“Kelly where are you?”
“Uh, Bob and Kara picked me up from school. We’re on our way home.”
“I see” Monica said slowly.
“Okay, bye Mom” Kelly disconnected.
Monica put her phone back in her pocket and sat back down. What the hell was going on now, she wondered. If Kelly had left the school before lunch where had she been all day? Monica leaned her had back against the sofa and closed her eyes. Why did it feel like her world was suddenly spiraling out of control?
AUTHORS NOTE - One year ago today I started this story. Thanks to all of you who have been with me on this journey. I love you all.
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