"Mike, I'm tired of sitting and making excuses for why you're not around. It seems that one thing has been true all along, and that's that you don't really know what you have until it's gone. ...
"Daddy, Daddy!" Maineka screeched, only half clothed. Mike laughed, dropping his bag, and squatted down to catch his baby in a hug.
"Hey sweetie!" he cried, standing up with her in his arms. Maineka smiled at her father. Anna walked in to the small foyer, crossed her arms, and leaned against the archway that lead to the kitchen. Mike smiled, listening to his daughter tell him about a funny looking butterfly she saw in the park the day before, and looked up at Anna. He smiled lovingly, and walked, with Maineka in his arms, toward his wife. He kissed her lightly and then looked down at her.
"And how have you been?" he asked. She nodded and smiled.
"Alright, I suppose," she smirked, glancing threateningly at Maineka. Mike laughed.
"Aww, Mommy," he said, "She's not THAT bad." Anna chuckled.
"Wouldn't you like to think so?" she laughed. Maineka frowned. Mike smiled and kissed his daughter's cheek. He whispered in her ear.
"We'll have ice cream later," he told her. Maineka gasped loudly.
"YAY!" she shrieked. Mike cringed as his ears were threatened and laughed, putting her down. Anna shook her head.
"She doesn't need any sugar, Mike," she explained. Mike smiled.
"I just got back, Anna," he told her, "Let her spend some time with me." Anna sighed and shook her head.
"My parents invited us for dinner tomorrow," she told him, picking up a few up Maineka's toys. Mike picked up his bag, and hung his jacket on the hook.
"I really can't, Anna," he said. She stopped and looked at him.
"Why not?" she asked. He sighed.
"I'm supposed to meet Ryu at the studio," he said, "He has some stuff he wants to go over." Anna looked at him.
"Mike," she started, "You just got back from touring. Can't you stay home with your family for one day?" Mike looked at her.
"Anna, I really have to get this done," he said, unpacking his bag, and throwing his dirty laundry onto the pile on top of the washing machine. Anna sighed.
"Mike," she began to say. His phone rang. He held a finger up in front of him, motioning for her to hold that thought. Anna growled.
"Chester," he muttered into the phone, "Mm..mhm..Well, no, Rob and I talked about that. We were going to wait until next month to start on it.." Anna put her hands on her hips.
"Mike," she said quietly. He put a finger in his ear, and turned away.
"Yeah, Brad said that the beat was a little off on that one part," he said to Chester. Anna sighed.
"Mike!" she growled. Mike shook his head and walked into the next room. Anna stood there, blinking for a moment, and sighed, saying quietly.
"You're daughter was accepted into the private preschool today."
Mike snarfed down his dinner, put down his fork, and then rose to rinse off his plate. Anna watched him.
"Going somewhere?" she asked. Mike looked at her, drinking the rest of his milk. He swallowed, wiped his mouth on his sleeve and sighed.
"I have to meet with Brad and Chester," he said, "They have some new song thing that they started. They need me to look over it and see if I can start some lyrics." Anna looked at him and then at her daughter.
"May, stay here and eat your spaghetti, okay?" she said, rising freom her chair and tossing her napkin into the seat. Maniea nodded.
"O-tay, Mommy," she said, shoving a meatball into her mouth. Anna followed Mike into the foyer, while he grabbed his coat. She crossed her arms and stood in front of him. He looked at her.
"What?" he asked, buttoning his jacket. She sighed.
"Mike," she began, "Mike, this isn't right." He looked at her, is brow furrowed.
"What's not right?" he asked.
"You leaving all the time, Mike!" she almost yelled. He stepped back. "You're gone all the time!" He sighed.
"I don't have time for this, Anna," he said, "I have to get to the studio." Anna shook her head, looking at him.
"Mike," she spat, "I feel like shit. I just want to quit sometimes! Why can't we ever be normal? I don't understand why you always have to be gone." He stared at her. "Your trips always seem so long, Mike, and then you come home and leave again 5 minutes later! I mean," she sighed, "I get along, but, God! I feel like an idiot sometimes, because I always sit here and wait by the phone for you to call. And then when you finally do, I don't have anything to say!" Mike stared at her.
"Anna, I have to go," he said, "We'll talk about this later." And with that, he walked out the door. Anna stood in the foyer, tears forming in her eyes, and then hit her leg frustratedly and walked back into the kitchen.
Anna sat on the phone with her mother after having laid Maineka down for bed that night. She sighed.
"Mom," she said, "I don't know what to do anymore." Her mother listened to her cry.
"What is your heart telling you to do, Anna?" she asked. Anna sniffed, still crying.
"I don't know, Mom," she sniffed, "I know that I have to raise my daughter. But, damnit, I love him so much!" She broke down again. Her mother sighed.
"Anna, you have to do what is best for you and Maineka," she told her, "You can't worry about his feelings if he is the one making you miserable." Anna sighed, tears still in her voice.
"I know," she said sadly.
"Then you have to talk to him," her mother told her. Anna took a deep breath.
"I love you, Mom," she said, "I'll talk to you tomorrow." Her mother smiled.
"Night, baby," she said and hung up. Anna sighed and laid down in bed alone, crying into her pillow.
Anna woke up the next morning to the sound of water running and Maineka whining to be let out of her crib. She climbed out of bed, pulling on her house coat, and walked past the bathroom where Mike was brushing his teeth, into Maineka's room. She lifted her daughter from her crib and hugged her to herself. Maineka laid her head on her mother's shoulder. Anna sighed and walked back to the bathroom to grab a diaper to change her daughter. Mike looked at her.
"Good morning, ladies," he smiled and kissed Maineka's forehead. Maineka tiredly swiped her brown hair away from her face and looked up at her father. Mike then bent to kiss Anna. She turned away quickly, using the excuse of grabbing a diaper and some baby wipes. Mike looked at her, taken aback.
"Did you sleep well?" Anna asked him. Mike sighed, and turned to put on his shirt.
"Yeah, I did, thanks," he muttered. She nodded and walked out of the bathroom, back into her bedroom to change Maineka. She laid the girl on the bed and started to change her diaper. Mike walked out of the bathroom, buttoning his jeans. Anna pushed her hair out of her face and kept her attention on the task at hand. Mike wrapped his arms around her waist, laying his head on her back. She shrugged away from him, picking Maineka back up and walking out of the room. Mike sighed and followed her out.
"Anna," he said.
"What?" she said absentmindly, sitting Maineka in her highchair, and fixing breakfast for her.
"Anna, why are you ignoring me?" he asked. She looked up at him, putting the box of Lucky Charms down on the counter with a little too much force.
"Do you really have to ask, Mike?" she said. He looked at her and sighed.
"Look, Anna, I'm sorry I just walked out on you yesterday but I had to get that song started," he told her. Anna shook her head, ignoring what he said.
"Feed your daughter," she told him, pushing the box of Lucky Charms into his chest, and shoved past him to take a shower. Mike sighed, letting the box fall into his hands, and then turned to give Maineka some cereal. After Anna was out of the shower, she walked back into the kitchen, picking Maineka up from her chair. She took her daughter in for a bath. Mike at his breakfast silently, watching Anna as she walked back from the bathoom after readying Maineka. She looked at Mike.
"I'm taking May shopping," she told him. He nodded. "I guess I'll see you when we're home from my parents' house and you're back from working with Ryu." He looked at her.
"Anna," he said again. She looked at him, putting Maineka's coat on her.
"What?" she asked, buttoning the coat.
"We need to talk about this," he explained. She looked at him again.
"What's there to talk about?" she asked, "I told you how I felt last night." He opened his mouth to say something. Anna sighed.
"I'm doing what I do when you're gone on tour, Mike," she said. He looked at her oddly. "I'm normally trying to find things to keep the thought of you from my mind." Mike stared at her. She showed him her cell phone.
"I'll have it on," she said, "You can call me if you find that you have something to say." She picked Maineka up and walked out the door toward her blue SUV. Mike followed her. She strapped Maineka into her carseat and closed the car door, turning back toward Mike.
"Oh, and I want you to know it's a little fucked up that I'm stuck here waiting for you, taking care of Maineka, and debating sometimes whether I want to tell you that I've had it with you and your career," she spat, and got into the driver's side. Mike caught the door before it closed. She looked at him.
"Do you know how hard it is when you walk our the door for me to hear our daughter ask me, 'Where'd Daddy go?'" she asked him, "What am I supposed to say to her, huh? I don't even know the answer to that. So, why don't you tell me, Mike? Where'd you go?" She looked at him for a moment and then yanked the door from his grip, slamming it in his face, and driving off.
Anna spent most of the day leafing through clothing racks and holding small outfits up to Maineka to see which would look best. She took her daughter to Bob Evans for lunch where she heard about a boy in the mall that was wearing pink shoes. Overall, it was a day well spent with her daughter, but without her husband. She would be laughing with her daughter happily when that ugly fact would rear its face into her's and she would be hurt again. She found herself wishing that he would just call to apologize. He never called, however. So, when she was driving her her parents' house for dinner, she was quite upset. She hugged her mother tightly when she walked inside and let Maineka run immediately to the toy box. She sat down to dinner with her mother and father, just like old times, only now, there was a small child at the end of the table, playing in her mashed potatoes, with Mike's eyes and nose.
Anna unlocked the front door to the house, carrying a sleeping Maineka in her arms. She flipped on the foyer light and took her daughter into her room, stripping her of her coat and shoes, and taking the barrett out of her hair, and laid her down in her crib. She sighed and walked into the kitchen. There was a note on the table.
Ryu and I are going to be working late tonight. I honestly don't know what time I'm going to be home. I'm sorry, Anna. I love you. -M"
She sighed, holding the note in her hand. Groaning, she crumpled it in her hands. She was going to be going to bed alone again tonight. She kicked her shoes off and walked into the bedroom, falling face first onto the bed. She was so mentally exhausted. She fell into a deep slumber, only waking slightly when she felt Mike crawl into the bed next to her. She glanced blurry eyed at the clock to see that it read 5:07. She sighed and scooted away from him, even in her tired state, mad. She heard him sigh and roll over before she fell back to sleep.
She woke, messy haired, later in the morning and heard the television blaring in the living room. She groaned and pulled herself from the bed. She walked out of the room to see Mike standing in the kitchen working on a breakfast of bacon and eggs, and Maineka sitting in her small rocking chair in front of the television, her hands folded in her lap. Mike looked up when he saw her and smiled slightly. She ignored him and yanked open the refrigerator and pulled out the milk. She poured herself a cup and went to sit in the living room with Maineka. Mike watched her go and sighed, knowing that he would have to tell her sooner or later. He brought her a plate of food and sat down next to her on the couch. She ate in silence. He looked and sighed.
"What?" she asked. He watched her for a moment.
"I have to go to Texas tomorrow," he told her. She looked at him, her fork falling to the plate. She took a deep breath and decided to hear him out.
"Why?" she asked.
"Fort Minor has 2 shows to play," he told her. She blinked.
"How long will you be gone?" she asked. He shrugged.
"I only plan to be gone for 2 days, but it's however long the decide to keep us," he said. She sighed, looking over at Maineka who was now messing with the buttons on the television. Anna was pissed. He was just going to leave them again. Mike saw this in her eyes.
"Anna, this is my JOB," he told her. "You knew that when you married me." She sighed and nodded.
"Yes, I did," she said. Mike sat back on the couch. Anna stood up and picked Maineka up.
"Where are you going?" Mike asked. Anna looked at him.
"To get a shower," she said, "Then I'm going to go and stay with my mother." Mike stared at her. She turned on her heel and took Maineka in to get ready to leave. She came out of the bedroom after getting dressed and slipped Maineka's shoes onto her feet. Mike watched her. Anna looked at Maineka.
"Go tell Daddy bye," she told her. Maineka grinned and ran over to Mike, who picked her up. Anna walked back into the bedroom. Mike looked at Maineka.
"Why you leave, Daddy?" she asked. Mike sighed.
"Daddy has to work, baby," he told her. She looked at him sadly.
"But why?" she asked. He took a deep breath.
"To get a lot of money," he said, bouncing her on his knee. She stared at him.
"But I miss you," she said. He nodded, pursing his lips, and then biting the bottom one.
"I know, sweetie," he said, "I miss you too." Anna walked back into the living room, carrying two bags. She picked Maineka up with her free arm and looked at Mike.
"I love you, Anna," he said. She nodded, stood there for a moment, and then turned to walk away. Maineka turned around in Anna's arms, waving at Mike.
"Bye, Daddy," she said in a small voice. Mike watched her until the door blocked his view.
He was gone for the 2 days that he'd said he would be. He pulled into the driveway, and noticed that the house was dark and Anna's SUV wasn't in the garage. He sighed. He walked into the house and flipped on the light in the kitchen. He then pulled open the refrigerator to grab a Coke. He turned around and noticed something missing beside the table. He spun around, looking for it. He slammed the Coke down on the table and ran into he and Anna's bedroom. He jerked open the drawers of Anna's dresser, and saw nothing but stained wood. He opened her closet, and saw empty hangers and a bare floor.
"No," he muttered to himself, his heart pounding in his chest. He marched across the hall into Maineka's room. It was all gone...
The only thing that was still there was the flowered wallpaper. Everything was gone. The changing table. The crib. The books from the shelf. The rocking chair...
He looked into the far corner of the room and saw a small stuffed, pink hippo laying on it's side with a small piece of paper. He picked up the hippo, recognizing it as the one that he had sent to Maineka from London on her 2nd birthday. He picked up the paper and read:
I'm tired of sitting and making excuses for why you're not around. It seems that one thing has been true all along, and that's that you don't really know what you have until it's gone. I've had it with you and your career, and when you come back, I won't be here. -A"
He fell back against the wall, crushing the paper in his fist, and hugging the hippo to his chest. He slid into the sitting position, tears forming in his eyes. He held the hippo to his mouth and gasped, burying his face into it. The words that Anna had said to him earlier that week played in his mind, and he cried into the hippo's ears. "Where'd you go?"