Missed a day, so shoot me. Putting the finishing touches on the book. Have to admit, it's probably my favorite Drake novelto date. Shit gets real. Really real.
“You alright, hon? You look tired.”
Colin Elliot lowered his spoon into the bowl of cereal and then proceeded to rub his eyes.
“Was up late last night writing, then went for a run,” he groaned as he stretched his calves. “Might have pushed things just a little too hard.”
Ryanne walked over to her husband and laid a hand on his shoulder. He leaned into her, resting his head against her hip.
“You’ve been pushing too hard, Colin. You’re going to burn out.”
Colin pulled away and looked up at his wife. Her face was round, and while it wasn’t entirely unpleasant, it wasn’t exactly pretty, either. Her lips were on the flat side and her nose was a little too thin. She had dark circles around her eyes, a matching raccoon set to his own, but this wasn’t what caught him off guard.
It was her smile. It wasn’t a patronizing grin, but a genuine expression of gratitude or maybe—maybe—even affection. He could hardly believe that this was the same woman who had screamed at him the other night, screamed so long and loud that the police had come to the door to make sure that everything was alright.
Colin swallowed hard and tried to put the image of her face, beat red, her mouth twisted in a snarl, out of his mind.
“Had to finish the book,” he said quietly. “Need to get it out quickly.”
Something flashed across Ryanne’s face, something unpleasant, and her hand slipped off his back. She looked as if she were going to say something, but before she had a chance, laughter suddenly filled the kitchen.
“Juliette, have you eaten breakfast yet? We have to leave soon,” Colin said with a half-hearted smile.
Juliette bounded into the kitchen, her long blond ponytail swinging side-to-side.
“Nope. Colby took it,” she replied, twisting her shoulders as she spoke.
Colin shook his head and turned to his other daughter, who followed Juliette into the room.
“Is this true, Colby?”
“Colby took it,” the girl repeated, imitating her sister.
Colin turned to Ryanne, but she had already made her way to the sink, taking his half finished bowl of cereal with her.
And Ryanne took mine.
“Come on, guys. No fighting this morning, okay? Daddy’s tired. Just finish your breakfast and then put your shoes and jackets on.”
Juliette looked at him as if he had two heads.
“I told you already, I didn’t get a chance to eat it. She took it.”
Colin turned to Colby who, unlike her sister, had her hair tied on the top of her head in a bun. With a sigh, he said, “Did you, Colby? Did you take Juliette’s breakfast?”
“So what if I did? I’m the older sister, and if I want another bowl of cereal, I can have one. If we weren’t so poor then maybe we could all have two bowls of cereal. Carla Banks gets to have as much cereal as she wants, you know.”
Colin’s eyes bulged.
How does a seven-year-old get so much sass?
“You’re only six minutes older than me!” Juliette cried, missing the point entirely. “Six minutes!”
“That’s enough,” Ryanne snapped, as she leaned over the sink, her back to them. “Get your shoes on, and if you keep bickering, then nobody is going to get dinner tonight.”
And there it was: the anger from the night before creeping back into her voice.
She’s getting worse, Colin thought. It used to only be me she yelled at, but now she’s getting short with the kids as well.
Colby pursed her lips and pushed her chin into the air.
“I’m still older. Six minutes, six hours, what does it matter? I’m the big sister.”
Colin sighed and rubbed at his sore calves.
“That’s enough!” Ryanne bellowed. She slammed her hands on the side of the sink and spun around. “That’s enough!”
Colin cringed, thinking about the neighbors, hoping that they were already at work.
What had the police officer said? If we come back, we’re going to have to keep you separated for the night. Maybe even bring child services in.
“Please, Ryanne, it’s fine. I’ll take them to school today.”
Ryanne’s eyes blazed into him, a scowl forming on her lips. Colin quickly stood and put his arms around his girls and guided them toward the front door before his wife could get her hooks in.
“C’mon girls, put your shoes and coats on quickly, okay? We’re going to be late for school.”
Both Colby and Juliette looked at him for a moment and he saw something in his eyes that broke his heart.
Fear, he thought with a pang of guilt, they’re afraid of her.
There was something else in their juvenile expressions, too, something that he hadn’t seen before.
Was it anger? No, that wasn’t quite right. Disdain, maybe?
“Please, girls. Hurry.”
Without argument, the girls went to the entrance and started to get ready for the cold. Colin followed, and slid his own boots on. He turned back to say goodbye, and was surprised to see Ryanne standing only a few feet from him, hands on her hips.
“I’m going out today,” she informed him. “Don’t expect me home until later.”
“That’s fine. I have writer’s group this afternoon, anyway. But do you think you can pick the girls up from school?”
Ryanne’s scowl deepened, and he knew exactly what she was thinking because she had made it explicitly clear the other night.
Must I do everything around here? Can’t you get a real fucking job? Or how about you write a fucking book that people actually want to read?
Colin swallowed hard as he waited for the backlash. But while Ryanne’s eyes narrowed to slits, she exercised what what was for her unprecedented control, and he turned back to the girls.
“Say bye to mommy,” he said softly. “Give her a kiss then let’s get moving. The bus is leaving.”