Sadie woke up to the smells of bacon, eggs and coffee. Wow, Mom’s making a big breakfast, she thought to herself. She got up and put on her fuzzy bathrobe and made her way downstairs. As she got close to the kitchen, she could hear Sadie humming.
“You’re in a good mood,” Sadie said with a smile and reached for a mug for coffee. After filling it, she got some hazelnut creamer from the fridge, then sat at the table.
“We had a good time last night. After your Dad left, I took a bath and watched some television. Slept well, too,” Eva replied, turning the bacon and flipping the eggs. “This is almost done. Can you grab a couple plates?” she asked.
“Sure,” Sadie said, and got the plates and forks from the cupboard. “Last night was kinda weird, though, wasn’t it?” she asked and stood by the stove waiting for Eva to load them with food.
“It was,” Sadie conceded. “But, I also think it was great. You two needed some fun time together.” She loaded the plates with crispy bacon and fluffy eggs. “Besides, it’s good that he’s taking more of an interest in your life, spending more time with you and stuff. It’s important.” She gestured for Sadie to take the plates to the table. Sadie complied. Eva put the dirty pans in the dishwasher and sat with Sadie. “It was nice. That’s all,” she said.
Sadie looked sideways at Eva. “Mom, you can’t fool me. You had just as much fun last night with Dad as I did.” She took a bite of bacon and chewed slowly. “You needed it, too, you know.”
They continued to eat in silence. Sadie looked at the clock and said, “Damn, I need to get ready. Can you give me a ride today?” She stood up and scraped her plate into the trash before putting her plate, fork and cup in the dishwasher.
“Yeah, no problem,” Eva replied. “Go get ready and I’ll meet you in the car. I need to grab my stuff, too.” She got up and took care of her dishes, and started the dishwasher.
Eva and Sadie got dressed and packed their respective bags before heading to the garage at the same time. They made small talk on the way to school. Once she dropped Sadie off, Eva picked up coffee and pastries at the local bakery and headed to the office.
During free period, Sadie sat with Dani and their small group of friends. Trista and Ami had their heads together, giggling over photos of a hot young actor in a magazine. Dani, with her ever-present pencils, sketched a new drawing. She told Sadie earlier in the week it was going to be the showpiece of her portfolio. Sadie sat watching them, her own work strewed around her on the floor of the library. Too distracted to be productive, she leaned over to Dani and nudged her.
Dani continued to sketch and said, “So, I was thinking. Have you got plans for the weekend? Between school and everything else, didn’t know but maybe you wanted to hang out at my house.” Finally, she looked up at Sadie, and saw the sadness there. She put her hand on Sadie’s. “Hey, it will be alright. I’m here whenever you need me, okay?”
Sadie gave a shy smile. “Thanks, Dani. I know I can always count on you.” She paused. “You know what’s been great?” she asked. “My Dad’s been around.” She looked at Dani, then glanced at her friends. “Those two need to get their heads out of each other’s ass and start gearing up for the tours next month.” Picking up two of her favorite short stories, she asked, “So, what did you want to do this weekend, anyway?”
Dani shrugged and said, “Oh, you know. Shop, eat, watch movies and stuff like that.” She paused and watched Sadie sift through the folders around her. “Parents might be going out Saturday night, so we’d have the house to ourselves.”
Sadie, distracted by the folders, said “Yeah. I’ll ask my Mom after school. She’s picking me up today, so I won’t need a ride home.”
“Oh,” Dani said. “Let me know after you talk with your Mom?”
Sadie glanced at Dani and smiled. “Sure.”
Dani smiled and said, “Okay.”
Eva spent the morning catching up on emails and phone calls. Most of them regarding the massive estate sale. She’d even managed to interview a few people for the assistant position needed, but was unable to find a suitable hire. Immersed in inventory sheets, she jumped when her cell phone chirped. Susan was calling.
She answered the phone. “You scared the piss out of me, woman.”
Susan laughed and said, “Good. You needed a little fright, I think.” She paused before asking, “Have you given any thought to a rain check on dinner?”
Eva sat back in her chair and turned back and forth. “If Sadie makes plans for the weekend, yes. I’ll have dinner with you and Michael. If not, it’s another rain check.” She leaned forward and tapped a couple keys on the computer. “Anyone heard from Rita or Jared?”
Susan scoffed. “No. Michael’s been by the house, but Rita’s car is gone.” Eva heard the rustling of papers in the background. “I doubt we’ll really know for sure what the deal is there.”
Eva nodded slowly and said, “Yeah. I know this whole thing has put Sadie in the dark. She’s been moody. But, Daniel coming around has made things more bearable for her.”
“Stop right there. I can see already where this is headed,” Susan insisted. “No more Daniel talk until you figure out what the hell is happening with you and Louis. Deal?”
Eva sighed, “Yes. Deal.” Ginger popped her head in Eva’s office and made a telephone gesture with her hand. “Hey, Susan, I gotta go. Ginger’s in here being all impatient. I’ll call you later.” She hung up the phone and beamed the OMG-thank-you-for-rescuing-me look at Ginger.
Sadie sat in her last class of the day. Philosophy. Although though it helped drive her creative flow, she disliked it with a passion. The parables, fables and life-lessons Mr. Matthews taught were torturous delicacies, designed to make the most stoic student crumble in fear. Today was no different. The stack of assignment sheets was handed down the row of students. Sadie read hers quietly and groaned when she read it:
Ah, human nature.
The ability to justify our reaction, based solely on our own interpretation, to a situation.
We choose our reactions. We choose to interpret for our own means. We often do not understand that how we respond is probably the complete opposite of the intent of the event in question.
We often see malice where there is none. We often hear disdain where there is none. We often feel rejection, heartbreak, misunderstanding where there is none. We often find displeasure, anger and contempt where none is meant.
What can be worse than this, you ask?
The inability to sustain peace. The inability to see past our own judgment. The inability to realize human nature is, indeed, flawed. And more so, the inability of people to see their own flaws without projecting them onto another.
In other words…drama. It is human nature to be drawn to, and create, conflict. Emotional and psychological vampirism, if you will.
The point is: Stop looking for hate and discontent where there is likely is none. If you truly open your eyes, you will see that the world really is what you make of it.
Assignment: Write a 3,000 word essay describing a situation in which this may occur. It may be fictitious or real. Extra points will be rewarded to whomever can identify a corresponding parable.
Trista was unable to hush her inner-hostile. “Ah, hell,” she moaned out loud.
Mr. Matthews stopped writing on the board and turned towards the class. “Something you wish to add, Trista?” he asked.
She said,” No, sir. This is a great assignment,” and nodded her head. “A true challenge.”
He returned his attention to the board and said, “That’s what I thought.”
Sadie placed the sheet in a binder and stuffed it into her backpack. She turned to Dani and said, “I’ll talk to Mom when she picks me up, and I’ll text you after dinner to fill you in on this weekend.” Just then the bell rang. She got up and shouted “Good luck!” to the class as she walked out the door.
Michael pulled in Daniel’s driveway, parked the car and waited a couple minutes before getting out. Daniel heard him close the car door and met Michael on the porch. “Afternoon, Officer. To what do I owe this pleasure?” Daniel asked, a sly smile on his face.
Michael smiled back and said, “Just checking on the local riff-raff. You know how this neighborhood is all dangerous and full of crack heads.”
“Yeah,” Daniel rolled his eyes. “Make sure you pat down the little blonde Girl Scout around the corner. I think she was packing when she got on the bus. You want to come in?” he asked.
“Just for a minute,” Michael replied and walked up the steps.
Daniel held the door open and ushered Michael in with a sweep of his arm. “Right this way, sir.”
Inside, Daniel grabbed himself and Michael two cold cokes from the fridge, and handed one to Michael. “Okay, seriously. What’s going on? You don’t just show up at my house in the middle of the day.” He paused. “Actually, you don’t just show up, period,” he reflected and opened his soda can.
Michael leaned against the kitchen counter and opened his can, too. “I understand you had a great night with the girls. Just making sure you’re aware that Louis is going to be rather unhappy and could cause problems for them.” He watched Daniel closely for signs of discomfort. It gave him a twinge of guilt, but he was only looking after Eva and Sadie.
Daniel sipped his coke, and hesitated. “What are you getting at?” he asked.
Michael flicked the tab on the can. “I’m aware that Louis is out of town. I’m also aware of the fact that although we’re all close friends, Louis will find out you spent the night with them and go on the war path. It will be like BTC all over, again.”
Daniel laughed and shook his head. “There’s no competition for Eva. He has her, now.” Setting his can on the table, he said, “Regardless of whatever problems they have, I have done nothing to give even the slightest indication I want her back. Sure, I do want her back, but that isn’t the point.” He crossed his arms and looked Michael in the eyes. “I’m not going to actively interfere in their marriage. That’s not me,” he paused, “and you know it.”
“Yeah, I know,” Michael sighed. “Which is probably why this whole thing is just so messed up. I know that you wouldn’t purposefully get involved. But I also know that any extra involvement is going to create an issue with Louis.” He paused and finished his coke. “All I’m saying is be careful. I don’t need to bail you out of jail when Louis goes off and you beat the shit out of him.” He put his can on the counter and asked, “Want to grab some take out later?”
Daniel did a double take. After that speech, he didn’t expect a dinner invite. “Yeah, sure. I’ve got a bunch of errands to run, but I’ll be around after five,” he said. He grabbed the empty cans and put them in the recycle bin by the door. “Shoot me a text when you’re ready?” he asked, and opened the door for Michael.
Michael walked out and stood on the porch. “No problem. I think we could both use a bit of guy time. No women allowed. Football, beer and naked girls.” Daniel laughed. “Okay, maybe no naked girls.” Michael pointed at Daniel and said, “Be careful, bro.”
Daniel nodded and said, “I will. See you later.”
Michael nodded and strode down the steps and to his cruiser. He waved to Daniel after starting the car, and backed out of the driveway. Daniel watched him leave and determination set in. He’d be damned if Louis hurt his girls.
Eva and Sadie called out for Chinese and sat in the living room to eat, an old movie playing on the television. They talked about their day during the commercial breaks, laughing when appropriate and scoffing when necessary. They had not had a girls’ night in a while.
“So, Mom. Dani wants me to spend the weekend with her. She promised shopping, comfort food and cheesy movies. Is that okay?” Sadie asked. “Her parents will be home, of course.” She waved her fork in the air. “They’re renovating their bedroom and bathroom this time, so I doubt they’ll go anywhere except Home Depot.” She took a bite of the lo mien and waited for a response.
Eva remembered what Susan said about Dani, and the intentions the girl might have. “I don’t know, Sadie,” she said and bit into the egg roll. “All that dust and whatnot.” She saw Sadie’s eyes droop. “Okay, I’ll make a deal with you. You and I do an early dinner and some light shopping after school, and then you can go to Dani’s. Just make sure you pack your bag tonight,” she suggested. “That way you’ll have one less thing to deal with tomorrow.”
Sadie leaned across the couch and hugged Eva. “Thank you, mommy!”
Eva hugged her in return and laughed. “You are most welcome, babe. Now, head on up and get cracking on that essay. I’ll check on you in a bit.”
Sadie untangled herself from Eva and stood up. “Okay.” Eva slapped her lightly on the rear. Sadie jumped, squealed and covered it. “Hey! That’s mine!” she laughed.
Eva smiled and said, “But I made it. Get movin’.” She watched Sadie walk down the hall and start up the stairs. She shook her head and turned her attention back to the movie. Just as she was getting absorbed into it, her cell rang. She picked up and looked at the caller ID. It was Louis. She took a deep breath and answered the call.
“Hey, sweetie. How’s the conference going?” she asked, trying to sound cheerful. His call had dulled her mood significantly.
“It’s fine. Steve flew out this afternoon for a rather important dinner with clients we have here. He knows their account way better than I do.” Louis took a breath before asking, “How’s things there?”
Eva fingered the hem of her shirt and said, “Yeah, fine. Sadie and I did Chinese and a movie tonight. She’s going to spend the weekend with Dani. Apparently, her folks are redoing their master suit.” Eva sighed. “I’m actually about to do more work for that pain in the ass estate sale. I interviewed some people today for assistant gigs. They didn’t pan out.” A short period of silence followed.
“Oh, hey, babe? Steve’s waving me over. I gotta go. I’ll call you tomorrow, okay? I love you,” Louis said then the phone was quiet.
Eva sighed heavily. “Yeah, love you, too.” She glanced at the television, then at her phone. Opening it, she hit the speed dial for Susan.
“We on for dinner tomorrow?” Susan asked when she answered.
Eva chuckled. “Yes, ma’am, we are. Sadie’s spending the weekend with Dani, so I’m totally free,” she said. “And before you say anything, I love her and whatever she decides with all that is her choice.”
Susan said, “Good. How very forward-thinking of you.” She paused before adding “Besides, it’s not like Dani can get her pregnant, or anything.”
Eva took a sharp intake of breath and said, “Susan, that was not called for and you know it.”
Susan said, “I know. I’m sorry. Michael’s with Daniel watching the game and I’m frustrated. And, yes, I know that’s not an excuse.” After a moment, she asked, “Do you forgive me?”
Eva closed her eyes and said, “Yes, Susan, I forgive you.” After a moment she asked, “So, Michael’s with Daniel watching the game, huh? That’s different.”
Susan snorted. “Yeah, tell me about it. They don’t really talk for a while, and then all of a sudden they’re practically inseparable. Very weird.”
Eva yawned and stretched. “Alright, woman. I think it’s time I hit the sack. I was going to go through the estate sale stuff tonight, but I’m just wiped,” she sighed. “Been a long day.”
“I hear ya, chica. Alright, you head up and I’ll see you tomorrow?” Susan asked.
“You sure will. Goodnight,” Eva answered Susan, and then closed her cell.
She clicked off the television and folded the blanket before heading to the kitchen with their dinner dishes. After putting them in the sink, Eva took out the trash and set the alarm near the door when she returned. Standing in the hallway, she let out a deep sigh. I don’t do being alone well, she thought to herself. Eva pushed herself to move up the stairs and knocked on Sadie’s door. There was no answer, so Eva went to her room, got undressed and crawled into bed. Sleep would be a long time coming.
Louis looked around the banquet hall, stunned by the number of gorgeous women mingling. The woman from the previous night, Emily, strode over in a slinky black half-dress and slid her room card in his jacket pocket without drawing the attention of others.
Leaning in she whispered, “Ten minutes. Room 1205. Leave your cell in your room,” then walked away with a smile. Louis stared after her, surprised by Emily’s boldness. “Screw it,” he said and downed his scotch before heading up to his room for a quick shower.