True

By: Gwendolyn Grace

PART 1





Chapter One

Present.

"Oh, my poor little bunny!" I study the thermometer that now reads 101, and rub my baby girl's back who is lying beside me feeling miserable with a fever.

"Mommy will be right back with something cool for your forehead and a yummy drink, okay?" I say softly. Jordyn nods her head as her eyes drift closed. I gather everything I need from the medicine cabinet in the bathroom and head downstairs to pour a small glass of juice. As with most three-year-olds, she always needs to have juice immediately after taking liquid medicine. When I get back to her room, Alex is sitting on her bed, rubbing her head and talking softly to her.

"How are you feeling, little bear?" Jordyn's golden brown eyes flash as she corrects her daddy.

"Bunny, dada. I'm a bunny."

"Oh, sorry, little bunny." Alex quickly recovers. "How are you feeling, little bunny?" He emphasizes. Jordyn is going through this strange phase where she wants to be referred to as little "something." So far she's been little bear, little grasshopper, even little football, which came about after she spent an evening with Alex watching the super bowl. We've obliged her. At first, because it was cute, but now because it's just easier to play along. We're hoping that she'll outgrow this.

"My head hurts, dada." Jordyn whines as she snuggles closer to her daddy. I know that his heart is melting. Alex loves when the girls call him dada. He lovingly pushes her wild mass of dark curls from her face and lightly brushes his lips over her warm forehead. When his eyes meet mine, I can see just a hint of worry lingering there. I shake a small bottle of liquid ibuprofen as I step forward with a reassuring smile.

"Here's mommy with something to make you feel better." He moves aside while I attempt to get as much of the recommended dosage into Jordyn's mouth. I wipe the orange dribble from her chin, satisfied that what she took in will suffice, then place a cool cloth onto her forehead while she sips her juice.

"Lie down, little bunny, so you can start to feel better soon." My poor baby nods sweetly and drifts off to sleep.

Alex and I return to our room just as both bedside alarms go off.

Great! So much for going back to sleep.

With a sigh, I go downstairs to start the coffee while Alex goes into the bathroom. Several minutes later, I run back upstairs to wake up Olivia. As usual my oldest is already sitting up stretching and yawning. She's a morning person, thankfully.

"Morning, mommy." She says cheerfully.

"Good morning, sweet girl. Hop up and get dressed. Don't forget to brush your teeth." I remind her. She nods while scooting out of bed. I don't even attempt to pick out Liv's clothes anymore. At seven, she's turned into quite the fashion diva and since she usually does such a good job I just go with what she chooses.

Walking back into my bedroom I see that Alex is already dressed in his standard attire, pressed slacks and colored polo shirt. Today, it's dark blue. He's sitting on the bed tying his shoes.

"Alex!" I cry in outrage.

"What?" he shouts back obviously startled.

"Jordyn is sick and needs to stay home. I can't send her to daycare with a fever."

"Well, okay. Just keep her home." He answers as if he's stating the obvious.

"Yes, that was the plan, but who’s staying home with her?"

Alex stares at me blankly for a moment, and then his expression slowly turns to one of confusion followed by anger.

"Don't pull this shit, Court. You know I have to go to the office."

"Yes and so do I. Are you telling me that your job is more important than mine?" Granted, Alex is a regional manager at the water supply company. And yes, he makes a lot more money than me, and, as a result, he is pretty much supporting our entire household. But, I also have a job as an accountant with an architectural design firm, which is owned by my best friend's husband.

"Look, I never said that." Alex growls impatiently. "I would stay home if I could. My team has a big proposal that needs to be presented this afternoon, and I need to be there to work out a few more details. Please. Can you give me a break for once?" He pushes up from the bed and walks past me to go downstairs. He taps on Olivia's door and sticks his head in to tell her good morning. He then stops at Jordyn's room but closes the door again almost immediately, probably because she's still sleeping. I silently follow him downstairs until he reaches the kitchen.

"Why do you always assume that I'll be the one to stay home any time the girls are sick? I have a job too. People depend on me also. I have a boss that gets angry when I miss days of work!"

"Please," he scoffs. "You work for our best friends. We have too much dirt on them for you to ever worry about being fired." His attempt to make light of things angers me even more. I can feel my cheeks begin to heat up.

"You're missing the point, Alex! I have important things to do today just like you. It would be nice to discuss this like responsible parents instead of you assuming that I will handle it all! Why do I have to be the one to take care of everything? Do you think all you have to do is go to work and receive a paycheck?" At this point, I know that I'm crossing into the land of irrational hysterics, but I can't stop myself. Perhaps it is the lack of sleep or maybe the issue is something much deeper than this discussion.

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