I can’t run fast enough. My legs and feet feel like they are carrying hundred pound weights. My hands won’t stop shaking. On one arm I’m carrying a bag with clothes, my cell phone, and the little cash I brought with me. My other arm has my crying baby who I’m taking as far away from his father as I can possibly get. If I have any say, he’ll never see him again.
“Get back here you stupid bitch!” I hear my husband behind me.
I shoot up in bed so fast I nearly fall off the edge. I’m drenched in sweat like any other night. My long, curly hair sticks to the side of my face. Once again I didn’t get any sleep. Between having to feed my son several times and trying to survive these horrible nightmares. When will things get better? All little girls have dreams about being an adult. I dreamt of marrying the man of my dreams and living in a beautiful white house with a picket fence and a huge yard where all five of our children would run around. I’d sit on the porch and sip on my morning coffee while enjoying the sounds of their happy giggles. My dreams are the furthest thing from my reality.
I flew into Phoenix late last night with my son, Brady. We’re staying with my brother Evan and his wife, Ava. They are seriously a god send. Evan kept asking me questions as soon as we walked through the door but I told him we’d talk about it later because I was exhausted and wasn’t ready to talk. He doesn’t know I left my husband. Ava gave me a knowing look, as if she could read my mind. She’s like the sister I never had and I’ve always appreciated her friendship.
I look over to my left at the blue and purple plaid play pen my parents used for me and Evan. Little coos come from my son.
“Hey little man. Are you hungry?” I ask Brady. He of course says nothing back but instead kicks his chubby little legs and swings his arms in the air. “I’ll take that as a yes.” I lift and give him kisses while I put him on my bed in the guest bedroom so I can change his diaper and put a clean onesie on him. He is such a sweet baby and has always been easy to take care of. This little chubby boy with dark brown curls and blue eyes always knows how to make me smile. He is my only reason for getting out of bed every morning.
I lay back on the bed after mixing a bottle for him and prop myself against a pillow so I can feed my son and relax a bit before I have to face my brother this morning. Brady is a distracted eater. I know it’ll be awhile before he’s done. Typically feeding times aren’t so low key but this morning I’m able to think about everything. This past year was one of the worst and best years of my life. Honestly, mostly bad things but the best thing is lying in my arms right now.
Trevor and I were together for seven years. Only married two and a half. Everything seemed to be so perfect, but I quickly learned the truth. I hear a knock on the door.
“Hey sis, is it okay if I come in?” Evan calls from the other side of the door.
“Yeah, one sec!” I holler. I’m careful not to wake my sleeping baby and set him back in his bed.
“You doing alright?” My brother asks me as he gives my cheek a kiss. He’s a good ten inches taller than me which intimidated all the boys when we were younger.
“Yeah I’m fine. What’s up?” I ask not wanting to discuss my reason for being here yet.
“You do know we have to talk about this, right?” He asks as he raises his dark eyebrows at me. Brady got his dark, curly hair from my brother and I. Evan usually keeps his short but right now it’s getting a bit out of control.
“Talk about what?” I ask trying to act clueless.
“Sis, you’re a smart woman and you know exactly what I’m talking about. You know I love you and Brady and you’re always welcome here, but what’s going on? Where’s Trevor?”
“He’s in Chicago still. I left him.” I answer. I try so hard to keep the tears from coming, but fail.
“Come here.” He wraps his big, muscular arms around me and lets me cry into his chest. He is all I have now, besides my son. “What happened?” He asks gently.
“He’s been having an affair,” I sniffle and wipe at the tears on my face. “Before we even got married. I’m such a fool.” By now my cries are coming out hysterically and I’ve lost all control. I’m sure Ava can hear me from the other room.
“How is that even possible?” He asks, shocked. “He’s always working, especially since he took over the medical office a couple years ago.”
“It’s possible when he’s sleeping with his assistant.” I don’t want to talk about this anymore. I don’t even know how many other women my husband has slept with, but honestly it doesn’t matter anymore.
“Look at me, sis.” He grabs my chin so I can’t look away from him. “We’re going to get through this together. You and Brady can stay here as long as you need to.”
“Thanks, Bub.” Evan smiles at the nickname I gave him as a kid. “I don’t want to be a bother to you and Ava so I’ll try to get us out of here as soon as possible.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. We love you both and we’re glad you came. Even if the situation sucks right now.” He leans in and gives me another kiss. “Get yourself dressed and I’ll go make some coffee. Love you, sis.”
Once Evan leaves my room I decide it’s time to shower while Brady is back to sleep. I search through my small, purple suit case to get some clean clothes and my toiletries. I’m gross after going straight to bed last night after getting off the plane.
Evan and Ava have a four bedroom house. The guest bedroom Brady and I are staying in has an attached bathroom so it allows for some privacy. I step into the scolding hot water and let it relax my body. I don’t think a shower has ever been so therapeutic before. How did things get so bad in such a short amount of time? I know my body changed from having a baby, but I tried every day to get back to my pre pregnancy size. I did the best I could by eating healthy and going to the gym every night when Trevor got home from work. Apparently I didn’t work hard enough. Of course now I’ve gained back all my weight from the stress I have been under for the last month. I wasn’t able to go because of my broken tail bone. Isn’t being a new mother supposed to be a happy time? I was happy until last month when everything fell apart.
When I get out of the shower I discover that I forgot to wash my hair.
“Damn it.” I mumble to myself.
I guess I’ll be wearing my thick hair in a messy bun today. I don’t have anyone to impress anyway. My dark brown eyes look tired. I am tired.
When I step back into the bedroom I see Brady still sleeping so I quietly put some clean yoga pants on along with my nursing sports bra and my Illinois State University work out tee. I’m not planning on working out today, but I’m all for comfort. And I’m not nursing anymore but my regular bras still don’t fit.
Once I’m dressed I go in search for my cell phone I haven’t looked at since I got off the plane last night. Once I finally find it on the bottom of my purse I see there are three missed calls from Shayna and eight text messages.
Shayna: You better be dead if you can’t even text me that you made it. Her final text reads. I shake my head. She’s crazy.
Me: Thanks for your concern. I am alive and well. Love you. I never told Trevor but she was one of the reasons I worked at the daycare for so long. All the times we ever went out in the evenings were with his coworkers and his “pool buddies” and their wives or girlfriends. I wasn’t allowed to have my own social life. Before Brady I enjoyed going to a few parties with Shayna and met a lot of other great girls and kept in touch with a few of them, but Shayna is my only true friend.
My stomach rumbles so I head for the kitchen but my phone rings in my pocket.
“Hey bitch, what are you doing?” Shayna asks as soon as I answer the phone.
“Well hello to you too.” I say as I roll my eyes. “I was trying to eat some breakfast before I was rudely interrupted.” I laugh.
“Well, I wouldn’t have to bother you if you’d answer your damn phone.” I know she’s concerned for my son and I.
“I’m truly sorry Shay.”
“You’re forgiven.” She sighs. “How’s my baby?”
“I’m good, thanks for asking.” I snicker.
“You know I mean sweet little Brady. Is he doing okay? Are you doing okay momma? I’ve been worried about you guys.”
“Yeah we’re both fine. I told Evan this morning I left Trevor and he said it’s alright if I stay here as long as I need to.”
“You found out your husband is a cheating asshole and now you’ve moved across the country. Take some time to relax with Brady and visit with Evan and Ava. “
“I know I will. I don’t want to bum off my big brother, ya know?”
“Well, I’m sure he doesn’t think that’s what you’re doing. He’s been begging you to move to Phoenix since your parent’s passed so I know he’s glad you’re there now. Even if it’s because of your douche bag husband.” She laughs. Shayna has always been able to turn a cruddy situation into something funny. I’m not sure how she does it, but I wouldn’t have her any other way.
“But seriously, let me know if you need anything at all and I’ll be on the next flight to Phoenix.” I can tell she is genuinely concerned.
“I know you would. But I have to go or I’m going to starve to death. Love you and I’ll text you later.”
I hit end on my phone and walk to the kitchen and notice Evan watching me.
“What?” I ask not meaning to snap like I did.
“Why are you limping?” Oh shit, think quick.
“Oh I um, fell down the basement stairs at the house when I was working on laundry.” Well, it’s the partial truth.
“You are such a klutz, sis.” Evan laughs. Thank god he bought my lie because he’d kill Trevor if he knew why I was limping. I didn’t notice I was still walking funny and I guess I’ve grown accustomed to the pain.
Ava strolls into the kitchen with a babbling little Brady. “Look who’s awake! Aunt Ava’s favorite little guy!” I love seeing my brother and his wife with my son. Unfortunately, they haven’t gotten to be a big part of his life since we lived so far from them before. I’m glad we now get to make up for lost time. At least there is some good coming out of this nightmare.
“Hey bud!” I take Brady from Ava as I kiss his sweet little cheeks. “How’s mommy’s boy?” He giggles and kicks his feet. He’s always so happy to see me and it brings such joy to my life. He’s the number one reason I came to Phoenix. I wanted to start a new life for him where he can be around the people who love him most.
“Hey Claire, I talked to my mom this morning and she offered to watch Brady tonight if you want to go out with us and some friends from work.” Ugh. The last thing I want to do today is put “real” clothes on and face a bunch of strangers.
“Thanks Av, but I honestly want to be lazy today with Brady. I might take him to the zoo later, but I don’t want to leave him yet.”
“Aww come on. You deserve a night out and you know Brady will be in good hands. Pa-lease?”
“Okay, okay fine.” I huff and roll my eyes in annoyance but how can I say no when they are letting us stay at their house.
“Good!” She cheers.
“I don’t even have anything to wear. Where are we going?” I ask her suddenly freaking out. All I brought in my suit case is yoga pants and a few pairs of jeans and tee shirts. I couldn’t bring all my clothes because I was in a hurry to get everything packed before Trevor got home from work last night. He knew I was leaving but I wanted to be gone before he got home.
“Don’t worry; we’re the same size so I’ll find you something in my closet.” Oh my word. I love my sister in law but she’s a lot less conservative than I am. I’m now extremely scared about what she’ll possibly pull out for me to wear.
“Okay, but remember I’m a mother and my girls are bigger than yours.” I wink at her.
“Eww, your brother and kid are in here!” Evan yells as he sweeps Brady out of my arms. “Us guys will be in the living room watching football, away from this nonsense.” We both laugh at him.
I sneak back into my bedroom while Evan watches Brady. I’m already tired of pretending to be alright. I’m not this out going girl I acted like in front of him and Ava. I get into my makeup bag and grab for my medicine bottle. I only have a couple weeks left of this prescription so I will have to find a doctor here soon. I don’t need to feed Brady for about an hour so I crawl back into my unmade bed in hopes to drift back to sleep. It’s all I’ve wanted to do lately. I’m slowly losing myself.