Oh. My. God. If I could obliterate all the mirrors in this house, I would. How did I get this freaking big? I didn’t remember ever being this huge with the other two. And I was only in my second trimester!!!
Sometimes I’d look in the mirror and wonder how I arrived at this stage in life. I mean, back before I got married, I never thought I’d be a mother of three, unemployed, overseeing two cats and a dog and just aimlessly wandering around wondering who I was half the time.
I had such big dreams of being a 3-D animator. Of one day owning my own studio or becoming a director of a huge cartoon production or directing the CGI parts of movies.
But that didn’t happen.
Don’t get me wrong. I adored my kids. And I wouldn’t trade them in for the most glamorous animation job, but sometimes, I wondered. Who was in charge of my life? I felt somehow I got steamrolled by an even bigger personality who made most of my decisions for me. And I was powerless to stop it.
“Hey, sweetie! You’re looking so good! Goodness! You’re practically glowing!” Brooke gushed. Oh how I’d missed my dear friend!
“Yeah, ” I answered, “I guess you glow when you’re the size of the sun.”
“Pshaw!” she tutted then her eyes grew as she wiggled her fingers. “Can I?”
I didn’t understand what it was about the pregnant belly but everyone, including elderly strangers at Simmart, HAD to touch it. It was some kind of law.
“Go ahead,” I said, sticking out the ginormous basketball that used to be my flat stomach.
“Aww…you’re so cute!” Brooke cooed. “It’s a girl, right?”
“Yep. And it’s a good thing, too, because James threatened we were going to try for a fourth if he didn’t get his sweet little girl fix. This baby doll has literally saved our marriage,” I joked.
Brooke threw angry darts at her husband. “See? James wants more children. Why can’t you be more like…”
Nathan broke in and said, “So, Lexie, you won’t have to worry about a thing. We’ll take care of Liam and make sure his party goes off without a hitch.”
I couldn’t say I blamed Nathan. He had three children for the price of one. And from what I saw, all were little hellions. Brooke was in her own little world when it came to them. She never saw any of their flaws.
Today was the day I was going to die.
I mean, no one cared about me. If they did, at least ONE of my parents would have stayed home for the biggest event in the life history of Liam A. Sanderson-Day.
But instead, they dropped THREE jerks into my room and left.
One of the jerks, Uriah Murdick, (okay, his last name was Murdock, but Murdick fit him waaaaay better) lifted the side of his mouth and said, “You’re the biggest fucking dweeb on the planet. Like who drapes their walls in Henry Puffer that isn’t three years old?”
“You said it, Uriah. God, how long are we going to be tortured here?” his asshole brother, Dusty added. “The whole weekend?”
“No one’s asking you to stay,” I hissed. “Do me a favor and jump off a cliff.”
His sister, Mala, interjected, “Don’t listen to them, Lee-lee! I LOVE Henry Puffer!”
Mala always called me some weird pet name and it changed every time she talked to me. I didn’t get it. It was like she was TRYING to annoy me. “Just leave me alone!” I yelled at her.
“Stop being nice to the douche-for-brains, Mala,” Uriah said. “Let’s play on his computer and ignore the ignoramus.”
“Sorry if we’re upsetting you, Liam. Put her there.” Dusty offered his hand.
Like an idiot, I automatically took it without thinking.
A painful electric shock tore through my hand and up my arm. “Yiiiiiiii!” I howled.
Laughing, Dusty said, “Oh my God, you’re such a loser! You think I’d really want to be your friend?”
I stared at him thinking about how I wished I was Henry Puffer. I’d turn him into a pile of jello and stomp. “Get out of my room, asshole.”
“And who’s going to make me? You?” The jerk stared me down.
My hands balled into fists. I wanted to punch his face so bad. But I knew I’d get grounded. My dad was strict about no fighting. I once pounded a bully in third grade for hurting a girl and I was the one who got in trouble. Since then, I avoided fighting. But today, it might be worth the punishment.
“Lee lee, honeybee, let’s play Harnocks Houses. Okay?”
“Yes, Lee Lee Honeybee,” Uriah crooned in a sickening high pitched voice, happy that his sister was annoying me.
“You’re just lucky I don’t want to fight,” I spat at Dusty, “otherwise, I’d put you in the hospital, asswipe. Now get out of my way.”
“Lee Lee Sweetpea, come on! Just ignore them.”
“I’d love to see you hit Dusty,” Uriah goaded with an evil gleam. “Go on. I dare you.” For some reason I bet he really did want to see me hit his brother.
These were the worst kids I’d ever met in my entire life. I didn’t understand it. I liked their parents. Aunty Brooke always baked me cookies and Uncle Nat liked to play games with me. And their kids were nice to me up until a few years ago when they turned nasty for some weird reason. It was like an evil switch went off in their brains.
Mala was the best one but she could be mean sometimes, too. I sat down and said, “Look, Mala, I’ll play with you. You just have to cut out calling me weird names.”
Lip quivering, she said, “But I like calling you names. I love you, my Lee Lee doll.”
Uriah snorted behind her.
God. I was counting the minutes until my friends showed up, hoping I wasn’t going to hang myself before they got there.
“Oh my goodness! That couldn’t be Zackary, could it?” Uncle Beau shouted when I sat Zack down as we entered my dad’s place. It’d been a long flight and I couldn’t wait to get off my feet.
“It’s me!” Zack answered, jumping up and down. Uncle Beau was so good with kids. My sons adored him.
“But you’re so big. My grandson is a little guy. Are you SURE you’re Zack?”
“I’m Zacky. It’s me! I promise!”
“Oh…okay. In that case, I bet you’d like some mashed mud with a side of bugs to eat.”
Zack laughed. “Ewww…no Grandpa!”
“Sure…that’s your favorite.”
“And don’t forget the worms!” Dad said, making Zack erupt in giggles.
I hugged everyone, so glad to be with my family.
“Hey, sis,” Asher said, wrapping his arms around me. “It’s been too long.”
He’d grown a foot since I last saw him. He looked exactly like Dad except he was a little short like Beau.
I dropped my pregnant self into one of the couch cushions, listening to my teen siblings rant about their lives and what they’d been up to.
But somewhere in the middle of Aria’s story about how her teacher debated her on who should be president, I zoned out.
My mind drifted to when I used to live here in San Myshuno, when I took care of my brother Brayden. The triplets hadn’t even been born yet. Oh my God. I hated kids back then. And now…I was about to have my third. That was so long ago.
“Lady bug, are you okay?” my dad interrupted my thoughts and brought me back to the present.
“Oh my GOD! Lexie’s not listening to every word I’m saying?” Aria joked. “What is this world coming to?”
She reminded me so much of my teen self, it was eerie.
But I was so tired, I wasn’t in the mood for jokes. “I think I’m not feeling well. Maybe I just need some fresh air.”
After a ton of protests from Aria, Dad ushered me out to the back balcony. It was a beautiful clear night. Sometimes my siblings could be overwhelming. I needed calm.
“So…what’s wrong, sweetheart?” Dad poured me a virgin mojito. My favorite.
“Wrong? Nothing’s wrong, Dad. I’m almost six months pregnant and need a bit of fresh air is all.”
He put away the lime juice and stared at me. “Lexie. I know you. There’s something up. Come on. You can tell me. It’ll make you feel better.”
I stared back at him. Did I really want to do this? No. I didn’t. “Drop it, Dad. Let me relax. I just got here and need to settle in.”
Not listening to me, he asked, “Is it James? Are you two doing okay?”
That’s all it took. Just a little prodding from my father. It was like the floodgates opened and I spewed out everything I’d been thinking and more. “And so…it’s like I don’t even know who I am anymore. And I second guess the choices I’d made when I was younger. Like how meeting the Heartthrobs totally threw me off my vector. I mean, look at me, Dad! Would you have guessed I’d be a stay at home mom and pregnant when I’m pushing forty? God…and I hate that I feel like this! I don’t want to. I love my kids. I love my husband. What is wrong with me?”
He listened to every word I spit out until I was reduced to a hormone induced ball of tears. Taking me by the hand, we sat down on the floor like we used to do when I was younger. He stroked my hair and said, “Have you thought about counseling? I think you’re depressed, sweetheart. It’s not good for you or the baby.”
Wiping my eyes, I said, “Yes. James and I have talked about it. But he’s been too busy and so have I. I run Liam and Zack around everywhere that I forget about it until the heaviness hits me.”
“Have you thought about moving? Beau and I could help if you lived closer.”
I sighed. That was a fight James and I had many times over the years. And guess who always won? “That’s not an option.”
I felt stuck. And I couldn’t get myself out of it.