"No! I'm sorry!" the woman screamed as she suddenly lurched upright in her bed. Tears had been falling from her eyes. Her heart was racing, body shaking, and sweat had dripped down her body. Fuck not again. She laid back down and reached over to grab her phone on the nightstand. The time read 0400. She threw her phone down on the bed next to her. This seriously needs to stop. She tried to go back to bed, but it was no use. It was a common occurrence in recent months. She had trouble sleeping since that day.
She grabbed her phone and hit a saved voicemail. She put the phone to her ear and listened.
"Sana, tell Kaden that I will be at his baseball game tonight. And please give Katya a big hug and kiss for me. I remember when she was just born and how tiny she was and look at her now. She really is your mini-me HAHAHA we are going to have our hands full with that one. Anyways I digress. I love you. See you tonight."
Sana placed the phone down on the bed and lifted herself to a sitting position in the bed. She swung her feet over and let them dangle. She let out a sigh and pushed herself up and walked.
She went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. She pulled back the skin on her face to try to pull back the lines that have formed on her face in recent years. My God, I have aged. I'm 36, and I look way older than that. Look at these bags. I need more sleep. She turned on the tap water, took out her toothbrush, and brushed her teeth. As she did, she began to look at her body in the mirror as often women did and admired herself. Well, at least my body still looks good. Grabbing her chest and pushing her breasts in place before she let go, and they dropped. Not bad considering I had two babies. She spit the toothpaste into the sink and rinsed it out. Then splashed water onto her face. She grabbed a hairband and tied her hair into a tight bun, and went to her closet. She quickly changed into a sports bra and yoga pants, socks, and put on gyms shoes.
She stretched her legs and arms and then got on the treadmill. She placed her headphones into her ears and ran as hard as she could for about an hour. When she hopped off, she stretched and then proceeded to do several sets of sit-ups and push-ups. When she had finished, she peeled off her sweat-soaked clothes and threw them in the hamper, and started the shower.
It was her favorite place in the house beside the kitchen. She walked into her shower and stood under the rainshower showerhead. The scolding water soothed her aching body. Her hands were stretched outward and rested against the cold stone of the shower; they held up her body weight. She enjoyed the shower to get peace and quiet before a stressful day, but it was here that she could cry. Today was a day she wanted to cry. She had to be strong for the kids like her father had been strong for her when her mother died. Sana sat on the shower's tile floor and brought her head to her, pulled in knees, and began to sob. It was the cry that she had been saving up for weeks now. Everything reminded her of him. Last week was the first time that she felt somewhat normal and then smelled his cologne. It tore at her that for a second that he wasn't on her mind. When she was all cried out, she raised her head. She looked up towards the window in the bathroom and saw that the sun was beginning to peek, which meant it was time to get up and stop crying and move on with her day. She had her cry, and she was okay now.
Sana's last step before the chaos of the day was to enjoy a cup of coffee while her legs were dipped in the pool. Sana worked hard all her life. She had started her company at the age of 18 and had by the age of 20 she had already made her first million dollars. From there, her empire took off. She has acquired numerous other businesses, and now there is talk of them reaching the overseas market. So taking the last quiet moments of each day made her sane. She felt her watch buzz, and she chugged the last of the coffee that was remaining in the mug and pulled herself out of the pool and pushed her pantsuit legs down, and walked upstairs.
Sana quickly makes breakfast burritos for the children and had their lunches ready to go.
Sana walks up to her son's door. She knocks gently then opens it. As she does, a sliver of light enters the darkened room and highlights the teenaged boy's short blonde hair that occupied the bed. She sits on the edge of the bed and shakes the boy awake. She waits until she sees his bright blue eyes open for her to see.
“Good morning Kaden! It’s time for you to wake up and get ready for school.”
“Okay, Mom.” The boy says as he shelters his eyes from the bright light.
“Kaden, I am serious. You have fifteen minutes to get up and get ready for school. Breakfast is ready and waiting for you downstairs.”
After Sana leaves, he pulled the sheets over his head and rolled back over. She went to the next door that was decorated in the different Disney princesses. She walked into the room and laid in her daughter's bed. She played with the five-year-olds curly ruddy hair. I love her curly hair. I wish mine was like this. She brushed her finger over her daughter's skin and gave her tiny little kisses until she began to stir.
“Katya, my darling, it is time to wake up.”
“Good morning, Momma!”
“Good morning, baby. How was your sleep? Have any good dreams?”
“Just the usual. Princess Merida and I went hunting in the forest again. Then Anna and Elsa and I went on an adventure.”
“Sounded like you had a jam-packed night.”
“Yes, I did! How did you sleep, Momma?”
“Oh, baby, I slept okay.”
Katie looked at her mother and kissed her.
“What was that for Sparrow?”
“Just cause I love you, Momma.”
“I love you too! Now go brush your teeth. You have fire breath.”
Katie jumped off the side of the bed and brushed her teeth. Sana heard the water turn on, and Katie brushed her teeth. Sana went to the dresser and pulled out clothes for her daughter. Katie ran into the room.
“Let’s get you dressed. I made you breakfast. Then we have to drop your brother off at school, and then it is your turn, okay?”
Oksana helps Katie get dressed in a blue flowy shirt and black pants. She puts her in socks and gym shoes.
“Momma, can you put my hair in a ponytail like yours?” Katie asks.
“Katie, go downstairs and sit at the table. I want to make sure that your brother is up.”
Katie hopped downstairs.
Sana went back to her teenaged son’s room. She listened from the hallway to see if there was any stirring. When she heard none, she knocked once more on his door.
“I’m up, Mom.”
“Okay, Katie and I are downstairs. We will be waiting for you, so hurry up.”
“I get it. I will be down shortly.”
Oksana went downstairs, and she pours herself some coffee and Katie some milk. She put some pancakes on Katie’s plate and smothered them in syrup. Katie starts to eat. A half-hour passes, and there was still no Kaden. Oksana, at this point, is fuming. Oksana went to the landing and screamed up to him.
“Kaden, you have five minutes to get down here and wolf down breakfast before we go.”
There was no response.
“Katie, please put your backpack on and wait by the door.”
Oksana ran up the stairs and threw the door open to her son’s room. She finds that her son is still in bed. At this point, it had been over an hour since the first attempt at waking him up.
“KADEN CHRISTOPHER ASTANKOVA.” She threw the sheets off him. And picked up the mattress. Which caused him to tumble off, landing on the hard floor with a loud thump. “You now have two minutes to get ready for school!”
“Crap, why didn’t you wake me up, Mom!”
“I did multiple times! Let’s go! Brush your teeth and shower. You stink. I will make sure that you have a plate for the car.”
“I’m sorry, Mom.”
“Kaden, just hurry up. We will talk about it in the car.”
Oksana sighed as she went downstairs. This isn’t the first time this has happened; it was a common occurrence now. For the past month, Kaden had been waking up late on the school days, and he would sleep the day away on the weekends. Not to mention that he has lost all desire to play baseball, a hobby that he had dedicated his life to, and was so talented in. This was the final straw. She knew that she needed to reach out and have Kaden talk to someone.
Oksana got Katie in the car in her car seat. She pulled her phone out and dialed pressed the Dad. The line trilled and went to voicemail.
“Hey, It’s Sana. Had a rough morning today. Kaden slept through his alarm again, and I literally had to go in his room and tip his mattress to get him out of bed. Pulling a trick out of your book. I don’t know what I am going to do. I know what you would do. You would take him out and play catch with him and talk to him, but I don’t think that will work this time. I need your help with this one. Please, I need a sign or something. I am out of my league here. God, I miss you.”
“Momma? Who are you talking to?” Katie said from the backseat through the window.
“Oh, no one, Sparrow.” She ends the call and slips her phone in her pocket, and gets in the SUV.
Oksana watched as Kaden rushes out the front door. He forgot to close the door first, so he turned around and tripped over the step, nearly falling down. Once the door was closed, he started running to the awaiting vehicle and threw his bag in. “Did you lock the door?” Sana asked. He looked over at her, ran back to the front door, then turned around, ran back to the house, locked the door, rushed into the car.
“Mom, I’m really sorry!”
“Kaden, what happened this morning.” She asked as she hands him his plate.
“I don’t know. I was exhausted. I must have slept through the alarm. I promise it won’t happen again.” Kaden pleads.
“Look, buddy, I know you have been through a lot since Grandpa K died, but you have to step up. You are not a little kid anymore, okay? I love you, Kaden.”
“I love you too, Mom.” He looks out the window, and she sees tears form in his eyes. “I really miss grandpa.”
“I do too. Buddy. Hey, how about I pick you up from after school today, and you and I go and do something just you and me. Uncle Pyotr is gonna pick you up from school today, Katie okay?”
“Does that mean Uncle Pytor and I can play dress-up and makeup?”
“I am sure Uncle Pytor would love that. Kayden? What do you think?”
“Yeah, just you and me? Sure.”
As they pull up to the middle school, Oksana sees Mr. Haleton, Kaden's principal. He waves at Oksana and starts walking to her SUV. “Ms. Astankova, a word, please.”
“Kaden, I love you, but if you don’t get out of this car before that man gets over here, you’re grounded for this morning.”
“Love you, Mom.” He said as he gave her a kiss and jumped out of the SUV.
Oksana takes off before she has to talk to Mr. Haleton.
“Thank you, Sparrow.”
“For what, Momma?”
“For being such a good girl for me.”
“I miss Pop Pop too, Momma. I talk to him, though.”
“Oh, Do you?”
“Yea, sometimes he comes in my dreams, and he gives me kisses and says he misses me so much and gives me a big bear hug. He tells me to tell you that he loves you and that Kaden needs to play baseball again. He also said that he is in the stars and that I should look for him up there when I am lonely.”
“Sparrow, next time you see Pop Pop tell him I miss him and that I think of him constantly.”
“I will, Momma.”
Oksana pulled up to Katie’s school and got her out of her seat. Oksana walked with Katie hand in hand to the front of the school. Once they reached the school's front, Oksana knelt down in front of her daughter and pulled her into a tight embrace.
“I love you, Sparrow.”
“I love you too, Momma.”
Oksana stood up and watched as Katie went to her teacher. Oksana turned around to walk to her car when she heard Katie yell. Oksana turned around and saw Katie running to her. Oksana knelt down again, and Katie ran into her waiting arms.
“Is everything alright, Sparrow?”
“Yea, I just needed one more hug from you. Plus, I forgot to tell you. Pop Pop likes getting your phone calls still.”
Oksana kisses the top of her daughter's head and walks her back over to her teacher, and before she let go of Katie’s hand, she gave her three quick squeezes to her hand, and Katie gave it back to her.
Oksana returned to her vehicle and made her way to work. So many questions were swirling through her head right now. The biggest question on her mind right now was what was she going to do about Kaden.