Sunday, July 9, 2017. Daily Brit Wit.
A babysitter or a child-care worker.
"She exhales dramatically, left hand full of car keys and right hand gripping the front door knob. Her surveillance over her shoulder at her husband is scalding and fond all-at-once.
'Anthony,' she breathes his name, 'why are you making such a huge deal over this?'
'I've told you, Thalia.'
She mumbles something about "stubborn-headed tossers and husbands."
'Are you arguing with me still?'
'So what if I am?' She quips in a mocking tone under her breath. Then counts to five. When she still buzzes with spite, next she counts to ten; before doing the same in French. 'Are we done yet? I'm late picking up Zoey from the childminder's,' she struggles to keep her voice level and free of button-pressing sarcasm.
'If you wait fifteen more minutes–'
She cuts off his repetition. 'No, Anthony. I shall not wait when I am already late to pick up our daughter.'
'It's not that big a deal, Nat–'
'It is, Anthony, and this is the end of our conversation.'
'Let me put my shoes on–'
Nathalie groans and yanks open the front door partially. 'Your project is due in less than an hour. Stay. Finish it. Zoey and I will bring home takeaway. You should have it done by then.'
'It's nearly done–'
'Stay. And finish the damn thing, Anthony,' she grits out between clenched teeth.
'Why can't you wait?' He asks, coming out of his office and posture vibrating frustration, anger, and a hint of petulance.
Her head falls to the door jamb's edge. 'Anthony, I am late picking up ma fille because you came home early to finish a project and ended up distracting me,' she annunciates their afternoon for him slowly and carefully, more mindful of her growing temper than treating him with kid-gloves.
She slams the front door. 'Don't you yell at me!' And rounds on him. 'I am leaving now. Stay here, calm the hell down, and be sure you're in Daddy mode when Zoey and I walk back through that door, yes?'
Her back stays toward him. 'I refuse to argue with you anymore, Anthony. The doctor says I don't need the stress…for me or the baby.'
A heavy silence.
She cannot believe she's confessed to their second pregnancy in the midst of an argument. Guilt and shame wracks her. Her shoulders slump.
'Je t'aime,' she whispers and pulls open the door once more. 'I'll be home soon.'
'Thalia, love, wait!'
And she walks out the door, shutting it firmly behind her.
Zoey is pouting and two whines away from a full-blown strop. Her hair is lopsided from Anthony tugging them back to be tamed and Zoey yanking it back out. She hates wearing her hair up.
'Da,' she whines for no particular reason other than to convey her displeasure.
Anthony pinches the bridge of his nose and squeezes shut his eyes. He can't look at her right now, grips his heart and tug-pull-rips; in such a tizzy, Zo reminds him so much of Nathalie during their last–his lungs whoosh out.
They've been home from New Zealand about three days now, flying in from Auckland, and the transition from vacation to reality has taken that long mainly to get over jet lag. He is beginning to regret not jumping back in to work. Because Zoey is refusing to return to her childminder's.
'Zo, baby, you have to.'
'No, Da, I don't.' She stomps her little canvas-covered foot. 'Why can't Nana mind me?'
'Because Nana has work to do, too, Zo.'
Her lower lip juts out and quivers. She shakes her head, slowly at first but then fiercely. 'No, Da,' her whine is now shaky and wet: a plea. 'Don't 'ant to,' she sobs.
His heart spider-cracks seeing his girl falling apart, whether it's a tantrum or something else, Anthony never has handled her evolving moods very well. He tries to scoop her up but Zoey shakes her head again, backing away, and bright eyes are wide, wet, and so very sad.
'I want my mummy, Da.' She hiccups.
This time Anthony successfully scoops his girl up and cradles her. He pets her curls, tugging them out of their restraints, and kisses her hair, cheeks, nose, forehead, crown, hoping to soothe and reassure her. She hasn't had a meltdown about Nathalie in a few weeks, at least not one of this morning's proportions, and Anthony blinks away his own tears.
'I'm here, Zo; Daddy's got you, little lovey.' He repeats, swaying her back and forth, and crying with her until she falls asleep in his arms.
He decides to work from home today."
ma fille: my child
Je t'aime: I love you.