“Mom, where are my soccer cleats?” Marlow yells from her room.
“I think I saw them by the dog’s bed in the family room.”
Marlow thuds down the hall then rounds the corner into the kitchen. “Can you untie my shorts?” she asks.
I put the lid back on the roast and close the oven door before I bend down and sigh in frustration. “Did you make this knot?”
“Yes,” she responds. “I didn’t want them to fall down when I was running, but now I have to pee and I can’t get them off.”
I attempt to dig my nail into the fabric, but there’s no nail there to use. My nail-biting habit is out of control again.
“Mom!” I hear Kale scream from upstairs.
“Kale, if you want to talk to me, come down the stairs and speak in a normal voice.”
“I don’t want to come downstairs. I just wanted you to know that Marlow left her stinky socks on the bathroom floor.”
I sigh at Marlow as she dances from place to place. “I really have to pee, Mom,” she whispers in fear.
“Why did you leave your socks on the bathroom floor?” I ask as I manage to make a small dent in the fabric.
“They were wet.”
“Why were they wet?”
“Roscoe peed in the hall and I stepped in it.”
I stop what I’m doing and stare at my six-year-old daughter.
“What?” she asks with her hands in the air.
The timer on the oven sounds, letting me know the roast is ready.
“Mom!” Kale hollers. “Roscoe peed in the hall again.”
“Then clean it up!” I shout back in irritation.
“Eww… no way!” he responds.
The timer continues to beep when the phone rings. I stand and pull Marlow toward it. I hit answer and place it on my shoulder before bending down to return to the knot from hell. She’d make a great sailor.
“Did you pay the credit card bill this month?”
“Well hi, Mike,” I respond. “I’m fine, how are you?”
“Shit, Everly, just answer the damn question.”
I sigh. “Yes, I paid it.”
“Are you sure? Because I still have a balance and I told you to pay it off.”
“Mom!” Kale yells from upstairs.
“I did pay it. I called it in a week ago.”
“Mom?” Kale shouts again.
Marlow continues to dance in front of me as I finally free her from her binds and she rushes toward the bathroom.
I stand and turn off the annoying timer.
“What’s the confirmation number?” Mike asks.
“I don’t know, Mike. I’m kinda busy right now.”
He chuckles into the phone. “You have no idea what it means to be busy. You should see my desk right now.”
I pierce my lip with my tooth and begin to form the f to my favorite word when Kale charges down the stairs. I stop myself on the consonant.
“Didn’t you hear me, Mom? I called you like a hundred times!”
“Must be nice to sit around all day while I work and claim you’re too busy to get a simple number for me.”
“Mom!” Marlow cries out. “There’s no toilet paper!”
“Mom, why are you ignoring me?” Kale asks as he pulls on my shirt.
I take a deep breath and attempt to prioritize. Asshat husband wants check number… I stare at the phone for a second as he asks “Hello?” in his annoying voice to gain my attention. I end the call. Check.
Screaming Kale has something urgent to ask. “Yes, Kale. What do you need?”
“I forgot I need to bring cookies to karate tonight.”
I close my eyes to stop myself from asking why he didn’t tell me this morning so I could have picked some up from the store. I open the pantry and grab a bag of Oreos. “Done,” I tell him.
“Those are open!” he states in utter disbelief.
I glance into the package. There are only a few missing. I’m pretty sure I ate them in the car on the way home from the store. “It’ll be fine,” I assure him. Check. He mumbles something under his breath as he makes his way back up the stairs. I’m too tired to ask him what he said.
“Mom… toilet paper?”
I hurry into the laundry room and grab the new pack, pulling off the plastic wrap. I knock on the door before I open it slightly to her shriek of horror. “I’m in here!” she yells. “Privacy!”
I roll the paper to her and close the door. Check.
No more screaming. No more angry husband. All butts are accounted for. I lean against the wall and sigh as the fire alarm blares into my ears. I turn and see smoke coming from the stove.
“Should I call 911?” Kale screams from upstairs.
“What? No, Kale! Everything’s fine!” I open the oven and take out the burning roast, waving the smoke and opening a window.
“What?” he yells over the deafening sound.
I wave my towel in the air under the smoke alarm in the hall.
“Should I exit the house from the window up here like we practiced in the fire drill?” Kale asks in a panic.
“Kale, for Christ’s sake, there’s no fire!”
“There’s a fire?” he screams.
I hustle back into the kitchen and wave the smoke toward the open window. The blaring stops and I take a calming breath, staring at the crispy roast for a moment. In the distance, I hear sirens. They seem to be getting closer. I silently pray it’s the hospital coming to take me away.