Louise struggled to get out of her seat and headed for the door before the bus driver closed the door and continued his route. It was the same everyday of the week, every week of the month and every month of the year. Same routine, same pain, same panic to reach the door. Why she didn’t sit closer to the door remained a mystery to the driver.
Louise did not know the driver’s name and he did not know hers. They were compatible strangers. He always watched as she struggled down the three steps to the curb, never offering to help. He knew she always panicked about him leaving before she disembarked, but he would never do that.
He drove away as she ambled down the street to her door steps. Once again struggling up three steps she would open the front door to hear, “Mama’s home! Mama’s home!” at which point three children as tall as Louise rushed up to hug their mama.
It seemed as if they were all talking at the same time, “How was your day?”
“How is your back?”
“Did you bring us any treats?”
“I’m starving, how soon is dinner?”
Louise gently smiled at her three loves and calmly said, “My day was good, my back is fine, I didn’t bring any treats and I will start dinner in five minutes.” She looked longingly at the overstuffed couch against the wall and breathed a heavy sigh. Oh if she could just have ten minutes of peace when she walked in the door.
“Where’s your father?” She asked the group in general.
Her youngest, Larry, shrugged his shoulders and said, “I haven’t seen him. Is he supposed to be home?”
Camille, her eleven year old daughter, said quietly, “Mama, I don’t think he’s here. When we came home from school the house was empty.”
Last Darryl, her eldest at thirteen, responded, “He isn’t here and we don’t need him!”
“Now now Darryl, you know you don’t mean that.”
“I sure do!” he said stomping his foot for emphasis. “What’s the point of him being here? He doesn’t talk to us, he doesn’t sit with us, he doesn’t seem to even like us.”
Louise looked at her son, who was already three inches taller than her and said, “Daddy works very hard to put food on the table and clothes on your back. When he gets home from work he is tired, that’s all. I know he loves all three of you very much.”
“If you say so.”
Louise went into her little kitchen only to find a dish full of dirty dishes, crumbs all over the counters and an open milk container on the table. “How many times do I have to ask you all to clean up after yourselves?” It was as if she were speaking to deaf ears.
After cleaning the clutter she went about the task of making dinner. It was not much but she made do and the children ate every last drop. “Now, who still has homework to do?”