Tina sat in the dark at the sticky little kitchen table. Again she couldn’t sleep and needed some air. The rain had stopped so she had cracked open the window over the sink. She could hear and smell the lazy night wind mixing the leaves. Luke left at ten after a nap — said he’d grab something at the hospital. He didn’t think of food as something more than fuel these days. She missed how they used to linger over dinner, but smiled at the thought of him falling asleep as Henry “read” his new books to him tonight.
She didn’t tell Luke about the money. The bill was still folded in the greasy back pocket of her jeans because she’d be pulling them again tomorrow. She thought Henry might have blurted out his discovery, but it turned out that he wasn’t all that impressed by the “green paper.”
Maybe she would keep it to herself for a little while longer. It wasn’t really keeping a secret so much as just not disclosing a finding. If Luke found out she wouldn’t lie. Maybe what she wanted most of all was a little break; a way to feel a bit more like her old self, the woman she recognized as competent, funny, joyful, sexy…. okay, maybe not sexy yet, but powerful, in a small way.
Tina walked through the house to check on Henry. He was sprawled out on his bed, books and little X-men scattered on the floor, in that deep sleep of growing children. She swore she could hear cells multiplying, piling up boy blood, bone and brain so in the morning he’d be a new boy to her again. She moved into their room to peek at his little brother in the bassinet. Tucker slept like a little old man, one arm flung imperiously overhead, belly rising and falling like a tiny bellows. The air around him surprisingly warm. “Like a small tyrant,” she thought.
Tina rubbed her eyes. Like an over-tired baby, she was fighting the tug of sleep. The rumpled bedding and familiar indents in their mattress were cool again and she relaxed with a exhalation as she sat back down on the bed. She recognized the feeling now. It was the luxury of falling into sleep. A small reclaiming of herself. Yes, she would keep that money stashed away. A small reclaiming for herself for the future. For now, a few hours of sleep would be redemption enough. Her last coherent thought was …”don’t forget to take the money out of your pocket before washing those jeans.”
Need a refresher? See the links below to get back into the groove:
Chapter 1 Introducing Ruby, Viv and St. Benjamin
Chapter 2 Boychik Luis and Bubbe Bev
Chapter 3 Bright Lights and Big Bev City
Chapter 4 Ruby and Viv Find Their Big Girl Panties
Chapter 5 Mother’s Little Helper — Part 1
Chapter 6 Mother’s Little Helper — Part 2