May 6, 2015

Haley: Week Twenty-Five, Day Two

Living Green Tip #7: Chickens raised at home tend to produce tastier eggs and meat than you’d find at the supermarket, and some chickens make excellent pets.

Rachel groggily rolled out of bed when Rio began crying.  Lord but she was tired! she thought irritably.  She'd never been much of a morning person and it seemed like Rio loved getting up bright and early!
 "You're going to have to learn to sleep in, little man," Rachel told him as she lifted him from the crib.
She sighed. "I know, I know! You're hungry!" She quickly mixed up a bottle with the ingredients she kept by the crib and held the bottle in front of him, watching as he quickly grasped for it and pulled it into his mouth, sucking earnestly.  "Slow down, little man! Don't be a piggy," she said softly. "There's plenty of food for you! You don't want to get the burpies!"

***

Haley stood in front of the easel and frowned.  Nothing, she thought sadly.  Her inspiration seemed to have been completely sucked away.  It was disconcerting, like she'd lost her gift... a friend...

Anxiously she rubbed her hand over her belly.

What was she going to do?!

***
"Is Rachel up yet?" Maritza asked with surprise when she saw Haley rocking baby Rio. 
"Yeah, she's just taking a shower and getting ready. I told her I'd watch the little guy for her," Haley explained, rocking the fussy baby.

"Is he hungry?" Maritza asked.

Haley shook her head. "I don't think so. Rachel said she just fed him."

"Maybe he needs his diaper changed?" Maritza suggested.
 "I don't know! I don't know anything about babies!" Haley panicked slightly.

Maritza sent her friend a telling glance.  "Well, my friend, you'd better take a crash course.  You're due any day.

Haley sighed, "Don't remind me!"  She hated the fact that she was having Gage's baby, forever tied to him.  Although, she kinda hadn't told him.  She figured he wouldn't want to know and she for sure didn't want him in her life!  The only thing that made her feel a little guilty was that she would be denying her baby his, or her, half-siblings.  Just thinking about it made her feel sick to the stomach!
Lifting Rio up higher on her shoulder, she tapped his back, excited when he burped and finally calmed.

"Good job!" Rachel said as she hurried downstairs. "Mom says I need to get him to eat slower so that he's not so gassy."
Haley handed Rio over to Rach.  "You're so lucky that your mom is close-by to help you take care of him!"  Haley said, silently thinking about how her folks were living hundreds miles away now.  She'd called her mom and dad and told them the news, leaving out Gage's threats and marital status.  They'd been shocked enough.  They had said that they were going to try to make it out shortly after the baby was born.
 "Don't worry," Rachel said, sensing Haley's unhappiness.  "We're going to get through all of this together, right Maritza?"

Maritza smiled at her two roomies.  "Right! We make a great team!"

Rachel gave Maritza a thumbs up.  "Well guys, I've got to get going or I'm going to be late for work."

Maritza glanced at her watch.  "I'm going to take Mittens for a hike.  I think I've finally trained him not to pounce on wildlife!"

Haley waved goodbye as her friends hurried out the door.

***

"Hey, mom! Thanks for watching Rio!" Rachel said, passing over her sleeping baby to Sonja. 
"I've gotta run! I'm going to be late!" she called over her shoulder.

Sonja hurried to the door after her daughter, "Rachel! You forgot the diaper bag!"  Sighing, she snuggled her grandson.  "She forgot your diaper bag again.  Looks like we're going to be making a trip to the store! Tsk! Tsk!"
Rachel pushed her hair out of her face and walked into Hogan's Deep-Fried Diner and tugged on her apron.  "I'm here, Leanna!" she called out.

Leanna gestured towards the employee-only area, "Go clock in. You're 15 minutes late."

"Sorry," Rachel grimaced. 

***

Maritza hiked through some back trails, trying to keep her eyes open for any type of wildlife.  She was especially interested in collecting information about natural habitats of lizards, but so far any wildlife had remained elusive.

I never thought it would be this hard! she thought, slightly irritated. 
Just then, Mittens darted off.

"Mittens! No!" Maritza snapped, running after him.  Just what she needed, Mittens to get scratched or bitten by an unknown animal.

Mittens immediately stopped fighting and trotted over to Maritza, dropping an unharmed snake at her feet.
 "Oh my goodness, a Emerald Tree Boa Snake!" she said with wonder.  "You caught an Emerald Tree Boa Snake!"  Quickly, she lifted the snake into her arms.  "Good boy, Mittens!" she praised him.  "Let's get this sample immediately!"  Pulling out her pad of paper, she made a few notes about the location the snake had been found and it's general condition.
Back at home, Maritza slipped the snake into the terrarium she'd prepared for it.  Hopefully Haley would be feeling well enough to make a sketch soon!

 ***

Haley hummed as she tended to her garden.  She loved it when she got to harvest her fruits and vegetables!  She really felt like she was making a difference in the world by keeping her carbon footprint small.
A recent addition that she'd fought Rachel tooth and nail for was her pretty little chicken coop.  Rachel had been adamant that she would have nothing to do with the chickens, while Maritza had thought it would interesting to study them.

Haley filled the trough with food.
 "Hello Ruby and Chickpea," Haley greeted her hens.  "Are you going to lay eggs for me soon?"

The chickens just squawked in reply.

***

After work, Rachel hurried back over to her mom's house.  "How was he today?" she asked anxiously.  It was so hard to be away from him for such long periods of time.
"Oh Rachel, I love taking care of him! I always wanted a little boy, you know," her mom admitted.  "Don't get me wrong. I loved all you girls, but I'd always hoped to give your father the little boy he wanted."

Rachel cocked an eyebrow, "Um, Mom, Dad had Johnny."

Sonja waved her hand. "Oh, I know. I love Johnny and have been so proud of him, despite the trouble he's gotten into.  But, a man wants sons to carry on his name."

"Wow, good to know we're chopped liver," Rachel teased.

Sonja smacked her impertinent daughter's shoulder. "Oh go on, go get your son!"  She waved Rachel away impatiently while Rachel chuckled under her breath. Her mom was so easy to rile!
She stepped into her mom's room and lifted Rio from his crib. "Hey there, little man," she softly crooned. "Did you miss me?"
On her way out of the house, Rachel ran into Rose.  "How's school going?" she asked. 

Rose pushed her glasses up her nose. "Good," she replied.  "I'm making all A's & I'm doing the school newspaper."

"Good for you!" Rachel told her sister.  "I was never any good at school," she admitted.

"Well, at least you're not as bad as Keely," Rose said dryly.

Rachel rolled her eyes, "I don't think that's possible!" she said snarkily.

 ***

 Pulling her fresh lettuce and tomatoes from the fridge, Haley prepared a small salad for dinner. 
She didn't care what anyone else said, food made from fresh produce tasted 1,000 times better than store bought!  It was getting to the point that she could actually tell the difference between store-bought produce and her garden-fresh produce!

She'd just finished eating when the doorbell rang.
 "I wonder who it is," she thought worriedly.  It was getting late and no one ever just showed up without calling.  Her mind went back to the strange noises that she'd hear around the place after her folks had first moved.

She shook her head and admonished herself as she swung the door open. There was nothing to be scared of!
 "Oh! Armando? Can I help you?" Haley asked, surprised to see him.  She hadn't spoken to him since her art exhibit when he'd bugged her about her paintings.
"Uh, hi!" he responded awkwardly. "Actually, I was, uh, just curious if you'd painted anything recently. Now that you're not so busy."  He glanced down at her obvious pregnant belly.
Haley rubbed the back of her neck. "Not really," she told him. "Nothing that's exhibit ready, unfortunately."  She didn't know why every conversation with Armando had to be so uncomfortable. He was just so... intense and... weird.
"Oh," Armando pressed.  "You know, an artist is his own worst enemy," he told her. "If you wanted, I could, you know, look at it and let you know."
 "Um, I appreciate the thought," Haley said, trying to be tactful.  "But nothing I've painted is really ready to be viewed," she laughed self-consciously.  "Some people have secrets hidden in the attic, I just have my old paintings!"
After a beat, Armando laughed along with her.  "Well, can't blame a guy for trying. You're truly a talented artist," he said, reaching out to shake her hand, pumping it up and down.
Haley breathed a sigh of relief as he headed down the steps.

Really the only thing she'd painted recently was the picture of  Gage.  He'd called her recently when he'd remembered it's existence and threatened her with bodily harm if it ever saw the light of day.

She'd reassured him that it was safely buried away in the attic, unless he wanted to pay her $1000 for it.  He'd ranted about blackmail and calling in "his boys" to get the painting for him. 

She'd been pretty surprised she'd been as calm as she'd been when she'd assured him it wasn't blackmail to sell an artistic piece of that merit for $1000 and that if he called in "his boys" to get the painting, they would all see him all but buck-naked in his birthday suit. 

He'd quickly slammed the phone down, the sound ringing in her ear. 

 ***

 "How was your day?" Rachel asked as she walked in the house with Rio.
 "You'll never guess who came by today!" Haley announced.  "Armando!"

Rachel scowled. "Ew! He was always following you around in high school.  Johnny had to tell him to stay away from you or he'd beat him up."

"Really?" Haley asked with surprise.

Rachel nodded. "Yeah, he was really annoyed with him."

Haley blinked  as she sank to the couch, thinking back to her high school years.  "I never knew..." she said thoughtfully.
 "I don't understand, what's wrong with Armando?" Maritza asked. 
"What's wrong with him?" Rachel repeated scathingly as she prepped dinner.   "What's not wrong with him?!  Come on, let's eat."

"Rachel, you're being too hard on him!" Haley said, feeling sorry for the poor guy.  He was just socially awkward, which was something she understood ALOT about!  She grabbed a plate and followed Rachel to the table.
 "I'm just saying that you don't have to be so damn nice all the time," Rachel said.  "Tell him to get lost!"
"Rach, you know I'd never tell anyone to get lost," Haley said with a smile.  Rachel was always so confrontational!  "He just wanted to know if I'd painted anything recently."
Maritza chewed her lip. "That does sound a little odd, Haley.  Why would he come by out of the blue to ask about paintings?"
 "Some people happen to like art!" Haley said imperiously, shooting a glance at Rachel who had no problems announcing to the world that she thought most artists were pointless. She was always nice to say that she didn't think that of Haley, though.  "Guys, you are blowing this way out of proportion!"
Rachel finished and stood up, "Let's just hope you're right," Rachel said in a huff as she got up to get Rio.  "I gotta get to bed. I have a long day scheduled tomorrow."

 ***


 ***

The wood creaked softly as he crept up the back patio stairs.  He paused by the windows to the dining room, peering in to make sure that no one was awake.
Walking to the far corner, he quietly jumped up on the railing and pulled himself up to the second story porch. 
No one ever remembered to lock the second story openings.
 Once inside, he crept silently down the hall, pausing slightly as he passed by her door. 
"Where is the damn thing?" he said to himself, looking around the junky attic. 
 What a bunch of useless crap! he thought as he tried to quietly rifle through the crap piled up.
 Then, he saw it. The hidden canvas. He tried to contain the chuckle that slipped from his lips.  Hidden in the attic, huh?
Carefully, he lifted it from behind the crib and started to leave the room, cringing when his foot kicked the damn chest that was in his way. That was too loud, he thought anxiously.  He paused a moment trying to determine if it woke anyone up and then moved more quickly, ready to run if needed.

 ***

Haley had woken up in the middle of the night.  Had she heard something?  It had seemed like she'd heard something in the attic.

Mysterious sounds in the attic became the last thing on her mind when she felt her contractions quicken.  "Rachel!" she called out.
"Omigod! Omigod!" Rachel said when she burst in the room. "Your water broke! You're having your baby!"

"Way to state the obvious!" Haley snapped, clutching her stomach as the next contraction passed.
Maritza had Rio in her arms and waved Rachel and Haley off.  "I've got Rio. You guys go!" she said, waving them away.

"Thanks Maritza!" Rachel said as she hustled Haley off to the waiting cab.

***

Rachel threw her hands up in the air.  "You have a baby boy!" she crowed.  "Rio and him are going to be best friends!"

Haley laughed tiredly. 
Rachel smiled and kissed the top of Jason's head.  "Women always know when they're having the baby. Is that what you were doing up in the attic before you went into labor?"

Haley's gaze shot to Rachel's.  "I wasn't in the attic," she said as her pulse began to race.

"Then who was?" Rachel asked, her eyes widening with worry.

*AN: This update is dedicated to my daughter's chickens: Ruby, Chickpea, Belle, Meredith, Eve, Ebony, Goldielocks, & Lady!  Chickens do make awesome pets!

6 comments:

  1. OMG! omg! Creepy! I love it! So many questions, lol, but I'm going to keep them to myself and just see what happens next. Seriously though, this chapter was great. Really well done!

    And welcome, Jason =D

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    1. Thanks! It was a lot of fun to write! :) I'm enoying this generation!

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  2. Geez. A whole new way to play 'Cops and Robbers' eh? Time for someone to take Gage out. >:( Ugh.

    Aw. It's sweet to see Rachel's mom so excited over her grandson.

    Geez. Armando showed up *again*? lol. He's so... Gosh bless him. He will never get very far with his really obvious awkward public stalk. Haha. Did he just show up?

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    1. Gage is going to get his in the end!

      And I LOVE Rachel's family! Sonja was super cute with little Rio!

      Poor Armando with his obvious stalk! It would've been funny if he'd just shown up, but I directed him over there for creative purposes. :) Haley couldn't talk to him though for some weird reason, so I just took pictures of their incredibly awkward posturing. Lol. Worked out alright in the end!

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  3. I love the living green requirement :D You made Haley's garden look so pretty and the chicken coop is the little cherry on top. So idyllic!

    Is Armando an art thief?? Did Gage hire him? Aaahh, now I need to keep reading!

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    1. I loved the chicken coop! It was perfect for an eco-friendly kind of girl. :)

      Ooo... what the heck is Armando up to? Dun. Dun. Dun.....

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