August 31, 2015

Haley: Week Twenty-Seven, Day One

Green Living Tip #20:  Eat free range, organic chickens, eggs and meat. Animals bred for eating are often fed hormones and antibiotics to increase growth and reduce diseases.

Maritza laid in her dark room, unsure of the time.. or even the day...

She'd missed so much of her pregnancy, she thought, running her hand over her stomach to feel the kick.  She'd been so lost in her grieving in the early months, Rachel and Haley had encouraged her to take her prenatal vitamins, dragged her to prenatal appointments and had generally forced her to live again.

"I'd be lost without them," she said aloud, reaching down to rub Mittens head. 
 Mittens sighed heavily and stretched out, rubbing herself against Maritza's leg.

***

Nooooo, I just got to sleep, Rachel thought with irritation when the stomping coming from the attic had woken little Shayla up.  She didn't remember Rio waking up this much in the night when he was a baby!  "I'm going to kill those boys!" she grumbled under her breath, throwing the covers off the bed.

***

"Do it again, Rio! Do it again!" Jason urged, giggling as he clung to Rio's back. 

"Are you ready?" Rio asked teasingly as he bounced up and down on Jason's bottom bunk.  "Heeeeere we go!"
Holding tight to Jason, he hopped off the bed and landed on the floor with a solid thunk.
Shrieking with laughter, the boys ran around the room wildly.
"Er HERM..." Rachel cleared her throat noisily as she stood at the top of the stairs with her arms crossed.
"Uh oh, we're in trouble!" Jason said, glancing up at his Auntie Rachel.

Rio glanced down at Jason.  Boy, were they ever...
***

"Any day now!" Haley said excitedly over breakfast.  "
Maritza nodded, quietly cutting into the pancakes on her plate.  It had only been 6 months since Daryl had passed away.  It still hurt to think about raising their child without him. 

Glancing up, she realized that Haley and Rachel had changed the subject and were chatting about Jason's birthday party scheduled for later that evening.  She was glad they hadn't waited for her to answer.  Some days she still got lost in her thoughts...
"Thank you for breakfast," Maritza said, reaching over to pick up plates.

"Maritza! Let me grab the dishes!" Haley said.

"No, no, I'm fine! I can do the dishes for goodness sakes!" Maritza said, determined to be more helpful.  She hated feeling so helpless all the time.
An ache in her back had her dropping the plates to the table and bending over in discomfort.  "Or not," she winced, breathing shallowly.  "Oh, that hurt!"
Haley set Jason down and started to gather up the dishes Maritza had put down.  "Let me get it Maritza," she said.  "You go lay down and rest. I'll take care of it!"

Maritza nodded and headed to her room.

***

Maritza found that she couldn't sleep.  She felt too full of energy, as though she had slept too long for all those weeks!  She lifted Mittens up, "I'm really feeling much better!" she said as she stroked her fur.

***

After doing the dishes, Haley hung the clothes up to dry, fed the baby chicks and had begun tending to her poor, neglected garden.
"Haley?" Maritza said with a slight sob as she came out the front door.

Haley glanced over her shoulder towards her friend.  "What is it? What's wrong?" she asked.
Maritza covered her heart with her hand. "I miss him so much! I can't do this without him!"

Haley dropped her watering can and hurried to Maritza's side.  "You can, Maritza. You have me! You have Rachel! It's all going to be okay," she said soothingly. 
Maritza shook her head as she wiped at the tears in her eyes. "It's not!" she said with another sob.  "Stop saying that! It's NOT okay!"
Haley's eyes widened when Maritza leaned forward, clutching her stomach.  "You're in labor?! We've got to get you to the hospital!"

***

Rachel was beside herself with worry.  Haley had left early afternoon to take Maritza to the hospital.  But, they still weren't home yet.  And everyone was here for Jason's birthday party!

She set out a tray of drinks.
"Have you heard from them yet?" Haley's mom, Eva, asked with concern.

Rachel shook her head.  "No," she glanced towards the window.  "Haley should've called by now.  Something's wrong. She never would've missed Jason's birthday!"
"Well, his birthday party's not over yet!" Ian, Haley's brother, offered hopefully.  "If something was wrong, she would've called."

Rachel was all but wringing her hangs.  "I hope so," she said, turning to fidget with the birthday cake.  She hated not knowing what was going on!
Haley trudged up the front steps to her home, alone... 
The minute she walked in the door, Rachel sprinted over to her side. "Is she okay? What took so long?!" she asked with an edge to her voice.

***
 
"Everything's fine," Haley assured Rachel.  "She has a beautiful little boy she's named Daryl Patel!" Haley said, remembering the look of joy in Maritza's face when she held him.
"Dr. Wyman just wanted to keep him overnight for observation.  They should be able to come home tomorrow!" 

Rachel sighed with relief.  "Oh great! Dr. Wyman is the best! He'll take great care of them!"

***

Jason glanced up from where he was watching football with Uncle Ian and Rio and saw his mom finally.  He ran to her side. "Mom! You're home! Is it time for my birthday yet?" he asked excitedly.

Haley smiled at her son and held her arms out for a hug.  "Of course it is!" 
"Let's go see the cake Aunt Rachel made!" she said, happily leading him towards the table.


"Alright!" Jason and Rio cheered, eager for cake and ice cream.
"HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" everyone cheered, singing and blowing noise-makers to celebrate.
"Alright! Chocolate cake!" Jason cheered. "My favorite!"  Taking a deep breath, he blew all the candles out.

Rachel smiled proudly, "Of course! And it's going to be delicious! Your very own Rachel Vasquez Confection!" 

"I thought it was a cake," Jason said, giving his Auntie Rachel a weird look.

Rio nudged his arm. "Is is. Confection's just a fancy word," he told him knowledgeably.

***

The kids left the parents at the table, slipping away with their slices of cake to the bar.  Twisting in the bar stools, they ate quickly and quietly.
"What do you think they're talking about?" Jason asked, glancing over towards the adults. They were speaking quietly.
Rio shrugged.  "I dunno. Wanna go play upstairs?"

Jason nodded.  "Race you up there!"

***

The boys set up obstacles around the room and raced around, jumping and weaving around the toys.

"I'm faster than you!" Jason crowed unapologetically.

"No fair! You have shorter legs!" Rio complained as he pushed himself to try to speed past Jason.  Boy, that kid was fast!

August 19, 2015

Haley: Week Twenty-Six, Day Seven

Tip #19: Grief is a natural response to loss. It’s the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away.


 2 am in the morning and Rachel couldn't sleep and her stomach was unsettled.

After the morning she'd told him she was pregnant, she'd begged him to come back so that they could be a family.  He'd tried for awhile, but it hadn't worked out.  

She hadn't meant to trick him.  She'd just thought about having a sweet baby in her arms and had kinda sorta stopped taking birth control pills.  So, really it was just an accident!

Shaye had constantly asked hard questions, like where they were going to live?  How they were going to afford the bills on his salary and hers? Whether or not she'd thought about how Rio would feel.

She'd just cried and told him that she thought everything could just stay the same...

Apparently she'd been wrong.

He'd scoffed and accused her of being childish!
Stupid, stupid, stupid! she thought as she rolled out of bed.  She wasn't getting any sleep anyways. 

Padding to the computer, she plopped down and browsed the web for a little bit.  She'd just finished creating a baby-shower wish list (There were SO many cute baby things now! She hoped she had a little girl!) when she saw an advertisement for the personals.

Nibbling her lip, she let the mouse hover over the site and then clicked on the link. 
Okay, first she needed to create a her own ad. She could do that.  She was flirty, kind, had a good sense of humor, was a great kisser, and a natural cook.  She loved cheese tofu steak, hip hop & hot pink. What guy wouldn't want her?!

"Looking for someone to love..." she put in as her headline. 
Satisfied her profile, she started scrolling around the available guys.  "Ha! Dwayne is on here!" she laughed, sending him a teasing message.  She remembered when they dated back in high school.

Her eye caught on Gage, Jason's father, and she scowled.   Of course that piece of crap would be in the personals even when he was married. Her finger hovered over the button, wondering whether or not she should give him a piece of her mind.  Instead, she just clicked print on his profile. 

Sighing, she was about to give up when she noticed a good-looking guy that she'd overlooked.  "Ooo... hello Clinton," she said out loud, clicking on his profile. 
She barely glanced at the traits he listed.  It's not like she was going to marry him, just get to know him!   She immediately hit the Send Message! button and wrote out a quick greeting.
As she walked away from the computer, she wondered whether it would bother him that she was a mom with soon to be 2 kids...

 ***
 
The pounding at the front door finally broke through Haley's sleep.  Groggily she sat up in bed.  Her heart started racing and she checked the bedside clock.   4 am.  Nothing good could come from someone pounding on the door at 4 am.
She ran from her room, only slightly disoriented, bumping into the stair railing before stumbling down the stairs.

"I'm coming!" she called out with a shaky voice. 
She opened the door, surprised to see Maritza there.  With her luggage
"I... I just didn't know where else to go..." Maritza said sadly.  Her eyes were glassy and unfocused.
"What is it? What's wrong?" Haley asked, trying to meet Maritza's eyes.  "Mari, talk to me!"

Rachel came up behind them, pushing her hair from her face. "What's wrong?" she asked.

Haley shook her head, worried because Maritza just stood there.  "Is it Daryl?" she guessed, well-used to the  emotional scenes played out when Rachel's heart was broken.  But this was Maritza! She was never over-emotional!
Maritza groaned, dissolving into tears again.  "He's gone," she cried.  "Car accident... his parents came... cleaned out the apartment..."  she managed to choke out between sobs.
 "What am I going to do?" she wailed, launching herself into Haley's arms.

***

With Rachel heavily pregnant and Maritza grieving, the bulk of the chores fell to Haley again.  But, it was hard to mind when faced with her friends' difficulties. 
 In fact, in some ways, she relished being busy.  When she was busy, she didn't worry about Johnny.

No eggs today, she thought with a frown.  They hadn't done a good job of collecting eggs and all the little chicks had hatched!  It was a good thing they had such an abundance already in the refrigerator.. Although.. she mentally counted back how long it had been since they were collected.  Some of them might not be good anymore...
Her poor garden was also woefully ignored, with weeds poking out of the mulch.  She was just watering the plants when Rio came out.  "Tia Haley, can you make us breakfast?" he asked.  "Jason and I are hungry!"

Haley glanced over her shoulder. "Is your mom up yet?"

Rio shook his head.  "I knocked on her door and she said that she wanted to sleep in and if I bothered her again, she'd ground me."

Haley rolled her eyes. That sounded like Rachel.  "Alright, sweetie. Let me finish this and I'll be right in."
Rio hurried in and joined Jason at the activity table.  "Your mom said she'd make us breakfast," he told him.  "And when your Mom promises something, she means it!"
Sure enough, minutes later, Haley walked in, and hurried into the kitchen to wash her hands and then mixing up the pancake mix.  With a grin, she flipped the pancakes and smiled at the ooh's and aah's from the kids. 
"Smells good," Rachel said, coming down the stairs, actually dressed for the day.   She grabbed a plate and sat down next to Rio.
 But only minutes later, she popped right back up again, clutching her stomach.  "I knew they were contractions!" she swore. 

"Rachel! How long have you been having contractions?!" Haley demanded, jumping up.

"Probably since 2 am this morning," Rachel said grumpily.
"Rio, watch Jason for me. I'm going to go with your Mom to the hospital.  Call me if you need anything, okay?" Haley said, grabbing for her purse and keys.  "Come on, Rach. Let's get you to the hospital."

 ***

Shaye jogged up the hospital plaza, spotting Rachel and Haley.  In her arms, Rachel held a baby.  His baby.  He stopped mid-step.  Oh God, he didn't think he was ready for this... 
 "I'll leave you guys to talk," Haley said as Shaye approached.  "I'll see you back at the house."

Rachel looked at the father of her child, the love of her life, and the man who probably hated her more than anyone in the world.  "Hi," she said uncharacteristically shy.  She held up their daughter.  "I hope you don't mind. I named her Shayla..."

Shaye almost felt overwhelmed gazing into those perfect blue eyes.  He reached out and touched his daughter, then met Rachel's eyes.

"Can we talk?" she asked.

 ***

Rio stroked Mittens fur, holding on to him tight so that he couldn't escape.  It made him feel calmer.

Jason laughed at something on the TV. "That was funny, Rio. Did ya see it?"

Rio shook his head. "No, I missed it."

"Watch! Watch this!" Jason laughed, pointing at the screen.

Suddenly, the front door opened.  Rio jumped up, Mittens still clutched in his arms. 
"Is my Mom okay?" he asked when he saw his mom and the baby weren't with Tia Haley.  
Haley hurried to his side. "Of course!" she assured him.  "You have a beautiful little sister! All ten toes and fingers!" she teased.  "They should be home soon."

She glanced towards Maritza's room.  "Has Tia Ritza come out at all?"

Rio shook his head.  "Nuh uh. And I heard her crying again earlier."  He felt bad when he found out that Tia Ritza's boyfriend died.  Especially since he'd wished she could come back to live with him.  Maybe it was his fault...
Haley absently ruffled his hair and then headed to check on Maritza. "Mari," she called softly, opening the door.  "Can I come in?"

At first, Haley didn't think Maritza was going to respond, but then she finally answered in quiet voice, ravaged by tears, "Yes."

 ***

"Rio, come greet your little sister!" Rachel said when she walked in and saw him.  She held the baby down a little closer for him to see.
Rio felt his blood boil when Shaye walked in behind his mom.  "Her name is Shayla," he added, sharing a smile with Rachel. 
 "I hate you! And I hate her!" Rio cried, running upstairs.  He was too old to cry, he thought as he swiped at a stupid tear in his eye.  He was just so mad!

Shaye whistled. "Whoa... what got into him?"

Rachel frowned, handing him Shayla.  "Let me go talk to him."

***

Rachel found him in his room, pouting on the top bunk.  "What the heck was that?" she asked him.

"Nothing," Rio snapped, turning his head from her.
Heaving a sigh, she started climbing the ladder. "Oh Lord, I'm getting too old to be climbing into this bed!" she said, ducking her head so she didn't bang it on the ceiling.

Rio just twirled around and gave her his back. 
Rachel didn't let it deter her. She just crawled forward and wrapped him in her arms.  "You'll have to do better than that!" she told him, pressing a kiss to his cheek.
Then, flopping down on his pillow, she looked at him and asked, "Do you want to talk about it?"

Rio considered not saying a word, but all the resentments were bubbling under the surface and he let them all go.  Rachel went from surprised to concerned to sad.  But in the end, she'd promised to try to change. 

Maybe this time she really would change, Rio told himself as his mom kissed his head and headed from his room.

 ***

Rachel found Shaye in her room by the crib.  "She's beautiful, isn't she?" she asked, leaning over his shoulder, lightly touching his arm.

"How's Rio?" Shaye asked absently, stroking his finger over Shayla's little hand and grinning when she gripped it tight.

Rachel shrugged, "He'll be fine. I think he was just surprised to see you..."

"Pissed off, is more like it."  Rio laughed softly.  "I used to hate my mom's boyfriends.  I made their lives living hell!"

"He doesn't hate you!" Rachel argued.  "There's just been a lot of changes... you know?"

Shaye nodded, gazing at his daughter with tender eyes, then turned towards her.  He looked at her with such longing... such desire...
"Stay with me tonight," she told him impulsively, yearning for everything to be magically fixed between them.  "You can't deny how good we are together!"
The spell was broken. Shaye pulled back, shaking his head.  "I can't, Rach. I... I want to be a part of Shayla's life, but just as her father."
Rachel's face fell.  She'd let herself hope that maybe once Shaye held their baby in their arms that he might soften towards her.  "I... I see..." she said, heart-broken. 

Shaye rubbed his hand over his neck, feeling awkward now.  "Maybe I should go," he said, thrusting his hands in his pockets and striding from the room.
Rachel glanced down at Shayla.  "Now what are we going to do?" she asked aloud.

 ***

Haley had settled next to her friend on the bed, completely unsure of how to comfort her.  "I kissed Johnny,"she told her.

Martiza's eyes flew to hers as she gasped, "You didn't! WHEN?!" 

Haley smiled.  It was the first signs of life Maritza had shown since coming home.  "On Feast Day. We were outside and... it just kind of happened!"

"Does Rachel know?" Martiza asked, enthralled by the idea of Johnny and Haley together.  "What did he say? Have you seen him again?"

Haley shook her head sadly.  "No, Rachel doesn't know. It was kind of a one-time thing," she confessed.  "He's hung up on some girl from the city."

Maritza's smile fell.  "His loss," she said defensively. 
Haley shrugged, pausing a moment before asking, "Do you want to talk about it?"

Maritza told Haley about Daryl's accident and what followed.  "I keep thinking it's just a horrible, horrible nightmare.  That when I wake up, I'll be back in Appaloosa Plains with Daryl," she began.  "I spoke with his parents, they're going to settle with the landlord and pay the reletting fee.  It's as though we were never there now."

"I'm so sorry, Mari," Haley said, wishing she could take all of her friend's pain away.  It hurt to see her so sad!

"The hardest part of it all is..." Maritza paused, wiping at her eyes and trying to stop from bursting into tears. "...I'm pregnant!"