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Wrong Place, Right Time

By:Elle Casey

CHAPTER ONE

I close my eyes and inhale deeply after shutting the front door to my house. The sounds of my two girls talking a mile a minute and my son shouting in happiness come through the oak that separates the inside of the house from the front porch, as they go down the steps and head out to their father’s waiting vehicle.

Hallelujah . . . Miles, my ex, finally followed through on his promise to pick up our children and have them for the weekend, and I plan on taking full advantage of this little mini-vacation. Just one more deep breath in and out, and I’ll finally be able to relax; I will be able to temporarily forget the fact that his parting comment—whispered to me so the kids wouldn’t hear—was that he’d be bringing them back early Sunday, because he has a baseball game to go to.

God forbid he bring his children to one of these events he likes to treat himself to. Bastard. He gets baseball games and nightclubs, dinners out with grown-ups and sex. I get hours and hours of Animal Planet—the one television channel all three of my children can agree is awesome—and the occasional superhero comic. I try not to be bitter about the fact that he has a life and I don’t, but I’m not very successful.

My phone buzzes in my pocket. I ignore it, taking another deep breath in and letting it out slowly. I will not let the world intrude on my solitude, on my hard-won peace and quiet. I will finally get some of that me-time I keep reading about on all those mommy blogs.

My phone buzzes again.

Me-time! Me-time! Me-time! I want some of that me-time, dammit! I think I know how the Incredible Hulk feels in the moments before he busts out of his pants. A person can only take so much. My jeans are already feeling a little tighter.

I’m afraid that one of these days, I’m going to Hulk-out. I’m going to puff up with rage, turn green, and rip all my clothes off . . . and then I’m going to run around the house raging like a rabid beast, breaking glasses and plates, ripping down curtains, and punching holes in the walls. I smile at the carnage I’m picturing in my mind. God, that would be so, so satisfying. The only reason I don’t indulge in the fantasy is because I’d be the only one around to clean everything up when I was done going all beast-mode on my house, and I already have enough on my plate.

Someone is texting me, and I can guess who it probably is without even looking at the screen. There are two likely candidates: my boss and my sister. If it’s my boss, he can forget whatever it is he’s bothering me about; I’ve already worked enough overtime this week to last me a month. And if it’s my sister, well, she can wait too. I need some wine before I talk to her. Lately most of her conversations involve stories that make my hair turn gray, and I’m only thirty-two. I really don’t need any more gray hair than I already have.

My sister started this new job a couple of months ago, and while it makes her really happy, it makes me kind of crazy. I thought she had a pretty good life before, so I didn’t see the need for the big change. I still don’t, actually. After she graduated from college, she moved back down south to be near me and the kids, and started up a business right away as a wedding photographer. She was single and childless, and had the perfect life, or so it seemed to me.

She’s super talented, and even though the economy took a dive and she said it really affected her business, she was still making it. Still living the single life in her own place, making schedules that weren’t dictated by anyone else, taking baths without worrying about what might be happening downstairs.

When I take a bath while my kids are home, it’s more panic-inducing than relaxing. All I can think about is what might be happening on the other side of the door, like my kids accidentally drinking poison, my son ripping doll heads off, my daughters terrorizing their pet gerbil by dressing it in Barbie clothes. Oy.

Yep, my sister May had it all; and then, for some crazy reason she has yet to explain to my satisfaction, she decided it wasn’t enough. She went off the range. She met this guy, Ozzie, some former military grunt, shut her business down, joined his security firm, and started acting all commando. She actually has biceps now and says things like “eyes-on” and “charlie foxtrot” and God knows what else. Whenever she starts with that nonsense, I just tune it out.

Anyway, I don’t know why she needed such a drastic change, but apparently, according to her, she did. Under the surface, she’s the same May I grew up with, but that’s where the girl I knew ends. Outwardly, she’s more confident. She seems more . . . grown-up. But at the same time, she’s younger too. She walks with a spring in her step. She’s always smiling. She’s sillier than ever, and she claims to be in love with a guy she hardly knows.

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