“With banana and raisins for you, Skye; just banana for you, Gabe,” I said, mostly for my own benefit as opposed to theirs. I’d committed to memory that Gabriel was, under no circumstances, ever to be given raisins again. I’d learned my lesson the first time, after Naomi and I were finding squashed raisins all over the apartment for weeks! He must have picked them out and slipped them into his pocket before liberally discarding them.
“Water, Mommy,” he demanded. Skye promptly followed suit.
“What do you say?”
“Please,” they chirped excitedly. They didn’t have to think about it — Naomi had drilled that into them at an early age, and they only ever seemed to leave it off with me. They’d decided quite early on which parent would let them get away with murder: me, naturally. I was the biggest, most unapologetic pushover when it came to my kids. More than once Naomi had had to reprimand me for it. But she got it. She knew all about my past, knew why it was almost impossible for me to say no to my kids.
I whipped together some oatmeal, set their bowls in front of them, kissed them on their foreheads, then slipped away to hurriedly get dressed before they noticed I was gone.
There was a missed call and voice message from Naomi. I played it while I picked out my outfit for the day.
“Hi honey, sorry I left without waking you. I know you hate that,” she started. I smiled to myself. I did hate that, waking up to find the bed empty and my wife gone. I never said as much, though I was sure she knew, but a stupid part of me feared she would never come back. It was incredibly foolish to think that way, considering how much she loved her family, and how happy we made her, but fear is sometimes irrational like that. There was also this darkness hanging over me, insisting that the happiness I had would be short-lived. Most days I ignored it, but every now and then it crept back into my subconscious, frightening me.
“…we’re nine hours behind them, hence the 5AM conference call,” she went on. “It won’t be a regular thing, I promise. Not this early, and not once we’ve got everything in place.”
She’d recently won a ginormous international account from a Dutch company called Neder Eats, and had been working her ass off for the obstinate, extremely fastidious CEO. In fact, we’d both been working hard on it. Every now and then, depending on the project, she brought me on as a consultant, for which I was paid handsomely by my old company. Same duties as before, except I only worked a couple of hours a day, and from home. It meant I got to work with my wife and earn my own money again. Not to mention it kept the creative juices flowing. Although I had no plans to return to work for good, I did like the idea of doing light work whenever I had the time. It was the perfect setup.