The wooden spoon she had hit them with smashed into splintered shards when she brought it down onto the kitchen bench. GO TO YOUR FUCKING ROOMS, she said and they ran to where she had told them to go. He’d broken it off because of them. No man wants to raise another man’s children and now she was going to be alone forever because of them. Goddamn kids.
You’re staying home today, she said.
Why? said the boy.
I’m lonely, it’s the least you can do.
Shouldn’t we go to school? said the girl.
DON’T EVER QUESTION YOUR MOTHER, she said and they all watched cartoons for the rest of the day. She told them not to tell their father or she’d kill herself. They looked at each other the way children do when they don’t understand something. Incomprehension was rendered into silence that she interpreted as indifference. GET FUCKED THEN, she said and stomped off to her bedroom. The boy turned the TV off.
Their father knocked on the door. About time you showed up, she said.
I’ve been out of town, he said.
Same old bullshit.
What do you want from me?
You’re never around.
You want me to quit?
So you can avoid your responsibilities?
Just let me see them, he said. They were standing in the background waiting for their mother to get out of the doorway. She stepped aside and they ran to him. She slammed the door when they were outside. The three of them laughing made her want to burn the house down. That would show them. Nobody would ever understand how hard her life was.
She called Plan B, but he didn’t pick up. Nobody picked up anymore. It was all their fault. Even when they weren’t around they were fucking up her life.
Late afternoon and he hadn’t brought them back. Goddamn deadshit. She called the police and told them her ex husband has kidnapped HER children. The police officer on the other end of the line asked her if she had tried calling him. Of course she hadn’t. He was a dangerous man and the thought of calling him made her tremble with fear. The police officer suggested she call him. She hung up and threw the phone into the wall. She considered killing herself but there would be no one around to see the haphazard attempt that would not end her life.
He brought them back not long after. WHERE THE FUCK HAVE YOU BEEN? she said and he explained that he had tried to call but the phone had been engaged. She pulled the children inside and slammed the door in his face. She called him a cunt through the timber and sent the children on a guilt trip for the rest of the night for having a good time with their father.
Sagging tits and busted up nipples and the feeling of two thorns in her side. They would never understand.
Can I see them today? he said.
NO. FUCK OFF! she said and hung up and threw the phone at one of the children. I suppose you want to live with him now that you’ve had so much fucking fun together, she said to the boy. He just stared at her and he didn’t move even when she started to cry. You’ve ruined my life, she said and forced them both to watch cartoons again for the rest of the afternoon. They had ice cream for dinner.
She got a call the next morning from him. The other him. The one who had broken it off. I want to try again, he said.
It’s just hard with them around.
I’ll get rid of them, she said.
Their goddamn father can take them.
Great, he said and she hung up. She called their father. The guy she had told the police she was too scared to call. A woman has the right to feel differently on any given day. Fuck the police. They didn’t know shit about her life. Her truth. I need you to take the kids, she said.
I’m out of town, he said.
Well I think it’s pretty fucking unfair that you get to do all this traveling.
SO AM I.
Being a fucking mother is the hardest job in the world, she said.
I’ll be back tomorrow.
Good, she said and hung up. She told them to pack their bags.
This isn’t working out for me, she said to the boy and girl.
I can’t do this anymore, you’re going to have to leave.
Where are we supposed to go? said the girl.
Your father is going to take you.
But he works, said the boy.
AND I DON’T?! she said and pushed them both out of the house and locked the door behind them. They waited there on the footpath for their father to come. Inside she furiously texted the other guy to tell him they were gone. Impatiently she waited for a response. Nothing. She called. The prerecorded message told her that the number did not exist. Fuck. Those little demons must have done something. She yanked the front door open with the fury of a demented and rabid wolf, the venomous accusations fermenting in her throat, but they were gone. She picked the phone up and dialed their father. YOU FUCKING CUNT BRING THEM BACK, she said but it was the same prerecorded voice from before.
She stood in the middle of the room staring at nothing in particular, but rolling the same thought over and over in her mind like a capsized ship in angry seas: nobody had it as bad as she did.