Caroline Lynch sat on the top step of the old apartment house on Cypress Street watching her two sets of twins playing on the broken and uneven stairs and sidewalk.
Shifting position, she tugged the hem of her worn housedress down toward her knees, and then rested her chin in her hand.
I’m so tired, she thought, closing her eyes for a moment. Life wasn’t supposed to be like this. Ed and I just sink deeper and deeper into debt. No one wants to buy his idea. We’ve sunk so much money into it and now he’s gone to file a patent on it to protect it. Why are we protecting something no one wants?
The squeal of tires and a loud popping noise came from a block away where Cypress met Hawthorne.
Caroline’s eyes snapped open and glanced quickly around, finding her four children. The twin four-year-old girls sat two steps below her, playing with two Barbie dolls that she’d picked up at a garage sale. Tess and Bess sat with their dark heads together, chattering as they moved the blonde and brunette dolls around. Tess’s small hand held her older sister, Diana’s, Ken doll that had somehow made it outside with no clothes. Tess tapped the Ken and Barbie together, as she said loudly, “Kiss. Ken kiss Barbie.”
“Ken kiss my Barbie,” Bess cried, grabbing his head to pull him out of her sister’s hand.
As she wrapped her pudgy fingers around his head, Tess pulled back. Ken’s head popped off his body and the sudden release made a startled Bess let go of the head.
Caroline watched, stunned, as the head flew toward the sidewalk and gutter.
Terry, one of her five-year-old boys, swung at the head with the mini-bat Diana had won for him at the fair’s ring-toss booth. Larry, the other twin, tried to intercept it as Ken’s head flew off the end of the bat and struck Caroline right in the chest. She placed one hand on the stinging spot where the hard plastic hit and with the other she picked up the head.
“Mummy! Mummy! Are you hurted?” Bess cried, climbing carefully up the stairs followed by her twin and the two boys.
As the children swarmed around her, laying their dark heads on her shoulders and back, Caroline’s thin arms reached out to encompass them all, and hugged them tightly to her. “I’m fine, Bess,” she answered with a weary sigh.
Resting her head in her hand again, Caroline’s eye took on a faraway look as four of her five children leaned against her.
I wouldn’t trade my children for anything, she mused silently. But having two sets of twins just over a year apart certainly is wearing me out. It would wear anyone out. I don’t even want to think about what it would have been like without Diana to help me.
Diana was Caroline’s and Ed’s oldest child. She’d been almost seven when the older twin boys were born and she felt like they were her own real-live doll babies. She helped her mother feed and care for the boys.
As Caroline and Ed had gone from one child to three, the apartment they’d had at the time had gone from just right to too tight. So did the demands on their time and money.
Caroline had just completed her maternity leave from the Bank of Sleepyside and returned to work when she discovered she was pregnant again. She’d gone from tired to exhausted. Keeping up with a small child and two newborn babies while pregnant put demands on her body that she wasn’t prepared to fulfill.
The bank manager, Peter Belden, did everything he could to help her keep her job because she and Ed needed the income, but she was so ill while she carried Bess and Tess that she couldn’t keep up.
The loss of her paycheck and the added expense of the children put a strain on Ed. He got a second job and worked as much overtime as he could as an engineer for the city of White Plains. Even with all his efforts to keep their heads above water, they still lost the nice apartment on Oak Avenue and were forced to move closer to Hawthorne Street than a family with small children should.
The twins lost interest in cuddling and resumed their play as Caroline rested and watched over them. Soon, she would need to get up and begin dinner.
A mini-van turned onto Cypress and came to a halt in front of the apartment building. Recognizing the driver as her long-time friend, Helen Belden, Caroline rose up and walked gracefully down the stairs as the door opened and her eleven-year-old daughter, Diana, got out of the passenger door holding her overnight tote bag.
“Hello, sweetheart,” Caroline greeted her eldest child. “Did you thank Trixie for having you over and Mrs. Belden for letting you?”
“Yes, Mummy,” Diana replied quietly. “Thank you again, Mrs. Belden and Trixie,” she said, glancing shyly at Trixie’s older brother Mart in the passenger seat. “I had a wonderful time.”
“Thanks for letting her stay, Helen,” Caroline added. “She always has a wonderful time at Crabapple Farm.”
“We love having her,” Helen returned, smiling at them. “She’s welcome anytime.”
“Gleeps, yeah,” Trixie exclaimed, grinning and she stuck her head of bouncing blonde curls out the now open window. “Di’s my best friend.”
“You’re mine, too,” Diana confirmed with a smile.
“Well, we need to pick Brian up from his science club meeting before we head home to make dinner,” Helen said, pulling the van into gear. “We’ll talk soon.”
Caroline and Diana stood at the curb waving until the van turned off of their street.
Placing an arm across her daughter’s shoulders, Caroline said, “I’m glad you had a good time, sweetie. Will you watch the twins while I start dinner?”
“Sure, Mummy…” Diana began as the city bus pulled up at the stop two doors down.
Ed Lynch jumped from the bus, grinning ear to ear as he reached his wife and picked up her up, twirling her around and round. “We’re rich!” he exclaimed. “I sold my idea. They want the others, too. And they want me as a vice-president of development.” Twirling her faster as his confused children gathered around Diana, he yelled again, “We’re rich!”
Many thanks to Joycey for editing this for us. Any errors belong to us.
Barbie and Ken are dolls from Mattel that are perfectly perfect for girls. We loved ours.
This is another story for CWE # 3 using photo 30.
Background is from MS Word.
The story is 1,058 words