**5 MONTHS EARLIER**
Through the kitchen window, I watched the snowflakes as they danced in the sky; floating in all different directions as the wind blew them around. I found it beautiful, magical even. I continued to watch the snow as I placed a dirty plate in the sink.
I loved winter, but only when it snowed like this. Every time it did snow like this, I would remember a date Seth and I had. He took me sledding. I know, it sounds so boring and lame, but for me it wasn’t. At the time, I was sixteen and he was my first boyfriend, so it’s not like I had anything to compare it to. I guess I was just so in love with him that it didn’t matter where I was, as long as I was with him everything would be alright. That’s what love can do to you. It’s completely blinding.
When we went sledding, I went down the hill first; flying like the speed of lightning down the hill. I got to the bottom and stood there. Big, puffy snowflakes came falling down from the sky, and they were so beautiful. I reached my hands out to catch one of them. Seth caught me off guard by wrapping his arms around my waist, kissing my cheek. I placed my hands on his and looked up at him. His green eyes stared down at me as a smiled played at his lips.
“You look so carefree and beautiful.” He whispered in my ear. I turned completely around to face him. I placed my hands around his neck and pulled him down to kiss me. He was so gentle and loving when he kissed me. He made me feel like I was the one and only girl in the world for him.
I couldn’t help the smile that played at my lips as I relived the wonderful memory. When the memory slipped away, so did my smile. I want those days back, now more than ever. I want to know if we could ever feel that way again. Seth hasn’t been like that towards me in years, and I really miss that about him.
I sighed and turned away from the sink and noticed Seth standing over by the table, staring at me with a funny look on his face.
“Val, what were you looking at?” Seth asked, raising and eyebrow at me. A smile crept across his face as he looked at me. He seemed in a good mood which was the usual mood he was in when he was getting ready to go to work.
I pointed my chin towards the window, “The snow.” I state simply.
Seth snickered, “Why?” he asked, growing amused with my answer.
I shrugged my shoulders, “It reminds me of a date we had. The one when you took me sledding. Do you remember that date?” I asked, hope clear in my voice. If he could remember our date, we could still have a chance at being happy together couldn’t we? I watched him as he picked up his coat from the back of the chair in the nook and threw it on. He was all dressed in his sheriff uniform, getting ready to head out the door.
His smile went away as he sighed, “Val, I don’t really have time to take a journey down memory lane with you. I just got a call from Ray. He said he needs me down at the station.” he said pausing for a moment. He was looking for something on the table in the nook. “The guys and I might go out for a drink after we’re done at the station.” he stated as he grabbed the keys off the table.
“So, I shouldn’t be expecting you home anytime soon?” I said frowning. I really wish he would spend so more quality time at home with his family, and not go out to a bar every night after work with his buddies.
He walked over to me, and looked down at me, “Val, it’s not like I don’t come home,” he said and rubbed his forehead. “Look, I don’t want to fight right now. I have to go. Could you put some dinner away for me?”
“Sure.” I sighed and crossed my arms over my chest.
“Thank you,” he said and kissed my cheek. “I love you.”
I nodded, giving him a small smile, “Love you too.” I said. He smiled, kissed me one more time, and headed out the door.
“Wait, daddy!” Katelyn yelled, racing through the kitchen towards the door. I turned and watched her as she opened the door and yelled to Seth. I saw Seth come back up onto the porch to her.
“What pumpkin?” he asked her.
“I wanted to say bye.” Katelyn’s little voice rang. It made me smile.
“Oh alright.” he laughed. “Goodbye sweetheart. I’ll be home later.” he said. He bent down to hug and kiss her goodbye.
“Love you daddy.” she said and kissed his cheek.
“Love you too sweetheart. More than anything in the world. See you later.” he said before leaving. Katelyn shut the door and skipped over to the couch in the living room. She watched out the window as Seth left in his car. She waved goodbye through the window, then she turned to me.
“Where’s daddy going?” she asked. Her voice was so sweet and innocent, but there was a hint of devastation that nearly broke my heart.
“To work.” I state simply.
“Oh.” is all she said. I watched her as she put her head in her hands and stared out the window.
“Katie-boo, what’s wrong?” I asked and she turned her head towards me.
“He promised he would play with me today. He cant play if he’s not here.” she said, then she turned her head back towards the scenery outside. Seeing her upset kills me.
“He’ll be back soon.” I said, trying to reassure her, but she didn’t say anything. I know what will get her excited.
“Have you seen all the snow outside?” I asked and her eyes beamed with joy. She jumped off the couch and ran to me, pulling me to the big window in the living room.
“There’s really big snowflakes coming from the sky!” she said as she pointed towards the sky. I knelt down to her level and looked up at the sky.
“There are. You know what they say about snowflakes?” I asked, and she looked up at me confused.
“No, what?” she asked, curiosity evident in her voice. Her bright blue eyes bore back into mine, waiting patiently for an answer.
“Well, they say that every snowflake is different. There’s no snowflake that is the same as another.” I said and her eyes widened.
A great, big smile splayed across her face, “Really!?” she asked.
“Yeah! Hey, I’ve got an idea. Do you want to go catch some?”
“Yes!” she squealed and ran to the laundry room. She pulled out her hot pink coat, and her pink polka-dot boots. "Will you come out too?" she asked, sitting down on the floor to put on her boots.
"No, I have to make dinner, but I will watch you. I want you to stay right in the backyard where I can see you okay?" I asked her and she looked up at me and shook her head, struggling to get her other boot on. "Where are your snow pants?"
"Oh! I forgot those!" she said and stood up off the floor. She walked over to the side of the dryer and pulled out her black snow pants. She sat back down on the floor and tried putting them on. I watched as she struggled, trying to get her snow pants on. I wasn't going to help her unless she asked me to. I could hear my mother now, "Why aren't you helping her? Why are you just standing there and letting her struggle like that? Blah, blah, blah." You cant do everything for them. If you do that, then they will never learn. She eventually was able to put on her snow pants and boots without my help. I zippered up her coat, and gave her a hat and a pair of gloves. Soon enough, she was out the door and running into the backyard.
I went over to the kitchen window in front of the sink, and watched Katelyn play in the snow. I leaned my elbows on the counter, and put my head in my hands. The unwanted thoughts of Seth popped back into my mind. I continued to brood over Seth's lack of attention at home, but it was getting me no where. I decided to direct my attention to something more productive, such as cleaning my house. It's a mess and it could use a little TLC. I grabbed the broom and started sweeping the floor in the kitchen.
It took me about an hour to clean the kitchen. Throughout that hour, I constantly looked out the window, watching Katelyn like a hawk. She made a few snow angels, and a baby snowman. He was a little lop-sided; looking like he was about to fall over. She placed two sticks for his arms and a stick for his nose. She put two rocks in for his eyes and three rocks for buttons down his stomach.
I knocked on the window above the sink causing Katelyn to look up at me. I motioned for her to come inside, and she started to trudge through the snow. She opened the door, kicked the snow off her boots outside, and walk in.
"Mommy, did you see the snowman I made?" she said excitedly.
I smiled at her, "Yeah! He looks amazing! I really like the rocks you put on his tummy. They were a nice touch," I said as she took off her coat, boots, and snow pants. I looked at her; her cheeks and nose were rosy red. "Do you want some hot cocoa to warm up?" I asked, and her eyes glistened with happiness.
"Yeah!" she said, her smile growing wider.
"Alright, I'll make you some, but make sure you hang up your jacket so that it's dry for Monday."
“Okay. Don’t forget the marshmellows!” she called to me as she hung up her coat.
“I wont,” I said and finished making her hot cocoa, making sure to add the marshmellows. I popped it in the microwave for a minute so it’s not too hot and not too cold. I watched her as she went into her room. “What do you want for dinner?” I called to her.
“Spaghetti.” she said, walking back out of her room with her coloring book and crayons in hand.
“I cant do that Katelyn. Next choice.” I said, placing her hot cocoa in front of her. I crossed my arms over my chest, waiting for her next choice.
“Chicken?” she asked.
I stood there for a moment, making sure I had chicken to make. “Yeah, we could do that. How about I cut them into little nuggets and we can have chicken nuggets for dinner.”
“Yeah! Like little dinosaur chicken nuggets?” she asked, giggling.
A smile grew on my face, “Now I don’t know if I could do that, but we’ll have chicken nuggets.” I said. I bent down and kissed her forehead, “Love you Katieboo.”
She giggled, “Love you too mommy!”
Within the next hour or so, I got the kitchen cleaned, and I got the chicken nuggets cut up, breaded and fried in little time. I’ve been making chicken nuggets for Katelyn for a while because it’s her second favorite food. I popped a chicken breast in the oven for Seth because I know he won’t want to eat chicken nuggets when he comes home.
Katelyn went into the other room to watch her favorite TV show, Spongebob. I don’t understand why she likes that shows so much. She gets a kick out of it every time she watches it. I heard a commercial come on, and I was waiting for her to come out to the kitchen, demanding food.
“Mommy! Is dinner almost done? I’m hungry!” Katelyn called as she skipped her way into the kitchen.
“Yup, just about. Go wash up, and I’ll make you a plate.” I said. Katelyn ran over to that bathroom to wash her hands. I placed a few chicken nuggets on a plate with some ketchup, put it down on the table.
I glanced at the clock.
Seth should be home any minute now. I walked over to the living room window and saw a very familiar car outside. I watched as someone got out of the car and started walking towards the house. Seth’s home. He got a ride home from a friend, which probably means he has been drinking way too much. I cleaned up what little mess I made while making dinner, and brought out a plate to put Seth’s chicken on.
A moment later, Seth stumbled in, nearly falling over Katelyn’s boots that she left in the doorway. He kicked her boots out of the way and slammed the front door shut.
“Daddy! You‘re home!” Katelyn called as she ran out of the bathroom and hugged him around his leg. She was always so happy to see him. I hope he was just as happy to see her too. He didn’t acknowledge her at all. I watched as he just pushed her away from him, like she meant nothing to him. That’s what really pissed me off about him. She loves him so much, enough that she would run through a brick wall for him, but he couldn’t give two shits about her, even more so when he is drunk.
“Aren’t you going to say hello to your daughter?” I asked, folding my arms across my chest. He looked at me then to Katelyn.
“Hello brat,” he said then looked at me again. “Val, I left you looking like that, and not I come home and you‘re still looked like that? Stop looking like you‘re so disappointed in me! I hate when you do that!” he demanded. He kicked off his boots, and threw his jacket on the floor.
“Katelyn, come to the table please.” I called to her. She smiled and skipped her way over to me. I pulled out the chair so she could climb up in and sit down. I pushed the chair in and went back over to the counter. I looked over at Seth, who was impatiently waiting for me to bring him a plate of chicken. I placed it down in front of him and stared at him.
“What are you looking at? Didn’t anyone tell you it’s rude to stare at people while they eat?” he asked but I completely ignored him.
“You know you could be nice to her. She is your daughter.” I whispered to him. He looked up at me and glared. He pointed his fork at me and said, “Watch what you say. I’m not in the mood.”
“All I’m asking is that you be nice to her.” I whispered again.
“I said hello to her! What more do you want?” he yelled. I looked over to Katelyn, who was staring at us now. I motioned for her to continue eating, and I turned back towards Seth.
“She’s your daughter for Christ Sake. Show her some attention!” I whisper-yelled back and I knew that I was in trouble. Luckily, Katelyn was at the table. He glared at me again.
“You’re lucky she’s here. I’ll get you for that later, and don’t think I will forget about this little incident.” he whispered. I looked into his eyes, they were full of anger and told me that he wasn’t kidding about what he said. I brought my plate to the table and we all ate quietly for a little while. Katelyn and I made little chatter, while Seth just sat there and ate, ignore all Katelyn’s questions with a “mhmm” or “yeah.” He finally spoke up, but it wasn’t to Katelyn.
“Val, get me a glass of wine.” he demanded. I didn’t say anything to him. I just got up and got him want he asked for. I walked over to the wine refrigerator or as Katelyn likes to call it, the “mini fridge.” I grabbed a light green bottle, Seth’s usual drink, and poured him a glass of the dull yellow liquid.
“Here you go.” I said and gave him the glass. I sat back down next to Katelyn and watched as he swirled the liquid around in the glass. He took a drink and spit it everywhere, wrinkling his nose in disgust.
“Ugh, God. This isn’t the wine I wanted. Get me the other one! The one in the dark bottle!” he yelled. I stood up again, and took his glass and walked over to the mini fridge.
“Maybe you should be more specific next time.” I whispered under my breath. Hoping he didn’t hear me. Nothing ever goes my way though.
“What did you say?” he asked, turning his head towards me, looking more angry now.
“I didn’t say anything.” I said, pushing all emotion out of my voice.
Seth let out a loud sigh, “I heard you say something. If you got something to say, I want you to say it to my face.” he growled.
“I didn’t say anything.” I said, and he narrowed his eyes at me. I grabbed the dark purple bottle from the fridge poured the dark red colored wine into the glass and brought it to him.
Seth sighed heavily again, “Katelyn, mommy and daddy are going to have a private talk, so please go to your room.” he said.
She looked at Seth and then to me. I reassured her to go to her room. I knew something was going to happen, and I didn’t want her to see any of it. She got up off her chair and headed for her room.
Seth sat there tapping his fingers on the table, impatiently waiting for her to shut her door. As soon as I heard the click of the door, I suddenly became terrified. He wouldn’t hold back now. Katelyn was my shield when it came to Seth, and now I’m weak and defenseless.
“Was that nice enough for you?” he asked. I just stared at him, like a deer caught in headlights. He looked up at me, glaring again. He slammed his fist on the table, making me jump out of my skin. “I asked you a question. I expect you to answer me.” he growled.
“Yes, you were very nice to her.” I said, pushing all the fear out of my voice.
Seth turned his gaze back towards where Katelyn was sitting, almost like he was staring off into space. “Mhmm.” he said nodding his head. I never liked when he did that. Nothing good ever came after that certain nod. He slowly got up out of his chair and stumbled towards me. I backed up until I hit the counter. He placed his hands on either side of me, trapping me so I couldn’t get away.
He looked deep into my eyes, “Now, back to my other question. What did you say earlier?”
“I didn’t say anything.” I said, more shaky than I intended to.
He let out a heavy sigh, “I know your lying to me. I’m giving you one last chance. Tell me the truth. What did you say?”
“I am telling the truth. I would never lie to you, Seth. I love you. I can promise you, I didn’t say anything.” I said gently. I needed to give him any kind of reason, just so he wouldn’t hurt me. I didn’t want him to hurt me anymore. I watched his eyes as they traveled to the floor for a moment, contemplating his next move. He looked back up at me again, so much anger in his deep blue eyes. His hand suddenly met my cheek, hard.
“Ahh!” I howled in pain. I didn’t bother trying to rub it. He would’ve hit me harder, so I just stayed very still, hoping he wouldn’t do it again.
“That’s for saying what you said,” he said and slapped me again, just as hard as the first time. “That was for lying right to my face.” he said. Both of my cheeks were stinging. I wanted to run away from him and cry, but I couldn’t do that. I was trapped by him, and I knew I had to stay strong. Instead of meeting his stare, I dropped my head to look at the floor. Seth grabbed my shoulders and shook me.
“See how things got really ugly, really fast?” he asked and I nodded quickly. “Lets not have this again. Don’t lie to me, Val. I don’t like it when you do that,” he said and sighed. He put his hand underneath my chin and tilted my face so I could look into his eyes. He stared straight back into mine. “Val, I don’t like doing this to you. Sometimes, you just really piss me off so much that I just lose control.” he said then kissed both my cheeks. I winced because my cheeks were still stinging. He pulled his face away from mine again. “I’m sorry Val.” he said then kissed me. He tasted of alcohol and chicken. Not a very good combination.
“I forgive you.” I said against his lips. He let go of my shoulders and walked back over to the table to finish eating. I stood by the counter in shock. It took me a minute or so to register my thoughts. When I had myself composed, I quickly went over to Katelyn’s room to get away from him.
“Katelyn.” I called knocking on her door three times. She opened the door with a big smile on her face. She was wearing her pretty pink tutu, a pink feathery scarf, and her sparkly tiara. “Well don’t you look pretty!” I said smiling.
“Thank you,” she said and spun around a few times. “Mommy, come look at this!” she said. She grabbed my hand and pulled me into her room. She picked up her coloring book and showed me a page she colored. “I look just like Princess Barbie now!”
I laughed. “You do don’t you. You have the same blonde hair and the same bright blue eyes.” I said and tapped her nose. She giggled and her smile grew wider.
“Mommy, can daddy play with me now?” she asked.
I laughed a little, “After you finished your dinner. Come on Squirt, Lets go eat.”
“Mommy, can you read me this?” Katelyn asked. It was around 10 o’clock. Katelyn finally got her play time with Seth. From what I heard they were playing Barbies. They didn’t play for very long. He grew bored after about twenty minutes. I spent my time cleaning up after dinner and doing some laundry.
“Sure Sweetie.” I said and took the book from her. She took my hand and brought me to her room. She got up in her bed, and I tucked her in under her covers.
I sat down next to her and started reading, “One fish, Two fish, Red fish, Blue fish. Black fish, Blue fish, Old fish, New fish. This one has a little star. This one has a little car. Say! What a lot of fish there are…” I continued to read until she had fallen asleep. When she was finally asleep I tucked her in and kissed her forehead goodnight. I put the book down on her dresser, turned on her night light, and made sure she was comfortable. I switched off her light and shut the door.
I noticed that Seth had gone to bed, and I didn’t really want to go to bed with him, so I just sat out in the living room and watched some TV. I wasn’t really focused on the TV. I was more focused on wanting to leave this house. I just wanted to be away from Seth for a little while. I doubt he will let me go food shopping, but it’s worth a shot right? I sighed to myself and tried to get some sleep, but the sleep only brought nightmares