We're just tucking into the meal when I hear a key turn into the lock and my work-drained husband walks through to the dining room. Late.
"Smells delicious," he comments, dropping his briefcase on a spare seat before sitting down opposite me.
"Where have you been?" I try not to sound too nosy, but he seems to be out late often the past few weeks, which is a change from his usual timed routine.
"Oh, just catching up on some work at the office," he says, and I can tell by the way his face droops that he's been overloaded with a lot of work recently. Deciding not to push him any further, I finish up my plate in silence whilst the kids chat to their Dad about their day.
It's only a few minutes before Leah stands up abruptly, pushing her chair back, and walks into the kitchen with her plate. I eye her cautiously, wondering where she left her manners.
"Where do you think you're going?" I ask, as she starts on her way upstairs.
"To my room." She says, with that 'duh' expression plastered across her face.
"Well, you could at least wait until everyone else has finished their meal."
She laughs, continuing her way up the stairs. "I'd rather not."
Sighing heavily, I dunk my plate in the sink alongside Leah's and flop onto the sofa in the other room. I've been a lot more tired lately, and it's probably because of the late times that my husband, Carter, sneaks into my room after long hours at the office. It seems to wake me up every time, due to me being a very light sleeper.
I've also become very tired after trying to get Leah to show some respect to her family, but she seems too wound up in her room with her laptop of hers, searching sites she probably shouldn't be and talking to strangers on the internet. I should be worried, and I am, but sometimes I don't have the effort to argue with her anymore. It always seems to be me trying to educate the kids, as Carter is always working, and to be honest, I'm just completely fed up.
After a while, a head pops round the side of the door. "Hey sweetie."
It's Carter. I lean my head on his shoulder as he takes a seat beside me on the sofa, wrapping his arms around my stomach. Sometimes I wish he'd do this more often, only because I feel safe and no longer alone to fight my worries.
"What's up?" He asks, as I fight back my tears. Gosh, exhaustion hasn't given me tears in a while now.
"Not much really," I say, but I know he doesn't believe me. "I've just been feeling tired lately, and you know, looking after the kids is hard work. Especially Leah. Sometimes I feel like I'm alone trying to deal with them, you know?"
I look up at him. It's only now that I realise he's looking down at his phone.
"Thanks for listening." I matter sarcastically, breaking myself from his warmth.
"Sorry, work email." He states, and I feel myself sighing from within.
Sometimes, I might as well be alone.