Stacey’s Secret

December 14, 2007
Stacey took a deep breath of the fresh, crisp, autumn air. She loved fall. It was the time when all the green leaves faded into shades of brown, red, orange, and yellow, signifying that summer was ending and fall was on the way.

Lately, things at the Kolinski house hadn’t been going very well. Mom and Dad were constantly fighting, and recently Stacey had been joining in too. Jeremy was, as always, running around the house practicing his magic tricks, and Claire was wandering the house aimlessly, sucking on her blanket, its red edges escaping the corners of her mouth.

“Mom…,” Stacey pleaded yet again.

“Not now, dear, it’s not a good time,” Mrs. Kolinski replied, clearly frazzled, trying to juggle her newest menu as well as Claire on her hip.

“No! Mom, I really need to talk to you,” Stacey wailed. “Are you ever going to have time for something besides your latest menu?”

“Stacey Ann! Since when do you have the right to speak to me in that tone of voice? I think you need some time to calm down. Alone. Up in your room. Go.”

“What’s wrong with me, Mom? Don’t you ever take a minute to just stop and look around?” Stacey choked, hot tears welling in the corners of her eyes. “Claire wanders around the house all day sucking on that stupid blanket of hers, Jeremy keeps practicing his old tricks because no one will teach him new ones, and I start school in two days and I don’t even have a pencil. Don’t you see what you’re doing, Mom? You’re a joke.” Stacey cried, running up the stairs, sobbing loudly, until the door slammed, her sobs still echoing throughout the house.

Mrs. Kolinski was a busy mother who tried to balance her work and her home life, but since she had just opened up her own catering business, work always seemed to slip in front of her family. Her business was blossoming, and she had cakes, appetizers, and entire courses to make almost every day. Until now, she hadn’t realized how much her daughter had been affected by it. Stacey had been taking on the burdens of a mother, and all compliantly. Come to think of it, she hadn’t heard Stacey complain at all; she had only said something today because she needed her supplies for school. Now that Mrs. Kolinski realized it, no one ever called asking for Stacey. Was it just because she wasn’t home very often? What happened to all her friends? Hadn’t she had a boyfriend? Or was that last year? Maybe last month?

“Oh God,” Mrs. Kolinski sighed; “I really have no idea what’s going on in my daughter’s life do I?” she inquired of herself. “I’ll have a talk with her later,” she thought, reassuring only herself because no one else was around. “Yes, that’s what I’ll do. We’ll both feel…” but before she could finish her sentence, the phone rang, and she began discussing the details of a meal for the upcoming dinner party at the mayor’s mansion. In a matter of seconds, all of her notions about a talk with her daughter vanished from her thoughts.

After Mrs. Kolinski finally got off the phone, she trudged up the stairs to her daughter’s room. “Honey, I’ve got to go help Sam with one of the courses. I’ll be back soon. Your father should be home in a little while. Be a dear and start some kind of dinner,” Mrs. Kolinski instructed Stacey, emphasis on ‘some’. “And if you have some time, I’d really like to talk to you later. There are some things I think we need to discuss.”

“Yeah, whatever,” Stacey replied, clearly uninterested in her mom’s lame attempt to try to fix what was never going to change.

“Here comes macaroni and cheese yet again,” Stacey murmured to herself after her mother finally closed her door. This was the fourth night in a row her mom had done the exact same thing. She always got her fancy meals at her business while Stacey, Jeremy, and Claire enjoyed their gloppy macaroni and cheese. Stacey just didn’t get it. If her mother was the fancy schmancy chef, why couldn’t she ever prepare meals ahead of time? She was the caterer, wasn’t she?

Later that night, after her father had come home and all the dishes were done from dinner, Stacey decided to approach her father. Although he seemed rather engrossed with the paper in front of him, she walked towards him anyway, with full intention of questioning him.
“Dad? Can I talk to you about something?” Her dad glanced up from his paper and recognized the worried look on his daughter’s face. He assumed it must be about his wife, or lack thereof.

“Sure, honey. Does this have to do with your mom?” Stacey nodded. “Honey, look, I know it’s really hard but…” Stacey cut in before he could finish.

“I know, Dad. I’ve tried, I really have, but I just don’t think I can handle it anymore! She doesn’t get it. I can’t ever get any help from her because I’m always the one giving it. She has no idea the strain she puts on everyone. I start school in two days, and I still don’t have anything I need. Jeremy and Claire are like zombies, wandering through the house because they never know what to do with themselves, and when she is home, she’s not even here because she’s always one the phone! I just wish...”

“Just wish what, Stace?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Sometimes you just need your Mom. You know, Dad?”

“Your mom really does seem pretty out of the loop, huh? Tell you what, hun. I promise I’ll talk with her once she gets home. And, Stacey, I know it’s hard. Just do your best.” Her father smiled warmly at her.

“Thanks, Dad. And could you mention something about dinner? We’ve had mac and cheese for the past four nights. One more night of it and we’ll all have noodles oozing out of our ears!” Stacey and her dad both had a good laugh. “I’m gonna go upstairs, Dad; I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“OK, honey, I love you.”

“Love you too, Dad.”

After Stacey had gone up to her room, she decided to take a nice, long, bubble bath to help ease her worries and then get into bed. The minute she got out of the bathroom, however, she heard her parents fighting. All her worries returned as quickly as they had disappeared amongst the bubbles in her bath. Stacey groaned and tiptoed into her bedroom. After she was finally ready for bed, she dazed off to the familiar sound of her parents fighting in the room below her.

“…But Jack…”

“…Janet, she doesn’t understand how much work it is and sometimes I don’t think you do either.”

“Jack, don’t you dare try to tell me that I don’t know how much work my job takes! You of all people should know!” Mrs. Kolinski shrieked with utter disgust.

“Janet, I’m just trying to let you know how we all feel, and also to clue you in a little bit, since clearly you haven’t been picking up on anything yourself lately. Your daughter needs a mother right now, more than ever. And unfortunately, you’re not there to be that mother.”

“What do you mean by that, Jack?”

“Maybe you should talk to her and see for your goddamn self, Janet!” Stacey’s dad shouted, his voice rising once again. “I’ve been trying, but I’m no mom. I just can’t do or handle all the things a mother’s meant to do. She needs you.”

After Mr. and Mrs. Kolinski had finished their argument, Mrs. Kolinski decided to go upstairs and check on Stacey. As much as she hated to admit it, she knew her husband was right. She climbed the stairs, opened Stacey’s door, and quietly slipped in. Stacey was fast asleep and tucked in, so Mrs. Kolinski, not wanting to disturb her sleeping daughter, quickly but gently kissed her on the forehead and slipped out as quietly as she had come in.

She decided to check on Jeremy as well. Seeing the light peeking out underneath his door, she knew he was still awake. She walked in without him noticing.

“Hi, honey. What are you still doing up?”

“I couldn’t sleep. I had a bad dream.”

“Aw, Jer, are you ok?”

“Yeah, I’m ok now. I went into Stacey’s room and she made me feel better. She told me a story about when I was little. She always knows what to say.”

“Oh…well alright, as long as you’re alright,” Mrs. Kolinski stammered, somewhat disappointed that her son didn’t come to her with his bad dream. There was a long silence.
“Mom, I have a question.”

“Sure, honey, go ahead.”

“When are you going to come back?” Jeremy asked, his five-year-old eyes staring blankly at his mother as if she held all the answers to the questions of the world.

“What do you mean, sweetie? I’m right here.”

“No, I mean really come back…Mommy,” Jeremy replied stumbling over the word ‘mommy’. “You’re always gone, and Stacey’s always home. Aren’t you the mommy?”

“Well, yes of course I am, silly!”

“Well, then maybe you should tell Stacey she’s taking your job,” Jeremy giggled.

“Honey, you know Mommy’s job takes a lot of time. I’m home as much as I can be. But I’ll make sure to tell Stacey to quit it, because I like my job as Mommy,” Mrs. Kolinski smiled. She had forgotten how much her son could make her smile.

“I know it takes lots and lots of time. Everyone knows that. Even Claire does, and she’s the baby,” Jeremy replied sassily. “Just don’t be gone all the time, please. We miss you sometimes.”

“I think I can work on that, darling. You need to get to bed. It’s late! We’ll talk more in the morning, okay?”

“Okedoke.” Jeremy responded.

“Goodnight, honey,” Mrs. Kolinski said quietly, “I’ll see you in the morning.”

“Just remember,” Jeremy said yawning, “you’re the mom.”

The next morning was a Saturday, and after Stacey woke up she realized it was already ten o’clock. “Oh no,” Stacey thought. “I overslept!” She quickly scurried down the stairs and was astonished to find not one, not two, not even three people sitting at the table, but four. Her mother motioned for her to sit down with them. She sat down quietly at the empty seat waiting for her. The table was full of delicious food, and her place was already filled with eggs, bacon, and freshly made pancakes. She poured on a bit of warm syrup and dug in.

“How did you sleep last night, dear?”

“Mmm,” was all Stacey could manage to get out of her stuffed mouth.

“Well, I take it you like my pancakes?” Mrs. Kolinski replied chuckling to herself. Stacey took a big gulp of orange juice and finally managed to reply.

“Yeah. They’re good. Beats more macaroni and cheese.”

“Well, good…I’m glad you like them,” Mrs. Kolinski replied, unsure of how to respond to her daughter’s sarcastic remark. “How did you say you slept Stacey?”

“Fine, thanks.” Saturdays were usually Mrs. Kolinksi’s workdays, so Stacey was curious as to why she was actually home. “Um, Mom, why aren’t you are work?”

“Well, I decided I needed a day off to spend some time with my family. Besides, you and I need to go school shopping, Claire needs some new toys, Jeremy needs a few new magic tricks, and your father and I need some alone time. Today, you miss mom, will not be babysitting. We hired a babysitter so you can go out with your friends.”

“Right, I’m ok, but thanks.”

“I won’t take no for an answer. I insist.”

“Really, Mom, it’s OK.”

“It’s too late, I already hired someone. I’m so glad we found her on such short notice!” There was a short silence.

“I’m not really hungry anymore. I’m…I’m stuffed.” Stacey managed to quickly mumble. “Thanks for the food Mom.”

She excused herself and tried to discretely run up the stairs, obviously something wrong. Mrs. Kolinski was completely bewildered. What had she done wrong? Mr. Kolinski nodded at her to follow her daughter, reassuring her, “It’s fine. I’ll clean up down here. You go up.” As Mrs. Kolinski inched up the stairs, she could hear quiet sobbing coming from Stacey’s room. She knocked on the door.

“Um…one minute.” Stacey answered her voice quivering. After a few minutes had passed, Stacey reluctantly opened her door. “What is it?” Janet could tell her daughter had frantically tried to wipe the tears from her eyes, but her efforts were lost, as were the efforts made to try and hide the trace of her red nose and puffy eyes.
Mrs. Kolinski addressed her daughter. “Honey.” No response. “Stacey. Talk to me.”

“Oh, Mom,” Stacey replied, finally giving up on the hard act. “I’ve got to tell someone…”

Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback