“Hurry up Haylee! I need to get you to school by 7!” She heads downstairs to make her and Haylee a bowl of cereal. She leaves the milk out for Haylee to put in her cereal herself. We are running low on Frosted Flakes thanks to Haylee eating it all. As she sits at the table alone, thoughts start to flush into her mind. Michael. She is her only daughter and her only child.
Haylee is a smart, good girl, reflecting the ways of when she was a little girl. Mrs. Anderson rushes to the bathroom as she can no longer hold back her tears. She glances in the mirror, only to see the dark circles around her eyes from lack of sleep. She has been staying up all night, trying to plan today’s activity for her children.
I just want my kids to like me. Tears escape her as she tries to hold it in. Haylee will be done soon, she thinks as she hears the water upstairs cut off. washes her face and attempts a smile for herself. Smile for Haylee.
“Mom! Where are you? I’m all showered and ready to go” Haylee runs down the steps.
“I’m right here baby” Katie walks to back to the table. “Come on and eat.”
“Hey Mom, are you okay?” Haylee frowns as she pours the milk into her bowl.
“It’s nothing you need to worry about, Love,” Katie smiles.
As Haylee eats her cereal, Katie remembers the first time her kids at school called her Mrs. Anderson. She prefers the name Katie, but the kids say her last name is cooler. It reminds them of the comedian, Anthony Anderson. That was also her ex-husband’s last name. To this day, Haylee doesn’t know the truth. Mrs. Anderson feels it is best to just keep telling her daughter “we are living in two different worlds right now babe.”
While thoughts of her and Michael file into her mind, her kids at school and Haylee are her only distractions….
“Mom! Are you sure you’re okay? It’s 6:45 and I will be late if we don’t get in the car now like we always do” Haylee has her book bag, lunch bag and herself waiting by the door. Shit.
Katie was daydreaming and almost forgot that her day was just ahead of her. She rushes around the house searching for her items for the day. Lesson Planner, Composition notebooks, pencils, salad, cell phone, car keys, candy, and stress balls. There is one more thing Mrs. Anderson can’t live without so early in the morning. That is her Starbucks Natural Fusion Caramel Ground Coffee. She gets a pot going as she fixes Haylee’s hair. She has long beautiful brunette thick texture from her father’s side. brushes it into a ponytail with a bang curling on the right side. Perfect! She looks at her own hair in the stainless steel sink while she is about to wash the dishes from cereal and last night’s dinner. Her hair is wavy today; she decided to try something new. One day, she will like to dye her hair. She grabs the travel mug out of the cabinet and pours the coffee in it with 4 sugars and extra caramel syrup.
“Haylee, let’s get in the car sweetie” she says as she cuts off all the lights in the house.
Katie’s phone rings, but the call goes to voicemail. She glances over to read the caller id. Michael. She looks at the notifications and realizes she missed two calls from him. She presses her Bluetooth button on her steering wheel and proceeds to call him back.
“Good Morning Michael. You’re calling early”
“Yes. Good Morning to you too Katie. How’s my girl doing?”
Katie can’t tell if he’s asking about her or Haylee. She just knows it can’t be her. She concludes that he means Haylee. “Haylee is doing well. I’m taking her to school now. You’re interrupting her One Direction song by the way.”
Laughter shoots through the phone. “Sorry Haylee. Come say hi to Daddy!”
Haylee’s eyes light up. Mrs. Anderson smirks. “Hi Daddy! How are you?”
“I’m good babygirl. How are you?”
“Doing great! Even better if you let me listen to One Direction before I get to school.”
“Let me finish talking to Mommy and I promise you will.”
“Ok I Love You”
“Love you too babygirl.”
Mrs. Anderson is minutes away from approaching the school.
“Michael. I know there is a reason for your call. What’s the status?”
“Damn rushing me off! I see how it is.” He laughs.
Michael never takes things seriously. At least when it comes to Katie’s attitude.
“Damn ! Can’t a brother get some love? I’m doing fine thank you for asking.”
“That’s good to hear. Now cut to the chase.”
“I’m calling to confirm if it’s okay that Haylee comes with me this weekend? I want some father daughter time. I miss you….and I miss Haylee too.”
Katie is taken aback. “Well…uuhh….sure you can. Come pick her up Friday night. After I take her to see Monster’s Inc. I’ve been meaning to do that all week.”
“Okay I will. Do you mind if I join you two? You know I love me some kid movies.” This is true. Katie heart skips a beat. He knows how to sucker up to her.
“Michael! You know-”
Haylee chimes in before she can finish her sentence. “Yeeessssss you can!”
“Alright it’s a date. I mean see you guys Friday. , I can’t wait to see you too you know?”
Katie closes her eyes. Count to ten. Inhale. Exhale. “Ohh Michael. How you do this to me.” Michael sighs.
“Mike, I will see you Friday. I have to go.”
“Okay. Love you guys.”
“We love you too.” They say in unison.
“Haylee baby, have a good day at school today okay? Mommy will see you later smart girl!” She gives her a big hug and a kiss.
“Okay. I love you mommy! Have a good day too. Bye!” She kisses Katie and hugs her quickly before rushing off to her friend. Katie watches Haylee for a minute then runs to her car. She drives down to the Boys and Girls High School, remembering the conversation with Michael, and Haylee’s perfect smile every time she hears her dad’s voice.
Katie finds her parking spot and turns the car off. She enters the building in a new light. There’s some hope that the love she thought would never exist, can still have a candle lit. As her heels click down the hallway, she feels more confident than ever before. She has two people who love her unconditionally and that is all she needs. She approaches her class and everyone is seated, and in deep conversations.
“Hello class! How’s everyone doing today? I will take attendance and you will come up and grab a composition notebook and a #2 pencil. Today is free writing day in your journals. Tell me how you feel today and you know what?” She smiles toward the entire class.
Hands are raised frantically in excitement. She chooses a girl who is always so quiet in class. She seems rather familiar. Then it hits her. “Yes Charlene?”
“There’s candy for writing and participating? I can see it sticking out your purse.” She nods her head toward the bag.
“Yes. For each question I ask you today, there will be candy going around. This activity will continue onto tomorrow. Tomorrow will be a little bit different. I want you guys to start being interactive. This is an English class. We’re here to turn things around. Just think of me as Hilary Swank in Freedom Writers.”
Mrs. Anderson takes a seat. The class is boasting in laughter. “Sarah Baker. James Barnes. Christine Davis. Charlene Rose….” As she is calling attendance, she hands the journals and pencils out as promised. She takes one for herself.
“Class. I will be joining you in this activity. There are things I will like for you to know about me too. This can be our self reflections to becoming better students and for me, a better person and teacher.”
Mrs. Anderson’s day is only half complete.
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