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Second Chance at Love

By:Victoria Wells


“I can’t believe this traffic.” Karen Johnston grumbled as she glanced at the digital clock on the dashboard in her Honda Civic. She had been sitting in traffic on Henry Avenue for nearly 15 minutes. It seemed every section in Philly was undergoing construction. What was up with all this construction on a Saturday morning anyway? Wasn’t it bad enough traffic was gridlock Monday through Friday? Karen let out a frustrated huff. Apparently not.

The traffic moving at a snail’s pace made Karen regret she had agreed to water Ava’s plants while she was in Washington, D.C. spending the weekend with her daughter Zoe. What was she supposed to do? Refuse? Neither Starr nor Summer could do it, with both running after rambunctious toddlers. And Ava’s parents were on a fourteen day Mediterranean cruise. So that left Karen to water all two of Ava’s plants - a heartleaf philodendron that needed some serious cutting back and a bushy spider plant. Why didn’t she get those self-watering pots? Karen wondered. The way Ava carried on about her plants, one would have thought she had a greenhouse full of exotic foliage.

She had a million and one things to do. She had to get back home by nine to get Ashley and her classmate, Marcy, off to dance class. Then she had to get Kyle off to soccer by ten, go grocery shopping, and pick up a new pair of tap shoes for Ashley and a new pair of sneakers for Kyle. After running those errands, she had to get back home to do laundry, dust, clean the bathrooms, and vacuum. Thank goodness Marcy’s mother had offered to bring Ashley and Kyle home after their respective practices. Otherwise, something was bound to be left undone.

Karen blew out a frustrated sigh. Although she worked part-time as a dental hygienist three days a week, she hardly had any time for herself. When was the last time she was able to blow off everything and just have some me time? With the spring temperature going up to eighty-two degrees, making it feel more like summer, this would have been the perfect day for Karen to just sit around and do…well, nothing. Karen’s shoulders slumped in defeat. Not in this lifetime.

The crawling traffic finally sped up as the cars eased past the construction. Karen looked at the clock again. If she didn’t get in and out of Ava’s place in the next ten minutes and take the long way home to avoid the crawling traffic the children would be late for practice. And Lord knows that couldn’t happen. Both of her children would drive her crazy with a bunch of whining and complaining, “Why we can’t get to practice early like the other kids?”

Karen always had to slowly count to ten when the whining and complaining started. This is what children did. Exploding at them wasn’t going to make the situation any better. She’d already tried that. At the end of the day, she was still a single mom, juggling a hundred things at one time. Depending on if they caught her on a good day they’d get her best mommy smile. “I need you guys to work with me. Mommy is only one person, okay?” But if it was a bad day, they’d got a look that said, “If you don’t shut up right now I’m going to lock you in the basement for a month.”

Pulling into a parking space, Karen wished her kids’ dedication to cleaning their rooms, loading the dishwasher, and putting away the dishes was met with the same eagerness as being on time to practice. If that were the case, she wouldn’t have to spend most days being the proverbial bad guy. Karen tried not to let being the bad guy get her down. But with the way Kyle had been acting out lately, she had to put her foot down and let both her children know she demanded respect from them.

Taking her keys from the ignition, Karen prayed Mrs. Virginia wasn’t out front. She really didn’t have time to hold a conversation with the elderly woman. Getting out of the vehicle, Karen hurried up the walkway as she searched for the keys to the screen and front doors.

“Whew, that was close,” Karen whispered, thrilled Mrs. Virginia wasn’t peeking out the window. Closing the door, she set her keys and purse down on the table in the vestibule and rushed off to the kitchen.

In her haste Karen dropped the glass she’d just filled to water the plants in the living room. “Oh shoot! Now I have to clean up this mess. I don’t have time for this,” she groaned, going to the shed in the kitchen to retrieve the mop, broom, and dustpan.

Just as Dominic Peretti, Jr. turned off the water and stepped out the shower he heard a crashing sound. I know some fool is not breaking up in here in broad daylight. Snatching a thick white towel from its holder, Dom didn’t bother to dry off as he wrapped the towel around his waist.