First few chapters of a Chick Lit book that I am working on.
Janice stood looking out the kitchen window. Ploughing through her second cup of wake up tea, she wondered how much longer she could go without a full nights sleep. With two school going children and an insomniac baby, Janice drew the short straw every night as her husband, a bar manager, kept the most unsociable hours.
How they even managed to conceive three children was sometimes beyond her. However, those three children now needed waking, washing, feeding, brushing, dressing, lunches made, shoes found, coats, hats, scarves, gloves on, into the car, over to school and then finally Janice would be able to breath again.
After the school run, Janice tried to overhaul the mountain of chores which were building up in the house. Trying not to wake both her husband, and the baby, she did a quick dirty washing dash around the bedrooms, then she tackled the breakfast dishes from this morning.
A sudden gurgle from the baby monitor speaker told her that Finn her 9 month old baby, had finished his morning cat nap, and was now ready to be entertained again.
On the way through to pick up the baby, she could hear Colm soft snores from their bedroom. Janice wondered what type of energy system Colm was running on. It never ceased to amaze her how he could arrive home in the early hours, catch a few hours sleep and be up and ready to do it all again by eleven o’clock, and all without a moan or a sigh.
Colm looked after her and the children. Janice never really had to worry about money. She never really had to worry about how she spent their weekly wages. Colm was a good provider and was great at keeping the finances in order. It was a relief for Janice not to have to worry about sticking to a tight budget. Not that she was frivolous in her spending. Janice liked her house to have nice things. Her children were well dressed, but not necessarily in head to toe Armarni, but also never wanted for a new pair of shoes or socks. Colm was easy going when it came to doing a few extra nights now and then, if it meant they could then afford to go away for a few days, or change the carpet in the living room . Colm adored her and the children, and his one regret was how little time he got to spend with them all. Janice didn’t like to complain about the amount of work Colm was doing, as she knew it was not long term. If they kept saving and repaying, they would have their mortgage cleared in a few years, and then they should be able to look at different kinds of work with more normal hours. However, for the moment, they both had to make sacrifices to get the business off the ground, and with any luck, this was going to be their lucky break.
Janice picked up Finn. He was her last little miracle, if the doctors were to be believed, and was the undisputed apply of her eye. Although Janice loved all her children so much it sometimes hurt, Finn had that special place of mammy’s boy, youngest child and medical miracle all rolled into one. One toothless grin at 4.30 am was all that was needed to melt her heart. Bringing him back downstairs, Janice plonked herself in front of the telly, put Finn in his walker and tried to catch a few minutes rest before she was back out to do the home from school run. Sometimes after school time was just as hectic as before school time. Janice would trance her way through most afternoons either dropping and picking up her children from here, there and anywhere, or acting as referee in various activities between Millie & Conor. Wrestling for the remote control, and deliberately over colouring on a colouring book were firm favourites of the four and six year olds, and afternoons in their house never ended without one or the other in floods of tears or a mini tantrum over the unfairety of it all. Although the mini tantrums were now becoming major, as Millie spread her wings, turned six and decided she was the boss of the house.
By the time nuggets, beans and chips were served, and ignored and abandoned by Millie and Conor, Janice’s nerves were at fraying point. The sooner the homework was done, the baby bathed, a bit of nickelodeon watched, the pyjamas on and the children to bed, the better. Then Janice would get a sit down for maybe an hour, before Finn decided yet again that sleeping was not his thing, and before she knew it, another day was about to blur its inky way into tomorrow.
“Oh my God Janice, I just cannot believe it!” Janice’s sister, Amanda was stunned into putting her bite of scone back down, when it had been mid way from plate to mouth. “I cannot believe he is having an affair. When did you find out?” “Last night,” replied Janice,” Colm told me last night. “
Janice ordered two more cappuccinos from passing waitress and proceeded to fill Amanda in on the rest of the bomb shell she had just revealed.
“Colm told me last night that he knew for certain that his brother Pete had been unfaithful to his wife. He said it happened a couple of weeks ago when they had all been out on a lad’s night, and Pete had ended up going back to this “queer wans” place and nobody saw him again until the next day. Colm only heard yesterday what had defiantly happened and that’s why he didn’t say anything until now as he wasn’t sure, but according to him, it’s not the first time something like this has happened.”
“I can’t believe that Pete would have it in him to cheat on Tina and the girls. He always seemed to me to be such a family guy, and mad about Tina. Remember that romantic holiday he brought her on last year. We were all so jealous that it wasn’t our husbands who had ditched the macho image and surprised their wife with a trip of a lifetime,” mused Amanda.
“I know” said Janice, “The most I’ve got from Colm in the past two years was the night at the local Indian restaurant for my birthday followed up with a short stay in the maternity hospital nine months later.”
“ Does Tina know what’s been going on?” asked Amanda. “I don’t think so,” said Janice. “I feel terrible for her. In one way I hope she doesn’t find out. I can’t even begin to imagine what it would do to her if she realises what’s been going on. I certainly will not be the one to tell her. I know she is my sister in law, but really I think news like that is better coming from someone a bit closer. I just don’t know how I’m going to face her next week at Fiona’s communion knowing what I know. How can I look her in the eye and pretend I don’t know anything. How I will manage to look Pete in the eye and not slap him in the face is another question. I wish Colm had not told me now. I suppose the best thing to do is forget that anything has happened, hope that Pete has seen the error of his ways, and for Tina’s sake, hope he cops on and doesn’t do it again. “
“Remember that woman who used to work with me in the Bookies,” said Amanda, “Pauline was her name?” “Yes,” said Janice.
“Well, I remember at the time,” said Amanda, “her husband was playing around all over the place, and I swear, everybody in the place knew about it, except her. Well so she said, but to be honest, I think she knew, and was turning a very blind eye in his direction. I mean, how could not suspect something. All the missing hours in the day, the slightest hint of different perfume on his clothes,...... unexpected items on the visa statement.!!!! They say that when your husband starts being nice to you, that’s the time to get suspicious.!!”
“That’s ridiculous Amanda,” said Janice. “Not ever man in a cheater you know. I’d say your right though. You must have some idea, however small the inkling might be, but surely you would know if your other half had been dipping the pen in someone else’s ink.” “I’m not so sure,” mused Amanda, “men are cute. They get away with a lot more than we will ever know about. Haven’t you ever suspected Colm of not being where he said he was!!!”
“I don’t know about your marital affairs Amanda, but I am in a loving, committed and faithful relationship with my husband. I have no worries that Colm would stray. Sure hasn’t he got all that he could ever want, in yours truly,” Janice laughed with a twinkle in her eye. “Yea,” laughed Amanda “sure who else would have him???”
Janice saw Caitriona’s name flash up on her mobile. “Hi Caitriona,” said Janice, while trying to stop Finn from climbing out of the supermarket trolley. “How’s things?” Inquired Caitriona a little too brightly. Janice loved Caitriona like a sister, but knew if she didn’t get her off the phone in the next ten seconds, she would be stuck with the phone glued to her ear for at least the next half hour. “Look Caitriona, I’m just in the supermarket with Finn in the trolley and the other two using the aisles as bowling lanes, so I’ll have to call you back later,” said Janie. “Oh that’s fine Janice, but just quickly, how are you? I mean I just wanted to see if you are ok? I haven’t heard from you for a few days and I was just wondering if anything was up?” Asked Caitriona. “Oh no everything’s fine, Same old, same old,” said Janice, “listen I’ll call you later ok.” “Just as long as everything is ok, and you’re alright, that’s the main thing,” said Caitriona. “Ok talk later, bye,” Janice said quickly and hung up. While rounding up the children by the checkout, Janice mused for a minute over the strange phone call. What did Caitriona mean by, was she ok, and was anything wrong? Sure what was there to be wrong, and for God sake, just because they hadn’t spoken in almost a week. They had often gone a lot longer than that without contact, and they just manage to pick up where they left off the last time. Janice would ring her back later when the children were in bed and have a proper chat with her.
Janice missed having Caitriona around. Since Caitriona started dating Keith, Janice didn’t see as much of her anymore. Janice was happy for her, as Caitriona had been out with some right stinkers in the past, and each and every one had broken her heart. Caitriona fell too hard too fast with the wrong blokes, and always ended up getting crushed. Caitriona had met this new fella, Keith, at the office Christmas party. They already knew each other from working in the same department. Like so many others, they had nodded to each other when passing in the corridors, and had idle chit chat when they met at the coffee station. On the night of the Christmas party though, Caitriona ended up being seated next to Keith for the dinner, and was pleasantly surprised when they talked and talked and talked all night. That night led to a dinner date the next day, and the rest, as they say, is history. They had been seeing each other steadily now for almost seven months, and things were looking good. Keith seemed like a decent enough guy, and Janice wouldn’t be surprised if they moved in together before long. Maybe that’s why Caitriona had rung today. Caitriona had often used Janice as a sounding board for bouncing ideas off, and vice versa, and perhaps she wanted an ear to bend about getting serious with the right man.
After Janice had the children settled and sat down that evening, she remembered that she had promised Caitriona a phone call. “Oh ill just watch the end of this first,” she decided, and snuggled down onto the sofa. Janice was asleep by the end of the programme, and didn’t wake again until Colm came in at 2 am. As she slumped her way to bed she made a mental note to remember to ring Caitriona when she got a chance the next day.
Janice was not looking forward to the Communion party. Peters daughter Fiona was making her First Holy Communion today. As Colm was Fiona’s Godfather, it meant that they had to be present at the church as well as the reception. Janice simmered away all morning and when Colm asked what was wrong with her, Janice told him. She was not comfortable going to this farce of a party, when Peter obviously didn’t had any respect for his family, what with all the playing away he was doing. Colm put his arms around her waist and pulled her close. “ Don’t you be worrying about others and what they are doing? Just forget about it and try to enjoy yourself. There could be all sorts of reasons why things are happening. We only know one side of the story, you know. We don’t know what goes on behind closed doors, perhaps Tina knows about it and doesn’t mind.” “Don’t give me that, of course she doesn’t know anything about it. Tina would have kicked him out by now if she knew he was being unfaithful. And don’t try defending Peter either, saying it was only the drink, or that Tina drove him to it. It is no excuse for him to drop his trousers whenever he feels like it.” “Okay, okay”, laughed Colm, “calm down. Tell me how you really feel about it. Look, just try to resist the urge to spit knives at Peter today when you see him. Whatever he has or has not done, it’s between him and his wife, and Fiona’s party is not the time or the place to be revealing any indiscretions to Tina about her husband. Okay, promise me? “ Urged Colm. “Okay, fine, I’ll keep my mouth closed,” said Janice, “but don’t expect me to be all nicely nice with him. I just can’t when I know what he’s been up to.” “Right so,” said Colm, “come on, let’s go and get this over with.”
When they arrived at the church, all in their Sunday best, Janice spotted Peter with his wife Tina, and Fiona, all ready to go in to make her First Holy Communion. Colm made his way over to his brother, while Janice followed with their children. Tina was all talk, and styled up to the nines. Fiona looked like she had been dressed out of a fashion magazine, and when Janice looked around, most of the other Communion children were wearing bling, from head to toe.
Janice tried to get into the spirit of things by telling Tina she looked great, and that she must be very proud of Fiona. But she couldn’t stay talking with Tina for very long. Janice felt a sudden urge to grab hold of her and give her a big hug. She wanted to wrap her arms around her to give her some sort of protection from the dreadful secret that was swirling inside Janice’s head.
The ceremony went off without a hitch, as before they knew it, the whole family were making their way to the local hotel for lunch and celebration.
Janice wondered what it was about Tuesday’s. Mondays had their own reasons to be universally hated, but for her, Tuesdays were worse.
Janice was taking advantage of the golden half-hour before the children got out of school. With a mug of tea in hand, she sat at the kitchen table, watching Finn negotiate his new baby steps from pillar to post. Occasionally when he went bump, the only thing keeping him from screaming was the soft cushion of his nappy. Janice loved and hated this stage of her children’s development. She couldn’t wait for them to start taking their first nervous steps, and watched with awe each day. She could soon see confidence being gained and boundaries being pushed as they learned to walk. Janice wondered if this was one of the many comfort zones we have to break out of throughout our lives. How was it that children rarely displayed fear of the unknown, but instead, grasped at new challenges with both hands and such vigour? It wasn’t long before the achievement was reached, and with such delight. Then, children simply moved on to discover or achieve something else, with most of the fearless enthusiasm they displayed before. Janice wondered also, at what point in our lives did we begin to fear the unknown. When we preferred to stay inside our zone and stopped wanting to explore new and exciting things, and when, if ever, did we start to realise again that we could in fact, give anything a go?
Her thoughts were interrupted by Colm’s key in the front door, letting himself in. This was a pleasant surprise for Janice, to have Colm home in the early afternoon. “How’s things?”, Colm asked, coming towards her and planting a soft kiss on her cheek. “Grand,” replied Janice, “what has you home in the middle of the day like this?”
“Agh, it’s kind of slow in work and there is not much happening. I thought I might as well be at home here with you guys. That’s one of the beauties of being the boss, delegation!”, he grinned.
Janice wished he was able to “delegate” more often, but was also grateful to have him home with her today, watching his sons first tentative steps.
“I didn’t, even her you coming home last night,” said Janice. “ Yea it was a late one. You will never guess who I met at the bar last night. Trevor!!.” “Trevor our neighbour? Your man from up the road? What was he doing in the bar?” “Agh, having a bit of a night out with work, I think, anyway, we got chatting and he is really good fun when he is out. Actually, he is bit of a ladies’ man, from what I was seeing.” “Really,” said Janice, “what was he up to?” “Well let’s just say he was enjoying the attention of a beautiful young lady who most defiantly was not his wife.” “Oh my god,” sighed Janice, “Poor Emma, She is such a nice girl. I was only talking to her yesterday. Do you think there was anything going on with Trevor and that other girl?” “I don’t really know,” said Colm, “but it looked like more than just work mates having a chat. She was wearing his suit jacket when they were leaving together, so go figure.”
“I’d never have though it of him though, he is not even anything to look at really. Well you just never know, what’s going on right around the corner, and behind closed doors.”
Janice decided to keep a close eye on her wandering neighbours’ wife over the next few days, to see if she could spot any signs of her knowing that her husband was playing away. She would have to be careful to avoid getting into any deep conversations with her, as she didn’t want to be the shoulder that Emma wanted to cry on. Janice didn’t know her that well, and anyway, Janice supposed that Emma would have her own close friend to confide in. Hopefully, this would leave Janice free to act like she was none the wiser. She should certainly be looking at that husband of Emma’s in a different light now. “Fecker” she said absentmindedly, why do some men have their cake and always want to eat it.?
Colm helped Janice with the baby, picked up the children from school, and even went as far as offering to go for a take-away for the dinner. Janice was delighted to have the night off from cooking dinner, and when the kids were safely tucked up fast asleep, Janice gave Colm a token of her appreciation.
Afterwards, while Colm snored like a donkey beside her, Janice lay wide awake. She loved Colm and was delighted with this rare day together with the children. Something was bugging her though. She couldn’t stop thinking about the nasty neighbour up the road, and around the corner. Cheating on his wife (allegedly). It made her mad thinking of him. He had so much to lose if his wife found out. Beautiful wife, nice house, two cars, no children yet, but they were not long married, so plenty of time for that. He had the life of a single lad, with the added bonus of coming home to marital bliss every day. Things must be turning sour, she though. Janice had seen it many times on the many problem pages she scanned and she read about it almost weekly in the chick mags she indulged herself in. “Husband cheats with best friend’s mother!!” or “We were just married and he ran off with my bridesmaid” etc, etc.