Devil’s Backbone — Part Eight


“Have you talked to Chloe at all?” said Claire, who was just getting up at noon after having a mini sleepover in her older nieces’ room. She somehow slept on the hard floor and was now feeling the pain in her back and neck. She rubbed the back of her neck while she passed Brenda, who was starting her Monday off right, coffee and a bran muffin. “No, I’m pretty sure she wants to forget all about the mess that happened between John and I.” Claire walked over to pour herself a nice cup of black coffee. Surprisingly the coffee was still warm, which meant Brenda also got up late too. “Speaking of John, have you talked to him after you let him sleep on the couch that night after the wedding?” Brenda still reading her paper didn’t even look up at her young sister who was sitting across from her. “No, but I want to. I just don’t know what to say to him though. I mean, what is there to say to somebody that you’ve trusted all these years and find out they’ve gone out and betrayed you in such a way that you don’t think you could ever trust them again?” It was a conversation that Claire wasn’t very good at, since she’s always been the “cheater” in her relationships. She’s heard it all too well and Brenda was never going to get an answer she wants out of it.

Suddenly three little creatures appear from their bedrooms. Brenda’s daughters hadn’t heard about how their daddy’s been cheating on their mommy. Brenda was perfectly fine with keeping it that way too. She remembers what she and her sisters went through when they found out about their own father cheating on their mother. It was heartbreaking, you always wished they would get back together. Before you knew it though, once the divorce papers were filed, everything that you knew was gone. She didn’t want them to know about it right now. Brenda and Claire sat in their chairs while the little girls climbed onto the remaining chairs and insisted they have their breakfast. Motherhood never rests, and Brenda was thankful for it too. “Do you girls want milk with your cereal or do you want it in your cups?” Ava and Tatum both said, “with my cereal, please.” and Gracie sat in her chair, quiet as a button. She was usually quiet in the mornings, but it wasn’t morning. Brenda looked at her, she looked distanced from her sisters. Brenda put her hand over her forehead to check for a fever, but she was cool to the touch. It was just going to be one of those days with her. “Here you go girls.” Claire said as she placed two small bowls of Lucky Charms. “And here you go, Miss Gracie. Eat up.” as she placed the third bowl in front of the small girl.

Brenda had always wondered if Gracie was autistic or not, but John refused to get her tested. Anytime the girls had a problem there was a good chance John always had an excuse for it, but for Gracie, she had all of the signs. She hardly smiles at people or makes eye contact with anybody within the family. Claire sat back down on her seat and began feeding Gracie her breakfast. Within five more minutes, little cries could be heard from the next room. Brenda sat up and poured her left over coffee into the sink and walked into the next room to grab Ivy. She brought out into the kitchen and Ivy had some wacky hair going on! “Man, Ivy did you sleep well last night? You look like your curls are going to fly off your head!” said Claire, Ivy cheesed really big and Brenda sat up her high chair and placed her inside. She went back to the cabinet and grabbed applesauce and Cheerios box. She poured out some of the Cheerios onto her tray and she started taking one by one in her mouth like she was chipmunk or something. She’s was a little comedian. Brenda sat back down in her chair and used a napkin to wipe off the spoon to mix the cream in her coffee. After she wiped it clean again, she unhooked the lid and began feeding her, hopefully to drive her away from stuffing her mouth with cereal.

The six of them were having a pretty good brunch, until they heard a couple of knocks, and then here came Chloe walking into the kitchen. The girls were completely shocked and practically spilled cereal on themselves as they jumped out of their chairs to go hug their aunt. “Hey girls!” Chloe said excitedly and hugged them back. “Man, I’ve been gone for two weeks and you guys go and have a party without me. I see how you are.” Chloe said as she smiled, while getting a hug at the waist by both Claire and Gracie. “What are you doing here so early?” Brenda said as she fed Ivy her last bite of applesauce and wiped her face off with a napkin. “Well, after the kids go back into their rooms or whatever I’ll tell you.” Brenda and Claire looked up at each other and wondered. Brenda got the table cleaned up as the girls left for their rooms. Ivy still sat in her high chair until Chloe couldn’t take it anymore and lifted her up and hugged her tightly. “So what’s been going on since I left? Anything new? Filed for divorce yet?” Chloe said as she was still holding Ivy in her arms. “Shhh.. I don’t want the girls to know yet.” Brenda said as she whipped her towel at Chloe, “Well, they’re going to find out soon enough.” “What happened to your honeymoon?” Claire said without missing a beat. “Well, you girls remember when Hank and I were on a break by in high school, and he was with Jessica and a few other girls?” Chloe said as she put Ivy back in her high chair. “Yeah.” said Brenda and Claire, “Well, looks like he might’ve gotten one of them pregnant and you’ll never believe who the girl is,” Brenda sat down real quick before this got any worse, “Nicole Boyd showed up on our first day there and brought her five-year old son and told me, that Hank is the father.” Chloe said as she leaned up against the counter,