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Printed from https://shop.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2313012-The-Hermit
Rated: E · Fiction · Emotional · #2313012
It's just too much for her...
Word count: 945.

Written for "Click Here which was a celebratory subset of "The Writer's Cramp

The heaviness of sleep weighed on Angie's eyes, nudging her to close them and slip away again into that dream about running away to an island in the Caribbean. On the shores of the beach, however, she had a panic attack about her children and snapped awake in tears, afraid she couldn't return to them in time.

Her husband Kevin was already up, and the three kids needed to be fed. She could tell by the sharp burning odor that breakfast wasn't going as well as it should.

Chaos reigned in the kitchen when she arrived.

"Mom! Joey's pulling my hair!" Susan wailed.

"Mom, Daddy burned the waffles again," Joey announced.

Baby Laura was crying because someone had spilled maple syrup in her hair.

Angie rubbed her eyes and cleared her throat.

"Mommy's here now, Joey. I'll take care of breakfast."

But inside she was dreaming about the art she wanted to create, if she could ever find the time.

After Kevin left for work, she was alone with the children and an endless list of chores. Laundry, ironing, dishes, dusting, vacuuming, until suddenly it was time for lunch. Then Joey spilled paint on the sofa, nearly ruining it.

After lunch, Angie tried to read some emails at the kitchen table. If she got those taken care of, maybe there would be a moment to pull out her sketchpad and plan some artwork.

Joey was absorbed in video games, Susan was watching Frozen for the thousandth time and singing along to every song, and baby Laura was sitting in her playpen with a musical toy that was supposed to teach her colors and numbers.

When Dad got home he immediately sat down in front of the TV to watch a baseball game. The sounds of roaring crowds, yapping sportscasters and loud commercials filled the apartment.

"I can't stand it anymore! There's so much noise in here!" Angie snapped her laptop shut and rested her head in her hands. Maybe I should run away to the beach and leave it all behind. I'm almost at the breaking point.

Then a small voice piped up,

"Mommy, what's wrong?"

Angie opened her reddened eyes and looked down at her son.

"Nothing, Sweetie. Mommy just needs a little quiet time."

She straightened her back, trying to perk up. Joey ran to the living room. Suddenly, the TV went off. Angie thought it must've broken. Her husband appeared in the kitchen.

"Joey told me you're feeling overwhelmed," he said. "At least, I get that impression."

He pulled up a chair and sat down next to her.

"Kevin, I don't think I'm meant to be a mom. I always wanted peace and quiet to pursue my artistic career. But all I have time to do anymore is clean the apartment and feed the kids!"

"I'm sorry," he said meekly. "I should try to be more helpful when I get home. Is there anything you need me to do right now?"

"I just want to be alone for ten minutes!" Angie wailed, feeling like one of her kids having a tantrum. "Alone in a still, quiet space I can call my own!"

Kevin reached over and patted her hand.

"Actually, that's not so difficult," he said, his voice low and gentle as if he were talking to one of the kids. "We can reserve a spot in the bedroom. When my siblings and I were little, my mom would lock herself in her room for an hour every day, and we weren't allowed to disturb her at all."

"An hour!" Angie was aghast. "That's too long—the kids need me."

"We'll start with ten minutes, and then we can work it up to longer. My family turned out just fine." He smiled at his wife. "You'll have so much peace and quiet, you won't know what to do with it."

They set up a desk and chair with a curtain around it in the bedroom, and the next day after Kevin got home, he announced ten minutes of quiet time for Mommy: no phones, video games or TV allowed.

Angie stared blankly at her new desk. The stillness felt uncanny, as if she were the only one at home. Then, just when she was beginning to relax, the ten minutes were up.

Next time was easier; Angie spent her ten minutes lost in thought, planning what she wanted to do with her new free time. As the weeks progressed it became her refuge, her special time, when she could doodle in her sketchpad or just sit and think about things.

She realized how much she needed those still and solitary moments. Even ten minutes a day was something to look forward to, that seemed to make the rest of her life a little less tedious.

When Kevin began gradually extending the amount of time, it opened even greater opportunities for peace and self reflection.

"I can't believe it took us so long to realize you needed this," Kevin remarked one day, leaning on her desk and pushing the curtain aside. "I'm getting quality time with the kids, and you're getting a safe space, like a hermitage…"

They laughed together.

"Am I a hermit now?" Angie twiddled her pencil in deep thought. "So many of the problems I fret about become smaller and less worrisome when I take time out to relax and refocus. And being alone reminds me to be grateful that I do have you and the kids."

"If an hour of being a hermit keeps you happy, then I'm happy. In fact," Kevin added with a chuckle, "I might take the other corner of the bedroom for a little hermitage myself…"
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