"Mommy! Get up, get up!" I feel two little bodies jumping on my bed, so I open my eyes sleepily. I can see the twins, outlined by the early morning sunlight, jumping up and down to get me awake. . They're always up before me on work days. But Hadlee is still clutching her teddy bear, though she is giggling, showing off the teeth no longer there. Both she and Halen are missing their two front teeth, which makes me grin. My babies were getting so big!
I sit up and pull the two of them to me. Halen tries to wiggle away, not liking to cuddle as much as his sister does, but I hold him fast. "What? Can't I say good morning, Booger?"
Halen frowns before giving me a kiss on the cheek. "Good morning, Mama."
I kiss him back. "Thank you." I kiss Hadlee too and ask, "How are you, Princess?"
She grins shyly at me. She is always this way in the morning, and it takes a lot to get her talking. But after giggling, she says, "Good."
I grin. "Good. Alright, time to get dressed and ready. You're going to Ms. Laurel's house today."
The twins run off to their room and I quickly get up, stretching. I grab my uniform before heading to the bathroom. I change quickly before pulling my long hair back into a braded bun. I quickly wash my face before heading to the kitchen to cook us all breakfast.
The eggs are just about cooked and the bagel I popped in the toaster has just popped back up when the twins come into the kitchen, all dressed. I have to laugh because of my kids' wardrobe choice. Hadlee has on her bright yellow dress, but also her green frog rain boots and a red tutu. Halen is wearing a pair blue plaid shorts and a red and green striped shirt, accompanied with his cowboy boots and purple baseball cap. I shake my head, grinning. "You guys look great!"
The twins beam up at me, clearly proud to be able to get dressed all on their own. Normally, I would change their clothes from anything too weird, but today I liked their creativity and didn't feel like changing them. If that's what they wanted to wear, then that's what they were going to wear.
After buttering the chocolate chip bagel and adding some honey nut spread on it, I take one half and cut it in half. I give two fourths of the bagel to the twins along with a scoop of scrambled eggs. I take what's left. Before I sit down, I pour them a glass of milk and split up an orange between the three of us. Balanced enough of a breakfast for me.
We eat quickly before I rush them to go brush their teeth. I do the same and get my things together for work. I am all set and ready to go when I hear someone knock on the door. I sigh, a little annoyed at the timing. Before heading to the door, I check in on the twins and find them playing with toys. "Alright, we're going to leave in a few minutes. Be ready, alright?"
"Yes, Mama," they chorus. I grin and head to the front door.
The knocking is more insistent now, which annoys me. "I'm coming!" Even though I'm replying, the knocking continues without fail. Groaning, I unlock the front door before answering it.
Anxiety and panic flood my veins as a memory from long ago consumes me. The man at the door has a gun pointed right at my face. I can't help but remember that cold, winter's night six years ago when a man had done the very same thing. The thing that, nine months later, gave me Hadlee and Halen. But I know this isn't a flashback. This is the present. This man is different. I am an adult now, in my own little apartment with my kids in the next room. No, this is scarier than the first time.
"Let me in, or risk leaving your kids as orphans." This sentence almost freezes me, but the reality thaws me enough to back up, allowing the man in. He nods in approval before closing the door. I am petrified and have no idea what to do. But this man, whoever he is, seems to know. "Now, I think it would be best if you took me somewhere where those little ones don't happen to walk in. I mean, then I'd have to kill them and I really don't want to have to do that. Don't you agree?"
I am shaking, but I nod. I'll do whatever it takes to protect my kids… As much as the circumstances were awful, Hadlee and Halen were my entire world. Without them, my world would be shattered. My legs had gone numb, but I force myself to walk to my bedroom. Once inside, the man locks the door.
"Now, let's have some fun." And then the world goes black…
It's not until I hear the phone ringing that I open my eyes again. Then it goes quiet for a few minutes before I hear a knock on my door. It's Halen. "Mama, its Vera on the phone. She wants to talk to you. Can I come in?"
I sit up, feeling the pain from what had happened. But I am modest, so I figure its okay. "Yes, you can come in."
Halen comes in, still looking just like he did at breakfast. He hands me the phone before leaving the room. It takes me a minute before I actually answer the phone myself. "Hello?"
It was Vera. "Willa! Where are you? Don't you remember that we have work today?"
I'm shaking and without really thinking about it, tears start falling down my face. "Something came up," I say shakily. "Vera, I… I'm not okay right now. But I'll be in really soon. Okay?"
Vera's voice softens. "Willa, is everything alright?"
"No," I say, shaking my head to myself. "But it'll be okay. I'll be in soon. I just have to drop the twins off at the sitter's."
I can sense Vera's worry, but she drops it. "Alright, I'll see you soon."
I hang up the phone quickly before retreating to the bathroom. I don't have much time, but I straighten up before grabbing my things again. I go to the twins' room to retrieve them. They are still playing with their toys. I take in a deep breath before I speak, trying not to worry them. "You both ready to go?"
They look up at me, smiling. "Sure thing, Mama," Halen says, getting up quickly. Hadlee follows suit, only she runs to her bed to grab her teddy bear. She and that thing are practically inseparable. Then she sticks out her thumb and nods.
I have to grin in spit of myself. "Alright, then let's get to Ms. Laurel's house." The kids grin up at me as I herd them out to the front. I get them down to the car and into their car seats within five minutes, so that we're on the road by the time it's nine o'clock. Nine. I am an hour late for work already.
I start to shake at the thought and I am trying to overcome my anxiety so that I can drive. But what happened this morning overwhelms me and I start to cry. It's not for a few minutes until the twins notice, and it's Hadlee who asks, "Mommy, why are you crying?"
I try to pull myself together before answering, "It's nothing, sweetheart. Mom is just a little tired, that's all." I'm pretty sure they knew I was lying, but they didn't insist for the answer. Thankfully they didn't. I couldn't handle them worrying even more…
I finally make it to work at nine-thirty. I find my way to the cubicle I share with Vera and settle down. But she descends upon me quickly. "Willa! What on earth? What happened?"
I shake my head. "Just an unwanted visitor this morning. But it's okay."
She shakes her head and is about to press when Dave, our boss, enters, staring me down. "Willa, I don't want to have to fire you, but if you are ever late like this again, the least I can do is take away the day's pay. I don't want to have to do that. So show up. On time."
I nod to him, but I avoid his gaze. "Yes, sir. It won't happen again, sir."
He scowls at me before turning away. I can feel Vera about to ask me more, so I change the subject before she can. "So, how are the boys?"
Vera shakes her head. "Dominic was up all night. Ear infection. Between him and Keaton with his fever, I was up all night. I could use a good nap, but alas, I am at work, making sure we have enough money to be able to live somewhere and actually eat. Thank God my neighbor watches them for free. She loves the boys, so it's not too hard. And she knows how hard it was. She was a single mom for a long time for her kids before she married."
I nod. "That is good. I'm sorry they're sick."
Vera shrugs. "Don't worry about it. It happens. I bet it was harder with twins."
I laugh. "Oh yes. If one was sick, so was the other. And when they were babies, they both wanted Mom to hold them, so my arms always were on the verge of falling off by the time I was able to get them to sleep."
We work silently for several hours until it's time for our lunch break. Vera and I go to the cafeteria and grab our tray of mediocre food. Better than nothing, I suppose. But today, none of it wants to go down. I am still fighting the anxiety, willing it to not take over me. But I can feel it swallowing me up.
"Willa?" It's Vera, and she can see me falling. I'm suffocating, and she knows it. I try to calm myself, but all I do is cry. I feel her put her arm around me and it does nothing but make me cry harder. "Willa, what happened? What's wrong."
I turn to her, and I know I can't hide it. I can't contain it. So I whisper the words I hate and wished I never had to say again. "I was raped."