“Zoe! Have you seen my shoes?” I sighed and walked over to the bottom of the stairs. “They’re down here!” I hollered back. “Thank you”
I shook my head at him and walked back to the kitchen to finish making their lunch. “Sissy?” I looked down at Austin tugging on my pants, “Can you tie my laces please?”
“Of course buddy.” I said as I lifted him on the counter. “I so excited for today.” I laughed at how excited he was for his school talent show. “Me too, I want to see you sing and dance.” I said as I finished tieing his laces. I lifted him back to the floor and he ran back upstairs. I turned back to the sandwiches, putting them in their lunch boxes.
“Maya are you done yet?” I hollered. I heard a few curse words and I sighed. I put all 3 lunch boxes on top of each other on the counter along with their water bottles and jogged upstairs.
I stopped in front of Maya’s door and heard shuffling. “Are you ready babe?” I asked softly as I opened the door a bit. “Get out. Stop talking to me like that, you will never replace mom.” She yelled and I sighed, closing the door.
“It’s okay, I’ll talk to her.” Bryant told me as he saw my face. “Thanks, B.” I said giving him a small smile.
Me and Maya have been on rough terms ever since mom left, we were never really close but not like this. She was always close to Bryant, I guess it’s because of our age gap. She’s only 10 and Bryant is 16. Austin always loved to ask me to play with him though, he’s only 3 and remembers mom a little bit but only a few details like the bedtime stories she used to read to him and our ice cream trips. It’s been almost a year since her death and things have changed a lot around here.
Since I’m 20, the kids custody fell on me and we all liked it this way. We rarely met our father, he was always abroad since he was in the U.K military. He missed lots of Christmases, birthdays, even Austin’s birth. We only saw him briefly for a few weeks but we cherished those moments. 2 years ago he died fighting for our country. The funeral was beautiful but all I could think about was how nothing will bring him back. He always said that he preferred this job because he would at least die a hero.
With our parents both gone we have been living off benefits from the government, I haven’t found a job yet. It’s hard since I didn’t finish off university. I always wanted to become a teacher, I only had 2 years left of Uni but I couldn’t juggle school and raising my siblings.
My best friend Cyren works as an intern make up artist and I go help her sometimes and get some money. She kept in touch with me after I left Uni and offered to help me the best that she could. It’s little money but something is always better then nothing. We made a pact that nothing will ever tear us apart and so far we have lived through it.
I heard whispering from inside Maya’s room and listened intently. “You have to stop being harsh on Zoe, she’s only trying to help.” Bryant said. “By replacing mom?” I heard him sigh as tears welled up in my eyes.
“Who else would take her place?” He asked and I heard something drop on the floor really harshly. “No one that’s who, what is she thinking? That I will forget mom and start calling her that?” She yelled but her voice cracked at the end, all I wanted to do was hug her.
“Sissy? Is Maya being mean again?” Austin said coming out of his room. I sighed and wiped away a few tears that fell on my cheek and smiled.
“It’s okay buddy.” I said lifting him up. I walked to my room and sat on my bed with him on my lap.
“You’re the best mommy ever.” He said and I smiled brightly at him.
“You know I’m not your mommy right?” I asked him and he nodded.
“Yeah, you’re sissy but I tell my friends that you’re my mommy.” He whispered and I laughed.
“I don’t think Maya will like that very much.” I said sadly.
“But I like it. Mommy is not here no more but you’re here and you’re just like my old mommy.” He said hugging me.
“I’m glad you’re happy baby but I think we should get going. You have rehearsals before the show. Remember I come at noon okay?” I told him and he nodded.
“Yes, I so excited mo-” he said but quickly fixed his sentence “I mean sissy.”
“How about you can call me mommy when we’re alone but not in front of Maya.” I said to him and his eyes lit up.
I don’t want him to grow up without a mother figure and if that means I’m his mother figure then so be it.
“Yay, can I call you mommy at school?” I nodded and his smile grew.
“Okay now let’s go.” I said standing up with him on my hip.
I walked passed Maya’s room and saw the door opening. Bryant walked out and smiled at me. “Go get ready B, thanks for talking to her.” I told him and he nodded.
As he walked out I saw Maya with her head down standing in the doorway. My instinct was to hug her so I did the best I could with Austin in my arms.
She sobbed on my shoulder and I comforted her. “Its okay babe.”
“I’m sorry, its just I miss her.” She said and tears built up in my eyes. “I know M. I miss her too, I’m not trying to replace her honey. I’m just trying to be here for you while she can’t.”
She nodded and pulled away. “I know I’m sorry.” She said looking down. “Its okay go get ready and be quick please because Austin can’t be late for his big day.” I said as I bounced him a bit.
“Are you coming to watch me M?” Maya looked at me and I shrugged. “I’m pulling Bryant out of school to watch him if you want to.” I said and she smiled nodding.
“Yes please, you’re the coolest mom ever.” My heart welled up as I heard her say that and she hugged me.
“Does that mean I can call you mommy in front of Maya now?” Austin asked innocently and we both laughed.
“Yeah.” Maya told him. “Okay, how about we drive you guys to school now.” I said and Maya hurriedly walked back to her room and got dressed.
“B are you ready?” I hollered and he walked out of his room.
“Yeah” he said texting someone. “You need a ride to school?” He hummed in response and then I pulled him by his arm before he could pass by.
“Wanna play hockey from school and go get ice cream instead?” I whispered to him and he grinned widely, “Oh my you’re the coolest mom ever.” He said in a high pitch voice. I rolled my eyes at him and shrugged.
“Okay you can stay in school, I don’t care.” I said walking down the stairs and he ran after me.
“Wait were you serious?” He asked and I laughed. “I’m your guardian I can do what I want.” I said shrugging.
He smiled widely and nodded. “Yes please, no school for me.” I laughed and shook my head at him. “You’re lucky I love you guys.”
Maya walked down the stairs and I set Austin on the counter while I put his lunch in his backpack.
“Come on let’s go.” I said grabbing him again and walking outside. I locked the house and we walked to my car. I put Austin in his car seat and Maya sat next to him while Bryant sat next to me on the passenger seat.
“Off to school we go.” I yelled and I drove off. They all laughed and I tuned on the radio.
“Turn it up mommy.” Austin yelled hearing his favorite song. It was weird hearing him call me that but I loved it. “Okay Buddy.”
“Today I don’t feel like doing anyfiiiiiiiiing I just wanna lay in my beeeed.” I laughed as he sang along to The lazy song. He’s too cute, he had heard me sing along in my room and loved the song instantly. He’s the biggest Bruno Mars fan ever.
We were all singing along until I pulled up at his school. I got out of the car and got Austin out of his car seat.
“I so excited, faster mommy.” He said pulling my hand to walk faster. “Okay, okay calm down.” We walked to the front door were all the kids were walking in, luckily we made it just in time.
“Bye baby, I’ll see you very soon.” I told him and he hugged me. “Bye mommy, I can’t wait.” He said kissing my cheek and then ran off. I stood up straight and walked back to the car.
“Okay Maya, how about ice cream instead of school.” I said as I drove off and she cheered. “Yay.”
I laughed and drove to the park. We walked to the ice cream parlor and I ordered for all of us then we walked to the park next to the shop and sat under a tree.
“Maya?” I said after we sat down. “Hmm?” She said.
“I just want you to know that, I’m really sorry if I upset you when I act like mom. I miss her too you know.” I said and she sighed.
“I know and I’m sorry for not understanding.” I smiled at her and she leaned her head on my shoulder. “I know you miss her and I want you to know that even though I can’t replace her I’m trying to fill the emptiness she left and do my best. Your brother lost her at such a young age and I don’t want him to grow up without a mother figure and neither all of you but him mostly because he’s too young to understand.” I told her and she nodded.
“Yeah I know, its just weird seeing you act like her. You’re my sister so it’s gonna take a while to get used to you as my legal mom.”
“I know babe, you don’t have to call me that you know. I’m only letting Austin so that he won’t feel like he has something less than his other friends.”
“I love you Zo.” She said and I kissed her forehead. “I love you to M.”
“Awe look at you two bonding over ice cream.” Bryantsaid batting his eyelashes. “Oh shut up.”
He rolled his eyes and continued to eat his ice cream.
“Seriously you’re the coolest mom ever.” He said and I laughed. “Enjoy your ice cream big boy. This is only happening once.” I told him and they both laughed.
When we finished our ice cream we both stayed at the park and talked about how Austin has been so excited for the show since the beginning of his scholastic year and about his crazy infatuation with Toy Story.
We talked aboutBryant’s school and Maya’s friends and I told them about my job hunting.
“I have applied for this makeup intern ship, like Cyren goes to and it pays you to go there, obviously to buy supplies but you won’t need to buy makeup supplies every month and they pay really well. I love makeup so its a win win.”
“Cool, maybe we can go on a trip this summer.” Maya said and I sighed, “I’m trying really hard M. We’ll see what we’ll manage.” I told her and she smiled.
“I know it sucks if we don’t go but I understand why.” I sighed and nodded.
“I promise I’ll try my best.” I just wish I could give them all they want and need. I have always worked hard to see them smile and nothing will stop me from doing so.