Chapter 1- Irritated kind of Day
Everyone believes it’s all fun and glory under the Southern California sunshine. The warmth soaks into your skin, the sounds of the waves against the surf along the beaches. That’s not always the case, and sometimes those illusions are just that, illusions. From small towns all over the nation, young people believe the hype from commercials and movies.
Nearly twenty years have flown by for one such individual who fled her hometown of Tender Springs, Colorado, for the fast-paced lifestyle at UCLA who studied to become a family doctor in Anaheim.
It’s barely six o’clock when Elizabeth Phillips listens to her alarm chime from her phone.
“Ugh…” She groans and rolls over to sit on the edge of her bed.
Once the drowsiness fades away, she gets to her feet to stretch her toned figure before jumping in the shower.
“Okay, today is a new day, kids aren’t going to drive me crazy, and Michael will be home tonight. Life is good. Life is finally getting good again.” She tells herself without a bit of confidence.
Under the steaming water, Elizabeth works her fingers through her thick long, almond brown hair. With her eyes shut, she travels back to the day when everything crumbled in her life.
“You’re no daughter to me no more!” She remembers her father telling her when she told him about being accepted to UCLA.
That’s not the only memory invading her rattled mind, “If you marry that liberal bastard, I will permanently disown you! You have a good man right up the road who’s waited four years on your sorry ass! You marry Michael, don’t ever come back to this house, you little tramp!”
Those were her father’s last words when she went to tell them about her engagement and pregnancy after being accepted to medical school. After a couple of tears, Elizbeth shuts off the water when a knock comes from the bathroom door.
“Mom, hey mom, I need breakfast made pronto!” Her son Michael Jr. also known as MJ, yells through the door.
“Coming, son, just make you a couple of Pop-Tarts or some peanut butter toast!” Elizabeth yells with a towel wrapped around her torso.
After she’s dried off and picks out scrubs for the day, Elizabeth joins her impatient son and spoiled daughter out at the kitchen table.
“God, mom, it’s about time. I mean, really, daddy comes home today and like I have to get to cheer camp. I need my grapefruit; you know I have to have it! Come on; mom, get a move on!” Kaitlin demands, tapping her foot against the floor.
“Get off my back, you two. You’re more than capable of doing things for yourself!” Elizabeth huffs and gives her two brats a hateful look for just a second.
The teenagers are baffled and take a couple of steps backward when her tone comes across as harsh and bitter.
“Someone needs to get laid tonight,” Michael Junior comments in a snarky way that nearly gets him slapped, but Elizabeth misses.
“I’ve had just about enough of that smart-ass mouth of yours, M.J. Keep it up, and I’ll make sure it’ll be after graduation before you get a car of your own.” Elizabeth threatens with her hands on her hips. A sign that she means business.
Kaitlin stands there and laughs at her brother while he stands there with his mouth dropped wide open when Kaitlin makes an inappropriate remark.
“Look, just like when he’s with his friends, a dropped jaw; just need to be on your hands and knees now!”
That remark causes Michael Junior to stomp out the front door and slams it with all his might.
“Katie! That kind of comment is uncalled-for young lady. You go apologize to your brother right this instant!” Elizabeth commands, pointing towards the door.
Out of protest, Kaitlin walks away and flips her long-highlighted hair in her mother’s face. She goes out the front door, and the instant it opens, the siblings return to a brutal rivalry.
Nearly twenty minutes later, Elizabeth is nearly behind schedule. She’ll end up getting stuck in the morning rush hour traffic. Elizabeth hustles to get her kids dropped off at cheer and football camp, then off to her private practice.
“Good morning Dr. Phillips.” Elizabeth’s receptionist, Gia, comments when they bump into each other at the rear entrance.
“Hey there Gia, how was your weekend?”
In a deep breath, the young lady breaks down what happened.
“Well, so like my friends and I all went to this new club in LA, and it was totally bitchin’!”
Elizabeth chuckles as she hears the door slam shut behind them, “That’s good, you’re still young. I say go out and have the time of your life.”
“Oh, Dr. Phillips, you could still pass for your early thirties. I mean, look at you with those long legs, long brown hair. What man wouldn’t want to stare into those baby blue eyes? Come on, for a mom; you’re like still Hella hot.” Gia compliments as Elizabeth swipes her hair behind her ear and blushes.
“Thanks, but I’m married and have been since med school. You know this, plus my son is what, 2-3 years younger than you are. No one would want to dance with an old lady.”
Elizabeth walks to the desk picking up the clipboard to look over the morning appointments. Gia takes her seat at her desk, powering up her computer, and turns on the waiting area music.
“Whatever, girl! You’re still a hottie. Even if your husband is a piece of shit, you can still go out and have some fun.” Gia whispers to herself when Dr. Phillips walks to the office.
Flopped down in the chair, Elizabeth feels her phone vibrate in her back pocket.
Hey mom, don’t forget I have cheer camp until six today, and Wally is bringing me home -k- thanks, bye. She reads silently and sighs deeply.
Bringing herself back into focus, Elizabeth flips on the computer screen.
“Alright, time to get this day underway,” Elizabeth tells herself and goes out to greet the first patient.
The day goes on, as usual, with patients coming and going. Gia still jabbers on about her night at the club, drunk and ingesting energy drinks as if they’re tic-tacs.
By three o’clock, Elizabeth receives a text from her son that leaves her speechless and enraged at what he flaunts in the message.
“Mom, look at what dad just bought me for Senior year! Ain’t it awesome, and it’s Canary Yellow with a black convertible top- The next badass MJ” She reads aloud with a scowl written across Elizabeth’s face.
Gia knows better than to say anything because when that glow enters her boss’s eyes, she needs a moment to cool down.
The power struggle between Michael and Elizabeth is a one-sided battle that exists only inside his mind.
“That sorry son of a bitch is going to get it when I get home tonight! The nerve he has to go behind my back knowing MJ agreed to work on his grades and earn his first car.”
With a roll of her eyes and an angry huff, Elizabeth takes a moment to walk outback to vent before she resumes with patients.
The anger doesn’t dwindle on her way home. She stops by her favorite pizzeria, picking up enough pizzas and side items to feed an army. On the one hand, she is excited to see Michael Senior, but that won’t happen as he has news for her and the kids.
Elizabeth shifts the SUV into Park, and Michael Senior pauses from stuffing his suitcase in the trunk of his BMW.
“You just got home. Where are you going now?” Elizabeth asks from the vehicle door.
“Got a new job to do installing Ultra 4k communication equipment for another upstart firm. That’s how I pay for all debt you placed us in.” Michael says in a belittle sarcastic tone.
The way he talks sends an invisible razor straight through her body and jabs Elizabeth in the heart.
“You two-face smug son of a bitch…” She begins seething, “I wanted a simple lifestyle. You’re the one who’s gambled, drunk, borrowed, and fucked away by having two more kids and forced to pay child support. Don’t forget that you blew through most of our savings! You went out and bought our son a brand-new convertible Camaro behind my back when we had a deal in place!”
Michael Sr. doesn’t allow her claws to dig deep before firing back with his version of their lives, “Well, if I had a wife who was interested in sleeping with me every once in a goddamn while, I wouldn’t have had a couple of flings. Besides that, all you do is come home, drink a bottle of wine, and ignore your kids and my needs, you selfish bitch!”
Elizabeth has heard enough as she draws back and backhands Michael with everything she’s been holding back. With tears in her eyes as she wants to wrap her hands around his neck to strangle him.
Michael stands there, ready for her to come at him again until Michael Jr.’s car pulls up and creates a distraction; Michael whips into the BMW, pulling away without looking back.
Right behind Michael Jr., an Audi TT pulls into the driveway with Kaitlin scrambling to see her father.
“Daddy! Hey daddy, where are you going?” Kaitlin calls out, wanting to hug her father before he drives away.
“Mom, what did you do now?”
“Excuse me? I did nothing, I just pulled up, and your father was putting his suitcase in the trunk of his car. He claims he has another job to do, and God only knows when that lying…” Elizabeth pauses to try to keep from bad-mouthing her husband in front of their daughter.
“You have to stop being so damn evil to everyone! Dad hates you, MJ hates you, and I’m not a fan either, mom. It’s no wonder nanny and Pappy doesn’t want you around. You’re such a bitch!” Kaitlin protests after she kisses her boyfriend bye and marches into the house.
The sun beats down on Elizabeth’s face when she’s left in the driveway all alone. She remembers to gather the semi-warm dinner still placed in the passenger’s seat. Her normal evening consists of alone in the kitchen, with a reheated portion of pizza and a glass of red wine.
Once she’s finished, Elizabeth makes a plate for Kaitlin and takes it to her. With a couple of taps on the door, she hears “come in.” To her surprise, Kaitlin sits on the bed reading an actual book with glasses shoved comfortably on her face.
“Wow, sweetie, seems like it’s been forever since I saw you read a real book and not your Kindle, and in sweats nonetheless! Who are you, and where did you stash my sassy, mouthy daughter?” Elizabeth mentions with the plate placed on the nightstand.
Kaitlin gives her mother a snarl and squints her eyes. “Ha-ha…” Kaitlin replies while she picks up a slice of plain cheese pizza.
“I’m sorry, mom, I didn’t mean what I said earlier. I’m so sick of this same stuff every time daddy comes home.” Kaitlin says.
“My sweet girl, I wish it would change too. I love your father and have since we met in college. He’s the reason nanna and Pappy don’t want us around. They had other plans for my life, and well, your dad set me free from their control.” Elizabeth enlightens her daughter about bits and pieces of the past.
“Are you and daddy gonna get a divorce?” Kaitlin questions with a weepy face.
“Not if I can help it, I’ve been trying to convince your dad to try marriage counseling, but he’s stubborn and says he’s always too busy. I’ll try better, I promise.”
The two exchange a soft and easy hug as Elizabeth leaves her daughter to continue reading, but it’s not exactly what she expected when she walked into the bedroom.
“Okay, Wally, she’s gone!” Kaitlin says and leans over the side of the bed.
“Oh, I thought we were gonna get caught that time.” The thin pale punk rocker states on his knees.
“Not a chance; put on a little charm and use my pouty face. It works every time. Now get back up here and finish your job!” Kaitlin orders and slips from her clothes while Wally takes off his shorts.
“Oh, Wally…” Kaitlin moans softly as Wally slowly pumps his hips.
As they reengage in a kiss, they’re ignorant to the fact that Elizabeth listens with an ear to the door. After Kaitlin gasps, Elizabeth bursts into the bedroom. They’re interrupted after Elizabeth clears her throat and stands there with her arms crossed and furious at the teenage couple.
“AH, MRS. PHILLIPS!” Wally screams, falling on the floor, and exposes himself to the world.
“Get out now before I call the cops, she’s underage, and you’re eighteen now, scat!” Elizabeth threatens.
Both Wally and Kaitlin’s faces share a shade of crimson and are still frozen with fear.
“Are you dumb, stupid, or just flat out deaf? Get your pants on and get out of here. I catch you together again, and I will throw your ass in jail!” Elizabeth threatens again as she picks Wally up off the floor.
Wally takes off scuffling across the house with his clothes in hand and struggles to get dressed, rushing down the hallway. Kaitlin sits there on the bed with her knees tucked to her chest in humiliation.
“Kaitlin, what is the matter with you? Unprotected sex at your age! I mean, really, are you that stupid?” Elizabeth screams from the edge of the bed.
There’s nothing said between until her mother’s temper escalates.
“Hello, are you thick in the head or what? Answer me, young lady!”
“I’m sorry I wasn’t thinking, okay; besides, it’s not like it was our first time. Just our first time here in the house.” Kaitlin explains, unable to look her mother in the eye.
“Jesus Christ, Katie, you’re not even out of high school, and you’re already taking an unnecessary risk! Granted, yes, I got pregnant in college by accident after a drunken night at a frat party.” Elizabeth tells her daughter, unaware that her son is nearby.
Michael Jr. overhears his mother and puts his fist through the drywall. It startles Elizabeth and Kaitlin at first, but then Elizabeth darts from the room to find him.
“I was an accident? That’s why you and dad hate me so much? That’s why you two hate each other because of me? Fine, I’m out; I’ll be at Chase’s if you need me.” He says, walking away from his mother with guilt thrashing her emotions.
“Son, wait, I didn’t mean it like that…” Elizabeth yells, trying to catch him.
His pain is too much to stop and work things out with his mother. Michael Jr. takes off and leaves behind a pair of burnout marks from the driveway to the street, where a cloud of smoke lifts from the pavement.
Elizabeth is frustrated that their lives have split apart more than ever and heads for her bedroom with a fresh bottle of chilled white wine and no glass.
Once she’s barricaded from the world, hoping the next day will bring about repairs to the damage inflicted to keep herself from losing what’s left of her sanity.
Elizabeth indulges in the wine until her eyes are too heavy to stay open and passes out riddled with guilt and shame.