It was noon when Maggie finally woke up, not feeling refreshed and energized enough after a ten hours long sleep. Her chronic tiredness was taking its toll, and she was praying for the day when her mother is released from the hospital and all the bills are settled to come as soon as possible.
After the fastest shower ever, she took the two dresses and fixed everything that needed fixing. She was satisfied with her work on them. One was in vibrant blue color, knee-length with a halter neckline, and the other was floor-length, a baby pink dress made of tulle. Maybe she should offer to do the makeup and hair for the girls too... she thought. It’s not like she had no experience at it since it was something she used to do with her friends when, once upon a time, they were getting ready for their own proms and parties.
Not long after, she heard a car horn, so she grabbed her bag and keys and hurried outside. Her neighbor, Mrs. Johnson, was visiting her husband at the hospital almost every day, so every time that Maggie was off her work, she would ask this dear old lady for a ride. Johnson’s were her first-door neighbors, and she loved them very much since she was just a little girl; they were like grandparents to her, that’s why she was so sad when Mr. Johnson’s had his heart attack.
“Good afternoon Mrs. Johnson,” Maggie greeted her upon entering the car.
“Good afternoon to you too, dear. How are you today?” Mrs. Johnson asked while starting the car.
“Good, thank you. How is Mr. Johnson?”
“He’s recovering pretty well. The doctor said he will be released this week.”
“That’s good news. I’m glad he is better now.” Maggie was happy to hear some good news today.
“How about your mother? How is she?” Mrs. Johnson asked.
“She’s better now. She’s responding to the therapy well. I hope to have her home by the end of the year.” Maggie informed her neighbor, and she sighed. She will have to buy some new furniture by then since she had to sell everything she could have last month to pay for the installment. She was lucky that the hospital agreed to split the bill into installments, if not, she could never afford to pay it.
“Do you need me to wait for you to take you home?” Mrs. Johnson asked.
“Thank you for the offer, but I have to do some grocery shopping later. Say hi to Mr. Johnson for me and have a nice day.” she bid her goodbye and half-ran towards the hospital room where her mother was located. On her way there, she greeted the staff, who were by now familiar with her.
Maggie peeked into the room to find her mother half sitting on the bed, reading a book, but the second she sensed her beloved daughter being near, she raised her head to look for her. Once their eyes met, Maggie forgot everything about being tired and broke. Getting her mother healthy again was the only important thing in the world. She smiled widely and ran right into her mother’s waiting embrace.
“Hi, mom. It’s so good to see you,” she released herself from her mother’s arms to take a seat on the edge of the bed, their hands still connected.
“Oh, honey,” Rebecca said with tears in her eyes, eyes that never missed a single detail about her daughter now scanned Maggie like x-rays. “You silly girl, you look worse than I do!” she criticized, worried about Maggie.
“No, mom, not again with that story! You’ll make me angry!” Maggie knew how to make her mother stop the questioning.
“But I am afraid you will overwork yourself,” Rebecca said while her heart tugged a little. It wasn’t right that their roles were turned like this. She was supposed to be the one taking care of Maggie.
“Mom, enough! I told you a thousand times before, we just need to get you healthy again, and then everything will be back to normal. What did the doctor say?” she decided to change the subject.
“He says that I’m doing good. My body’s recovering nicely, and he’s hopeful that the next control will show that I’m cancer-free.” Rebecca said with a smile and happy tears in her eye, and Maggie felt like a huge weight was removed from her shoulders. It was the news she waited to hear for so long, so once she heard them, she broke down in tears. She felt her mother’s arms envelope around her again, and now they both were crying. But for the first time in a while, their tears were not bitter.
“I live for the day when I will take you out of this place!” Maggie exclaimed.
“Oh, honey, me too. Me too.”
After some more complaints about her looking tired and worn out and some promises that she will take better care of herself from now on, which she had no intention of keeping, Maggie said goodbye.
Once again, she caught a bus and stopped by a grocery store before she went home. Her fridge was empty, and she needed some cleaning supplies as well as a detergent for her washing machine. She had just enough time to load one machine of laundry and to vacuum the floors, and clean them properly before the girls showed up to get their dresses. They tried them once again and were satisfied with how they turned out, paid for them, and went on their way.
Maggie put the money in her wallet and continued with her house chores. She was always the one to appreciate a clean and neat house, and there were moments in the last couple of months when she felt almost disgusted by how her home looked. Since she barely had time to sleep and eat, she vowed to herself to use the free days to make the place somewhat decent. It’s not like she had anything better to do anyway. Her friends from college had their own lives, and her friends from work... well, it’s not like she didn’t like them or didn’t like to spend time with them, it’s just she was seeing them every day at work, and no matter how much she cared for them, she just needed some time alone.
In the middle of doing the dishes after loading another washing machine with towels and bedsheets, Maggie heard the doorbell ring. She rinsed her hands and hurried to open the door, thinking that it was one of the girls. Maybe they noticed something that needs fixing on the dresses again.
Maggie opened the door wide, but instead of someone she knew, in front of her stood an unknown man, and if she has to guess his age, she would say he was in his early thirties.
“Hi. Can I help you?” she asked, raising her brows.
“Hello. Are you Margaret Colt?” the unknown man asked, and now that she had a chance to look at him longer, she felt like she had seen him before.
“Yes?” her answer sounded more like a question.
“My name is Jackson Peters, and I am your husband.” stretching out his hand and offering her a manila folder.