On a beautiful Fall Monday morning, twenty-seven- year- old Ashley James woke up with a smile because it was her son’s first day of school. The sun illuminated the modest bedroom of pink and Lavender. Scented candles, plush colorful pillows and spiritual paintings seemed to accentuate the room with comfort and femininity, which represented the kind of woman she was. Ashley turned over and her smile widened when she realized her five-year-old son Samuel was lying next to her, curled up in a little ball sound asleep. The storm that came the night before scared him so much, that he snuck into her bed without her knowing it. He looked so peaceful and cute that she hated to wake him but it was seven o’ clock and she had to get him ready for school. She gently tickled him on his tummy until he smiled, giggled and squirmed while trying not to open his eyes.
“Rise and shine sweet pea,” she said kissing him on his chubby little cheeks. He then began to reluctantly open his eyes.
“Can I stay home today mommy?”
“No it’s the first day of kindergarten Samuel.”
“I know but I wanted to be with you today.”
“Honey you know I’m going to work today. How about we go somewhere on Saturday? We can spend the whole day together ok?”
“Can we go to the zoo?”
“Yes we can go to the zoo, now I want you to go and get ready for a bath.”
“All right mom,” he said as he got up from the bed and ran into the bathroom.
Ashley rose from her bed wearing a cream white chemise and went to take a long gaze out of the window. It’s going to be a good day, she thought to herself as she ran her fingers through her long straight brown hair and smiled before going to give Samuel his bath. The only thing that would ruin this morning is if Tony called again. Tony was her ex-husband and Samuel’s deadbeat daddy who was well known for being a player and got off on beating the hell out of both of them for seven years. He owned the strip club on Rush Street called On the Rocks. He was making pretty good money too until he decided his son wasn’t as important as the sluts he wanted to wine and dine so he stopped sending child support payments. Until he started making payments again he was not allowed to see his son but was determined not to let that stop him from getting back into Samuel’s life or Ashley’s. Whether or not he would make his usual 7:30am call she was not interested in listening to a word he had to say.
Ashley stood in the kitchen wearing her new red suit and looking radiant. As she scrambled some eggs and made a pot of coffee she heard Samuel enter the kitchen.
“Is breakfast ready mom?”
She turned around to see that her son was all ready for school.
“It’ll be just a minute sweet pea.”
As Samuel sat at the table he helped himself to a piece of toast and tried to spread some grape jelly on it but got more jelly on his sleeve then on his toast. The phone rang and Ashley looked up at the kitchen clock. 7:30 on the dot, wow he never misses. She thought. She didn’t want to answer her cell and just let it ring at first until it started driving her crazy.
“I really need to hurry up and set up my voicemail on this damn phone,” she mumbled as she wiped the jelly off of her son’s sleeve.
“What did you say mommy?” asked Samuel raising an eyebrow.
“Oh uh nothing baby, drink your juice.”
Ashley quickly made plates of bacon and eggs for Samuel and herself and placed them on the table. As Samuel began to eat his breakfast, Ashley abruptly answered the phone.
“Hello Tony,” she said in a dry tone.
“Why the hell haven’t you been returning my calls?” he said with contempt.
“Because I don’t feel like being stressed out by anything you have to say.”
“Woman you wouldn’t be so stressed out if you hadn’t left me in the first place and ruined my life. I can’t even see my own son when I want.”
“You know why you can’t see him. We need money Tony. I can’t take care of our son alone and as for our marriage that ended when I caught you,” Ashley then turned around remembering that Samuel is still in the room.
“Well we don’t have to go there and I’m trying to get ready for work. I don’t have time to argue with you right now,” she said trying to lower her voice.
“Now wait a minute you know I’m doing the best I can. I’ll send some money as soon as I get out of debt!” Tony could feel his blood pressure going up.
“Stop trying to be a player and then maybe you‘ll have some money for your son!” she shouted and hung up on him.
Everything was quiet for a moment.
“Was that daddy?” a little voice broke the silence.
Ashley went over and kissed Samuel before sitting down and eating her breakfast.
“Yes baby. That was daddy,” she said taking a bite of the eggs. She had now lost her appetite.
“I don’t have to go see him do I?”
“No baby not if you don’t want to.”
After breakfast Ashley drove Samuel to school in her red 2015 Ford Focus. Samuel gave his mother a kiss before leaving the car.
“Bye baby, I’ll see you later.”
“Bye mommy,” he said as he ran to go get in line with the other children standing out in front of the school.
Ashley stared at him for a moment and began to remember when she and Tony were still married and happy to find out that they were having a son. She wished everything hadn’t gotten so messed up but it did and there was no going back. She started the engine and put in her John Legend CD. The argument with Tony had totally ruined her morning. But she wasn’t about to let him ruin her day.
At ITT Technical Institute Ashley sat at her desk interviewing a prospective new student. He looked very nervous and kept playing with the straps on his backpack as he tried to explain why he wanted to attend the school. He looked like the typical eighteen-year-old boy. He was Caucasian with short brown hair, wearing a red jacket and blue jeans.
“So Bobby why were you afraid to bring your father with you today?” she asked noticing his obvious uneasiness.
“Because he is like totally against everything that I want to do with my life.”
“Well what does your father want you to do?” she asked.
“He wants me to be a doctor but I have no interest in the medical profession what so ever. I want to be a video game designer. Ever since I was a little boy I loved graphic art and then as I got older I got into video games and started coming up with my own ideas for games.”
“Sounds like you have your mind made up Bobby and if that’s true then believe me, no one can change it for you not even your father. But if you give me five minutes with this man, I think I can change his mind.” Ashley smiled a cunning and confident smile.
“Ok I’ll bring him but you’re really going to have your work cut out for you Miss James. He’s a tough nut to crack,” Bobby replied. “Well you just happen to be talking to the world’s best nut cracker.”