Her Shadow

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Chapter 1

The sky was already a light blue with the moon only a shadow as the Sanders started getting ready for the day. Michael jumped out of the shower tripping over the rug, as usual. Alyssa flipped the pancakes and shook her head in the kitchen down the hall.

“Evangeline Violet! The car is leaving in ten minutes. Get your little fanny up here!” Alyssa had turned her head and yelled towards the basement steps.

“Coming Momma.” Alyssa could hear Eve’s little voice through the floor.

Minutes later Eve was racing up the carpeted stares turning the corner almost slipping in her socks across the hardwood floor. Eve was just on time for the plate of pancakes as it was brought to the table by Alyssa’s steady hands.

In a practiced move Eve’s mom pulled her daughters hair back into a high pony tail and went back to the kitchen to clean up. She turned her head before she completely lost sight of her daughter from around a small corner that separated the kitchen from the dining room. “eat quickly, and don’t get any syrup on that dress.”

Eve nodded enthusiastically while she dipped her already pre-cut pancakes in syrup. She was having fun making circles until the piece was so soaked that it could hardly stay on the plastic fork. Down the hall she heard her father’s voice call out. “Alyssa where are my black socks?”

“I washed a load last night. Check the drier.”

Her father tried to hide it, but a sigh escaped his lips anyways. Her father came through the kitchen and rested a hand on Eve’s head kissing her on the cheek. “Morning Peanut. Can I have a piece?” Michael motioned towards her sloppy mess of syrupy pancakes.

Eve shook her head, and Michael laughed deep in his throat. It was a jovial laugh that gave Eve the warm butterflies.

Not ten, but fifteen minutes later Evangeline was in the car, buckled into her car seat. She watched her father kiss her mother at the door and could see that something seemed off, but she couldn’t place it.

Her mother seemed upset. She wanted to go comfort her but Evangeline was too small to reach for her buckle and when she tried to open the door it was locked.

On the other side of the car door Alyssa couldn’t seem to let Michael leave. “Michael please. Don’t leave me! You’re all I have, all I understand. You’ve been my rock ever since the beginning.”

“Honey it’s okay. I’m just going to drop our daughter off at school and go in for a half day at work like always. Nothing has changed. We’re good. I’ll be back in five hours.”

“No, No! Michael please.” Alyssa was becoming hysterical as she dug her fingernails into his arms. Michael had to take a deep breath before continuing.

“Alyssa, babe. Let’s go back inside okay? Let’s not do this in front of Eve.” Michael gently brought Alyssa back to the kitchen and took the list of chores she made herself off the fridge. Her hand was like a vise grip on his own.

“Come sit down.” As they did so Michael put the list in her hands. “You haven’t finished the list that we made yesterday, so why don’t you start that and see how far you get. I’ll be right back okay?”

Alyssa looked between her husband and the list. She nodded with hesitancy her mind turning to what all needed to be done instead of the horrific idea that her husband of five years was going to abandon her. Michael kissed his wife on the temple and whispered his undying love he held within his heart before he started to leave.

He got to the front door and forced himself to keep going. As the door clicked shut, and he was on the other side he had to lean against the door and breath through the tightness in his chest. His hand went to his neck giving it a message, trying to release the tightness that was traveling between his shoulder blades. It wasn’t a bad episode, but it still bruised his heart that his wife had episodes when he ever announced that he had to leave. Alyssa has Borderline Personality Disorder and it causes her many panic attacks all from the fear of her loved ones abandoning her. She’s told Michael when their relationship was fresh that she was always in a relationship because she couldn’t handle the feeling of emptiness, and she’s had to change her attitude or appearance trying to find herself. It helped when she was in a relationship because her boyfriend always expected her to act a certain way, so that way she knew what to do.

It took Michael a few minutes to finally relax before he could walk to the car and face the questions from his innocent six-year-old daughter. When he finally got back into the car, he smiled into the rear-view mirror, and saw the worry in Eve’s eyes.

“Are you ready for your second day of kindergarten?” Michael turned the key in the ignition and started backing out of the garage.

“Is Momma okay?” Her voice was quiet, she’s seen the beginning of her mother’s breakdowns, but she doesn’t understand what they mean yet.

Michael swallowed hard. “Yes, your mother’s fine now.” He never lied to his daughter because one day she would be old enough to understand, and Evangeline didn’t need lies coving up the truth that ruled Alyssa’s life.

“Did you tell her you would be back soon?” Evangeline’s asked softly from the back seat.

“Yes, Peanut, I did.”

Her final response was an approving nod, and then she looked out the window.

The rest of the drive was a quiet one except for the music that played through the speakers. Michael’s mind wondered while he listened to his daughter hum along to a Journey song.

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