Bethanne awoke five minutes earlier than usual to start breakfast for the kids. The sun had yet to crest the hills to the east, but the sky was pink with its imminent arrival. The spring air still had a chill to it, so Bethanne pulled the belt of her robe tightly closed at her waist and kicked her feet into her old, ratty slippers before she made her way across the hardwood floor plan, to the kitchen. There, she pulled aside the curtains of the french doors which opened to a small deck on the side of the house, just big enough for the grill and a small table. She whistled a merry tune as she pulled the carton of eggs from the fridge and planned the breakfast menu in her head, hearing the hot water climb the pipes to the master shower in the bedroom as her husband Paul prepared his day. There were a ton of eggs, so she quickly threw them into a batter she had been mixing; the kids weren't going to school today with just cereal in their bellies, damn it, today was going to be a pancake sort of day!
The two younger kids had rooms downstairs, and were therefore much easier to reach in order to wake. Donovan, nine, slept like the dead but sprinted enthusiastically into the “Public” shower in the downstairs bath once he chose to stumble out of bed. Ruby, the six-year-old, took much longer to get going, silently padding out to the kitchen table in her nightshirt and clutching Teddy in one armpit as she climbed the chair by the phone. Her hair was an amber disaster but she seemed oblivious, concerned only with silently rubbing her eyes awake.
Paul strolled into the kitchen a few minutes later, mostly dressed but still glistening from his shower. He draped his jacket and tie over the back of his chair and tousled Ruby's hair, “Good morning, kiddo. How'd ya sleep?”
His daughter responded with only a nod and a yawn.
Paul adjusted his cufflinks and made his way around the kitchen island to give his wife a peck on the cheek, “Mmm, pancakes! What's the occasion?”
“Tons of eggs to use before they go bad.”
Paul nodded and smiled, “Awesome.”
“And there's an eight-egg scrambled in that pan over there,” Bethanne nodded toward the back burner, where a large twelve-inch pan simmered beneath its lid.
“Mmm, my arteries love you. The only thing missing is bacon.”
“Not until that new job of yours comes through with the life insurance. Once that kicks in, you can have all the bacon you want, plus lard, corn syrup, whatever.”
Paul took a healthy scoop of scrambled eggs and plopped them on a plate for Ruby, then snagged a couple of pancakes, too.
“Hey, can you go upstairs and wake the other kid?”
Paul got some egg on one of his fingers and he sucked it clean, “What other kid?”
“We have three kids? Really?”
“That's what it says on our W-2's.”
“Huh. I guess that explains why I'm always broke.”
Donovan careened down the hall and into the kitchen, excitedly giving his dad a high five on the way by, before addressing his mother, “What's for breakfast? It smells amazing!”
“Donovan, you're soaked! Did you even use a towel after your shower?”
“Sure I did.”
Bethanne sighed, “Whatever. Sit. Eat.”
Upstairs, Paul walked the carpeted floor to Cyan's closed door at the end of the hall. He stopped just outside her room and steadied himself. Of all his family members, his eldest daughter seemed to be having the most difficulty adjusting to the new house, the new town, a completely new environment. Unlike Donovan, who seemed oblivious to the move. So many problems. Paul brought a trembling hand to his mouth and wondered – not for the first time – if Cyan was having a nervous breakdown. He caught his hand and took a deep breath, then tapped softly on the door and peeked in, “Cyan, are you awake yet, Honey?”