As soon as the microwave beeped, Katie withdrew the steaming hot mug of water from it and gently closed the door. She whipped out a bag of fragrant chamomile tea and plunked it into the mug. It immediately soaked up the water and unleashed its pungent yet fruity aroma right under her nose. She inhaled deeply, smiling even though she was very anxious. For pure sensory relaxation, nothing beat a cup of good chamomile tea.
Katie began adding a small spoonful of honey to her tea, stirring it around inside the cup with a long-handled spoon. All the while she was thinking of her daughter sitting upstairs. She had to tell her. Sophie was ten years old and she could not keep such things from her. Sooner or later she would find out. The sooner she was informed, the better she would be able to take the news. And better for her to hear it directly from her mother than offhand from somebody else.
Once she was satisfied that the tea had seeped enough into the water, Katie removed the bag from the cup with her spoon, and took a tiny sip. Very, very hot, but also quite soothing as it went down her throat. She sat there for a moment, blowing on the surface of the liquid, waiting for it to cool. Once the temperature was slightly lower, she took a larger sip. She smiled slightly. It was pleasing enough to her tongue to almost soothe her emotions about what she was about to tell her daughter.
On paper, whether to tell her was a no brainer. But Katie was still in agony over it as she walked up the stairs to her daughter’s bedroom. How is she going to take this? Is she going to be angry? Will she cry? Should I wait until it’s official between me and Mark? Why inflict this pain on her sooner than necessary?
She got up, teacup in hand, and walked slowly toward and then up the stairs. Tears ran down her cheeks, and her heart thumped like crazy as she reached the top of the steps and looked down the hall to her little girl’s room. The door was closed. It made Katie feel even more nervous. She couldn’t see her daughter at that moment, couldn’t see how she was doing. Was she doing her homework? Was she doing something enjoyable? What activity is she in the middle of that she will likely forever associate with the news I am about to deliver her?
Katie marched over to the door, took another sip of tea to steel her nerves, and took a deep breath. She has to know now, she told herself. She has to know now. Just rip the bandage off, and do it quickly.
Before her mind could delay her any further, her hand reached out and knocked on the door.
“Come in,” said the voice from outside.
Katie stood in front of the door, frozen. She couldn’t move. Hearing her daughter’s voice gave her pause.
“Come in,” the voice said again, sounding slightly irritated.
The door at last opened, and Katie entered the room. She was relieved to see that Sophie was sitting on her bed cradling one of her stuffed animals and looking forward. She was not engaged in any particularly meaningful activity that was about to be disrupted.
“Sophie,” Katie said as she closed the door behind her. “There’s something that I need to tell you, sweetie.”
“Oh?” The little girl looked straight at her, her facial expression not changing at all.
“Sophie sweetie,” Katie sat on the bed next to her daughter, “your dad and I have been having some problems lately. Today we have started the process of getting a divorce.”
Sophie’s eyes shot open slightly. “A – a divorce?”
“Yes,” Katie answered, clearing her throat and placing her hand on Sophie’s shoulder. “We think it really is for the best. I know that this is going to be tough for you. But we want you to know that both your parents love you very, very much.”
Sophie sat silently for a moment, still not reacting visibly to the news. Katie wondered if she was just taking time to process it all.
“Are you okay, sweetie? If you have any questions, please ask away.”
“Why are you and Dad having problems?” Sophie asked, looking down at the bed.
“Sometimes it just happens between adults. People change over the years. People have their differences and they can’t always be reconciled.”
“Are we all going to live in different houses now?”
“Well, your Dad and I will be living separately, yes. We haven’t figured out where you will live yet. You probably will switch back and forth between our houses.”
Sophie sat in silence, still staring down at the bed. She didn’t look very sad, didn’t look like she was going to cry, but she didn’t seem to like the news much either.
“Would you like a sip of tea, sweetie?”
“No thanks. I don’t like hot tea.” Sophie continued to stare straight ahead. “This is – this is going to be different.”
“Yes, it is. But it will work out okay. Lots of kids go through this. We will do everything we can to help you adjust. Your dad and I both want what’s best for you.”
“Okay,” Sophie moved her head back up, and hugged her stuffed animal closer.
Katie stretched her arm over Sophie’s shoulders and hugged her. “Are you going to be okay, baby? Is there anything I can do for you?”
“No – not right now. I think I would like to go to sleep.”
“Okay. Get into your PJs. I’ll come back in a few minutes to check on you.”
“Sounds good Mom, thanks,” Sophie said as Katie walked out of the room and closed the door behind her. A tear dripped down her face as she breathed a small sigh of relief. She walked back down to the living room, picked up the remote and switched the TV on. Things were going to be trying from that point on, but the absolute worst was over and now she needed to relax by herself. She still had her herbal tea with her and that would help.
Inside the bedroom, Sophie reached for her phone that was sitting on her bedside table. She dialed a few numbers then held it to her face.
“Sophie? Is that you?” the voice on the other end asked.
“Ricky, you owe me twenty bucks. You lost. I told you it would happen. I knew that sooner or later my mom would find out that my stupid dad likes to fuck pool boys. Yeah, yeah, I know. It still sucks though. I sure could go for some hot tea right now.”