My daughter is five. She has started school. Every morning I drive her there, then peel myself away from her to sit at home, alone. Cameron is at work. He leaves the house at 7.00 am and catches the train into the city. I stay in bed until he leaves, only then I rush around getting Katie ready for school.
I sit in my chair at home, alone, drinking coffee and staring into the steam rising from the cup in the dim light of closed curtains. Sometimes I stare for what feels like hours. I wish Cameron were home, yet I’m glad he isn’t. We can talk and laugh and discuss the world’s problems, but when it comes to bed time I’m too tired. Or I have headaches. He has taken to staying up late at night, long after Katie and I have gone to bed.
Katie was my dream. A beautiful, bouncy, bountiful little girl. She is what I wanted more than anything. Anything. While she was at home with me I devoted myself to her, totally. Now the hours stretch before me while I wait for 3 o’clock to come around.
The mums of the kindergarten kids all gather around together before the bell goes, discussing varieties in child care and aging stories of horror births. Some have a few more children, but I only had one.
I used to rush home with Katie as soon as the doors were open, so we could spend as much mother-daughter time together as possible. But now I let her play on the playground after school. It allows me to keep on talking to the other mums.
There are two boys who play on the playground too, both with a shock of blond curly hair. One is a kindergarten student too; the other is in Grade 1.
Their mother stands by, chatting to another mum. I wait. Finally, the other mum goes, and the boys’ mother comes over to me.
“How’y going?” she asks, and flashes that delicious smile. She shares the boys’ hair; thick and fair, hanging loosely around her face. Her eyes sparkle. She tells me of her day, her husband, her boys. I talk only when I can free my tongue. My heart races, I know, and I force myself not to smile foolishly at her, not to stare into her eyes and lose myself there. My pheromones behave badly, I know, I just hope she can’t feel them. She yawns and calls to the boys.
“Time to go,” she says. “The traffic will have settled now, so we’ll be on our way. See you tomorrow.” She leaves. I gather Katie and take her home.
“Mum. You never talk in the car anymore.”
“Sorry Katie dear.” I force myself to focus on my beautiful daughter, and not on the beautiful woman at school.
Alex Hogan has been writing since she was a teen. She grew up with black rights, gay lib, women’s lib, and all the other liberation movements of the 60s and 70s, and still believes all you need is love. As a young teen she discovered David Bowie and Ziggy Stardust, and has been interested in gay issues ever since.
Alex has worked with former online zines Forbidden Fruit and Wilde Oats, and is the manager of Gay Flash Fiction (which is open for submissions).
She lives with her family in a small town, just outside Melbourne, Australia.