David would never admit it, but there was a part of him that dreaded the end of the workday.
It was true that he looked forward to leaving his demanding job to see his sweet baby girl smile at him and reach her pudgy little hands up so he would sweep her into his arms. Some days he wished he could work from home, just so he could spend more time with his little girl.
He didn’t want to ever say it out loud, but it was his wife that kept him from being excited about going home.
He loved Agnes. He knew that. But she wasn’t the same person she had been before the birth of Matilda. She was moody and withdrawn. She was short-tempered and easily offended. Some days she left Matilda at the neighbor’s house all day so she could sleep the day away. Other days she would put the baby in the car seat and drive around all day, without a destination in mind. Just a few weeks ago David had come home to an empty house. Agnes hadn’t arrived until almost midnight, with Matilda sleeping peacefully in her car seat. Agnes couldn’t tell David where they’d been.
He knew there was something wrong. He didn’t know if she was depressed or bipolar or just eccentric. All he knew that she was different.
It wasn’t always that way, though. David savored the days he would come home to a clean house, dinner on the table, and both of his girls smiling as they greeted him.
But mornings were no way for him to predict what the evening would bring. When he left each morning, both Agnes and Matilda were still sleeping quietly in their beds. He’d kiss them each on the forehead, and then he’d head off for another day at work. Sometimes Matilda would stir, and he’d find himself wishing she’d awaken so he could see her bright eyes and brighter smile before leaving. But she never did. Their little girl was a good sleeper.
He sighed as he packed up and left work. There was just no way to tell what would be waiting for him when he got home. And maybe there never would be.
When he got home, he found Agnes passed out in their bed. The house had been destroyed. Books had been scattered across the floor, plates shattered on the kitchen floor, every piece of clothing had been removed from the closet and flung across the bedroom floor.
“Agnes,” he shook her awake. “Aggie, what happened?”
“Hm?” She mumbled, opening an eye only a little bit. When she saw David, both eyes opened and she smiled, “Hi honey. Are you going to work now?”
“What? No. I just got home from work. Did you take Mattie to Elise’s?”
Agnes lay there with her hair a rat’s nest and dark circles surrounding her eyes, “I don’t know. Probably.”
David had panicked at the thought of not knowing his daughter was safe. He left his wife lying in the bed, knowing she was probably just going to pass out when he left. He ran to the neighbor’s house and knocked on the door a little harder than he’d intended.
“David?” Elise opened the door after a moment, “Is it that time already?”
David felt the breath he’d been holding let out. He followed her into the living room, where Matilda was sitting in the middle of the floor on a pink and purple quilt. She was surrounded by stuffed animals.
“She’s…she’s sitting up!”
Elise smiled, “Yes. We’ve been working on it all day.”
At the sound of David’s voice, Matilda had turned her head with a broad smile. She bounced happily, throwing herself off-balance and tumbling backwards. She landed with a laugh onto the pile of stuffed animals.
David smiled and thanked Elise as he picked up the squirming little girl, holding her close.
“Oh it’s not a problem. Agnes looked like she’d hadn’t slept in a while. I do hope she’s feeling better.”
“Yes. I’m sure she just needed a little rest. Thanks again.” He handed her some money and took Matilda back to their home.
Read more about Agnes, David and Matilda under Finding Agnes.