The next morning, Karyn arose to what sounded like an incessant ringing in her ears. It took her a moment to realize that is was only her husband attempting to “quietly” do the dishes. After the 10th bang of a plate against what must have been a cowbell, Karyn rolled herself out of bed—after she gave her little dog a gigantic kiss on the nose, cupping his face and squeezing his cheeks. He is never real enthused when she does that but it brings Karyn such joy to watch his cute little rolls fold over as he backpedals with all his might. Who knew dogs could roll their eyes?
If Karyns’ learned anything about being married, it’s that she never interrupts the hubs while he’s doing house work—otherwise, she may distract him. So, this morning, she tiptoes to the bathroom without bothering to close the door—because what married couple does that anyway? Karyn took her time as she relieved her bladder from last nights hot cocoa extravaganza with the kids. It always amused her how much her stomach shrunk after she went pee. Just as she stood to flush, her youngest thrust himself for the toilet as he simultaneously pulled down his pants. Karyn barely got hers up before he blew past her and took aim for the bowl. “Good morning to you too!” She said as she regained her balance and ran her fingers through her morning catastrophe of bed-bead. Karyn made her way back to the bedroom and found her spot next to the lug of little fluff that was probably trying to avoid eye contact. “You are so cute. Yes you are!” She said in a baby voice—aggressively petting his tiny little head. She grabbed her phone from the nightstand and began to look through her calendar of today’s events. More like tasks, she thought. “Take the boys to school. Watch the neighbor kid for an hour. Laundry, naturally. Make a couple phone calls for the schools upcoming fundraiser. Pick up the donated items. Drop them off before picking up the kids.” She went on, trying to say it all in one breathe. “Get ma nails did”, she pretended. “Wipe some booties”, she continued. “That goes unsaid”, Karyn told her small companion, petting him again, this time a little less ferocious. Just then, her boys ran in to her room, leaping into her bed. There is not much that Karyn enjoys more than when she can embrace her kids wholeheartedly and cuddle their guts out. (It’s not selfish to enjoy the few days your kids come home with a fever is it? More fever, more cuddles, right!?) “Mommy,” Ryan asks, looking up from her arms, “can you make us bacon and eggs with buttered toast?” Karyn smiles back, squeezing the two of them.
“Another day, another shot caller” she laughs, knowing they just have to give her that look and she will melt right into a pile of mush.
At Karen’s house, the kids are not yet awake. She basks in the silence of solitude. She imagines so many things that she could do with all this time on her poop-free hands. She could do yoga. She could make herself a cup of tea. She could stand out on her deck and listen to the birds. Or better yet, she could stand out on the deck listening to the birds, with a cup of tea, while doing yoga! What a lovely thought. Such a lovely thought that she decides that is exactly what she wants to do. Moments pass by, and Karen is out on her deck, enjoying her rare, peace and quiet—until she looks over at her neighbor’s house. What could it be, you wonder? Was it a naked man also doing yoga? Was it the neighbor’s dog doing his morning business? No. It was a camera—pointing right at her! Karen snatches up her china cup and saucer that belonged to her beloved mother and shuffled her way inside. “Have a girl no privacy anywhere!?” She demands to herself, slamming the deck door behind her.
After the oldest two were dressed, fed, and off to school, Karen set Dillon down with his favorite time occupier—the iPad—and dialed her friend. “Hey girlfrand!” Karyn picks up while showing her excitement through her current accent of choice. “Gertrude!” Karen stammers. (Code names…because…obviously.) Karyn waits in anticipation as she listens to her friends’ muffled whispers. “Girl, I can’t hear a word you’re saying!” Karyn presses the phone tighter to her ear, as if that will help. Karen tip toes around her house, peeking out the two side windows to the neighboring house. Trying to catch a glimpse of anything else that may seem odd. She peels back the curtain as she slowly rises up, bringing her forehead and eyes into view. “Are you there?” Karyn asks, waiting for something, anything from Karen. “The neighbors put up cameras all over their house” Karen whispers, “I wonder if it’s because of Megan.” “Who is Megan?” Karyn asks. “You know, that girl I told you about!” Karen tries forcing Karyn’s recollection. “The sweet one with the little dog. Single mom. I introduced you to her at the park.” She exhaustedly says. “Ohhhh yea!” Karyn finally remembers, “the one who the neighbors have some sort of beef with?” “Yes! That’s the one!” Karen exclaims. Karyn tries to imagine how paranoid one must be to stalk another neighbor by installing cameras all over the outside of their house. “Lord help that girl if she steps on their grass” Karen says, “like last time.” “What happened last time?” Karyn waits in the juicy anticipation. “The cops were called when she stepped on their lawn” Karen replies. “Oh, Lawdy! Hide the kids bikes!” Karyn laughs out loud. It’s not funny! Karen rebukes. “I have to live right next to this circus side show.”
As Karyn finished up her day of errands and tasks, she headed out the door to pick the boys up from school. Just before she shut the door behind her, she thought for a quick second about changing her clothes. She quickly brushed that idea off when she thought about how little she cared about others opinions. Until, of course, Jillian steps out of her mom SUV looking all suave and taken care of—by others. Karyn then realizes that an extra 3 minutes on appearance maybe wouldn’t have been a bad idea. Jillian—pronounced with a rich accent— approaches her as they both make their way into the school. “Hey Karyn, I haven’t seen you in a few days for drop off. The husband must have been letting you sleep in.” Jill says as she laughs ever so elegantly, dressed in her dark blue business suit. Karyn laughs back, with little enthusiasm, as she replies. “I haven’t seen you and your lovely family in church for months. Must be sacrificing your monthly tithes for that vacation home?” Karyn says the last sentence under her breathe, as she bites her lip and imagines one of Jesus’ sandals kicking her in the butt. (Which reminds her of how ingenious these people were to make sandals out of unprocessed leather and dried grass! They just did not get enough credit.) Jillian gives another jovial laugh as Karyn tries to silently imitate it in unison. Good thing they were both walking foreword down the narrow hallway and couldn’t see each other’s faces, or Karyn would have to explain herself, not only to the good man above, but to Jillian as well. Karyn tries so hard to like this woman. She even joined a bible study last year to get to know her and find commonalities with her. That lasted all of one week…after Jillian introduced her to a little friend of hers. The friend that helped her get through her husbands affair. The friend that comes in a little bottle. The friend that really isn’t so friendly after all. At that moment Karyn slammed her bible shut so fast she felt the air blow back her baby hairs (that never actually grew longer than an inch) and made up some excuse about how she forgot to iron her husbands underwear and had to run home and do it. Karyn knows a bad influence when she sees one, and Jillian definitely fits the bill. The best Karyn can do for Jillian at this point in life is pray for her, and maybe mock her a few more times to blow off some steam—“is that a sin?” She wonders to herself.
Karen was still stuck behind her blinds, peeking out when any noise was heard coming from her neighbor’s direction. What started as curiosity soon took form of obsession. Why did they have cameras on all corners of their house? Just then, the doorbell rang, sending Karen’s glass of water flying through the air, landing safely on the couch, but leaving a waterfall plummeting down on Dillon. She crouched down behind her large window again as she glanced over at the front door. “Oh, please, Karen, gain some composure.” She peps herself as she stands to her feet. She opens the door to find her neighbor staring back at her. (No, not that one, the other one.) Apparently, Shawna is also curious about the cameras. “Oh my gosh, Shawna, have they held you captive in your home too!?” Karen explodes onto her. The girls chat for a little bit behind the concealment of Karen’s big evergreen tree. “Remind me to thank my oldest for planting that sucker years ago.” She tells her neighbor friend. Shawna goes on to tell Karen what she knows about the paranoid neighbors. “I guess it has nothing to do with Megan.” She says, “the guy at the post office was telling me that she (the paranoid neighbor) got suspicious after she found a pink flamingo in her yard one morning. “Boy, that must have been terrifying.” Karen says as she peaks through to branches. She couldn’t help but roll her eyes at the thought of someone being frightened of a silly prank. But, who knows, really. The flamingo may have had the chicken pox, exposing her whole family to the wicked virus. Who’s to know for sure.
As Karen’s day went on as usual, so did her paranoia of her wardrobe choices when she took out the garbage. I mean, how dare someone document her every move when she’s outside in HER own yard. “Something has got to be done about this.” She tells herself as she huffs her way to the small dumpster. She wondered if it would be weird if she stuck out her tongue at the camera, but lost her train of thought as she flipped head over toes landing herself flat onto her neighbors’ grass—along with her bag of trash that had popped open. All Karen could do was slowly stand to her feet, trying not to make eye contact with a random camera lense, and freeze. This would have been so much easier if it could be blamed on the kids, but they were at school, daaannngggiiiitttt!