When Reservoir Mum gets home at 5.30pm she finds me slumped on a stool at the kitchen bench, my head in my arms. I’ve reached that once a fortnight point of utter exhaustion.
The fours boys are behind me eating dinner. Tyson and Lewis are throwing pasta at each other. RM’s presence makes me consider telling them to stop but I’ve tried that twelve times already… and they’re having so much fun… and I can just call the dog in to clean up later on… and the kids can eat chocolate hot cross buns for dinner and have a wonderful childhood they’ll always remember… and the cold hard bench top feels so warm and soft… I remember trying marijuana at Uni once… Garry was there… I Wanna Get High by Cypress Hill was playing on the telly…
‘Hey, everyone!’ RM says.
‘Stop throwing pasta,’ I say, sitting up and shivering. ‘Hey!’
The kids scream and run to her. ‘You in a slump?’ she asks.
‘Yeah,’ I say, as she dishes out hugs and ushers them back to the table. ‘Writing late into the night, Tyson waking up coughing…’
‘Did you get him to the doctors today?’
‘Doctor says it’s probably just a virus. Should clear up in a week or so.’
‘That’s crap,’ RM says (who trusts no other doctor in the world except for the one her side of the family have been seeing since they first came over on ships), ‘It’s such an easy thing to say… it’s a virus.’
‘Yes,’ I say. ‘But it’s also an accurate thing to say when someone has a virus.’
RM smiles and shakes her head at me. ‘Well, you should get some sleep tonight. Go to bed early for once.’
‘Can’t,’ I say. ‘I have to write a Valentine’s Day sponsored post for Roses Only.’
‘They’ll give us 150 dollars to have dinner together on Valentines Day plus 100 dollars for a babysitter plus 100 dollars worth of flowers.’
‘Cool,’ she says. ‘And what do you have to do?’
‘Hardly anything,’ I say, ‘Just write a post about whatever I want and slip in a few hyperlinks.’
‘Can you just write about anything?’ she asks.
‘Anything,’ I say, suddenly stung to alertness by our shared disbelief. ‘I could write about nothing more than this conversation and what’s happening right now in this half hour the kids are eating dinner. Then I slip in the key phrases and we’re eating out like kings with flowers and babysitters.’
‘Wow,’ she says. ‘This blogging thing’s finally paying for itself.’
‘Oh yeah,’ I say. ‘I always knew it would too. I mean, I didn’t want to ever say it out loud in case it didn’t turn out like I hoped but I was pretty sure that if I worked on the blog twenty+ hours a week for five years straight that it would finally, finally, pay for itself.’
‘And you just kept going, RD, ignoring all the doubters along the way…’
‘And here I am,’ I say, a little emotional. ‘Diving into a $350 post like Scrooge Mc-fucking-duck.’
RM walks over to the sliding door and calls the dog in to clean the floor. ‘So what are the key phrases you have to include?’
‘There’s two actually. There’s flower delivery, which is mandatory…’
‘That should be easy…’
‘Yep. And then we can choose from another five phrases – Flowers, Flower Delivery Sydney, Roses, flowers online and Valentine’s Day Flowers.’
RM purses her lips and thinks for a moment. ‘I think you should use Valentine's Day Roses.’
‘Nah. I was thinking it would be funny to use Flower Delivery Sydney.’
‘Why?’ she asks.
‘Because we live in Melbourne,’ I say, jazz hands, waiting for her laughter.
She looks confused. ‘But it’s an internet thing. Surely there are people reading your blog who live in Sydney.’
‘Oh yeah,’ I say. ‘I’m so tired.’
RM comes around and puts an arm over my shoulder as the kids start screaming up and down the hall. When I swivel on the stool to hug her and lean my face into her chest it occurs to me that the bench top wasn’t really that warm and soft after all. She’s so sweet and wonderful. It’s about time my writing bought her dinner and draped her in flowers.
‘I might cover our bed in petals with that 100 dollar voucher,’ I say, muffling into her corporate shirt.
‘Nah,’ she says, nonchalantly. ‘Flowers are useless. Let’s see if they have any roses in plastic and save them for a funeral or something.’
‘Okay,’ I say.
‘But you really should leave this sponsored post thing for tomorrow. Get some sleep tonight.’
‘I’ll be okay,’ I say. ‘Don’t worry. I’ll just make a massive mug of coffee, download I Wanna Get High onto my iPhone and create an artificial enthusiasm to carry me through.’
‘What’s I Wanna Get High?’
‘This song I remember listening to when I tried marijuana one time back in Uni… Garry was there… I remember it was awesome song.’
‘Yeah, but how’s it going to help?’
‘If I can convince myself that I’m stoned instead of dead tired I’m pretty sure I can get this mutherfucker written.’
‘Okay,’ RM says. ‘Just don’t get so stoned that you forget to use the Valentine’s Day Roses phrase.’
‘I won’t, esse’ I say.