Summary: Of all the things Maria wasn’t doing, bribing her misbehaving child with candy just to talk to her incredibly attractive teacher was very high on that list. Definitely.
Word Count: 2556
Warnings: Mild language
Susie was babbling the entire way home, ecstatic at having seen one of her favorite people, someone she didn’t believe existed outside of the school. Maria kept her eyes on the road for the most part, but her gaze wandered to the wires connected to the stoplights, and lingered on the two birds sat on top, surveying the street with watchful and beady eyes. Maria smiled, remembering the birds Susie had drawn on the back of her menu. The ones that she had compared to the three of them. Maria was overthinking, analyzing the color choices. She was red, and Eliza was blue, and Susie was the purple. Maria knew it was irrational, but she hoped beyond hope that is was a sign from the universe, telling her that, yes, she might have a chance.
“Mommy, can I have my lollipop now? I ate my dinner.” Susie retreated from her long and constant monologue to ask a direct question. Maria looked back at her through the rear-view mirror before quickly reaching inside her purse and grabbing the lollipop by it’s stick. Keeping a watchful eye on the road, she handed the lollipop back to Susie, who grabbed it with an earnest hand. Not more than several minutes later, she pulled into their apartment parking lot. She carefully stepped out, stretching as Susie exited behind her. Susie yawned with the lollipop still in her mouth, her tongue stained in a rainbow of food coloring.
Maria had to stifle a yawn, the events of the day finally sinking in and taking effect on her mind and body. She led the girl inside, unlocking the door and hanging her bag on the hat rack. Susie followed with her bookbag, walking over to the living room and falling on the couch with an exhausted exhale. Maria laughed at the overdramatic girl and sat beside her on the couch. Susie snuggled up next to her, laying her head in Maria’s lap and opening her deep brown eyes. She batted them lazily as Maria ran a hand through her short curls. She was on the brink of sleep, her nearly finished lollipop hanging lazily out of the side of her mouth, and as the two lay in silence for long while, Maria allowed her thoughts to wander.
Her half-asleep daughter had picked up on the rewards. That was perturbing enough, Maria’s childish as well as hopeless crush on her teacher had been inadvertently found out by Susie. The crush was another thing that Maria couldn’t shake from her life, and it was beginning to unhealthily consume her to the point of restless daydreams that she chased after in her working hours. This was, as a whole, unacceptable. She was an adult, with a young child at that. Longing for an unrealistic romance so much that it impeded her daily functions was not very adult-like.
When she looked down again, Susie was sound asleep in her lap, the lollipop lying on the living room rug. Maria smiled at the sleeping child before carefully scooping her up into her arms and carting her down the hall, laying her in her bed and pulling up the covers, leaving a soft kiss on her forehead. She was still dressed, and her teeth weren’t brushed, but Maria figured that one night of letting it slide wouldn’t hurt, and exited the room with a quiet goodnight.
Maria too was exhausted, and decided to end her day with a peaceful bath, as her earlier lateness had prevented the occurrence of one. She drew the water for the tub and slowly undressed, unbuttoning her maroon dress shirt, letting it slide gracefully onto the ground, finally prying off her black heels and sliding off her slacks. She removed her makeup and slowly took her hair out of it’s messy braid. It fell down her back in curl upon curl, the frizzy flyaways that were the bane of her daily style finally freed. She yawned again before stepping into the warm bathwater, steamy coils of vapor floating gracefully through the air.
Sinking into the comfortable heat, Maria craned her head back and let her hair trail into the water. She didn’t get to do this often, just sit in the bath and relax, for Susie would often interrupt her moments of peace. She took the time to think about her work, her daughter, and, unsurprisingly, Eliza.
She thought of Hamilton at work, disheveled as usual and trying to summon a conversation out of her. It was not unusual for this to happen, for anytime that Hamilton could drag a discussion back to himself, more likely than not to brag. He was an odd man, always working, always talking. She had heard rumors that he was ruthless in debates, and she wished that she never fell victim to picking a fight with Alexander Hamilton.
But, enough about Hamilton’s asshole tendencies, what was she grateful for? Her boss, Mr. Washington, for being fairly lenient when it came to her child. The man had no children as far as Maria knew, but he was married. She was grateful that her job paid well enough to support herself. Albeit, she wasn’t very high ranking within the company, but she was certainly useful and needed. She was grateful for all of that, but most importantly, she was grateful for Susie. She loved her, loved who she was, who she was becoming. Maria reached for her shampoo, uncapping it and drizzling the cool soap into her hand, running her fingers through her hair, she massaged her scalp, letting the soap trail down her back.
Susie was smart, there was no denying that. She had figured out Maria’s involuntary reward system, connected the dots between the lollipops and Eliza. Maria felt like a giddy schoolgirl, constantly fawning over the other woman. Hell, she didn’t even know if Eliza was gay, or if she was even interested or single. She had to be, in some way. This couldn’t all be platonic. If it was, Maria wouldn’t know how to handle herself. She was young, certainly, but many mistakes as a teenager had led her to have very little experience in a love life. She finished rinsing the shampoo out of her hair and added conditioner, once again running her hands through her slicked hair.
Alas, her life would have to continue on in the same pattern, for she had a child and a steady job. She couldn’t just leave for some wild adventure. Nor could Eliza, she reasoned, for working as an elementary school teacher left little time off. Maria wanted to spend time with her again, was still glowing from their last encounter. She finished washing her hair and stepped out of the tub, draining the water as she grabbed a soft towel.
Her hair hung damply around her shoulders as she ran a careful brush through it. The bath hadn’t been that well planned, she pondered, concluding that she would have to stay up until her hair dried to avoid waking with worse tangles than usual. She supposed she could work, but even that didn’t sound too appealing. Perhaps she could read? Although, she didn’t have a book in the house for herself, they were all for Susie. And, as much as Susie loved Dr. Seuss, Maria didn’t think she would enjoy it in the same way her daughter did.
She entered her room, shifting through her dresser before pulling out a soft blue nightgown in a color that reminded her of Eliza. She pulled it on before using her towel to pull her hair up into a wrap, securing it until it was dry. She sat on the edge of her bed, pulling her phone off it’s charger to check her email. She refreshed the app, discarding a flyer advertising a 50% off sale, and saw, much to her relief, that her job had sent her no pressing news.
Although a work may seem laborious, Maria was seriously wondering what else she could do. Despite how exhausting her day had been, she was still filled with leftover adrenaline from the meetings with Eliza. Even though she had spoken within her twice today, Maria was still craving her presence. Mindlessly scrolling through her phone, her finger stopped suddenly.
Could she text Eliza? Could she even guarantee she would respond? Maria didn’t think it was too late, but Eliza was a kindergarten teacher. What if she didn’t want to be spoken to at all? Maria chided herself for overthinking, but yet, she still couldn’t bring herself to touch her contact name.
Finally mustering up enough courage, she tapped on Eliza’s name and slowly and hesitantly typed a message.
“Dinner was fun”
Maria let out a long breath as soon as she sent the message. She was oddly nervous, reaching for validation through her phone, hoping with all her heart that Eliza would respond. A minute passed, then another. And another. Maria’s heart falls, and she sets her phone by the side of the bed. She stood, walking over to the desk where her laptop was slung in it’s case. She sighed dejected and unzipped the case, pulling her laptop out of it and setting it gently on her desk. Opening the lid and powering the computer on, she leaned back in her chair, pondering on what to do.
She could begin another project, try and outdo Hamilton, just for once. She smiled to herself at that thought, outdoing the man would take months, if not years. However, she didn’t see anything better to do, opening a word document and resting her fingers on the keys. Suddenly, her phone buzzed on her nightstand. Maria lept up from her chair, her heart racing. She grabbed her phone excitedly, before sitting down and unlocking the device. She blushed after realizing what she had just done, spastically reacted to something that wasn’t even guaranteed, a notification that could be from anything. She looked down at the screen, taking in the two words that had been the reply.
“It was :)”
Maria found herself smiling, giddy at the response, even if it was easily interpreted as being friendly. Maria’s fingers hovered above the keypad, wondering how to continue the conversation. Her phone buzzed again, and she read the text, grateful she didn’t have to think of something to say in that moment.
“Susie was astounded that I was there, it was super cute.”
Maria smiled and typed a response.
“Yeah, she was talking the entire way home. I can’t believe she thought you lived at the school.”
Maria hit send, elated. Eliza was talking to her. It was so odd, she would never have dreamed this to happen, for her to be texting Eliza after quietly admiring her for months.
“I’ve heard weirder, to be honest.”
Maria wasn’t surprised, being a teacher certainly had the perk of having baskets of stories about children thinking in only a way that they could.
She was genuinely curious, having only heard stories from Susie, who wasn’t always the best at following a narrative.
“It’s too long of a story to explain via text.”
What she said next made Maria’s heart skip a beat.
Maria nervously reread the words again and again. Looking for some other meaning, just to be sure that was exactly what she had said. When her double-checking proved useless, she dialed Eliza’s number slowly. Her finger hovered tentatively over the call button before touching the phone icon, regretting the movement immediately. She pulled the phone up to her ear, praying that Eliza wouldn’t pick up.
“Hello?” a light voice sounded through the phone speaker. The phone had barely rung once before Eliza had picked up.
“Eliza?” Maria asked, shifting her hand position on the phone to guarantee maximum comfort in case the call lasted longer than planned.
“Yes, Maria.” Eliza laughed before continuing, “Once I had a student adamantly declare that she wasn’t going to do her work because, and I quote “You do know that I didn’t sign up for this. My dad did it.” Maria burst out laughing, quickly lowering her volume when she remember the sleeping child in the other room.
“Susie’s asleep in the other room, I have to keep quiet, but my god.” Maria stifled another giggle. She heard Eliza laughing on the other end of the call, and her eyes widened at the sound. She loved hearing Eliza laugh, she wanted to tape it to play it again and again and again.
“What are you doing right now? I didn’t think elementary school teachers stayed up this late.” Maria teased, glancing at the clock. It was about 10:30, not unreasonably late yet.
“I’m grading papers, actually.” Eliza spoke, and Maria heard the muffled shuffling of papers through the phone. Maria had to wonder how difficult they were, as kindergarten didn’t exactly scream advanced work.
“Once, we were discussing geography in the United States, and Susie raised her hand and told me that the only three states were solid, liquid, and gas.” Eliza told the story excitedly, and Maria let her laughter loose again, having never heard this about her child. “Yes,” Eliza continued, “Susie is quite the scientist, especially when we’re talking about anything other than science.”
Maria smiled into the phone, knowing that Eliza couldn’t see her, but she felt that her smile still radiated through the device. She launched into another story about Susie, and how she once managed to find a bird that had fallen out of its nest at the park and spent all of her time trying to build it a house. She was so involved that she missed the scampering of little feet behind her.
“Mommy? What are you doing?” Maria whipped around around to find Susie stood in her doorframe, rubbing her eyes sleepily, with a blanket wrapped around her shoulders and trailing on the floor behind her.
“One minute-” she said to the phone before looking her daughter in the eye. “I’m on the phone, sweetheart.” Susie’s brow crinkled as she looked her mother up and down.
“Who are you talking to Mommy? You never do that.” She asked. Maria blushed at her observation and hoped her daughter didn’t also realize her very flushed cheeks..
“Can I tell you in the morning, Suz? It’s really late, we should all be going to bed soon.” Maria compromised, hoping that the event would be forgotten by morning. She led Susie back into her room and tucked her in again, leaving a gentle kiss on her forehead before stepping quietly out the door, through the living room, and onto their small screened in porch. She hoped her speech would be muffled, for it was getting quite late and she would hate to have Susie awaken again.
“Eliza?” she spoke into the phone, “You still there?” she asked, waiting patiently for a response. When one didn’t come she thought that Eliza may have hung up, for her conversation with Susie lasted longer than she had wanted it too.
“What? Oh, yes, of course.” Maria heard Eliza’s cheery voice and smiled to herself, grateful that their conversation wasn’t over just yet.
“Now, where did I leave off?” Maria inquired before launching back into her story.
Winter bird for Susi @marauderfan.
Susi, you told me about your favourite bird, but I forget the name. All I know is that I would never be able to draw it as good as you can. So this is just a little swedish blue tit. We have hundreds of them in our garden now and feed them every day during winter time. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MY FRIEND ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️💖💖