— Winter 2034 —
There is a blizzard going on one night in NYC. Snow is blowing sideways and the windows in the couple’s apartment is completely white. A man named Weston comes out of a room; he slowly closes the door behind him while holding a baby monitor in his hands. He takes a deep breath once he’s in the living room area; he’s exhausted and had a really long day taking care of his and his wife’s first born child, Grace. The dark circles and thinness of his face indicates it’s been days since he had a chance to take care of himself.
He walks over to the couch and looks at the clock on the wall; it’s nearly 4 o’clock in the morning and his wife still isn’t home. He’s exhausted, but he’s too angry to go to sleep. Weston has been trying to get a hold of his wife, Mollie, for the last three days; ever since Grace came down with a pretty bad cold. The first night he was so nervous, he took Grace to the hospital to get her checked out. The next two days, he got the hang of taking care of their 9-month-old baby without her help. Mollie’s inconsiderateness whenever she travels for her job has gotten worse once Grace was born and Weston has been taking note of it. Tonight was the night that Mollie would finally come home, and Weston has a lot to talk about with her when she does.
The sounds of keys hitting the front door is heard by Weston; he immediately looks up to the door. Mollie walks through the door with three bags covered in snow; Weston gets up to help her out. Once she’s settled in, Weston goes to sit back on the sofa.
Mollie: The snow is brutal out there, Wes! Thank god I was able to get a cab home before it got bad.
Weston: *indifferent* Yeah, you are.
Mollie doesn’t catch the hint, and continues to get herself out of the wet clothes from the snow. Once she comes out in a pair of sweatpants and a hoodie, she goes straight into the kitchen.
Mollie: *shouts from Kitchen* I’m glad you waited up for me to come home, babe!
Weston walks to the kitchen.
Weston: Our daughter is sleeping, Mollie.
Mollie: *puts a hand over her mouth* Oh, I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to be so loud.
Weston: *snarky* Yeah, it’s not like it’s just us anymore.
Mollie looks at Weston with a mouthful of chips in her mouth. She doesn’t say anything to him.
Weston: Well, now that you’re here, I’m going to bed. See you in the morning, Mol.
Mollie: Wait, I just got home! Don’t you wanna stay up with me for awhile, ask how my trip was?
Weston looks back at Mollie.
Weston: I’ve been up for 24 hours straight taking care of our sick baby, so no. I don’t.
He turns back and walks into the bedroom. Mollie is dumbfounded and offended. She storms herself into their bedroom.
Mollie: What the hell is your problem, Weston?
Weston: *snappy* My problem is that I’m fucking exhausted and I want to get some sleep!
Mollie: I wasn’t born yesterday, I know you’re mad at me or something.
Weston turns around to face Mollie.
Weston: Oh, so you know that I’ve tried calling you for the last couple of days and still didn’t bother calling me back?
Mollie: I was working, Weston. I was busy.
Weston: Too busy to even check up on your family, goddammit!
Mollie is taken back by Weston’s aggression. She seen him angry before, but not this level of angry.
Mollie: Look, I’m sorry. I told myself I would call you back when I had free time. I just simply forgot to.
Weston: Of course you did, you’re Mollie Sue friggin’ Ashmore.
Weston begins to pull back the comforter from the bed until Mollie puts her hand on it to stop him.
Mollie: *angry* What the hell is that supposed to mean?
Weston: It means that you don’t think of anyone else besides yourself and your damn dancing career.
Mollie: That’s not true!
Weston: Oh tell someone who cares, Mol! How many times have you’ve been home since Grace was born? You’ll pick up every phone call that has to do with your career but God forbid I try calling you to tell you that our daughter is fucking sick and needed to go to the hospital.
Mollie: *yells* What the fuck was I supposed to do across the fucking world, Weston? Huh?
Weston walks around the bed towards Mollie. He’s now face-to-face with her, angry as ever.
Weston: I told you that our daughter is fucking sleeping, Mollie. If she wakes up, you’ll be going in there to put her back to sleep.
Weston turns around and walks away.
Weston: *to himself* That would be the most motherly thing you’ve done thus far if you did.
Mollie hears the comment and is fuming.
Mollie: How dare you, you son of a bitch.
Weston: Mollie, just face the facts! You didn’t want this life. You never wanted Grace and it shows. You found every excuse in the book to go back to work once Grace was born.
Mollie: I’m her mother goddammit, of course I want her!
Weston: *yells* Then fucking act like it!
Mollie flinches. Weston takes a deep breath in.
Weston: I’m sorry for yelling at you, but we have a serious issue on our hands, Mol.
Mollie: I’m sorry for not calling, Wes–
Weston: It’s not about the phone call. It’s about… this. Us. Our family.
Mollie stares at Weston, wondering where he’s going with this.
Weston: Mollie… Things haven’t been the same with you for awhile now. You seem like you’re lost half the time or unhappy being home. It’s like your body is here, but your mind isn’t.
Mollie: *deep breath* Weston… I-
Weston: And what makes it worse is that you act like Grace isn’t here. I get it, you’re still young and you wanna live out your 20’s like a 20-something-year-old, but we have responsibilities now. We are parents, Mol. It’s not just about us anymore.
Mollie: Weston, you don’t understand…
Weston: I do, Mol, I do. You don’t think I wanna be young and carefree too?
Mollie: If you think this is about me wanting to savor my youth, then that proves my point that you don’t fucking understand.
Weston: Then make me understand. Make sense how you were able to carry our daughter for nine months and act like a complete stranger around her.
Mollie: I wasn’t ready to be a mother yet, Weston! I’m still not ready to be one and she knows it! She already hates me, she does nothing but cry for you and love you and she just wants nothing to do with me and I understand why.
Weston: She’s a baby, Mol, she doesn’t hate you or know anything that you may be feeling…
Mollie: That doesn’t mean anything, she can still sense how much of a shitty mother I am and she’s right. I am a shitty mother because I wasn’t ready to be a mother!
Weston: And you think I was ready to be a father?! Mol, I had to put my career on hold for a bit in order to be there for Grace; you think I wanted to do that? No, but I needed to because I am her fucking father. She comes first now, everything I do is because of her!
Mollie grabs her head in frustration, she paces in a circle on one side of the bed. She can’t take it anymore.
Mollie: Just shut up already! Shut up!
A cry is heard on the baby monitor on the nightstand. Both parents look at it. Weston looks up at Mollie, then proceeds to leave the bedroom to assist to his daughter. Mollie sits on the edge of the bed for a bit, until she walks towards the doorframe of their bedroom and looks out. She sees Weston holding Grace while shhing her, bouncing her a little bit and whispering to her. She smirks at the sight; Weston is a natural and he’s going to be an amazing father for their daughter; anything more than she could be. The smile fades and she walks into the bedroom again.
Moments later, Weston walks into the bedroom. Mollie sits at the edge of the bed; her eyes trace Weston’s every step. Silence fills the room for the first time that night.
Mollie: You’re an amazing father, Weston.
Weston: *looks at Mollie* Thanks. She’s an amazing kid.
Silence. Mollie is speechless.
Weston: Listen, Mollie… we can’t be fighting like this and we can’t keep continue living the way we’re living. Grace is growing up, and sooner or later she’s gonna sense your absence. She’s gonna believe she’s the problem and I refuse for her to ever believe she was the reason you never were around.
Mollie: I’ll still be here, Wes, it’s just my job, my career–
Weston: Y’know, even after this whole conversation, you’re still worried about your damn career. I get it, you worked hard for it. I worked hard for mine too. But I know when to turn that off. You and this dance career… there’s no getting through you.
Mollie doesn’t say anything. Weston goes and sit’s next to Mollie. He takes a deep breath in.
Weston: Mollie, I’m tired. I’m tired of being the only one here taking care of Grace. She has two parents, not just one. I know you may just need some help getting into the swing of things, but it seems like you don’t even want to try, and that speaks volumes. I want what’s best for Grace and you should too, and that requires some sacrifices.
Mollie looks at Weston, and he looks at her.
Weston: Mol, you have to choose what your priorities are right now.
Mollie: I know, I know-
Weston: No. You don’t.
Mollie stares at Weston has he gets up from the bed and takes a deep breath while he’s in thought. He turns around and faces Mollie.
Weston: It’s either your family or your career. Pick one.
Mollie: *shocked* What? Are you out of your mind?!
Weston: No, Mol, I’m not. I’m not saying give up everything you worked for, I’m saying no matter what, your family comes first.
Mollie: That’s not fair, Weston! You can’t just expect me to choose one or the other on the spot, I–
Weston: *stern* It’s your family, or your career. Pick one.
Weston picks up his pillow from the bed and walks towards the bedroom door.
Mollie: Where are you going?
Weston: To the couch. Giving you your space for the night… Love you, Mol.
He walks out of the bedroom door and closes it behind him. Mollie doesn’t move.
Weston wakes up from the sound of Grace crying in her room. He quickly gets up and gets for from her crib.
Weston: Hey princess, you’re up earlier than usual *feels her forehead* no fever, that’s good!
He smiles at Grace and she smiles back. Weston is utterly in love with his daughter.
He takes her to the living room and places her in the playpen. He takes a deep breath and remembers he needs to talk things out with Mollie now that they both would be more calm after sleeping. Weston walks to the bedroom to check on Mollie.
Weston: *knocks* Mollie? Hey, you’re up yet?
He walks into the bedroom and sees that no one is in the room.
Weston: *panics* Mollie?!
Weston rushes out of the room and searches the apartment for Mollie. He checks the bathroom, the living room again, the kitchen; nothing. He picks Grace up from the playpen once she starts crying out for him; he walks to Grace’s room with her in his arms.
He sits down in the chair adjacent from her crib. His thoughts are everywhere: where did Mollie go? Did she go for a walk? To her mom’s house to think? Jennifer’s? Milo & Sophie’s? He had no idea where to look first.
When he looks around the room, he notices a big, fuchsia box with paisley design is under the crib. He gets up from the chair and places Grace back in the crib for a moment. Weston pulls the box from under the crib; there is an envelope on the top labeled, “Weston”.
He opens up the letter and begins to read it:
This letter is possibly one of the hardest thing I had to do, but I promise myself and to you that I would always be honest with you because you deserve it. I’m not on the right mindset. I feel lost and I feel like I’ve been nothing but a burden to you and Grace. She loves you, Weston, and as long as you love her unconditionally and give her the absolute world, that’s all that she needs in this life.
I will never regret having Grace, and I will always hold a special place in my heart for her. The way she makes you smile and makes you laugh and the connection you guys have is honestly something I envy for myself. I wish my own father loved me the way you love her. I’m grateful she gets to call you her dad, because you’re absolutely amazing at it.
I am not ready for the responsibilities of parenthood. I tried so hard to show Grace my love and caring nature and for me it did not feel genuine. It didn’t feel like I was her mother. I blame it on myself. I blame it on the fact that I will never feel like I’m a good person for the people in my life. To me, the best version of myself is when I’m dancing. The last time I’ve felt like myself was at the showcase where you brought Grace along with you. The sparkle in her eyes and her curiosity is something I’ll never forget.
You asked me to choose the life that I wanted to live. I chose the life that was right for me and for everyone else.
Weston, I only ask for two things: first, you hand this box to Grace on her 18th birthday. Not any later and not any sooner. This box is just everything I ever wanted to give her; the things that made me smile about her, my favorite memories with her within the past year, and the picture of Grace and I from the showcase. There’s a letter in there for her for when she turns 18.
Secondly, I want you to give her the best life she possibly can. She deserves the whole world. She deserves all the love she can possibly get because she’s a fucking gem in this world. She’s funny, she’s sweet, she’s already so independent and you two love each other to the moon and back. If anyone could love Grace the way she deserves to be loved, it’s you.
I’m so sorry, Weston. This decision isn’t the easiest to make, but I know I would not be the person you fell in love with if we continued to live the way we’re living. You and Grace will always hold a special place in my heart, and I will forever love you both, but I can’t be the person you want me to be.
I wish you both the best in life.
Weston puts the letter down and is shocked. He looks back into the envelope and sees another folded piece of paper. Divorce papers. Weston scrunches his eyebrows in anger; how long has she had these goddamn papers? He can’t move from the spot on the floor he’s sitting in. He looks through the crib bars and sees Grace playing with a toy without a care in the world. He instantly calms down and takes a deep breath.
Weston: It’s just you and me, babe.
Weston continues to sit there and watch grace play in her crib. Nothing moves, nothing is in a panic, he just sits there, looking at his daughter.
— The End —