In the weeks that followed in my house, the feeling was uneasy. Kelvin and I hardly had two words to say to each other unless it involved the children. Even they noticed something wasn't right, giving us looks when they thought we weren't paying attention, almost walking around on eggshells and doing chores without any problems. I suppose they were blaming themselves for the countless arguments they'd heard between their father and me. it was no one's fault really,I had come to realize, this was life. I had grown, matured, realized what and who my responsibilities were and did what was necessary whereas, Kelvin's only responsibility was himself. Where there had once been feelings of love now turned to nothing, where we were once a happy couple, we had become nothing more than roommates. Love, I thought to myself and laughed softly, the most romantic, have you on cloud nine, thinking you can walk on water emotion.......what a joke! As I pulled into work, I wondered if I should give my neighbor, Ms. Pearl a call just to check on the kids. I no longer asked nor expected Kelvin to watch them as I went to work, deciding to pay someone instead. It just made things easier, no arguments, no excuses as to why do I have to watch them. I decide against it knowing I'll be late if I did call and just found a spot and parked. I grabbed my purse and lunch, leftovers from last night's dinner, chicken alfredo with a side salad, turned off the car, hopped out and locked it and headed in. I hated this place, as I got closer with each step, looking at the large, red brick building. Not the residents themselves, more like the staff. See working here at the Wilshire Retirement and Senior Living Centre, meant you worked for every penny of the $10.25/hr. you made eight long hours a day. i shouldn't complain though because there are a lot of people out of work but, every time i walked in this place, the part I worked on was short. Don't get me wrong, I work with some amazing ladies, we know how to pull it together and get the work done it's just, we need some help. Not too many people can handle this kind of job. It's demanding, relentless and heartbreaking at times. I've trained a lot of young women when they become a nurse assistant like myself, only to see them walk away. The classes and the books don't prepare you like hands on experience does. I know when I first started, not at this job but, I was totally shocked when my first resident coded as I was changing her bed. I had her turned on her side as my partner, you have to work with someone, was putting a new sheet on the bed when she stopped breathing and her eyes were rolling in her head. I panicked and didn't know what to do, I just stared for a moment, lost until Jamie, my partner for that night tapped my shoulder. I ran and got the nurse who brought the crash cart in. Little did I know, Ms. L I'll call her, was having a seizure. I stood back, afraid to even breathe too hard as the nurse and Jamie worked on her. Patti, the nurse got her breathing and relaxed after what seemed hours and then she called for an ambulance. So I know what a shock like that can do to someone's mind. I don't blame any of these young women who decide to change their minds about this kind of work because it is hard. Not only do you care for these people on a daily basis, you bond with them. Sometimes you are the only people they see which in itself is sad. "Hey girl!" I hear a female's voice yell out to me. I look up and see Myrtle, the woman who trained me when I first started here. I knew it was going to be a long night if she was here. I gave her a smile. Once the elevator took me to the second floor, I headed to my locker, placed my purse inside and then off to the kitchen to put away my lunch before grabbing a smoke outside with Myrtle. It would probably be the last smoke for me in hours. I grabbed a seat on the chair overlooking the parking lot and lit it up. The first puff is always the best. "What are you doing here Myrtle? I thought you were on vacation?" I asked. She grabbed her cola can, she loved her colas and came and sat next to me. "Vacation? From here? Please! I had three days of relaxation when Carol, the Nurse Manager called me all apologetic like asking me if there was any way I could come in tonight because one of the afternoon girls quit and three morning girls were fired this morning." "Fired?! For what?" I asked looking puzzled. "From what I hear, two of them went to lunch and came back almsot an hour late and the third girl slapped a resident." She said taking a sip of her cola. I looked away, yeah, some people just aren't cut out for this job. "So who quit on our shift?" I asked. "Kimmy. She said she'd had enough of working on our side with the supervisors and Carol knowing we had too many residents per nurse assistants. I heard she got into it with Nancy, the supervisor, too before she left. They said she left saying she was calling State on us and she hoped we got shut down." Myrtle didn't look too worried about the last part. I however was because Kimmy had worked here for thirteen years, she had some weight behind her accusations that State would no doubt want to investigate. "Great, now they'll be popping up here." I said puffing on my cigarette. "Ya know it." Myrtle replied. She looked down at her watch and nudged my arm, time to clock in and begin today's fresh hell. I took one last puff before putting it out and heading to the time clock before going on our floor. Yes, it was going to be a long night. That woman just doesn't get it. All she does is complain and moan about me not paying my way. She doesn't count my watching the kids while she works, cleaning the house and feeding the kids. No, I guess a magical elf does that. It's hard to find a good paying job that will let me support my family when I have a criminal record. yeah, she blames me for that, too. It was kind of my fault, listening to my boy, Harold back in the day about making some quick money. He didn't tell me that involved making these runs. He got away that night as I was being held up by the cops. They patted me down and found the stuff, I got a couple years for that stuff plus probation for eighteen months. That was the hardest time to do, worrying about my family while I was in there, wondering how they were getting by and who Shante was shacking up with. When I got home, it all felt different, things had changed and so had I. It was like I didn't care anymore, none of my boys I hung with on a constant were there for me when I was locked down, Shante was. She put money on my books, came to visit when she could and wrote me all the time, letting me know how our two kids at the time were doing. She maintained and I do give her that. She also said she wasn't with anyone and I have no choice but to believe her. Everything this woman had done for me, she did because she loved me not because she was obligated to. I owed her, the kids and most importantly myself, so much more. But, the constant nagging had to stop! It was tearing us apart instead of bringing us closer. I didn't want to leave her and my kids but what choice did I have? The house was quiet since the kids aren't here, it feels deserted almost. There's no mess to clean up, no dinner that needs cooked and I'm besides myself with nothing to do. I pick up the phone and call Trevain, my main dude. "Hey man, what's cracking?" I asked. "Nothin, where you at the crib?" He asks me. "Yeah, Shante's at work and the kids are with the sitter." He laughs, "You got fired from that job, too?" "Naw man, hey, you talk to your boss about giving me an interview?" I ask hoping to hear the right answer. Trevan was quiet for a minute, "Yeah, he said for yout o come down on Wednesday. Man don't **** this up! My name is riding on this! You better be here on time and looking **** sharp got it?" he said with a deep tone in his voice. "Yeah, yeah I got it man. Good lookin out, for real." I said. "Now you know you work three twelve hour shifts and you're off for the other four days. It's hard work man but the pay is good. Let them know you have skills in using the blowtorch. That **** go a long way man, you could get promoted in no time." He tells me. "Alright, thanks again man." I say to him before hanging up on him. A job, yeah! Now maybe Shante will go easy on me. She thinks I'm not trying, well this right here shows I am, I got it done. Yeah! I look around and decide to go to the bedroom and get it ready for when she comes home. I'll put her pajamas out for her on the bed, make sure she can see her favorite perfume, when she gets home, I'll draw her bath, rub her aching feet and feed my baby some grapes. She deserves it after putting up with a man like me. Yeah, things were gonna get better from here on out, I can feel it in my bones.