Wallace had rolled over to face her and said, "Not ever. I never knew what I was missing until we had Hazel and Walter."
Kirsten had smiled at Wallace and then rolled over away from him. She'd noticed that he didn't include her in that sentence. Sometimes she felt like he didn't even care who he'd married, as long as that woman had provided him with children.
"Just give me a moment," Kirsten said as she saved her brief. "I would love to dance!" Walking into the kitchen, she swung him around the room as he giggled.
Hazel watched from the other room without saying a word. Later, she'd asked her dad, "Why does Mother like Walter more than me? Is it because I'm a girl?"
Wallace had sighed and stroked her cheek. "She doesn't love him anymore than she loves you. How could that be, little lady?" Wallace thought for a moment about how to explain how Kirsten was, but failed to come up with any tangible explanation. "Just know that she loves you dearly, little lady."
After Wallace had walked away, Hazel glumly started playing with her dollhouse.
Picking up the mother-doll and the daughter-doll, she started berating the little girl.
"Don't slouch, Brandi," the mother-doll said waspishly. "And go do your homework."
"Yes, Mother," the girl-doll squeaked. "Afterwards will you play with me?"
Brandi made the mother-doll shake, "Of course not. I have too much to do. I have to do my work, practice my speech, and play with Walter."
Disgusted, Brandi threw her dolls down. "Walter, Walter, Walter..." she grumbled.
Over dinner, Vivian bragged about how well Kirsten was working out for the firm. Impeccable research, tireless worker, and go-get-'em-attitude were words bandied across the table. Kirsten could tell after Charles left that he was impressed. Vivian had shaken her hand and winked, "I've done what I could. But, I won't be surprised if you're offered a promotion soon."
"Walter!" she yelled. "Get out!"
Walter looked up from the dollhouse and whined, "But, it's my room, too. I'm playing!"
"Well I have to change and I don't want you staring. Now, get out," she grated through clenched teeth.
Walter had stood up and teased, "Hazel has boobies... Hazel has boobies."
Kirsten clenched her fist and smacked Walter in the head. "GET OUT!" she yelled.
Walter ran off and cried, "Mom! Hazel hit me!"
Hazel flopped on her bed and buried her head in her pillow. Great, she thought, now I'm in for it.
Wallace had nodded, "I'll talk to her Kirsten. But, maybe you should try talking to her, as well."
Kirsten snapped, "I have talked to her and I get nowhere with your little princess!"
Walter firmly put the food down on the table. "You don't talk Kirsten. You talk to. You inform. You lecture. Talking involves listening. And that is something you do not do."
Kirsten just picked at her food. "I knew you'd take her side," she mumbled.
Walter stood up and threw his food away. "It's not about taking side, Kirsten," he'd said disgustedly. "It's about listening to your children. Look it up in a parenting book. I'm not going to be around forever!"
Kirsten lowered her face into her hands. "I'm just so confused right now about everything. Hazel hates me. Walter's stopped talking to anyone. It's like we're nothing without Wallace," she cried.