"Alright now everyone, time to cool down," the instructor said.
I sat back on the electric bike, my legs still pedaling. I was soaked in sweat, as I always was after my spinning class. I had a love hate relationship with this class. It has done me a huge favor, but it was a pain in the ass. I had never been one for exercise.
"Good class everybody," The perky young instructor said as she bounced off the bike, "I'll see you all on Monday! Make sure you stretch!"
I slung my towel over my shoulder and walked out of the gym. My legs were vibrating as I walked to my van. I threw my gym bag in the back seat underneath the booster seat.
Driving home after working out was the worst feeling ever. My legs and arms were all achy. I mean, I knew that the ache was supposed to make me feel good, but, damn if I didn't hate it sometimes.
Even though I wanted to go straight home and sleep, I had to stop by my mother's house and pick up Jake. I would like nothing more than to go home and rest my achy muscles, but, I needed to pick up my son. It was almost dinner time and he refused to go to bed without our bedtime routine.
I walked into my mother's house, looking around for her and my son. God only knows what they were doing and what she was feeding him. Last time I was here, she let him have bucket loads of ice cream and candy. That was one hell of a night.
I found my mom washing dishes in the kitchen. I looked around but couldn't see Jake anywhere.
"Hey mom." I said.
"Hi sweetie," She said, not turning around.
"Where's Jake?" I asked.
"Where's Jacob at?"
"Oh, he's not here," She turned around and smiled, pointing at the cabinet.
"Oh, he's not?" I said as I snuck to the cabinet. I could hear giggling. I smiled widely as I quickly opened the cabinet. To my surprise, he wasn't there. I stood up and looked around for him.
He jumped out of the closet and made me yelp. He and his grandmother fell into fits of laughter.
"Oh my gosh," my hand over my thumping heart, "You scared me to death."
Jake laughed harder and wrapped his arms around my waist, looking up at me. He was smiling widely, his brown eyes sparkling.
I shook my head, "I'm getting older, one day you're going to give me a heart attack."
"You're not getting older momma."
I shook my head, "Are you ready?"
"Yep! Grammy and I even did all my homework, so we don't have to do it this weekend."
"Good," I looked up at my mom, "Thanks mom."
"No problem sweetie. He only had a little bit, so I figured we'd finish it up."
"Well, I appreciate it." I said, "Are you ready to go home, you need a bath."
"I don't need a bath I took one yesterday," Jake said as he got his backpack.
"Bath then bed, mister."
"Awe mom," He said, "that's not any fun. Can we at least watch a movie?"
"I'm really tired—," I looked down at his puppy dog eyes and sighed, "Okay. One movie."
He smiled brightly, "Cool!"
"Bye mom," I said as we walked out.
"Bye, you two have fun."
Jake chattered the entire way home. He talked about his day and what he did at Grammy's house. I did my best to pay attention to the road and Jake and also not fall asleep. It'd been a long week.
Jake jumped out of the car and ran into the house once I gave him my key. I had showed him how to use it one day while carrying in two armfuls of groceries.
"Jake, go pick out your pajamas."
My phone buzzed in my back pocket as I was putting stuff away. I pulled it out and looked down. It was an alert from the Tinder app Alice had downloaded on my phone. I sighed and placed the phone on the counter.
I walked into the hall bathroom and ran a bubble bath for Jake. Once it was halfway full, I called him in. He walked in with his pajamas and started to undress.
I walked out of the bathroom while he bathed. Now that he turned eight, he's insisted that he'd bath himself. I didn't mind. It was one less thing for me to have to worry about.
I had almost finished my rice cake, which was my dinner, when Jake called me in to help him out of the bathtub.
I drained the tub, pulled him out, wrapped him in a towel and brushed his hair. It was getting longer, I'd have to cut it soon before it got to shaggy. I set his toothbrush down on the counter.
"Brush your teeth."
"Can we watch Nemo?" He asked.
"Yeah. I like Nemo."
"Alright." I said.
This would be the three hundredth time we've watched Nemo. I took him to see it in theaters and he's been obsessed with it ever since. I wasn't sure if he liked so much because he was a kid, or because of the father looking for his son.
I started the movie and thumped against the couch watching the fish move around on the screen. I had almost passed out when Jake came running out of the bathroom and jumped onto the couch. He laid his head in my lap, pulling the blanket over him.
"Okay, start the movie."
About forty-five minutes into the movie, Jake was snoring loudly on in my lap. I played with his hair, so he'd fall asleep faster. It might be a little selfish, but I was exhausted. I wanted to go to bed.
My phone buzzed again, it was Tinder. I sighed and opened the app, sorting through the sea of men looking to hook up.
I wasn't sure why I continued looking at this thing. Alice claimed that I needed to get laid and Tinder was the perfect place for it. I wasn't totally opposed to the idea of having sex, but, when did I have the time?
I came across a man whose profile was just as vague as mine. He was cute too. Red hair, green eyes, nice appearance. He was the more decent looking of the age group I was in. I decided to swipe yes, knowing that nothing would come of it, but, I guess I'd show my interest. He was in my area.
I put my phone down and gathered Jake up in the blanket. I walked Jake into his bedroom and laid him in his bed. I turned on his nightlight and quietly walked out of the room. Maybe this would be one night he wouldn't wake up and demand we do our usual routine.
As I was shutting the door, his sleepy voice called out.
"Momma, are we going to read brown bear?" He said.
I sighed heavily and opened the door, "Yeah."
I walked back into the room and sat on the bed. The book that he for some reason obsessed over and demanded we'd read every night.
"Brown bear, brown bear what do you see?"
Jake was fading in and out of the story. I knew better than to stop reading, if I did he'd be upset and demand I'd finish reading it.
Once I finished, I tucked him in and kissed his forehead. I set the book on nightstand, where it stayed.
I wished he would want a different book. Brown bear was fine, but, it was the book his father always read him when he went to sleep. I wasn't sure if he remembered that, since he was only a year old when his father left. Reading the book used to make me teary eyed, but, now I was growing numb to it.
I walked into my room and stripped my clothes off and stepped into the shower. The hot water felt good against my tired muscles. I stayed in the shower long enough to clean my body before getting out.
I changed into my pjs and crawled into bed. Just as I was closing my eyes my phone buzzed. I grabbed it to look at the message. It was from Tinder, the guy I swiped right. His message was three simple words.
'Wanna hook up?'
I stared at the message for a minute before my head hit the pillow and I fell asleep.
I'd been on Tinder for a while now and I hadn't had any luck. Then again, my time was very limited, and I was kind of picky. One woman on here looked nice. She hit every check mark in my book.
Dark hair, dark eyes, physically fit, really pretty. Plus, she was in my age range. There was a lot of twenty-year old's on here and the thought of hooking up with one of them hit a little close to home for me.
I had an eleven-year-old daughter and the thought of a grown man drooling over her was a little much. Before Rose was born, oh I'd hop on it really quick, no worries about it. But ever since she was born, my sex meter went down one hundred percent. Now looking at scantily clad super models seemed wrong because she was someone's daughter.
It sounds like I'm complaining but, I love my daughter more than anything. If I didn't have her, then, I surely would've given up after Elizabeth died. I thought I couldn't go on without her, but, having a child gives you strength. That's what my mother told me, and I believe it rings true given I've had the strength to care for Rose by myself all these years.
I put down my phone after I sent her the message and picked up the two bowls of ice cream. It was a tradition for Rose and me to have a scoop of vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce and sprinkles every Friday night.
I walked into her room, where she was sitting in front of her vanity brushing her hair. She looked at me through the mirror and spun around in her seat.
"Dad," She said.
"I know Rose," I said as I sat the ice cream down in front of her, "High carbs, lots of calories, blah blah. But, I can afford it." I said as I patted my flat stomach.
She rolled her eyes, "It's not healthy for me. I need to maintain my figure."
My eyebrows raised, "You don't have a figure. You can't have a figure while I'm still alive."
She sighed heavily but picked up the bowl anyway, "Thanks dad."
"You're welcome," I said as I sat on her bed and ate, "So, what's on the agenda for tomorrow."
She spun really quickly, "Dad, you remember tomorrow right?"
"Uh, yes." I said unsurely.
She sighed, "Dad seriously? I told you a week ago. Tomorrow morning, I have cheerleading tryouts and then me and a bunch of girls are going to the movies."
"Didn't you just have tryouts?"
"No, that wasn't a tryout that was a spirit meeting for the spirit dance."
"Dad, will you please try to remember. You're picking everybody up for the movie."
"What? Am I driving them home to?"
She sighed again, "No, dad, you're dropping us off and Jessica's mom is picking everyone up. We're all going to her house for a slumber party. But you need to pick me up on Sunday around ten."
"Okay, I'll remember."
"You better dad," She glared.
I took my last bite of ice cream, "I'll remember Rose. Don't worry. And you remember to brush your teeth. Those braces were expensive."
She made a face, licking the bulky braces in her mouth, "God I hate these things."
"Yeah, but the dentist said you needed them."
"Ugh, I'm such a brace face."
She sighed again, "It's someone with geeky braces dad."
"They're not geeky. They're medically needed for fixing your teeth."
Her face turned red, "Fixing my teeth? My teeth were not that bad dad!"
"I didn't mean they were bad, Rose, I just meant that you know they weren't like they were supposed to be."
Her face turned redder, "Dad, go away."
I sighed, "I really didn't mean anything by it, Rose, I just meant—."
"Okay, whatever dad, just get out. I need to go to bed anyway."
I got up, "I really didn't mean anything by it, Rosie."
"I know dad," She sighed, frowning.
"I love you Rose." I said as I walked out.
"I love you to dad." She said before shutting the door.
I sighed again, walking to the kitchen and putting my bowl in the sink. I knew she was upset now. Anytime I made a mistake that she considered a big deal, she would think about her mom and wish she were here.
I wished she was here to. Raising a pre-teen daughter was hard, and according to my female coworkers, it was just going to get harder. There were things I did that embarrassed her and I didn't even know I had embarrassed her.
It was exhausting. I couldn't keep up with her. And I was just getting older and more uncool. I wished she had a female figure in her life that would help her, and me, with all the teenaged girl hormones and social hurtles.
Maybe that's why I got on Tinder. Not a smart place for a meaningful relationship, but, jumping into a relationship was also a mountain I had to climb. I figured it'd be easier for me to get back into dating if I just had meaningless sex with someone.
Well, that's what Jasper told me. He said the best way to get into the dating pool after so long being single was to have a quick sex, get it out of the way, then start looking for a meaningful relationship. I wasn't sure if that was right, but, I wasn't an expert in dating.
I sent the woman a message, hoping that maybe it would work out and we could meet up and get the awkward first sex thing out of the way.