"Lyssa!" Terri walked to the foot of the stairs and looked up toward her daughter's bedroom. "Your breakfast is ready now. Hurry up or you'll be late for school."
Terri returned to the kitchen, where she scooped fluffy scrambled eggs onto a plate. She heard the telltale sound of her ten-year-old daughter's imminent arrival --- athletic shoes stomping hard on the steps as Lyssa took the stairs two at a time. Moments later, Lyssa entered the kitchen, backpack slung over one shoulder.
"Do you have your homework with you?" Terri asked.
She lifted an eyebrow and gave her daughter a hard look. "Are you sure? I don't want to have to leave the salon like I did yesterday to bring your papers to the school."
"I've got it, Mom." Lyssa dropped her backpack onto the floor, then slipped onto a bar stool at the kitchen counter.
Terri turned to the stove, added two strips of bacon and a slice of buttered toast to the plate, and slid it across the counter. Lyssa took her fork and began shoveling eggs into her mouth as if it had been a week since her last meal.
"Slow down, honey."
Lyssa swallowed and grinned. "You told me I was gonna be late. I'm just doin' what you said."
Terri leaned her backside against the edge of the sink. She took enormous pleasure in her daughter. Watching her eat, watching her sleep, watching her play baseball --- it all brought pleasure. Of all the blessings in Terri's life, Lyssa was the greatest.
Without looking up, her daughter said, "Don't forget you're gonna bake your special cake for the Cavaliers' carnival tomorrow night."
Terri winced. She had forgotten. Not the fund-raiser itself, but that she'd volunteered to bring a cake. Why hadn't she written it in her day planner when she volunteered? She knew better than to trust things like that to memory. Her schedule and Lyssa's schedule were jam-packed during the school year. Without her list of "to do's," Terri was lost.
She would be the first to admit that it wasn't easy being a single parent with no other family to lend support. Some days she felt stretched to her absolute limit. Thankfully, she had many friends in Hart's Crossing and a wonderful church family who stepped in to help when needed.
She turned toward the recipe box, flipping open the lid with her left hand while reaching for a shopping list and pen with her right.
"Coach Jenkins says I'm pitching really good. Maybe he'll let me be a starting pitcher at least once this summer. Wouldn't that be something? First girl to start a game in the major division of the Cavaliers."
"Yes, it would be something." Terri had enough flour, but she would need more sugar and eggs. She scribbled on the notepad. "But remember, all the pitchers on your team are a year or two older than you are. You can't count on starting a game."
Lyssa laughed. "I'm a whole lot better than Bobby Danvers, and he's twelve."
"Pride goes before a fall, young lady."
"I mean, you still have a lot to learn. Don't think you know it all."
"I don't think that."
Terri frowned as she stared at the notepad. Oh, yes. She needed two packages of frozen cherries, some unsweetened cocoa, and a carton of whipping cream. She would shop for groceries on the way home from work today and bake the black forest cake first thing in the morning before heading to the salon for her Saturday appointments.
"Mom? Did you hear me?"
Terri turned around. "I'm sorry, honey. What did you say?"
"I'm going now." Lyssa stood beside the kitchen stool, once again holding her backpack.
"See you after school."
"Not without a kiss, you don't." She stepped forward and brushed her lips across her daughter's forehead. "And put your coat on. It's cold, and that sweatshirt isn't enough to keep you warm."
Lyssa rolled her eyes but obediently headed for the rack beside the back door.
Moments later, alone in the kitchen, Terri completed writing her shopping list, set it on top of her planner, then went upstairs to dress for work. She chose jeans, a rust-colored sweater with three-quarter sleeves, and --- the most important item for a person who was on her feet all day --- comfortable shoes. With a quick glance in the mirror, she determined a ponytail would have to do. No time for fussing with her hair.
She smiled ruefully at her reflection. Good thing my clients don't judge my expertise based on how I look.
It was a short drive from her home on the west side of Hart's Crossing to Terri's Tangles Beauty Salon, located at the corner of Main and Municipal. The car's heater didn't have time to take the chill out of the February air before she pulled her 1991 Toyota Camry into the reserved spot near the back of the shop.