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The kids were running amok in various stages of undress, with what appeared to be food remains plastered to every surface including the ceiling. Rubert was at the centre of this chaos attempting to restore order and failing woefully.
He kept switching between chasing one kid or the other, rocking the baby out of her tears and cooking some miserable broth. As soon as he saw Dorian and Alise step in, he sighed in a relief that was so poignant it actual brought a mille second of peace.
“Dorian do you think you can handle Max and June, get them feed and dressed properly? Meanwhile Alise please come relieve me from the baby before I burn the house down making broth for Mary-Anne.”
Dorian had been wondering where Mary-Anne was in all this mess. Anyone who had ever met Mary-Anne new she was super mum. She was also in control, always had tricks to get the kids to compile and even made a song about eating vegetables, that had the whole neighbourhood adapting The Veggie Train in Need song.
Therefore, Dorian noticed her absence and immediately assumed super mum’s kryptonite was the flu. However, as Dorian was playing rock, paper, scissor with Max and June to distract them and make the loser dress up or eat breakfast, he noticed that Rubert’s face should a lot more worry than just the flu could produce. Dorian felt his intuition kick in again and proposed with hidden intent, “Alise why don’t you take the baby to her mother, she is probably hungry anyway.”
“NO!!” Rubert shouted. “I…I…mean. We shouldn’t disturb Mary-Anne’s sleep….ehe he. Let’s just get Max and June to school then you guys can rush off to your date while I take care of Autumn.”
“Enough with the rubbish Rubert, I may not be as sharp as this exasperating Dorian but your reaction has let the cat out of the bag. What is wrong?”
“I…I don’t know?” Rubert started in a strong voice but soon crumbled to a plea with tears in his eyes, “Mary-Anne has not been the same since shortly after we return to the hospital. It is how she acts with the kids and they are beginning to notice, probably why they are all acting out now. My wife…my wife…just sleeps or stares into space. At least she can converse around me but if any of the kids come around, she looks frightened then breaks down into heart wrenching sobs. It scares me not to mention the kids.”
“OMG, OMG, let’s go talk to her.” Alise said with a little panic as her own fears and her past clouded the current situation.
Dorian put his arms around Alise and gave her a gentle squeeze before saying, “Rubert get the kids ready. Alise play with the baby or even change her diaper just to distract her. I will be back in a moment.”
After saying so, Dorian walked towards the master bedroom, he was not apathetic anymore rather he felt confident again, slowly putting on forgotten clothing.
Alise could not wait any longer. Rubert had already dropped off the kids and return to the house even though he was to be on shift. Bob had taken care of it.
They had been sitting down together, at first trying to make small talk but soon they just sat in heavy silence with the clock in the kitchen ticking by.
Tick. Tick. Tick. Tic-
“Ah, what does he think he is doing in that room for so long? Rubert she is your wife let’s go in.” Alise demanded.
But before Rubert could answer Dorian and Mary-Anne came out of the room with Dorian laughing as he said, “Oh, my pretty little Alise can’t even sit quietly for one hour.”
“It is closer to two hours.” Alise mumbled but grinned at how Dorian addressed her. Dorian maintained his smile before turning a serious look at Rubert and said, “Rubert, your family needs help. Professional help. It is nothing to be ashamed of but Mary-Anne may have postpartum depression.”
“Mary-Anne, my Mary-Anne…nah that’s not possible she is super mum.”
On hearing this Mary-Anne started crying again and wanted to withdraw but Dorian lean a hand on her shoulder and said, “You are still super mum, you just have to overcome your kryptonite. And if I recall correctly superman could never manage it on his own…we are here for you to, for the mummy blues.”
At this Mary-Anne should a weak smile, her first in ages.
Rubert sighed one of his world shaking sighs and everyone seemed to have jumped through to the next phase, which was looking for professional help for Mary-Anne while supporting the family until super mum made her come back.
Dorian was careful as he recommended some of the best options for Mary-Anne, as he did not want to blow his cover but he knew he would not abandon a friend even to cover his identity. In fact, recently he had wanted to resign because of the age risk but couldn’t think of another way to be around McLaren’s and Alise.
“Sorry, we kind of messed up your whole date.” Rubert apologized after Mary-Anne return to the bedroom.
“Don’t worry about it, tomorrow I have a surprise for Alise, today was just to give her a chance to do some shopping beforehand.” Dorian added with a grin.
“Ah! You didn’t say anything about a surprise activity. What’s the theme, give a sense of the activities so I know how to dress.” Alise pressed, trying to wiggle some information from Dorian but he could be a fort when he wanted to be. “I will tell you 2 hours before I come so you don’t spend hours vacillating over what to wear.”
“Hmmm…be that way it’s not like there are many places you know, can afford and are within walking distance…hmmm” Alise said with her tongue stuck out, teasing Dorian. Dorian smiled brighter and turned to Rubert saying, “Good thing Felix uncle came through with the car or I would have been below expectation and underestimated.” On say that the couple left Rubert’s still lost in their own banter.