The Stubborn Suitor

By: Alexa Wilder



“You have such a beautiful face,” her mother repeated. “If you just lost a little weight, you’d have no trouble catching yourself a man.”

“I’m not fat, Mother,” Cami said through gritted teeth.

“No one said you were,” her mom said softly. She leaned forward to brush a loose lock of Cami’s hair behind her ear. “But you could stand to lose a few pounds. I’m not saying that to be mean, sweetheart. I’m only trying to help. Right now, you have so much going for you. You’re young and smart and vivacious. That head of hair of yours is just to-die-for. You know how many women wish they were natural redheads? Millions of dollars are spent in salons each year trying to recreate what God gave you naturally. And those eyes… you have your father’s eyes—so big and green. Not to mention your skin—so clear. Most redheads are covered with freckles.”

“There is nothing wrong with freckles,” Cami said defensively. “Madison has freckles.”

“All I’m saying, dear, is that, with a little weight loss, you could be absolutely stunning.”

Cami bit her tongue. She knew that her mother meant well. In her warped mind, she thought she was offering her daughter a piece of helpful advice, not trampling on her self-esteem. Cami tried not to let the words get to her, but she couldn’t help but feel hurt.

“You would have men falling all over you,” her mother continued. “If you lost a little weight, you would easily be able to catch yourself a guy. You could marry someone who would support you, so you didn’t have to work. Support you and Madison.”

“I already married a man who was wealthy enough to support me,” Cami spat bitterly. “And we both know how that turned out. I’m never going to rely on another man to take care of me! Especially not some hypothetical one that will only appear after I starve myself!”

With that, Cami pushed her chair away from the table and stood up. She stomped from the room before her mother had a chance to respond. Cami really wasn’t interested in anything she had to say at the moment.

Her mood was quickly lifted, however, as she found herself in the guest bedroom, leaning over her sleeping child. Madison was in the middle of potty training, and was wearing a pull-up and nothing else. She was stretched out on her stomach, with her strawberry curls twisting against her freckled back. She had one thumb in her mouth, while the other hand clutched the corner of her purple blankie.

Cami considered waking her daughter in order to help her dress, but she really didn’t have the heart to do so—not when Madison looked so peaceful and precious in sleep. Instead, she wrapped the little girl in the comforter and carried her out against her shoulder.

Her mother was standing in the hall as Cami walked by, but Cami didn’t raise her eyes to look at the older woman.

“Good night, sweetheart,” her mom said exasperatedly, seemingly unaware of the hurtful words she’d uttered only a few minutes earlier.

“’Night, Mom,” Cami replied quietly, so as not to wake her daughter, before exiting the apartment.

She tucked Madison into her car seat—a difficult task while still wrapped in the comforter—and kissed her forehead before starting the car and heading home.

Cami barely made it out of the parking lot before the weight of the day caught up with her. Sadness, anxiety, and frustration washed over her, twisting her body into knots. Tears, refusing to be contained, began to pour down her face. Within moments, she was crying so hard that she could barely drive. Unwilling to put her daughter in danger, she pulled over to the side of the road and put the car in park. Shoving her fist into her mouth so as not to wake Madison with her heaving sobs, she silently wept against the steering wheel.





4





CAMI





Cami sat at the side of the road until she had no more tears left to cry. She felt oddly numb as she made the ten-minute drive home.

Madison woke while Cami was trying to remove her from her car seat, which was just fine with Cami. As exhausted as she was, she was more than happy to spend some quality time with her pride and joy. She gave Madison a bath, watching as the happy three-year-old splashed in the water. Cami allowed the shock and numbness of the day to wash away, replaced by the love and joy she found in her daughter. She then curled up next to her baby in her own bed, reading her stories that Madison was too young to understand, until the little girl drifted off to sleep.

Cami considered allowing herself to drift off as well, but it was barely eight o’clock. She’d only eaten a protein bar for lunch, which she hadn’t even been able to keep down, so she begrudgingly pulled herself out of bed. After carefully lifting Madison and carrying her to the crib in her nursery, Cami spent a few minutes simply gazing at her darling baby girl.

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