She unlocks the apartment door and lets herself in. Shutting the door behind her, she closes her eyes and leans back against it for a moment. She pushes off from the door as she opens her eyes, striding from the entry way to the living room with the calm confidene she always portrays.
"Thanks again for staying. See you Tuesday?" She converses with the babysitter, her boy already asleep for the night.
"I'll be here. Have a nice evening, Ms. Menzel." She walks the babysitter to the door, locking the door after they leave. Alone in the apartment she let's go of all of the masks from the day, weariness apparent in every part of her being. She peeks into her son's room, careful not to wake him. His gentle snores convince her he won't be awoken easily, and she risks stepping in and pressing a light kiss to his forehead. She walks to the door and turns to look at him again.
"I love you, buddy," she whispers as she shuts his door. She makes the usual return to the entryway, double checking the locks like every night. She thinks about what James said as she wanders around the house, exhausted but not wanting to sleep. 'We'll miss you,' he had said. She wonders if Taye misses her. Of course not, he's glad she's gone, she tells herself. She glances around the kitchen. She knows she should eat something but the inner turmoil refuses to agree. Another meal skipped, oh well. Turning out the lights as she goes, she makes her way to her bedroom. She flips on the lamp before turning out the hallway light. The semidarkness fits her somber, tired mood. Her head spins as she balances on one foot to change into pajama pants. She sets both feet firmly on the ground and leans against the dresser. She glances in the mirror beside her and barely recognizes the woman staring back at her. Where did the vibrant, high on life girl she used to be go? She feels she's aged more in the past year than in the entire decade before it. She finishes changing and sits in bed, wanting to fall asleep but knowing nightmares and restlessness are a given and the deep sleep and rest she needs are nowhere in sight.