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Chapter One

March 1

Nashville, Tennessee

A quick search on Google defines karma as destiny or fate, following as effect from cause. Looking back, I think I've always believed in karma. In elementary school I was always nice to everyone, even the girls that were absolute bitches, because Santa only liked the good little kids, y'know? I used to daydream that the girl that stuck gum in my hair so I had to get it cut so short adults called me 'he' would wake up on Christmas morning with lumps of coal, or better yet, dog poop in her stocking.

In college, I studied hard and got good grades, knowing that teachers could see true brains versus lazy bullshiters. I knew the more I excelled, the better chance I had at scholarships. Sure, I only got two small scholarships, but it was an effect from the cause, right?

Getting married and having a baby were just the icing on top of my good karma cake. I had never done drugs, I paid all my bills on time, I vaccinated my dog...the list goes on and on.

I had even, for all intents and purposes, chose an ideal husband. Good Christian teacher marries upstanding doctor. Until Rielynn came along, we had a great arrangement. I taught third grade; he worked twenty hour shifts. Somehow in the four hours we did see each other, baby made three, but his crazy work schedule and the new need for me to become full time housewife had me reconsidering the consistency of my aforementioned karma cake. Staying home alone with a baby day after day without adult interaction could wear a person down bad.

My breaking point hit one early morning right at the turn of March. The heat was still on because it was still chilly outside in the mornings. I knew people in other parts of the country had it worse, but my toes always froze on the hardwood floors. Putting on socks would have been too easy of a solution. Besides, I was the one staying home and Charlie could more than afford the bill. Hell, he deserved to pay for my heat. It was my own little slice of justice.

Anyhow, I had managed to wake up before Rielynn, a feat in and of itself. My shower done and cup of coffee in hand, I had actually turned the TV to something that wasn't the Sprout channel when I heard her.


That should have been my first clue. Rielynn was not a morning person. I took a quick sip of my steaming life brew and headed down the hall to her room.

I knew I was in trouble before opening the door. The stench was overpowering.

The visual sight was almost indescribable.

Poop was everywhere. On the walls, on the crib, on her hands, on her toys, in her hair, on her sippy cup...

"Holy shit," I groaned.

Rielynn obviously thought she had become a fabulous painter. Delighted with her work, she clapped her soiled hands together. She only stopped when I reached for her. Before I could stop her the hands shot up.

A supposed-comforting pat to my cheek ensued.

It took no less than three hours to sort out the mess. By the time I had the last load of wash in the dryer and had scrubbed my face for the twentieth time, Rielynn was happily watching Barney in her high chair, little bites of scrambled egg and rice chex scattered on her tray. I sank down on the couch and looked at her curly brown hair.

"We're going to do something exciting today," I said aloud. Rielynn looked my way.

"Tada," she said. "Woof."

She lowered her hand and instantly the brown curly mop that was our annoying poodle, Captain Kangaroo, nuzzled his muzzle into her baby fat fingers and took the bite of food she offered.

"You read my mind baby girl," I said, even though she was clearly no longer paying attention to me.

"The zoo it is."

Little did I know that in less than two hours, my decision would give a whole knew meaning to karma as I knew it.