"Stop that fighting!" Carol yelled to the clamoring toddlers outside the bathroom door. Turning, she studied herself in the mirror. God! Five years ago, she had been senior prom queen. Now she looked fifty! Her auburn hair was long, limp, and unkempt. Yikes! Was that a wrinkle? She picked a dried piece of tomato from her eyelash and yelled again. “If I have to come out there, you boys will be sorry!” Splashing water on her face, she muttered to her reflection. "I need a break from these monsters before I go NUTS!" Her eyes hardened in decision. "I'll talk to Roger again tonight.”

The family dinner that evening followed the usual pattern. Roger, a construction worker who looked like an accountant, sat at the far end of the table, ignoring the three four-year-olds who sat on either side of Carol. Her head throbbed as she tried to coax mac-and-cheese through Paul’s pursed lips. Beside him, John circled a finger in a blob of ketchup and smeared it across his lips. He tried to smear his brother’s lips as well, but instead got his mother in the eye. Carol jumped up and screamed, which sent the triplets screaming as well. George nervously pulled on his hair, leaving behind a long streak of cheesy yellow.  The dog added his howl to the uproar.

Roger was oblivious as he swigged down the last of a beer and burped loudly, chuckling at something on his cell phone. Carol’s angry look went unnoticed, as did the loud sigh she let out before sending the dog to his bed and quieting the boys.

Squelching her anger, Carol got another beer from the refrigerator, popped the top, and set it in front of him. He was shoveling food into his mouth and barely noticed.

"Roger?" She hated that her voice sounded so meek.

"What?” He looked up from his plate, noticed the fresh beer. “Oh, yeah, thanks.”

"Roger!" Now her tone was sharp enough to get her husband’s attention.

He flicked his glasses up his nose. His voice was resigned. "What, Carol?"

"I need a break, or your sons will not turn five!  I am truly going crazy! Can't we afford a sitter one afternoon a week? A couple hours. I’ll cut back on the grocery bill."

Roger looked at the remnants of gluey mac-and-cheese and wimpy boiled hot dog on his plate and rolled his eyes.  “Sure, I’d love to eat gruel so you can have a spa day.”

“That’s not fair.” A tear sprang to Carol’s eye as she began to pace. “Look at me, Roger.  I look like crap. I’m starved for adult conversation. I’m too young to be trapped like this!” A plaintive whine crept into her voice. She hated the sound, but couldn’t seem to control it. “I’m beginning to hate my own children.”

Roger looked at the ketchup‑freckled faces staring at him. He knew his wife was right. He just needed a little more time. "I’m up for a raise in a couple months, dear, and with the new office complex project, it should be a good one. We'll look into it then. I promise."

"A couple of months? MONTHS?" Carol’s screech set off the toddlers and the dog again. Roger stalked out in disgust. By the time the chaos was calmed, he had planted himself in front of the television and was already nodding out. He barely noticed when the boys, all cleaned up, paraded by in their nightshirts and leaned shiny faces in to kiss him goodnight.

Once the kids were settled, Carol plopped into a rocker and stared daggers at her husband until he finally looked away from whatever insipid sitcom he was watching and scowled at her. “Stop staring. There’s nothing more to say. You’re the one who wanted a baby.”

One baby, not three!”

“Well, don’t blame me for that. Multiple births come from your family, not mine. Do you think I was planning to have to support five people so soon?”

“Maybe you could watch them a couple of hours at night once in a while.”

“After working like a dog all day, and having to get up at dawn to do it all over again?”

Carol was silent, dejected.

“The boys nap every afternoon so maybe do some yoga or something here while they’re down. Lots of women do that. Anyway, they’ll be in preschool before you know it, and you’ll have all day to relax. But I’ll still be punching that time clock to provide for all of you while you lay around. Now the news is coming on, and I would like to watch it.”

He turned his head deliberately, stared at the screen. She was too furious to speak. Stalking to the refrigerator, she poured herself a glass of cheap, boxed wine and wearily cleaned up the dinner mess and loaded the dishwasher. She muttered as she threw a load of laundry in the washer. “Lay around, my ass.” She slugged back the rest of her wine and stalked into the den. Roger was sagged over in his recliner, asleep, his can of beer dangling precariously in his hand. She took the can and set it on the end table, but left him sitting there as she trudged off to bed.

            The next morning, Carol was vacuuming when the doorbell rang, sending the dog’s barks and boys’ squeals to dangerous decibels. Carol switched off the vacuum and yelled futility for quiet as she answered the door.

"Howdy, Ma'am," said the chipper young man on the doorstep. He looked past her toward the chaos. “I see I’ve arrived just in time.”

Carol followed his gaze. “How much will you give me for the whole kit and caboodle?”

His eyes widened, and Carol rolled her eyes and sighed loudly. “Look, I’m busy and have no money to buy whatever you’re selling, so—” She started to close the door, but his hand stopped it.

“I'm with Rescue Babysitting Service. You entered our contest?"

Carol gave the man a wary look. “No. I didn’t enter anything.” 

“Maybe your husband entered for you. In any event, you won! I’m here with your free babysitter.”

Carol furrowed her brow as she glanced around for a camera. “Is this a joke?”

“No, Ma’am.”

“I won you as a babysitter? For how long?”

“No, Ma’am, not me. I’m Eugene Bradley. An inventor. This is the babysitter.” He held up a box that was about six inches long and four inches wide. Carol is intrigued, but skeptical.

“May I come in and show you how it works?”

Carol hesitated, but the sound of a lamp shattering behind her, and Paul’s wail immediately echoed by his brothers made her step aside so the man could enter. “Oh, why not? I’m desperate. Would you like some coffee?”

Later, the house was quiet, and Carol was smiling as she walked Eugene Bradley to the door. “Now remember the terms of our contract and the consequences—”

“Yes, yes. Now go. I have big plans for my day, and I want to get started.”


Roger returned from work as the sun set. “I’m home, dear,” he called out as he hung his coat on the coatrack.

“Hello, Darling.”

Roger turned toward his wife and did a double-take. Gaped in disbelief. She had dyed her hair the color of a shiny penny, and her make-up was impeccable. She had resurrected lingerie he hadn’t seen in years. Lingerie that left nothing to the imagination. "Holy cow, Carol? Wha—You look . . . magnificent! I’m not complaining, but what's going on?"

"I feel good, that's all. The boys went to bed early, so we’ll have a lovely dinner and…” Carol smiled seductively as she loosened his tie, leaned close. “…and then….” Her words were a warm whisper at his ear. A beer appeared in his hand, and Roger swallowed any questions with his first icy gulp.  


            A couple weeks later, Roger raised up on one elbow and studied Carol as she slid into bed beside him.           


"Yes, Roger?"

"Carol, I may jinx things by asking, but what’s happened to you? Delicious meals every night, great lunches packed every morning, and you’re looking rested and lovely all the time. Not to mention the—you know— sex. I love it—don’t get me wrong—it’s just—are you okay? And what have you done to the boys? They're so polite and quiet these days. It’s unnatural."

"Oh, Roger, stop talking and kiss me.”


The next day, Carol studied the boys as they ate their oatmeal. They had become rather docile. Deep in thought, she walked around the table, fluffing each boy’s hair in turn, planting a kiss on the top of each head. “You guys are fine. Just growing up is all. That’s why you’re not so rowdy anymore. You know I love you and would never hurt you, don’t you?”

Carol wiped three faces and six hands and prodded the boys from their chairs. “Go and play with your Legos.” She shooed them toward the den, pulling a remote control from her purse as she followed them. “I’ll tell you what. I won’t pause you so much. Maybe one day a week we can have an outing. Go to the zoo or something.”

The boys all yelled “ZOO” at the same time.

“Maybe,” Carol said. “But I need these breaks. I’m finally starting to feel human again. Besides, there’s the contract. And you’ll start pre-school before too much longer, so we won’t need it anymore.”

She pointed the remote at each of her sons and hit PAUSE. The boys froze in place.

Carol actually whistled as she cleaned up the kitchen and changed into workout clothes. She stopped at the door to the den and blew kisses at the triplets. “I won’t be gone long today. I promise.”


At the same time, Roger was finishing his lunch at the construction site when his boss walked up with a clipboard. “Whitmore,” he said. “You still drive that van, right?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Good. We need to replenish a few of the supplies on this job.” He holds out the clipboard. “Here’s a list. I want you to take off and go to the warehouse and load up. Then go ahead and knock off for the day, since you live over there.”

“I’d rather come back and get the hours, Sir. With the boys, things are—”

“Don’t worry about that. You’ll get full pay. We don’t need the stuff until morning so you can bring it then.”

“Are you sure, Sir?”

“You work hard, Whitmore, and deserve it. Go on, now. Get out of here.”

“Thank you, Sir.”

A half hour later, Roger looked around puzzled by the silence as he stepped into the house. He chuckled as he got a beer and took a long drink. “You are so busted, Carol!” After all her whining about how hard she worked all day, he’d caught her napping with the boys.

He walked to the bedroom, grinning. Maybe he’d join her for, well, not sleep. 

But the bed was empty. Where the hell?

Roger went to the boys’ room. Empty, too. Worried, now, Roger rushed to the den, his calls to Carol echoing through the eerier silence of the house.

He stopped dead in the doorway to the den, eyes wide, mouth gaping. Then he sprang into the room and rushed from one frozen boy to the next, shaking them, horrified when he got no response.

Rushing back to the kitchen, he grabbed the cell phone he’d left on the counter and was just punching in the first “1” of “9-1-1” when the outside door opened and Carol burst in.

“Roger! What are you doing home?” Her voice was breathless with guilt. He laid down the phone.

“WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON? What have you done to my sons?”

“Oh, Roger, they’re fine. I just paused them for a few minutes to run out.”

“PAUSED THEM? What do you mean paused them?”

“I can’t tell you.”

“You’ll tell me or I am calling the police.”

“Please, Roger. You don’t want to do that.”

Roger pointed to one of the chairs around the kitchen table.  “Sit. Talk and make sense.” He held his cell phone at the ready.

“Do you want a beer? I’ll un-pause them as soon as you’re calm.”

“I’ve got a beer and I’m fine right here, so sit down and tell me what is going on.”

“You should blame yourself for this not me. You’re the one who entered my name in the contest.”

“I never entered any contest. What contest?”

“For the babysitter. It saved my sanity. It saved us.  I haven’t heard you complain about your home life lately. He said it wouldn’t harm the boys. I wouldn’t hurt them.”

“I don’t understand, and we are not leaving this room until I do. So, start making sense.”

Carol let out a huge sigh and pulled the remote from her purse. Tears welled in her eyes. She turned slowly and held it up for her husband to see.

 “What’s that?”

“It’s the babysitter, Roger. I just push the pause button, and the boys freeze until I push it again.”

“You should have told me. We should have discussed this. Done some research on the thing before we used it on our sons.”

“I couldn’t. The contract was very specific. I couldn’t tell anyone. The consequences—” She aimed the remote at him.

“So, what, you’re going to pause me now?”

“No, Roger, it’s much worse.” Tears rolled down Carol’s cheeks. “I have to STOP you, Roger. Forever. I’m so sorry, but I had to make a deal to get a deal.”

“Give me that thing.” Roger advanced on her, grabbing at the remote.

Her thumb smashed down on the STOP button.

But in the world of karma, it was Carol’s heart that suddenly stopped not Roger’s. Whether it was a malfunction of the remote, or it had been purposely designed to take the life of the one who would take another, no one ever knew. Roger un-paused his sons, hammered the remote into a million pieces, shredded the contract he found in Carol’s underwear drawer, and never told a sole about it.

Carol’s death was ruled a heart attack, and life insurance provided enough for Roger to hire a real babysitter. He found a spry and kindly grandmother, who moved in and helped raise the triplets into fine young men.

Green Valley , United States Of America


Book Of The Day

Latest Poem

  • A war is raging within my heart
    As I see things around me fall apart
    Worry has a grip on me
    And I do not know what will be
    Why do I let the fear come in?
    When I believe that I am strong
    I will not stand for people judging me
    Because I am more than they can see
    So, it does not matter what you think
    You will not push me to the brink
    Maybe it is time to do a rethink
    About the things you thought of me
View More Poems Read More
Get a wordpress CMS website for $450 only.
50% discount for members.
We design author’s websites with a control panel where authors can upload pictures & Videos. You can post articles and engage on discussions with your readers. We also provide you with options for posting news and events by your own and also you can update the content of the website by your own and you can send newsletters to your readers.
Actual price of the website development is $900. But you pay only $450.

Latest Book Trailers View More trailors

Powered by Crystalline Noble