The alarm sounded off and Pam stretched to find the other side of the bed empty. Downstairs was lacking the usual morning ruckus and she wondered if he'd already taken the boys to school. She put on her glasses, wrapped herself in a robe and headed down to the kitchen.
"Surprise!" Pam nearly jumped and then laughed heartily as she was greeted by plate full of misshapen pancakes and four smiling faces.
"Mommy, I made you pancakes," her nine year old son proclaimed proudly.
"And I poured the juice," added her seven year old.
"And I poured a little something extra in there," Roy said with a wink, putting champagne bottle in the refrigerator and then walking towards Pam. "Happy Anniversary, babe." he said before giving her a kiss and rubbing her arm, and they both smiled as the two older boys loudly protested the display of affection. The youngest was already sitting at the table, all his attention on a paper he was coloring.
Roy leaned into her and started in a low tone, "Don't worry, Kenny's gonna pick the boys up from school and I'm treating you something way nicer than half-cooked pancakes tonight."
"You better," Pam joked back. With a dimpled smile on his face he tickled her side before turning and instructing the boys to each grab a plate and couple pancakes.
Roy was right, the pancakes were mushy in the middle, half-burnt on the edges, and only edible when smothered in syrup. Pam loved them all the same.
It was rocky at the beginning of their marriage; five months after their wedding (and two months after she found out she was pregnant) Dunder-Mifflin Scranton was closed. A few co-workers headed to Stamford, Connecticut but most were laid off, Pam and Roy included. Thankfully Bob Vance took on the warehouse staff and Phyllis convinced Bob to hire Pam as an office manager.
Two years after the first son came the second, then they tried for a girl but got a third son two years after that. Bob let her work part time and the rest of the time she was devoted to her boys, driving them to lessons, attending little league games, helping with homework, wondering when grade-schoolers got such busy lives.
After polishing off a couple pancakes that were more crescent-shaped than round, Roy stood, giving all the boys a quick hair-tussle and telling Pam he was off to work, leaving her to enjoy her sons' homemade breakfast then getting everyone ready and driving them to school.
The second Pam pulled to the curb in front of their school, two older boys jumped out of the car, giving a quick "Bye Mom!" before bounding off to their groups of friends. They were their father's sons through and through: bright blue eyes and blond hair, both big for their age and already playing several sports each.
Pam came around the car to help the youngest out of his booster seat. Once he was out of the car he opened his backpack and pulled out a paper. "This is for you, Mommy," he said, handing Pam a card she noticed him working on at breakfast.
She opened the card to a crayon drawing of the family. The two older boys inherited Roy's athleticism but the youngest got her artistic streak, always coloring and drawing. She already made a deal with herself to give him all the art supplies he wanted and all the encouragement he needed when he gets older. She smiled to see her stick-figure-self holding her youngest's hand. "Thank you, sweetheart," she said, kneeling to hug him.
He stepped back and grinned at her with bright green eyes, his floppy hair that's a bit darker than his brothers covering his forehead. "I love you, Mommy."
Sometimes when he smiled at her, she felt a small ache in her chest, thinking about someone that she used to know. "I love you, too."
Another hug and then he took off towards the school doors, turning to give Pam a big wave before walking in and disappearing from view.
She checked her watch and what’s normally a quick glance became a long gaze at the silver face and links that made the band. Ten years and she still remembered the feeling of hands enveloping hers, fingers tracing this very watch band before slipping away from her grasp.
A car horn sounded in the distance, and Pam snapped her head up to see she was just about the only person left in front of the school. She slowly circled back to the driver’s side, and once the seat belt was buckled and the car was started she rested her hand under her clavicle. The small ache had become dull and faint, it always did, and soon it wouldn’t be noticeable at all.
But she knew it never fully went away.