There are, in life, a finger count number of times when everything one has ever done so far in life, comes and hovers all around. Now, depending on the kind of situation, it would either be exhilarating, or suffocating. There will be moments where one would regret every decision, or the lack thereof, that has led to the crossroad or dead-end ahead. And there will be moments where everything appears in bright, sweet daisies, sunshine and vodka.
Samuel Vincent Perez panted as he stood in sweat, despite the autumn breeze howling around. His palms pressed against his knees, he gasped for breath. He tried to silence the millions of thoughts that began to hound him. Now is not the time to get lost into the consuming suffocation. No.
Wiping his forehead, he took a deep breath before he stood up, all too determined. It is time to get his son back home. Yes.
His searching eyes landed on the almost empty park across the road. Call it paternal instincts – yes, he is the father of that kid, come what may – but somehow, he just knew he found his son. Pumping his legs faster, he broke into a run – just as he had been for the past 20 minutes or so – and crossed the roads, avoiding the vehicles that paused, but didn’t honk at him. Man, did he love RedWood Falls; he shook his head with a hint of a smile.
“Ebbie!”, he shouted out loud, right from his first step into the park. His eyes scanned around, frantically so. “Ebenezer!”, he continued calling out as he walked around and across the children’s playground area, briskly. He was just about to ask a parent if they saw a 4 foot, 7 year kid with dark brown hair, wearing a green T-shirt with Tazmian Devil on it and blue shorts, when he heard an unsure voice from his left.
“Mr.Perez?”, Ebenezer called from the spot he had been lying on for some time now.
Samuel almost laughed at the relief that flooded his entire being. His feet had a mind of their own as they rushed him towards the huge Maple Tree under which his son sat, looking adorably confused. He dropped to his knees and pulled the child into his arms, hugging him tight as he sent a thank-you to the heaven above. He ignored the sting that the kid’s Mr.Perez brought instead of the usual Sam, and pressed a kiss to the messy mop of brown hair. He would ignore anything as long as his family is safe. Pulling a bit back, he ran his now shaking hand across Ebenezer’s face and cupped his neck.
“You-”, he began, his voice coming out in trembles, thanks to the fear that he had felt all this long, that now snapped out of it’s confinement.
“-will never. ever. do that to me. Ever again.”, he tried to speak with as much control as he could summon.
Ebenezer nodded, his eyes widened at the man hugging him. He had, not once seen Sam this worried. Wasn’t he the always smiling, laughing and fun guy? The cool man that would listen to him, talk to him, play with him, take him to fun places, cook for him, read stories to him…wasn’t he the most amazing man he has ever met?
“Promise me, Eb.”, Samuel pressed on. “Promise me you would never run away.”
He knew they were putting too much on the kid – especially he. But, this wasn’t the way to deal with it. He would’ve never forgiven himself, had anything happened to Ebenezer. He might’ve known the kid for just a year and a half now, he might have spent roughly just a year, but God save the person who would dare to question his love for the kid he was holding in his hands.
Ebenezer took a moment to look at the man infront of him, and then nodded. “I promise.”, he said. He tilted his head and frowned at the tears that began to mar Samuel’s face. “I’m sorry.”, he whispered, now sure that he had worried Samuel, and may be probably his Mom too.
The moment those tiny, chubby hands came up and wiped his face, Samuel almost burst into another set of tears – this time, ’coz his heart could hardly cope up with the love and adoration for this small, innocent boy, standing there, all worried for him. He would like to see who would say that Ebenezer wasn’t his son. He ruffled the kid’s head and settled down beneath the tree, his back leaned to the huge, strong trunk. Stretching his legs infront of him, he had Ebenezer sit upon them, facing him. He took the child’s hand in his and squeezed it gently. “I’m sorry too.”, he whispered.
He was? Ebenezer looked confused. But why? Did he not want to be his Daddy anymore? A deep worry and pain began to creep inside him.
Samuel looked at Ebenezer’s thinking face. The kid was too smart for his age, and he had known this from the moment they met. It didn’t take long for Samuel to realize that Ebenezer had an extremely bright mind. And add to that the trauma that he and his mother went through not too many years back, something he believed would be still fresh in the kid’s mind; Samuel could guess exactly where Ebenezer was going. “But, I meant everything I said before.”, he smiled. He’d be damned if he’d let his son be lost.
“I want to marry your mother. I want to be your father. I want all of us to live together. And I want all of us to be happy. But then-”, he shifted forward and looked at the icy-blue eyes staring at him in silence. “-I don’t want to do it just because I want it. I want to know what you think of it. I want to know how you feel about it. About us. About me. I want your permission, Eb. To marry your Mom. To be your Dad. To have you as my son. To start our family.”, he smiled at the child. “But, even if you don’t want this, I will still continue to be your best-friend. I promise.”, he added solemnly.
“You will?”, Ebenezer whispered, this time around, taking all the things being said without letting the fear consume him like it did a half an hour or so back. “Why?”, he questioned when Samuel nodded at him.
Samuel smiled. It all came to that simple question, didn’t it? “Because I love you, Eb. I love Grace, yes, but I love you just as much.”, he said with all sincerity.
“You love her?”
“More than anything or anyone.”
Ebenezer looked down at Samuel’s hand holding his, and nodded. He took a moment before he looked up, “You will not hurt her?”, he asked in a small voice.
Samuel sat stunned, his eyes widened. Deep down he knew that the fear would be there. It took him more than a year to woo Grace, to assure her that he is not like the men before him in her life, to have her believe that he loves her and everything she comes along with, to have her trust him that he is there for life, to let her let him know the most important part of her life – Ebenezer.
“I hate it when she cries.”, Ebenezer added softly. He had seen his Mom cry way too many times, both when they thought he was too young to know what she was going through, and when she thought he was fast asleep. “It pains.”, he pointed out to his chest.
“Oh Eb.”, Samuel pulled the kid into his chest and rocked him gently. “I will never ever hurt your Mom.”, he whispered to the kid’s hair and pulled him a bit back. “I will never do anything that will cause you or your Mom any kind of pain. As long as I breathe, I promise to keep you both happy.”, he promised with all of him, with everything of him.
Ebenezer sat in silence as he looked at the man promising everything he ever wanted and wished for his Mom. He nodded and said, “One last question.” Seeing Samuel nod at him, Ebenezer let out a smile, for the first time in hours – the wide, Ebbie’s smile. “Can I call you Dad?”
Samuel shut his eyes, breathed deep and let out a chuckle. That’s all the permission he needed. He nodded and kissed atop the kid’s head. “I’d be honored, son.”
The father and son took their time to get up and walk back to their house; in their own leisure pace, talking everything in the wide world they could remember, being the best-friends that they’ve begun to know one another as. To a house, that now would be called a home.