I sighed, waiting for the train boarding my mother and Agent to arrive. I pet Roxanne’s head and she lifted her head up to lick my hand affectionately. We were standing at the edge of the tracks, not wanting to get lost in the eventual clutter that would take place when the train finally arrived. Standing was killing me, but I coped with shifting the pressure on my ankle from time to time.
A smile broke across my lips as a train came into view, whistling as it came to an eventual stop. People didn’t even wait for the train number to be properly announced before they started heading towards it. It seems everyone already figured out it was the late train.
“Oh my God, how are you!” Ethel said, moving to hug me. I hugged her back before she pulled us apart to take a look at me.
“At least you don’t look like you’re dying anymore,” Ethel commented, giving me a subtle look. Ethel was my agent, and I was glad I had her as one. I really don’t know who else would put up with my refusals to do interviews or attend book signings. I had to cargo her packs of signed books to avoid going there myself.
“Where’s my mother?” I asked, trying to look for her in the crowd.
“She carried way much than she could handle,” Ethel said, adjusting her green sling bag. “I told her we’re just going to be here for the week, she didn’t have to pack her whole closet.”
I chuckled because that indeed sounded a lot like my mum.
“Stay with Roxanne, I’ll go get my mum,” I said, leaving Ethel behind with Roxanne, I branched to get a trolley first. Knowing my mother, the load was certainly not what I and she could carry alone.
The station was clearing out quite fast. The crowd had almost vanished so it was easy for me to spot my mother waiting on a bench with three boxes and a carrier suitcase. I smiled, she must have given up on carrying them herself.
“Andrew!” she gasped as I got closer to her. She got up to walk towards me, pulling me into a bone crushing hug that lasted for minutes. “I haven’t seen you in almost a year.”
“I know,” I sighed, looking from her to the floor. Sometimes I felt guilty for not visiting, but I just couldn’t. The family home brought back too many memories.
“You don’t look so bad anymore,” she pointed out, feeling for the flesh in my hand.
“Let’s get you to the car,” I said, walking past her, ignoring her observation. “Why do you always pack like you’re moving?” I asked, finding it hard to lift one of her boxes into the trolley. She mumbled something about needing everything in it before coming to help me.
We got to the others soon after and headed to the parking lot together. Roxanne and Ethel fought for the front seat but came to a compromise. Ethel carried her on her lap, complaining throughout the whole ride that her feet were killing her.
“Why is she so heavy? I thought you didn’t have food in your house!” Ethel groaned. Roxanne barked, licking Ethel’s nose affectionately.
“You don’t have to cry over carrying her anymore, we’re already there,” I said, driving up the hill. My cabin came into view soon after, and I couldn’t help wondering how Ethan and Hector had gotten along.
“It’s a pretty place,” Ethel muttered, brushing back stray strands of her dark hair, her face was already flushed from the heat, and dust was already caught up in her mascara.
“I heard Maria’s son is staying with you for now,” my mother commented as I pulled to a stop on the dirt road.
“Yes, he is,” I confirmed, unlocking the doors. Ethel and my mother got out, adjusting their gown and hair as I went to unload the booth.
“It seems your uncle got rid of the poor boy to wed in peace, he made him sound like a little rebel,” my mother said, chuckling as I handed her hand luggage.
“Well, uncle’s just paranoid,” I pointed out, leading them to the door. Roxanne sped in front of us, getting to the door at record time. We got to her clawing and whimpering at it.
“Hey, you’re back.” I heard Ethan’s voice say all of a sudden as the door creaked open. I smiled weakly, before walking past him.
“It’s cozy,” Ethel said, looking around the small cabin. My mother wheeled her stuff to my study, she would rather not have her things clogged up in a hotel. There was a sound of something crashing then a loud screech from my mother.
“What happened?” Ethel asked getting up from the sitting room couch. She’d just started getting comfortable, and had been indulging in a conversation with Ethan before my mother had slammed in.
“T-there is a c-chicken in the hallway,” my mother stammered, placing her hand on her chest dramatically. Ethan chuckled, making my mum glare at him.
“You mean Hector,” I sighed, leaving to get the poor guy from his hiding spot. When I came back with Hector in hand, I got second-hand information from Ethel that my mum had invaded my kitchen. I dropped Hector off with Ethel before heading to the kitchen.
I sighed peeking in to find her fixing dinner. She seemed to be pouring everything I had in the fridge into a dish.
“Don’t you think that’s a little bit too heavy?” I asked, looking worriedly at the ingredients she was mashing up in a transparent bowl.
“Maybe, but I’m more concerned with feeding my son a meal that can last him a year. I don’t want to hear that you’ve died before I’ve gotten my grandbabies.”
“Andrew I’m serious,” she said, stopping what she was doing to look up at me. I looked down at the floor, not used to looking at my mother straight in the eye when she was mad at me.
The clock ticked in the background, making me bite my bottom lip, as I was at loss at what to say. I don’t want to say my mum’s too hopeful, but I don’t think I’m ready for kids anytime soon.
“Andrew,” she started, making me glance towards her.
“I don’t want to have to pressure you, but I have to,” she said, washing her hands in the sink. My mother was one of the only people I tried to get along with, and it was great that I knew she took pride in me — in my work, but sometimes, she could be a little frustrating with her demands.
“You already have grandkids,” I pointed out, walking into the kitchen fully now. I opened the pot to find pasta cooking. “I don’t think I really want to eat this,” I muttered feeling my throat clog up as I tried to calculate my calorie count for today. I was at one thousand six hundred and nine, and my maximum was one thousand seven hundred and fifty. It was a little below the recommended two thousand, but I was scared at the fact that I might return to my previous size if raised it any higher.
“You’re going to eat this, and I want more grandkids. Your brother’s children are already past their diaper stage. I have to relive those days if I want to die happy,” she said, pointing a spoon at me. I backed away, raising my hands in surrender.
“All you have to do is find a good decent man and adopt kids with for me to spoil,” she said, giving me a pleading look. I started to fidget with my fingers, turning my gaze to the fridge instead.
“Set up an advert for the paper—”
“What? People do it!” She yelled in defense. I felt my cheeks heat up at her suggestion. I already looked pathetic enough. I didn’t need to prove it.
“Okay, if you don’t want to do that you can set up a profile on the internet—”
“Stop it, please,” I begged. She shook her head, putting her hand on her hips to emphasize the fact that she was not quite done.
“I want grandbabies Andrew, and believe it or not twenty-six is the gay fifty. All respectable and interested men around your age range are being snatched off the rack every second. I’m just making sure this loner phase of your life doesn’t last too long,” she scolded, making me sigh in defeat.
“Even if I was willing,” I started, taking a deep breath. “I’m not exactly dating material.” I finished, biting my lip. It was a fact, but it still hurt to admit it.
My mother rolled her eyes, taking my hand in hers. “I’ve been looking for your self-confidence since you were born. I should really sue the hospital for giving me an incomplete package—”
“What I’m trying to say is; you’re a good man, with a successful career, and a good kind heart, what else are men looking for these days? Not that I’d know considering I’m so outdated.” She smiled, pinching my cheeks.
“Trust me. They’ll be all lined up to have you,” she said encouragingly. I let out a deep breath, giving in.
“Okay, you set up an account and everything... Just handle it, okay?” I said stepping back. She clapped her hands in excitement before turning back to her bowl of mashed up ingredients.
“Can I ask what that is?” I asked, giving the greenish-brown mash a confused look.
“You know,” she started looking back at what she’d been making, “I really don’t know...”
I shook my head, deciding that was good enough reason not to eat it.
“So I’ll sign you up for a familiar dating site, just look out for my emails okay?” my mother reminded me, making me nod. We both turned in shock as the kitchen door slammed with force.
“Who was that?” my mother asked, blinking at the door. I sighed, already realizing who it had been.
“Ethan...” I murmured, knocking on his door. I didn’t get a response. I sighed. “Ethan, we have to talk things out.” I tried and sighed in relief as the knob turned.
“Ethan,” I started looking straight at him. He had an odd look on his face, like I’d betrayed him. He stepped aside so I could walk into the room he moved into a month ago.
“Why did you agree?” he asked as I walked in.
I sighed, wondering how to answer that. He looked at me oddly before shutting the door behind us. I let my eyes run through the room. It was neat and tidy and smelled just like Ethan; neat and fresh.
“She’s my mother. I just needed to give her closure,” I finally said, sitting on his neatly laid bed. He came to join me soon after, taking my hand in his as he sat next to me.
“So you’re not really doing it?” Ethan asked, making me nod.
“Not really,” I muttered, looking down at our hands. I don’t really understand what we had, but I felt I’d betrayed it somehow. I heard him sigh as he tightened the grip of our hands.
“Is it odd that I feel relieved?” he asked. I shook my head, making him smile. “I’m sorry for acting like a baby about it,” He muttered under his breath.
“It’s fine, really,” I said giving his lips a peck. He returned the light kiss, turning so he could increase the intensity.
I whimpered slightly, feeling his palm ride up my thigh.
“I’m not going any further,” he muttered, kissing me harder. I felt myself shake involuntarily as he ran a hand through my hair.
“Andrew I lov—”
“Don’t,” I begged, feeling myself tremble at what he was about to say. I felt him choke back like he wanted to cry, but I didn’t feel guilty about it. I learned the hard way that the simple word was too delicate to throw around.
“Fine,” he choked, pulling me back so he could stare into my eyes. “Is it okay to say I’m attracted to you, that I can’t stop myself from getting railed up over you?” he asked, placing his forehead on mine.
I let out a shaky yes before he covered my mouth with his again. I relaxed into the kiss, ignoring the inner voice inside me telling me that I was going to make the same set of mistakes as before.