Begin Again

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Thirty-One: Road Trip

So, this is twenty-six. I’m a single guy hung up on his dead ex-girlfriend who dated her cousin that ended up not actually being her cousin and breaking my heart. Twenty-six years old and pathetic as all hell, a reason birthday celebrations are not my thing. Lets celebrate your success over the past twenty-six years, but what happens if you have more failures?

“Happy Birthday, Thomas!” Dad said to me on my fifth birthday, the first birthday I had at his and Allison’s home. Waking up was similar to waking up at my mom’s house, there were balloons and presents, I had been greeted by hugs and birthday wishes. But there was something missing - my mom.

“Where’s mommy?” I asked my dad.

He leaned down to my height, “She’s at her house. But she will be picking you up tonight.”

“But...” I glanced at Allison who stood with my three year old brother at her side. As I leaned in I whispered to my dad so only he could hear, “I want to spend the day with you and mommy.”

The look on my dad’s face said it all, he was caught between a really hard situation. I still hadn’t fully come to the realization that I would never have special occasions with both my mom and dad together ever again, so when I asked I never quite understood the problem.

“Look, buddy...”

“Can we go to the park and eat ice cream? I seen pictures of us three doing that when I was little.”

My dad glances at Allison who is silent. She takes Mason’s hand, “Come on, sweetie. Let your brother and daddy talk.”

When they walked away, I raised my eyebrow at my dad again, “So, are you calling her or am I?”

“You know you spent your birthday with your mom last year, this year you’re here with me and your brother...” My dad’s voice trailed off.

“But you came to mommy’s house last year,” I pointed out to him.

He nodded his head, I hadn’t learned until I was a teenager that my parent’s agreed that my forth birthday would be the last we spent together. I would celebrate on two different days and two different houses after that year.

Luckily, on my fifth birthday I had convinced my dad to give in to me again. He had stood in the corner on his cellphone while talking to my mom and asking if it would be okay for he and I to come over. That year I had gotten my own way, but at the end of the day when all was said and done, my parent’s sat down with me and explained that this wouldn’t happen every year because we are a split family. They tried to make it sound exciting by saying I would get two birthday parties which means more gifts and more cake, but it didn’t help all that much when all I wanted was both of my parents together with me on my actual birthday.

As I walk down the stairs with a small backpack of clothes to bring to the beach house, my dad stops in front of me, “Hey, Tommy. Happ--”

“No. Lets not make this a thing,” I shake him off.

I haven’t enjoyed celebrating my birthday in years, I prefer not to celebrate my existence and treat it like any other day because to me, it is just another day.

“It is a thing! You’re twenty-six,” My dad smiles and follows me out the front door, “Tommy, this was the day twenty-six years ago that made me a father. It’s a big deal to me, whether or not it is to you.”

“You have two other kids, torture them.”

I walk to Maks’ vehicle, opening the trunk and tossing my bag in. Maks gets out of the jeep at and walks towards me, “Thomas, my brother. What’s up, buddy?”

We do a quick handshake and just like that, we’re caught up without putting too much into it. Men don’t thrive for reunions like women do. And just as the thought crosses my mind, Jenna runs out of the house and squeals in excitement.

“Maks!” She runs to Maks and wraps her arms around him, giving him tight hug, “I can’t believe its been so long. We used to see each other every day.”

When they pull apart, Maks smiles at Jenna and rests his hand on top of her head, “Fuck. I forgot how short you were.”

She rolls her eyes and looks back at me, “I’m just gonna grab my bag and we’ll be ready to go.”

I watch Jenna run back into the house and as my phone rings, I take it from my pocket to see that it’s my mom. I accept the call and brings the phone to my ear, “Hey, mom.”

“Happy Birthday, honey!” She says in a cheerful voice, “I can’t believe you’re twenty-six. My baby boy.”

“Thanks, mom. Yeah, it’s crazy, huh?”

“Please tell me I’ll be able to see you today,” She basically begs over the phone.

Usually, I never say no to my mom, but this time I had to. I had plans with my friends and I wasn’t going to talk about my birthday in any way, shape or form, “Sorry, mom. I’m about to head to Sunset Beach for the weekend.”

“Sunset Beach? That’s over three and a half hours away,” She questions me.

“I’m going to Dad’s beach house with Jenna and Maks. Just gonna hang out like old times and relax... I’ll come see you as soon as I’m back, okay? I just need time to breath and relax.” I tell her, having full intentions of explaining all of my stress to her later.

We talk for a few more minutes before hanging up. Jenna has her bag in the jeep and is talking to Maks. I look towards my dad, “Thanks for letting us stay in the beach house.”

“Anything you need, son.”

I only smile before heading towards the jeep and getting in the passenger’s seat. Maks gets in the driver’s side and Jenna takes the backseat, clapping her hands with excitement, “Road trip!”

***

We’re an hour and a half in to the drive when Jenna insists on going to the bathroom. Maks groans before pulling into the next gas station that we come across, “Hurry up, alright? I’ll gas up while you’re doing your lady business.”

“Don’t rush me, Maksim.” Jenna rolls her eyes and hops out of the jeep when we park.

As she hurries off to find the bathroom, I look over at Maks, “I’m gonna get a drink. Do you want something?”

“Water,” He answers as he gets out to pump the gas.

I walk into the store, going to the fridge and grabbing two bottles of water and a cream soda for Jenna since it’s her favorite. While waiting in line behind a few customers my phone buzzes and I check my text messages.

Ella: Happy Birthday, Thomas :)

I quickly respond with a thank you before setting the drinks on the counter and looking at the rack beside the till, taking a few different kinds of chips to snack on. I pay the cashier and begin to head back towards the jeep.

“Maks, it isn’t funny,” I hear Jenna saying as I approach them.

I raise an eyebrow, “What’s up?”

She turns to look at me and shows me her palm, “There was a spider on the toilet paper and I didn’t see it, when I reached it bit me.”

“It’s just a bite,” I take her hand and examine the bite, “Just put some alcohol on it and call it a day.”

“It fucking hurts, Thomas.” She pulls her hand away before storming towards the store to purchase some first aid items.

Maks calls out after her, “Hurry the fuck up, Jenna!”

I chuckle and open the passenger door to set the bag from the store inside, “She’s just being extra dramatic. Since her and Mason broke up--”

“They broke up?” Maks seems surprised and I’m just as surprised that Jenna hadn’t mentioned it to him, “So she runs off with his brother? Wow. That’s a Jenna thing to do.”

“She didn’t run off with me. I invited her, and in case you forgot I was her friend long before she was my brother’s fiance,” I remind him, annoyed that he would make this seem like a bigger deal than it really is. He knows quite well that Jenna and I have been friends much longer.

Maks only shrugs his shoulders, “Whatever you say, man. Hopefully Mason looks at it the same way.”

That’s just it. I have no idea how Mason would feel giving the fact that I have yet to text him. I plan on letting him know but I haven’t gotten around to it just yet. My brother may surprise me and be furious, but the Mason I know would see no harm in the situation. He’s with Jenna because of me, maybe he will even see the situation like I do; helping Jenna get away to take a breather. Maybe this will even help him realize that he’s an idiot for giving up on her so easily.

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