Chapter 7: Shawn
I lay in bed with Aaron right beside me, his head resting on my stomach as he uses me as a pillow. I don’t know if it’s comfortable to him but since he’s asleep I guess it couldn’t be too bad. My hand rubs small circles on his back since I know today has been nothing but hard on him, it’s been hard on me too, but his needs have to come first no matter what. It’s not about me any longer, that ship has sailed.
It kills me slowly watching just how heartbroken he is and it’s definitely far more than my own feeling. It’s nearly impossible for me to comprehend knowing that I’m part of the reason he’s even in this position. Even now he’s just a bit more on the clingy side than even yesterday morning before everything ended up going to hell. I’m pretty happy about it since Amaya won’t speak to me and Aaron manages to make things better as I hope I do the same for him.
I stare down at his small body and see her. It comes with that little frown on his face that sits there as he sleeps away his pain. That same look used to be on her face when she was younger and we were holding each other. I remember falling asleep beside her when we grew up and all I wanted to do was comfort her in all the ways I possibly could. Sometimes she just preferred to be in my arms rather than doing anything else which I couldn’t ever object to.
That head of dirty blonde curls is just a shade darker than the locks that rest on top of hers though it’s barely noticeable. The only way to notice is being in the sunlight with it shining directly on them. I make myself see these things with all the amount of time that I’ll spend just staring at them and the small things she’ll do throughout the day.
Then there’s his complexion which is a few shades darker than my own and a shade or two lighter than Amaya’s. He’s the perfect blend between us both and I just love to stare at them and acknowledge how beautiful those differences actually are. He’s so different but yet so similar, and to think that he’s half of the both of us. Not to forget about the gymnast in him that he’ll occasionally let out for all to see.
The most I can do is some basic flips and handstands; I’m not that good at things like that, unlike Amaya, though I can dance a bit. She’s a woman of many talents, some that I still haven’t discovered.
I blow out a deep breath while staring in the general direction of Aaron. One of the many talents she has is creating beautiful children with my help of course.
He might’ve managed to look like me with my glorious green eyes, luscious curls, act like me a bit with my charm… but sometimes I can imagine him with those grey eyes. Her grey eyes, or having another little boy with my hair and her deep grey eyes. Then my head wanders just a bit deeper to what could’ve been if we managed to have a little girl. Maybe she’d look just like Amaya, or maybe me, but I would love to see her being a perfect mix of us like Aaron.
I know he’d be the sweetest older sibling around and I’d love to see that much. With me as the father, I don’t want Amaya falling for some other guy with better hair, nicer personality, less of a chance of fighting. I want her and I hope she stays wanting me until our last days. I don’t want this set back making it so we can’t get back to where we were, but before this, we were each happy. Now look at where that got me, a loner sleeping with my son beside me, but a pissed off love of my life nowhere to be found.
“Daddy,” a whisper meets my ears.
Aaron stares up at me with those big eyes watering just a bit. I bring a hand to his face and wipe at the tears that begin to fall. He hugs me close and I don’t refuse while I sit up in bed and lift him into my arms. His sniffles meet my ears as I continue to rub soothing circles on his back to ease his nerves.
“Hey, what’s wrong?” I whisper in his ear.
“When is Mommy coming back? She usually goes for only a few hours but she said she comes back soon, but when is that? I don’t like when she not around, it scares me,” he admits in a fragile voice.
Aaron’s arms wrap around my neck as a wet liquid meets my back. Is that snot or drool? Do I even want to know at this point?
I stand from the bed, still holding him firmly against my chest before I grab a tissue from my nightstand and turn him just a bit so I can look at his face. Getting a good look at it now I can tell it’s both, welcome to the world of fatherhood, Shawn. Get used to that one. I wipe his face as he squirms around in my hold.
“Stay still, bud, I’m almost done. Now blow,” he does as told before I retract the dirty tissue from his nose and fold it. I make sure my hand doesn’t touch any of the boogers before bringing it back to his nose. “One more time.” He does so before I step next to the trash can and throw it away. I get another, but this time to wipe away at my now dirty back as I try not to think about what I’m cleaning.
“Truth is, I don’t know when she’s coming back either, but I want her here too. I know this is your first time being away from her like this. It’s not all that bad though, she’s okay and she knows that she can come to any one of us whenever she needs someone.
“Just know that in the same way that you don’t like to be away from her, that she hates to be away from you also. There’s nothing that you need to be afraid of; I’d never allowing anything to happen to you or her, never again. That much I can promise you,” I tell him as I sway on my feet side to side, which calms him down as usual. Not by much, but I do know I’m doing a decent job at relaxing his nerves without having Amaya around.
“If she hates not being around, then how come she’s gone?” I hate that I’m the one that makes the cut for having this conversation with him.
“Right now she has to focus on herself and needs us to be at arm’s length as she does so. Your mother loves you and hates to be separated, she has always managed to put you first. Know that now she is trying to do that though it kills her to do so. Until your mommy comes back I’m going to be here no matter what, even when she does come back I’ll be here whenever you need me, because that’s just what I’m supposed to do as your daddy,” I tell him before he nods into my shoulder.
“What about you,” he mumbles.
“What about me?”
“It just feels like things are changing. You and Mommy didn’t talk on the phone like do every night since we went to the apartment. Mommy was sad and looked like she was crying but tried to hold a brave face on for me, then after you spoke to Mommy you went upstairs to cry too. You didn’t smile like you usually do after speaking,” his voice is small as he clings to me that much more. His legs wrap around my waist. He isn’t wrong.
I ignore what he’s said about my crying since it’s embarrassing enough that I was figured out by my own four-year-old. “I can’t tell you if things are about to change though I really hope they don’t change too much. I’m am so happy to be where I am now, but sometimes change is inevitable and that’s just a hard part of life.” It’s not ideal to have to tell your child that sometimes life can just suck and leave us unable to stop the crappy parts.
There is some good to it, him being an example of that though some people like to judge Amaya, myself, and him for being bastard born. I hate it with a burning passion. I personally would’ve hated to have not had Aaron in my life. If I didn’t have him I’d probably be in some deep ass waters. A completely other person than who I am at the moment, I wouldn’t even want to live down that path of destruction.
I wouldn’t change this for the world, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things I’d change. I would change the parts that screw with my head and land me in this depressing funk that I’m partially landing in. I honestly don’t know if I’ll make it out of this one alive or not, especially with Amaya being part of the way I’ve been in this situation. I need her and Aaron both.
I continue to stand with him in my arms, still swaying slightly as if I’m slow dancing to a nonexistent beat. I can tell that he’s not back to sleep just yet but don’t interrupt the silence unless he wants me to, though I’ve always been the type to speak at the wrong time. Well actually, that’s just what Amaya’s told me in the past, but I know Mom agrees with her.
“How come I never go to any of your football games?” he randomly asks while his warm breath fans on my neck. I turn my attention to the outlines of all the pictures on my walls that almost all have her in them. He’s just asking all the right questions, huh?
“I don’t know,” I answer honestly.
“Can I go to the game on Friday?”
“How do you even know about that, I don’t remember bringing it up at all.” I mean, I’m cool with him coming, it’d be good for me, and a good distraction for the pair of us… but what Amaya be okay with him going to football games? This is a full-contact sport and if I get hurt he’ll be there to witness it. I really don’t want to over-step with her, I’m already on thin ice.
“I heard you and Mommy speak about it and then Uncle Avier too.” I only nod. “So can I go, Daddy please.” That small bit of hope in his voice is enough to place a small smile on my face; I ruffle up his head full of hair before he swats my hand away, stirring in my hold. “Daddy no,” he whines out.
“Okay fine, but to answer your question, I think you’ll have to ask your mommy since I don’t want to get in more trouble with her than I’m already in,” I needlessly add the last part though it’s the full-hearted truth.
Anyone could say that she’s wearing the pants in our now one-sided platonic relationship, which wouldn’t be a lie. I shamelessly seek the approval of her in every way possible and the desire to be able to hold her, kiss her… touch her. I tried to treat her the best I could but we all make mistakes and I hate myself for that first bit. It seems that in these past few months I’ve screwed up in more ways than a little, especially when it comes to my relationship with Amaya.
I hug Aaron that much closer as I now use him for comfort as he was using me. My emotional support coming from one of the most important people in my life as he’s been since the first day I met him. He was just this small three-month-old baby but when he opened those eyes and looked up at me as though I was everything to him, it made me feel important, like I was meant something. Aaron has meant more to me than he ever will know, especially while he leans on my shoulder, I know I can do the same with him.
“What position do you play?”
“I’m the quarterback, but also the team captain.”
“What about Uncle Avier?” he asks with a new found curiosity that I’ve never once seen in him before.
I think he looks pretty good with a football and maybe, just maybe, when he’s older he might make the decision that he wants to play too. I wouldn’t ever push him in the direction of it all as Dad did with myself and Xavier. Just because I like the sport it doesn’t mean that I wanted to get into it in the ways that he wanted me to be, it’s a sport and it was meant to be fun, not a torturous, time-consuming thing to just make a dick of a father happy.
“Running back, but also the replacement center since the kid that usually plays can get sick more often than not. Xavier’s the second best center we have on the team so that means he’ll be transitioned to that position while his replacement player comes in to take his usual one,” I try explaining everything so it doesn’t just sound like some random word spew.
He’s still new to this world of sporting besides gymnastics, even though I tried to say things simply, I know he most likely doesn’t know half of what I said. I also know that he’s becoming that much sleepier, which is definitely good for him though it means that I lose my person to talk to.
“Center throws the ball between legs, right?” he yawns out. Outstanding.
“Yep, so you get it?” I feel him nod into my broad shoulder as his legs sway side to side just a bit. “Alright, now that’s cool.”
“Hey Daddy?” he calls out to me.
“Yeah?” I sigh out.
“What were you like at my age?” From football to when I was his age, we just keep jumping conversations, huh? I gather an answer in my head, trying to put everything together from my memory of how I was. A definite answer is that I wasn’t as cool as I am at the moment.
“When I was four I wasn’t in school yet, just like you, and I looked a bit like you do now except for the fact that I had freckles all over and-” I start.
“Where’d they go? Now they only on chest and back.” I smile.
“As I got older the more they started disappearing until there weren’t any more on my face or anywhere else besides my chest and back,” I tell him, not minding the fact that he interrupted my storytime over that.
“Yeah, anyway, I was practically attached to Mom at the hip and the only place she could go to escape me was the bathroom,” I laugh out. “When it came to Mom I was constantly clinging to her or your uncle, Dad and I weren’t all that close as I know you can recall. I was all eating a lot of snacks and always have them in my hands and then would run around the yard with Xavier too.
“Then I turned five and met Amaya only a few weeks after that. She was on the shy side, but me and Uncle Avier always got her to let loose and be her true self around us. We ended up becoming this inseparable group of friends before Dylan came along, and soon to follow was Cody. All of us have learned to rely on each other no matter what is going on, and we still do to this day, for the most part anyway.
“I wasn’t too far off from you. I always had a small on my face, wanted to play with all those around me, constantly made sure that if someone was having a bad day to do my best to make it better for them. It was just things like that, but you’re way cooler than I was then and now,” I say while walking around the room with him.
“You aren’t afraid of letting people know the real you while I care about who I allow to see the real me because I’m scared. I’m horrified at the thought of people coming into my life so that I can get close to someone and have them break my heart.” Cough, Amaya. “You constantly place your heart on the line. You are so brave at this young age and more so than myself.
“You can do gymnastics when all I could do was run and throw some things. You’d think gymnastics was hereditary seeing how good Amaya is at it and that you picked it up just by watching TV and not giving up.” Aaron keeps silent as I go on, waiting until I’m fully done to ask anything as he almost always will do. He’s got respect and manners, something I couldn’t always relate to.
“You cool in my book,” he whispers before yawning.
“Thanks, bud.” He twists in my hold in the slightest before giving me a thumbs up. Aaron lets out a louder yawn this time around. “It’s past your bedtime, so we best get you back to sleep,” I say while moving back over to the bed and transferring him back to the side of the bed Amaya would always sleep on. I lay down beside him, pulling the blanket up over us.
“Please Daddy, just a little longer,” he pleads.
“Just five more minutes and I’ll be out without a single problem. I promise you. Pretty, pretty please.” Amaya already hates me and I make her f-you list now, so if she finds out it’ll be no bueno.
“Fine, you can have five more minutes, but do not tell your mommy, got it?” Aaron nods.
“Thank you, Daddy. Now how come Mommy doesn’t do gymnastics like that anymore? I know she still does it on occasion, but Grandma said that when she was younger that’s almost all she did.” I sigh before closing my eyes for a single moment as I desperately try to clear my head. I want to forget, but then I don’t, not when I can’t stop thinking about making her laugh or all of the once shared memories between us. I can’t let that go, not a single ounce of it.
“It has something to do with everything that was going on with Derrick, she had to devote all her time to that life while raising you too. I still didn’t know about our connection, but I was there to help as much as I could. Derrick would constantly push her to the brink and sometimes when you were a baby, maybe just a few months old that she had to ask us to watch you.” Aaron only nods before tugging on the long-sleeved pajama shirt that he was adamant about wearing.
“Is she… okay with everything that was happening? She doesn’t say much about it now besides that it has something to do with her past.” That sounds exactly like something she’d say so I’m not all that surprised.
“Well if she doesn’t want to come out and say anything then I have to respect that, but what I will say is that she is one of the strongest people I know. She doesn’t allow anything to keep her down even when it comes to her past. She’s learning to accept it and try to make a change, but that’s just about all I can tell you, especially since she’s barely even spoken to me about it before all this happened,” I explain to him with a small smile.
Silence comes back to meet my ears before I think he’s finally found himself back to sleep while I stay suffering from insomnia. At least he’s been able to receive some amount of sleep.
“What was she like back then, before everything happened I mean?” his small voice asks. Well, scratch the sleep.
“She was always a quiet girl, never really spoke as she went through not having her father at home any longer and then had Derrick partially transitioning into that “parental” role. Amaya only let loose when it was around our friends and whenever we’d be over here. She’d always have a smile glued to her face.
“We were on the same level with running around and things like that, so we’d always have races to the pool which was definitely stupid now that I think about it, but it always got us to smile. Then Amaya ended up accustomed to climbing and flipping. Every time we played hide and seek or tag she’d always climb up a tree so nobody could get to her, which was cheating. Your mommy never played fair."
I let out a small laugh as a rush of memories come flooding back to me and all those good times we had played on a repeat. It’s all shit to have all that good turn so complicated and toxic in a single day. We’ve been complicated since we were thirteen, but I wouldn’t take a single second of those memories back for my life.
“Why didn’t you just climb up the tree?” he asks in a small voice before letting out a yawn, my own following close behind.
“Because I hate climbing trees with a burning passion. I don’t like the idea of having a tree branch possibly snapping from beneath me and then my plummeting to my own death. That doesn’t seem anywhere near fun to me, so I just pretended to not know she was actually up there the majority of the time since well, I don’t need the boys knowing my situation with trees and all,” I let out a deep breath as my head melts further into my pillow.
“You’re a scaredy-cat,” he teases.
“You know you can go back to sleep now,” I joke with him. Another yawn meets my ears before I let out one too. He scoots over to place his head on my shoulder. “You know you can actually go to sleep, I know you’re tired and I’m not about to make you stay awake. I’m not gonna be here in the morning when you wake up, alright?”
“Nope, I won’t be going tomorrow. Uncle Avier can bring my work back home, or Dylan and Cody, maybe Ace too. Doesn’t really matter though since I can work it all out tomorrow, or rather in a few hours.” I feel him relax against me just a bit more.
“Okay, night Daddy.”
“Goodnight bud, now get some sleep, we don’t need you waking up cranky in the morning, now do we?” Aaron quickly shakes his head before closing those droopy eyes and allowing himself to drift off into this other world that I wish I could be part of.
He’s probably just speaking with his favorite heroes or something along the lines of that, he’s had that dream a few times. I just hope he doesn’t get that nightmare while he’s here and Amaya’s not able to help fix it. She knows how to handle that side of him better than I can, especially since the nightmare is her coming to near death.
I close my eyes and allow myself to let go too.
My eyes jerk open when I feel someone shaking my arm as they try to wake me up from the restless slumber that I had recently drifted off into. It took me a while to fall asleep after Aaron was out since I couldn’t get Amaya out of my mind, or the memories of her laying on the other side of him as we held hands too. The most sleep I could’ve possibly received is maybe two hours which even seemed to be pushing with that amount too.
I keep my eyes shut. The person waking me up isn’t Aaron as his hands are smaller and he doesn’t violently shake me awake, neither does Mom and well if Amaya was here she wouldn’t wake me up that way. She’d most likely allow me to sleep in, or place a kiss on my lips to wake me though I’d turn that small kiss into a major one as if it’d be my last.
What if our last kiss is the last one that we end up sharing? That thought passes through my head as I feel my eyebrows furrow. The last kiss that we shared was only a peck on the lips as she had to get to school and made me promise to get Aaron on time to his doctor’s appointment, which I did, five whole minutes early. It sucks to think that those lips won’t be on mine again for a long time, if ever again.
The person’s pushing and shoving at my body gets that much more violent as they don’t even think about Aaron. I don’t want to have to worry about getting him back to sleep unless I really, really have to. I doubt he’d want to wake up at 6 in the morning or whatever time it is.
“Wake the hell up!” Xavier’s voice hisses out somewhere near my side. I still refuse to open my eyes before the sound of skin on skin contact meets my ears and a stink on my stomach follows in close pursuit. My eyes open before I jolt out of bed, my eyes going to my stomach though I can’t see anything with the lighting. “About damn time your ass woke up,” he grumbles out.
I turn to look at the outline of his body and imagine that smug smirk on his face.
“What the hell was that for, you ass?” I growl out while glaring.
I move closer to him before grabbing the front of his shirt and dragging him out into the hallway; we close the door behind us. From the light I can see that he stands in just a pair of khaki cargo pants and a dark blue v-neck, his hair messy and all over the place as he usually keeps it.
“Why are you dressed this early, you usually don’t get dressed until ten minutes before we end up leaving.”
“I chose to get dressed so that I can stop at Dunkin Donuts before school and come back to bring something back. I have to go to school, and I’m guessing that since you haven’t been in the bathroom yet, that you aren’t going to school.” I nod to him while I look down at my bare feet before moving to lean against the wall behind me. “Does Mom know?”
“Not yet, but I promised Aaron last night I was going to be here with him when he woke up. I was actually wondering if you’d be willing to get my homework for the school day?” I ask hopefully before he nods to me.
“Yeah sure.” I thank him. “So what are you going to tell Mom?”
“That I feel under the weather, which I do. I feel like shit, I know I look it, and then there’s the whole situation with Aaron too. I want to be here with him right now.” Xavier nods before playing with his hands and I can only wonder what’s running through his head right now. I haven’t told him about Amaya and I’s situation yet and I don’t plan on doing it today, that’s just going to hurt too bad. “You can ask me whatever is on your mind.”
“I know this has to do with Amaya, I mean Aaron’s here while she isn’t. Does that mean she’s in trouble or something?” I shake my head. Not that I know of anyway. “Well, then what’s going on? I’m so confused and I know that Dylan and Cody know about whatever’s going on since they dragged you out of there after it happened. I’m your brother, Shawn. If you should tell anyone what’s going on, it’s me. You scared the shit out of me.” The worry in his voice makes me look down, his eyes moving to my still busted knuckles that are now wrapped in bandages.
“I’m sorry for scaring you, and I promise to tell you soon, but as of right now, it’s too hard. You’ll probably end up hearing about it from everyone in the hallways anyway,” I mumble out while fighting the stinging that pricks at my eyes. It sucks to know that everyone knows my business like this. They’re probably gonna be happy when they find out I’m single too, think they might have a chance too. I let out a small scoff.
“Does it have to do with Amaya kicking Bethany’s ass because she kissed you?” My eyes go wide. Nobody was there for that part. They only saw Amaya’s fight. My face must’ve been giving me away because Xavier lets out a scoff to match my own. “You don’t think I wouldn’t have figured it out. I was texting Charlie when she had dinner at Amaya’s old house with her and her mother.”
“Who else was there?”
“Bethany, Ralph, and their mother who apparently started in on Amaya before she verbally clapped back. Left her mother practically speechless too.” My eyes widen as realization sits in with me at more levels than just one. We’re each on a friendly level with Charlie right now, maybe she’d keep an eye on Amaya for me.
“Hold up, Amaya agreed to do dinner with them?”
“Most likely not, she was probably forced into it by her mom since we both know Amaya’s not the type of person to just fight someone and still have major problems with the person to just sit through a meal where she has to look at said person. Charlie said she made it through the whole dinner without punching anyone though, so I guess that’s good,” he says before shrugging.
“Do you happen to know what the argument or whatever was about?” Xavier nods before swiping some of his curls away from his face.
“She was speaking about if Amaya was constantly “violent” that she didn’t believe her to be fit to raise a child.” Xavier rolls his eyes as I let out a small snort. It’s that behavior of hers that has kept Aaron from a whole hell of a lot of danger.
“If only they can see what she was involved in, I bet they’d beg to differ if they knew everything.” Xavier’s foot taps away at the ground as he looks up to me with cerulean eyes of knowledge, hidden most likely. I can tell he knows something that I just don’t and it pisses me off, I could only imagine how he feels about me not saying anything about the situation with Amaya.
I’m gonna have to tell not only him, but Aaron too. He deserves to know why we aren’t going to be around each other as much as we are right now. I know he misses us living together with all of us spending time together. The hard part to get is the fact that we were already separated when Amaya and I were in a committed relationship, how drastically are things going to change now that she ripped my heart out of my chest, stomped it to oblivion, and carelessly threw the pieces back in my face?
“What’s on your mind? I know there’s something that you want to get off your chest.” He shifts the weight on his feet before taking a deep breath and blowing out. I can tell that there’s something eating major or at least major in his head going around in there.
“Charlie does know everything. Not what the school and all the others do, but everything from even more than what we know. The fallout of Amaya and Bethany’s relationship from Amaya’s P.O.V. and even the ordeal of from the moment we met to now. I guess women find it easier to speak to each other than to us guys, though I listen, I don’t see why they wouldn’t want to tell me anything,” he rambles at the end and I only nod to him. I’m not majorly surprised that she’d go to Charlie for advice or a person to speak to. There are some things that only another woman can give you advice on and it’s not like she’s about to go to her mom with half of it since she doesn’t want her to feel any guilt.
I know it’s not really half of my business, but as her best friend, boyfriend, well, now ex, and father to her child, I feel that I’m allowed to voice my concerns. It’s all for her, Jonah, and Aaron that I have them. I don’t have a problem with Rachael as she is a good person, but she’s made a whole hell of a lot of mistakes when it comes to her life and being a parent, though we all have.
My problem starts with the fact that Derrick was putting his hands on both of her children and she never gathered their shit to leave the bastard. If I was to ever end up with another woman, which is highly unlikely, and she was verbally, mentally, or physically abusing my child I wouldn’t waste a second on throwing her shit out the window and telling her she’s no longer welcome in my house.
Her mom is supposed to be the one protecting her and Jonah, not the other way around. Half of the times that Amaya has gotten beaten was for playing hero and saving Jonah whenever he ended up in the line of fire, which I would’ve done too as he’s like a brother to me. All of the guys are. But that doesn’t mean that her mother shouldn’t have left the moment things got that bad, hell, she should’ve been long gone before things even got to that point. So yeah, I harbor some bad blood with her for it, but I care about her too, though that guilt does deserve to sit with her for a while.
Whenever it came to Amaya defending her mom I’ve always kept my mouth shut though I know I should’ve said something. When she said she wasn’t willing to go off to college just because she couldn’t leave her mom, it had me thinking about all those times that her mother left her with her monster of a stepfather to be initiated into a gang at such a young age without a choice or chance to be the person that she wanted to be.
I desperately wanted to tell Amaya that she was scarred not only because of Derrick but also partially because of her mother. She shouldn’t have been let off the hook like that. I know that if I was to tell Amaya that she’d have been ready to slap me which hurt like hell the last time as I sat there watching her run off after. I couldn’t have run after her with my tail between my legs any quicker than I did.
“I’m not surprised,” I finally reveal to him. “Sometimes it’s easier to speak to someone of the same gender than another, especially when they’re your significant other. Half of the time I bite my tongue when it comes to her.”
“You, biting your tongue, that sounds like a joke to me.” I raise my hand before hitting him in the forehead and flipping him off.
“That is why Charlie won’t start a relationship with you,” I joke around with him.
“That’s actually not the reason, at the party, we spoke about it and she told me the real reason that I’m not going to disclose after I admitted the reasons that I like her. She’s just so different man, she makes me feel different than I’ve ever felt for anyone else,” he admits with a lovestruck face as his eyes get all soft. I smile.
“So does this mean I don’t have to worry about you chasing after Amaya?” I ask with an arched eyebrow before he punches me in the shoulder with full strength. I laugh while fighting the urge to rub my arm, refusing to let him know that it actually did inflict some pain.
“Screw off, that was a few years ago and the last time I checked, even when I had feelings for her I helped you to grow a pair and admit your feelings. That has to count for something.”
“It does, and I’m thankful that you gave me that much-needed push. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have Aaron in my life or her. They’ve changed me for the better.” He smiles too before I clear my throat. “Alright, I’m done with this sappy shit. What I was saying earlier before you interrupted with your life,” he rolls his eyes, still smiling as I do too, “sometimes it’s best to just bite your tongue, especially with Amaya. Women are magnificent creatures that make you feel the best of things, but then they rip away certain privileges when they get angry or upset with you. Keep that woman happy no matter what it means so those privileges don’t get ripped away because I swear it’ll be the death of you.” He laughs at me as my face turns serious and I shake my head at him.
“Dude, you are so whipped.”
“Hell yeah, I’m whipped. Have you seen her or the way she’ll give you those challenging looks, daring you to go against her? Or the little sway of her hips that comes when she walks? When she dances it’s as though she lets herself be free. When she yells, well I know I shouldn’t like it aimed at me, but I can’t lie and say it’s not a turn on. Being able to look doesn’t always do its justice, sometimes I want to just grab her and kiss her until I can’t any longer before ripping off those-” Xavier’s eyes widen as do mine as we hear someone clearing their throat. We slowly turn to face Mom who has her arms folded over her chest.
“Tags on her shirt that she hasn’t removed,” I quickly put in. She shakes her head to me in disapproval.
“Isn’t Aaron here?” she asks before I nod to her.
“Like you thought I was asleep? Some advice, if you’re going to talk about that don’t do it in the hallway where your mother can walk in on the conversation,” she says before shaking her head once again. My cheeks turn a deep red in embarrassment.
“Sorry,” we each mumble out like a child who’s been caught with a hand in the cookie jar.
“Mhm, I’m sure you are.” I’m sorry I was walked in on, not for having the conversation in the hallway.
“Uh, I’m going to Dunkin Donuts and plan on coming back before going to school, you want anything?” Xavier quickly asks.
“I guess I’ll take a strawberry with sprinkles, same for the chocolate, and a strawberry and banana smoothie.” Xavier gives me a shocked look. “What? I’ve still got abs, don’t come at me for my eating habits.” He raises his hands in surrender.
“Alright, what about you, Mom?” he asks. She gives him the same order as I did. “I’ll be back soon and just so you know in advance, I’m bringing him back a bit of munchkins that way so he’s not jumping off the walls too much for you. Not my problem if he does though.” I shake my head to him before he walks off to the front door with a smirk. I wait for him to close the door before turning to Mom.
“I take it you don’t plan on going to school today,” I nod.
“How’d you know?”
“You’re usually fully dressed by this time, not still in your boxers. Now why aren’t you going?” she asks.
“I just want to spend some time with Aaron, especially since we couldn’t really get any sleep last night. That’s why he isn’t up now since you know he’s usually a morning person,” I tell her while glancing behind me to my closed door. A deep breath from within echoes out to bounce on the walls.
“Why couldn’t you sleep?” I think about telling her the truth.
“I couldn’t get Amaya off my mind. We had a major argument yesterday and she didn’t want Aaron to be around her in the pissed off state, most likely because of his still lasting nightmares of the night with Derrick.” Mom nods slowly. “He wasn’t there for it, but he could tell that something was off between us, made him lose sleep thinking about if his mommy was alright or not.”
“Well is she? And are you?” I shake my head.
“It’s a no for both of those. I know she was crying, and I, well I’m breaking just a bit more as time goes by and we don’t speak to each other. She has the right to not want to speak to each other, and then I was a douchebag and made things worse with her when we started yelling. Now she thinks that I think all these bad things about her when she couldn’t be more perfect in my eyes. I can tell that I’ve only managed to make her doubts about herself worse and it makes me livid with myself for doing all that I did in the span of one single hour,” I look at the ground. I’m so damn ashamed of myself. Maybe what happened with Bethany was my fault, but telling her she was a coward because I was angry didn’t change a single fucking thing.
This is the second time that I’ve managed to direct my anger at her and with as much that’s bottled up in me, well shit. I can’t blame her for leaving me. I’m a fuck-up and she deserves far better than that, so does Aaron, what if one day I do that to Aaron and he gets scared of me like he is Derrick? What if one day Aaron believes I’ll hurt him?
I violently shake my head, running my hands through my hair, leaving them there in a firm grip. My hands only pulling at my curls, willing some to be free in my hands. Torn out of my scalp. Sometimes the small pain makes me feel like maybe I’m making up for what I’ve done to others. Maybe it’s best for my pain.
Amaya was the only one that got me to give it up and she didn’t even know. I was scared of Amaya hurting herself and not telling me because I once did that. It wasn’t right. I know that, but it was a release. It felt as though I was making up for being that screw-up. I refuse to go back down that road, but during the time I did it, I was addicted to that feeling.
I don’t know why I didn’t tell her. I don’t know why I don’t tell her a lot of things. It was wrong, I’m wrong for half of the things that I’ve done. I can’t stop with thinking these things as I find myself in the situation I’m now in. She believed she was this lucky person and that she didn’t deserve me, but I was the lucky one. I was the one who got saved with us and now I’m scared of going back down that dark path I did when she was gone the first time. I also know that I can’t turn back to being a dick either, I need to stay as the person I am now. Stay level-headed, especially now that I know I’m a father. If not for me, I need to do it for Aaron.
I grip my hair that much more as Mom looks at me with breaking eyes. “Honey, you’ve got to stop that. You need to stop before you hurt yourself,” she whispers out while placing her hands over mine that are glued to my hair, easing them out and into her own. She squeezes my hands reassuringly. “It’s going to be alright. You’re going to be okay. Don’t hurt yourself, hun. Don’t do that anymore, you need to remember Aaron and everyone and everything else you care about. We’re not going back down that path.”
“We’re not going back down that path,” I repeat after her before nodding to her.
“You can’t do that to yourself ever again, you understand?” she asks; I nod once again.
“I won’t do that again. I promise I won’t,” I tell her before she pulls me into her arms. My head moving to rest on her shoulder. For everyone I care about. Never again. I close my eyes as she holds me that much closer. “I feel like a fuck-up.”
I hold a steak knife in my hand about to take another swipe at my forearm like I’ve been doing as of the past few weeks. Blood flowing from both of my arms to make a pool on my floor and also landing in my lap but that doesn’t stop me as it never has. Maybe I deserve this. Maybe Dad didn’t leave because we weren’t good enough for him, but because I wasn’t. I’m not good enough.
Not to Dad, and not to Amaya. She’s gone too. I’m alone and it hurts. It bites so damn much to know that I can’t have her in my arms any longer. I can’t look at her and not feel that ache in my chest knowing that she didn’t think I was good enough.
She stopped loving me. That’s the only way she could leave me.
I was there for her and she left me. Everyone keeps on leaving me because I keep messing up. I’m not good enough for anyone to stay with. They’re all going to leave me in the end, just like Dad has, and how Amaya has just now done… but I can’t blame her. It’s my fault. It’ll always be my fault when they leave.
I take another swipe at my arm, this time quicker but far deeper. That pain not having an effect on me any longer.
This is what I need to turn to. At least I know the knife will never leave me. It’ll stay. I won’t screw up and make it leave. I’m the only one that gets to make the choice of letting go if I ever do choose that.
“Shawn,” I hear before my bedroom door creaks open. My eyes go wide as I catch Mom’s eyes full of horror as she takes everything in. The knife. My blood on the floor and on my legs. The cuts on my skin. The blood that’s now starting to soak my clothes. “What the hell are you doing?!” her yells meet my ears before she’s running over to me and ripping at the knife, trying to get it out of my death grip. I don’t want her to take it. “Shawn, let go, now!”
“No! Mom, no! I need this! They all leave! I make them leave! They don’t want to be around me! Nobody wants me around! Don’t take this, please don’t. Then I’m more alone. I can’t let it go too, not with everyone else leaving.” The tears start to flow down my cheeks as she looks to me heartbroken before pulling me to my feet, her arms wrapping around me. She doesn’t care about my blood getting on her but just holds me in her arms refusing to let me go. Scared that I’ll wither away if she lets go for a single second.
“I’m not ever going to leave you, honey. I’m staying here. When others leave it’s not your fault, it’s because of personal issues going on in their life. You aren’t alone. And you can’t leave me just yet, I can’t let go of my baby boy just yet,” she sobs out while holding me that much closer.
I don’t say anything but just stand there as she holds me as though I’m here one second but will be gone the next.
“But you don’t know if that won’t change, Mom. They said they weren’t going anywhere, that they’d always be here for me, but then they left. They left me. Dad left. Amaya left and took my heart with her. She said she loved me but broke me. It’s my fault. I pushed them away. I didn’t mean to, but I did. I’m a screw-up,” I force out while finally wrapping my arms around her too, using her as a support.
“You aren’t a screw-up, honey. You are so much more than you allow yourself to see. You matter to everyone around you. Forget about what your father did, he doesn’t deserve to know this amazing person that you have become. When he left it was for his own selfish desire, he hurt me too. I blamed myself for that at first too, but then I realized that we don’t control other people's actions. He was the one messing around with others and spending his days out instead of being with his family. I knew it was coming eventually, but we’re better off without him.
“As for Amaya, you know she’s going through a lot right now. She might feel that she needs to focus on herself for now, and it might hurt, but maybe it’s for the best. That girl is strong and has to be so that she can handle herself and her situation at home. She knows that we’re here and willing to help if she needs, but that’s the most we can really do for now,” Mom finishes before placing a kiss on the top of my slicked back hair.
“But why’d she have to leave me? I had to have done something. She wouldn’t just leave me like that. I need her. I’ve always needed her,” I admit while burying my head in her shirt, breathing in the relaxing scent of cherry blossom as I try to take my mind to other places.
“Sometimes people leave us for reasons that don’t have to do with us and that’s just that. I know she still loves you and it’s not going to do you any good sitting here and blaming yourself,” she says while pulling away from the hug that I’m not ready to be released from. Her white blouse now stained in my warm blood that I know won’t be washing away no matter how many times she washes it. “Now don’t you ever do this again. You hear me. If you ever do this again I’m sending you off to a psych ward.”
“Okay,” I whisper, “I won’t do it again.”
“You better not. Scaring the shit out of me, and you’re getting a therapist,” she says while taking my hand and pulling me to the bathroom. I know she’s pissed off and is doing the best she can at not showing it since I can tell she’s more scared than anything which makes me feel a bit better. At least I know now that maybe not every person will leave me.
“Please don’t get me a therapist,” I whisper when we make it into the bathroom. She moves to grab the first-aid kit.
“Like hell, you were just cutting yourself. There’s no way in hell you aren’t about to get one, end of the damn discussion.” I stare down at the ground as I hear her messing around with the first-aid kit, pulling out everything that she needs.
“But I don’t want to go speak to some damn stranger about my own personal issues.”
“Well you didn’t think to come to me, your brother, or the school’s counselor with this and I most likely wouldn’t have figured it out if I hadn’t walked into your room when I did. Did you even think about the fact that you could’ve just killed yourself?” her voice raises just a bit before I flinch and move just a bit away from her.
“I wasn’t trying to kill myself.”
“That doesn’t matter, Shawn! If that knife slipped in the slightest it could’ve hit one of your veins and I could’ve found your ass dead! We each could’ve lost you and where would that leave us?!” I look into her hazel eyes and see tears shedding from them, more and more. They lift to look into my own. “If I found you dead I would lose it, especially since you were doing all of this under my nose and I wouldn’t have known until it was too late.”
“What if I promise to go to you? Please, Mom, don’t make me go to a therapist.” Mom looks as though she’s considering all this.
“If you promise to come to me, then I’ll consider not getting you a therapist, and I mean consider.” I quickly nod. “Now put your arms out so I can clean them before wrapping them in bandages.” I do as told without a fight.
“I think you should tell her what’s going on with you… and your past,” Mom’s voice meets my ears before I quickly shake my head.
“No, no Mom, I can’t. I can’t tell her that I was doing that, she’ll get pissed off at me for not telling her when she told me she did the same. She’s already mad at me. I can’t let her know anything about it, and you can’t either. Okay?” She looks down before sighing, her head nods slowly after. “Thank you.”
“This isn’t a good idea to hide from her. You do know that right? Amaya’s a smart girl and eventually, she’ll find out whether it be by you or on her own. You better hope you’re the one that tells her because if she finds out on her own then you’re screwed and in a worse position than you think you’re in now.”
“I’ll tell her when the time is right, as of right now it isn’t and she already doesn’t like me at the moment. I don’t need things to get worse, especially not with Aaron in the midst of it all,” I tell her though I don’t think the time is ever going to be right.
“He’ll always be in the midst of it all as everything will have an effect on him too. He’s yours and hers shared, that means that no matter how long you put things off that isn’t changing. And the longer you don’t come clean, the harder things are going to be on you.” She’s most likely right about that, but how much worse can they truly get?
I don’t say anything as I hear the front door getting thrown open and watch as Xavier struggles to walk into the house with a dozen box of donuts, Aaron’s munchkins, and a cup holder with both Mom and I’s strawberry banana smoothies, and a pineapple mango one for himself.
I walk over to him before plucking Aaron’s munchkins and the drinks out of his hands and move over to the island. I place everything down and look over to Xavier who makes his way over to me at his own slow pace while I wait impatiently to get my donuts.
“Come on, Ave, you’re taking like five years,” I say when he finally gets to me before placing the box down in front of me.
“You’d think you were the four-year-old,” he lightheartedly jokes before I smile.
“That boy got his looks from me for the most part, but that’s about it,” I say while opening the box, at that moment is when Mom chooses to walk into the room to get her smoothie and donuts; she takes a seat beside me.
“Thank you,” we say in unison. Xavier only nods before I take my strawberry and chocolate donuts. I take a bite out of my strawberry donut and close my eyes, thinking of the happier times. My right hand reaches over to the cup holder to grab my smoothie and take a big sip. This is just what the doctor ordered. I needed this more than anything.
“What’s up with the extra donuts?” I ask while opening my eyes. I turn my head to face Xavier as he stuffs his mouth with a vanilla frosted.
He swallows. “Dylan and Cody are supposed to come over in about a minute or so to get a ride to school so I got two each for them. You know Cody with his glaze and Boston cream,” we both fake gag at the same time. Boston cream is disgusting as hell. I want to know what that “cream” in the middle really is. Not to mention Dad also likes it. “Anyway, I also got Dylan his usual strawberry frosted with sprinkles and chocolate glaze with sprinkles. The others, well, I’m giving the jelly donut to Charlie as they’re one of her favorites, and the coconut one if for Ace.” I nod to him.
He’s really considerate like that.
“What about her?” I ask, refusing to say Amaya’s name. Mom looks over to me with gentle eyes.
“Dammit,” he whispers, “I always do this. It’s always somebody that I forget to get something for. I got the other two for Aaron because once again, not my problem if he’s off the walls, you’ll have to deal.” I shake my head before scratching behind my head.
“Just take my chocolate frosted, they’re her favorite and I barely touched it… just don’t let her know I gave it to her.” Xavier nods as I place my donut back in the box and stand to go get two paper plates from the counter. I plate the other strawberry and chocolate donuts before placing another over them; I move over to the fridge before placing them on the top. “No way is he about to eat those munchkins and donuts together. I’m not that crazy.”
I take my seat back before picking up my smoothie and taking a sip.
“Oooh, what’s that?” I hear from in front of the island. I look to Aaron as he peers over the table at my smoothie. I shake my head before motioning him over to me. When he comes over to me he lifts his arms for me to lift him up into my arms, I do so before sitting him down so he’s comfy on my lap.
“This is a strawberry banana smoothie,” I tell him while moving it a little closer. “Let me guess, you want a sip?” Aaron’s head quickly nods up and down before I sigh. I guess we can’t get things for ourselves anymore, huh? I move the drink closer and put the straw to his lips so he can try it, his eyes widen when he gets the first taste before he’s taking a big sip compared to what he’ll usually do, pulling away from the straw when he’s done. “So?”
“That’s good, really cold though.” I nod to him before his eyes land to my donut.
“Don’t even think about it,” I say; a small pout comes onto his lip before I pull over his munchkins, “you can eat these instead.” His eyes get brighter as he jams his hand into the container to get a munchkin and put it in his mouth.
“Thanks,” he says in between bites.
“Don’t thank me, he got ’em.”
“Thanks you, Uncle Avier,” Aaron says with his award-winning smile.
“You’re welcome,” he says while flashing a smile of his own. I watch the interaction between them and remember how only a few months ago Xavier was laying on the floor and rolling around after Aaron punched him in the nuts, but now looking at them I can tell they’ve managed to grow on each other. They are close and had a relationship even before we found out about him being mine.
I remember speaking to Aaron about punching Xavier, what he said had hurt me a bit but I could partially understand it. That moment when the words, “Daddy, you were there one minute and gone the next, then he did the same,” left his mouth I wanted to hug him but also make it known that we had our reasons for not being around any longer but it didn’t matter. The reason we weren’t there when he wanted or needed us is enough to be ashamed in.
The doorbell rings throughout the house before Xavier yells out a “come in” and not a minute goes by as Dylan and Cody walk into the room, side by side, steps in sync with each other. My smile gets just a bit brighter before they walk over to us and clap me on my back.
“Hey,” they say in unison while facing everyone.
“Hi,” we all repeat back.
Aaron looks up to them with a smile as they take a seat on the other side of me. Aaron reaches over to Dylan who sits closest to us before being pulled into his arms. They hold each other close while smiling, Aaron’s hand slides on the table to try and discreetly grab my smoothie. I shake my head.
“Aaron… you had some,” and I don’t want to give up more of my drink.
“Yeah… but I want more,” he says with these gentle eyes and a pouty face. Everyone looks to me as I let out a deep breath as those big green eyes become that much larger. “I like that drink, it tastes good.”
“Guy can’t have nothing for himself anymore,” I mumble out while pushing the smoothie over to him.
“That’s what you get for having sex,” Cody’s voice meets my ears.
“What’s sex?” Aaron asks with a munchkin in his mouth and my smoothie in his grip.
My eyes go wide as does everyone else’s in the room. Dylan turns to look at Cody and notices that his cheeks are a deep red. Great, just what I need on my first day of watching him without Amaya.
“Ummm.” How do I even answer that? He’s four. How the hell do I have the talk with him?
“Daddy?” That voice of curiosity meets my ears.
“Uh, when you’re a teenager I’ll tell you, especially since you’ll most likely know about it by then,” I tell him before his arms cross over his small chest. Those green eyes looking at me with an upset look. He reminds me of his mother.
“But I want to know now,” he whines out. Everyone turns to look at me with raised eyebrows, waiting to see how I answer.
“Trust me, at this age you don’t want to know about it. If you heard about it you’d probably feel weird and awkward about it though it’s a natural thing you wouldn’t understand. Just know that one day you’ll learn what it is and hopefully save that first experience for the right person, meaning the one that makes your heart skip a beat, a smile stretch across your face constantly, and someone that makes you feel as though you could spend the rest of your life with them. Hold out until then,” the others smile at my partial description before they nod to me in approval.
“Okay,” he agrees.
“Alright good, now we’ve got to say goodbye to everyone since they’ve got to go to school and Granna’s got to get to work, right?” They each nod before Xavier grabs his smoothie and the box of donuts.
“Bye Aar, you better behave,” he says before Aaron nods and gives the each of them hugs. “Alright, come on boys, you’ve got to run on my time before you get left behind!” Dylan and Cody each roll their eyes with small smiles; they say goodbye to me before Dylan places Aaron in my arms and they follow Xavier to disappear out of the house.
“I guess I better be going too,” Mom says before standing from her seat. “Have a good day, and you watch after your daddy.” Aaron smiles as his head nods quicker than ever and he takes another sip of my smoothie.
“I’ll watch him, see later!” he calls after her while she moves to her room and re-emerges from her room with her black pair of Converse in hand. They slide on her feet before she runs out of the house and to her car to be gone just like that.
“So what do you want to do today, bud?” I ask while standing with him tucked under my left arm as I grab the smoothie to take a long sip. He wasn’t about to keep all this for himself, especially not when I specifically asked for it for myself.
“Watch Legends of Tomorrow!” he answers back excitedly. And just like that I’m roped into watching superhero shows on my day off from school but couldn’t be happier about that thanks to Aaron. He makes it that much easier to forget that I’m going to have to deal with seeing Amaya around tomorrow when I know I’ll be back in school or the way she’ll probably want to ignore my presence.
I’d do this a million times over instead of facing the world of pain that’s destined to hit me in just under 24 hours.