October 25th 2017
Giggles sounded from behind the door, but he pretended to be asleep. Calvin was a champ at this game.
James and Joseph whispered to one another as one of them pushed open the door a little more while the other snuck through. He bumped into the wardrobe with a ‘thump’ and his twin giggled. A few moments passed while they pushed each other around until their attention returned to the real reason as to why they had snuck into their uncle’s room in the first place.
Calvin peeked through one eye to see one of his nephews climbing onto the bed while the other helped push him up. Now, which was which, he wasn’t completely sure. He also wasn’t sure how his brother, Kade -their father- was able to tell the difference.
It wasn’t long before he could feel two pairs of feet walking on his bed, the sheets rustling after each step they took.
Calvin didn’t wait for them to reach his face before he pounced.
They both shrieked and giggled with laughter as their uncle grabbed them, tickling their sides.
It warmed his heart, playing with his nephews. Oh, how he wished he could have a family of his own.
Sighing, he smiled down at them both as they sat on his lap while he sat reclined against the headboard behind him. “So what are you two monsters doing this early in my room?”
James -or was it Joseph? - played with zip on the hoodie that he had slept in while the other grabbed at his hand to get his attention. “Breakfast time.” He stated simply, before looking away only to pull at the zip that his brother was preoccupied with.
“Okay,” Kade called from the doorway. “It’s time for breakfast, you two.” He informed both his sons, picking them up from the bed and placing them on the ground. He watched as they both held hands and ran out of the room, walking down to breakfast together.
Calvin hadn’t even realised when his brother had entered the room.
Kade leaned against the doorway, his arms crossed against his chest as he looked over his shoulder, making sure that his kids made it down the stairs safely. When they did, he turned to face his brother. “You’re really good with them.” He complimented Calvin, really meaning it.
Calvin looked up, surprised. He smiled. “They’re good kids.”
Kade smirked. “I know, they’re mine.” He chuckled, and pushed himself off the doorframe. He walked over to his brother and sat down on the bed, stretching out his legs in front of him.
A silence engulfed the brothers, but it was far from awkward.
Kade cleared his throat, scratching the back of his neck awkwardly. There wasn’t really a nice way to say it and beating around the bush wasn’t going to do either of them any good. “When do you plan on leaving?” He asked, hoping that he wasn’t coming off as too rude.
Calvin quirked an eyebrow. “Why? You’re sick of me already?” He teased, though he did know what his brother was trying to say. He was just glad that Kade wasn’t been direct.
“Kade!” Calvin exclaimed, appalled. Though he couldn’t help but chuckle in amusement.
“I’m just kidding.” Kade chuckled. “But I’m also being serious.”
He rolled his eyes. “Stop beating around the bush.”
Kade nodded, and sighed, running a hand down his face. “How long are you going to hide out here from your wife?” He asked, his tone serious, void of any humour or teasing.
“Don’t call her that.” Calvin pursed his lips, avoiding the question. He had been avoiding it for nearly a week now, and right now, he was staying on borrowed time. He knew that he would have to return home soon, but he refused to think about it. If he could, he would stay with his brother for the complete duration of the remaining two months and only return to collect the divorce papers.
Kade shook his head, clenching his jaw in frustration. Oh, how he wished that his brother was more rational when it came to his personal affairs. “Why not? She is legally your wife.” He pointed out, knowing that his brother couldn’t deny that fact, no matter how much he wished to.
“Not for long.” Calvin bit his tongue from saying anything else. It would do him no good by taking out his anger for Audrey and her stupid contract on his brother. Kade was the only person that Calvin could turn to, confide in, and he wasn’t prepared to do anything to jeopardise the tight-knit relationship that he had with his older brother. Family was too important to lose over arguments and squabbles.
“Yes, I know.” Kade sighed, fully aware of the details enlisted in the contract that Audrey had presented to his brother. There wasn’t much that remained secret between the two brothers. “But you need to stop being a coward and go finish the time remaining.”
“The longer I stay here, the less time I have to spend with that hag.” Calvin explained, chuckling darkly to himself. He ignored the way his stomach clenched uncomfortably at how harsh he was being with Audrey, but he pushed the feeling down.
She deserved it, he reminded himself.
Kade pursed his lips. “Don’t call her that.”
“Why not? That’s exactly what she is. A hag.”
“No, she isn’t. She’s a good woman and an even better wife, Calvin. You need to open your eyes and see that before it’s too late.” Kade said, hoping that his younger brother would see some sense. “You really lucked out with her.” He said honestly, meaning every word with it.
When Calvin had first met Audrey and developed a romantic interest in her, Kade had been the first one that his brother had introduced his new girlfriend to. Calvin had wanted to get his brother’s approval before he introduced her to the rest of the family.
Kade knew from the start that Audrey would be good for her brother. But he wished that he had seen sooner that she was too good for him, that being with him would destroy her. The guilt of not helping her, of not saving her from his own brother would forever haunt him. Audrey was like a sister to him, and even after Calvin would abandon her, he would still consider her so.
He just wished that he could do something more for her.
Calvin threw his head back and laughed, genuine tears leaking from his eyes after having heard what his brother had just said about Audrey. “No, she lucked out with me.” He chuckled, believing everything that he was saying. “But right now, she’s walking on borrowed time.” He laughed at his own joke.
Kade sighed. “Why do you hate her so much?” He asked, genuinely curious.
The fact that she was barren wasn’t the end of the world. They could try visiting some fertility clinics, and even if all that failed, they could adopt. It shouldn’t be the case that Calvin hated her for not being able to give him a child for that was not something that she could control.
Kade did wonder if there was something more to it, but he would never know if Calvin never tells him. Though he doubted that his brother knew himself.
“She lied to me.” He stated simply, as if that statement itself was enough to ruin two lives.
“How do you know that?”
“She knew beforehand that she couldn’t have children. That kind of information should have been disclosed before we even got into a serious relationship, or at least even before we got married. But that news only came to light after having spent months trying for a baby.”
“How do you know it’s her that’s the problem?” Kade asked.
Calvin’s eyes darkened and jaw clenched tightly. He took in a deep breath before he opened his mouth, his voice quiet and his words clear and slow. “What are you getting at?”
“Nothing. I’m just saying that maybe she didn’t know beforehand. Or maybe it’s not even her that can’t have children, but you.” Kade was very careful with the way that he chose his words. One wrong word, and his brother would detonate. And he knew, without a doubt, that Audrey would be the one to be caught in the blast.
“There is nothing wrong with me.” Calvin shot back at his brother, his eyebrows raised in defence. He didn’t enjoy the accusing tone that Kade had used on him.
Kade was quick to wave the white flag. Fighting with his brother would do him no good. “I didn’t say there was.” He took back his words quickly, hoping to skip over the situation.
Calvin pursed his lips. “It sure sounds like you just did.”
“I didn’t mean it that way.” He sighed, again. Kade seemed to be doing a lot of that this morning; sighing. “I guess what I’m trying to say that is, you’re not the only one hurting in this relationship. Audrey is too.” He explained.
“That’s even more reason as to why we should get a divorce.”
“Why can’t you try to make it work?” Kade’s eyebrows knitted together in frustration as he closed his eyes and rubbed his temples. He was getting a headache with having this conversation with his brother this early in the morning. It seemed that no matter how many times they fought over this, Calvin was unable to see sense, to change his mind. His brother was too head-strong, and he would soon realise, that he ruined himself. Not Audrey.
Calvin was still persistent, he refused to give up. “She isn’t worth it.” He remained adamant, clenching his jaw when his brother stared at him.
“How can you say that?”
“It’s the truth.” He replied, tight-lipped.
Kade sighed. He was tired of constantly trying to convince his brother to not give up on his marriage. Sometimes it felt like he cared more about his younger brother’s marriage more than Calvin did.
Kade wasn’t a stranger to Calvin’s acts of betrayal behind Audrey’s back. Calvin had actually come to talk to him the first time he cheated and ever since then, Kade had been trying to help his brother see sense. But there was only so much that a person could do if the other party wasn’t prepared to do their own part.
Calvin had given up, that part was clear. He was too lazy to even try and salvage the little that remained from the initially fruitful relationship that he had bound himself to with Audrey. He had promised her eternity in front of the Lord in a church full of people, but now that he wasn’t in the church and there wasn’t a flock of people watching him, it seemed that he couldn’t care less; that he had forgotten what he had promised.
Kade knew that his brother had a conscious; that part was clear when Calvin had cried after he confessed that he had cheated for the first time. And he could only imagine that his brother was still battling his inner demons about the way that he was treating Audrey, but there were just some battles that you had to fight yourself.
Kade hated it that Calvin wasn’t even prepared to fight; that his brother was choosing the easy option which was to leave. But he couldn’t do anything about it.
Kade himself had his own demons to deal with, just as every other independent person did. But Kade had even more since for two years, he had been aware of Calvin’s several extra-marital relationships. He hadn’t told his wife, and he certainly hadn’t ever mentioned it to Audrey. But Audrey was a smart woman, he had no doubt that she had figured it out.
How she lived with it and still wanted to stay married to his brother, Kade could not fathom.
He didn’t know what he would do if his wife ever betrayed him. He couldn’t even think about what Audrey must be going through every day. Kade, too, believed in love and could see she wanted to hold on to Calvin, why she wanted to one last chance to save their marriage. He couldn’t blame her for it.
But he couldn’t blame his brother either.
Kade sighed, again. He looked his brother in the eye, serious. “What are you going to do about the contract?”
Calvin sighed. “I don’t know.”
“Are you going to see it through?”
“I don’t know.” Calvin shook his head, burying his hands in his face. “What do you think I should do?” He looked up at his brother from under his hands, brushing away the few stray locks of hair that flopped over his forehead and into his eyes.
“Honestly?” Kade’s voice was quiet.
“See it through.”
Calvin thought for a minute. “I don’t want to give up the house,” he admitted honestly. “Or the pendant.”
Kade hummed. “And you’ll be giving Audrey some time to get used to the idea of leaving.”
Calvin didn’t say anything to that, he didn’t know what to say. “I’m definitely getting the divorce after the time is over.”
“I know,” his brother nodded. “Do what you think is best.”
“What do you think I should do?”
“I think it’s too late for that.”
Calvin’s jaw tensed, but he nodded nonetheless. He couldn’t blame his brother for speaking the truth. It was too late for any advice; the damage was done already.
He got up to head to the bathroom before he went down for breakfast. When he got to the doorway of the room, he turned around to face his brother. “I think I’m going to go home today.”
Kade remained seated on the bed. “Good.” He affirmed. “You should stick to the contract until the two months is over, then you can do what you think.”
Calvin sighed. “You’re right.” He agreed, and then left the room.
That day, Calvin packed his bags, had breakfast and then left for work. Afterwards, he didn’t return to his brother’s house, but returned home instead.