“Mom!” Liam rushes towards her at full speed like a madman.
“Oh, baby.” She instantly lifts him up while he clings to her like a koala, wrapping his arms and legs around her, “I love you so much, bud.”
“I love you more.” He shakes her head while squishing her face between his hands, then he kisses her both cheeks making her smile.
“So, did you have fun with dad?” She asks settling him on her hip.
I have noticed how she uses the word Dad whenever she talks about me with Liam.
Each time she does this, each time my heart swells a little more with love.
Liam still doesn’t call me dad, and neither she or I have asked Liam to address me as a dad. Because I want him to call me dad when he is ready to. But this doesn’t stop her from subtly reminding him that I am his dad.
“Yes, he is so cool, but he doesn’t know to warm milk.” He praises me and complains about me in one sentence, “And he doesn’t even know that he should blow on the milk before giving it to me.”
She slowly turns her head to me as she arches an eyebrow.
“It is not like that...” I start explaining myself quickly but stop when I find a hint of an amused smile playing on her lips.
She yelps clutching Liam in her arms when Frisky’s tail touches her leg.
“Look at you, you are so big now.” Putting Liam down, she instantly pets Frisky within a moment or two she recognizes her.
How could she not recognize her favorite human?
“Mommy, she likes you.” Liam looks excited when Frisky easily goes to Avery as she picks Frisky up.
“I am her favorite, of course, she likes me.” She scratches her head then hugs her.
“No, I am her favorite.” Liam frowns and shakes his head.
“Sorry, Liam, but you can’t argue on this.” She shrugs, looking at him, “I am her favorite, from the time when she was a tiny little furball and you didn’t even exist.”
“Tell her, I am Frisky’s favorite.” He pouts and tugs the corner of my shirt as I watch Avery taking Frisky out of the kitchen as she talks to her.
“Sorry, kiddo, mom is right.” I bend down to his level, “Avery is Frisky’s favorite human. So you are the second favorite human.”
“I don’t want to be a second.” He makes a face.
“Hey, buddy, for me you are the first and will always be the first.” I rub his back trying to console him as it looks like he is about to cry.
“I love you, Alec.” He sniffles, “But I am never going to talk to mommy. She is bad.”
“Hey, listen to me,” I sternly say while forcing him to look at me, “You never talk about mom like this. You will always have to love and respect her, don’t forget that, understand?”
“I am sorry.” He says in a quiet tone while looking down.
“Apology accepted.” I nod my head, “Now, come here and give me a hug.”
Wrapping my arms around him, I hold his little body as he hugs me.
“You are not mad at me now?” He asks.
“I can never be mad at you.” I kiss his head, “But I will always correct you and guide you when you will do any mistake. Because you are my son and it is my duty to teach you the right things.”
It seems like luck is on my side when it started raining heavily, so I asked Avery to stay here since it is extremely dangerous to drive in such weather.
I knew she will agree to me since she will not take any risks with Liam’s safety. Even if she would not have agreed then also I would have forced her to stay. As there is no way, I would have let her step outside the house in this extreme weather.
I needed to talk to her, and for that I need time. And this the perfect opportunity for me to coax her to talk.
“Alec, what is your favorite color?” Lifting his head from his coloring book, Liam looks at me.
After dinner, he told me that he wants to color because he wants to finish his coloring work before going to bed.
Avery got a call from her work, so she is busy on the call. While I am helping Liam with coloring.
“I don’t have any.” I smile recalling a distant yet clear memory of playing twenty-one questions with Avery.
“High-five!” he exclaims raising his hand to slap against mine, “I also don’t have any, because I love all the colors.” He laughs.
“What is your favorite animal?” He questions while picking up the brown crayon to color the lion’s mane.
“Lion.” I smile and tap at the lion picture that he is coloring.
“Mine too.” He grins widely, “You are just like me.”
His words make me laugh loudly.
“No, Liam, you are just like me.” I ruffle his head, “Do you know why?” I ask arching my eyebrow at him.
“Yes.” He nods his head quickly, “Because I am your son.” He smiles showing his faint dimples, while my heart floods with different emotions. This is the first he has called himself my son.
“Yes, because, you are my son.” I hastily wipe the tear before it can stream down from my eyes.
Letting go is never easy, but then it is something that is inevitable.
Last night, I have finally laid the last bit of Avy to rest with that cabin. I never knew she was still alive in me, until the moment I signed those papers which confirmed that now I no longer have any right on my parents’ memories... memories which once meant so much to me. But now they are just the reminder of my cursed fate.
By now everything which once I used to cherish would have turned into nothing but dust.
A part of me regrets my decision, but the bigger part of me knows there was no use of trying to hold on to something which was never mine.
However, there is a familiar numbness somewhere inside my heart... like some part of it has gone leaving the emptiness behind it.
I am well acquainted with this numbness, as this won’t be the first time a little piece of myself has left me. But this time the only difference was that it was my choice.
The sound of rain pelting against the window brings me back from my thoughts as I gaze outside while new thoughts swirl inside my mind.
“What are you thinking?” I hear Alec asking me, I don’t realize when he came back after putting Liam to the bed.
It takes me a moment to answer his question.
“Rain is such a strange thing.” I place my fingers on the window feeling the cold glass beneath my fingertips, “Its meaning is different for everyone, but in reality, it is nothing just drops of water falling from the sky.”
For someone who is happy, rain means happiness showering on them. For someone who is in love... rain signifies the feeling of being in love. For someone who is in pain... rain seems like a hope which can wash away their pain. For someone who has lost something... the droplets of rain are nothing but the tears which sky is shedding with them to mourn for their loss.
“What does it mean for you?” He asks, his voice sound closer than before and I am right because he has taken a spot right next to me as he does something which is not new for him. Staring.
“Nothing.” I curl my fingers back into my palm as I remove my hand from the window and place it back into my lap, “For me, rain is just drops of water.”
“Liam loves rain. I am surprised he didn’t demand to go outside to play in it and getting drenched to the point where I knew that if he doesn’t wake up with fever or flu the next day then it would be nothing but a miracle.” I subtly attempt to change the topic because I am afraid, he is going to find something from my words that I don’t want anyone to know.
But from the way, the corner of his lips tilt I know I was not subtle enough against his sharp observation.
However, another thing is that I don’t know what else I can talk to him, other than Liam. Earlier, I used to share my feelings with him without any hesitation but I have stopped sharing my thoughts with the world a long time ago. And he is no exception.
“Tell me, something more about him?” He takes the hint and changes the topic, but I can sense genuine curiosity behind his words, “How was he as a baby? What were his first words? Did he fall a lot when he started walking? I want to know about everything that I have missed,” He whispers unable to hide his disappointment.
“He was an adorable chunky baby weighing around eight pounds and five ounces, and twenty-one inches long.” I smile as I start recalling everything, trying my best to share every early memory of Liam with him, “He was an active and alert baby. But he was super grumpy, I think he didn’t like coming out as he was too comfortable inside.”
“He had followed his own schedule of accomplishing milestones as the timeline which those baby books mention meant nothing to him. Pops used to brag him to his friends as a super baby. His first word was baabaa, if you can call it a word, which soon turned into papa and that's what he used to call Pops." My voice slightly cracks at the end, as Pops happy face flashes before my eyes when Liam called him Papa for the first time, "So you can be happy that he didn't say mama first." Clearing my throat, I compose myself.
"Not only he was an early talker, but he started walking quite early as well. By the time he turned nine months old, I have already got the house baby proofed as he was cruising around the house with his chunky legs, knocking down everything which came in his path.”
A soft chuckle from Alec turns my attention to him, but my heart drops a little when I find moisture in his eyes despite his laugh.
“He is hot-headed but an extremely well-mannered kid. But if you get on his bad side then I can just say God bless you.” I exhale a quick breath and shake my head in amusement, “He will make you cry, even if it means by poking his fingers into your eyes. However, I think he has stopped doing that as now he settles on either punching or kicking.” I shrug nonchalantly.
“God! I missed everything.” He rakes his hand through his hair, taking a ragged breath.
“You did miss a lot, Alec, but you still have a lot to experience.” I give him a small smile, “You both are going to make some amazing memories of your own. I have seen how you make Liam happy, which proves that you are a good father.”
“He gave me the reason to live,” he speaks quietly, “I want to do everything for him.”
You and me both, Alec.
“I never pegged you as a tattoo girl.” Suddenly, his eyes land on my wrist.
“It is his first heartbeat.” My eyes also drop on my wrist as I trace Liam’s heartbeat with my gaze.
Abruptly, he holds my hand as he runs his thumb over my wrist. I try to pull my hand back, but his grip tightens. His jaws go rigid while his eyes are fixed at my tattoo that covers the deep horizontal line proving that I was weak and I succumbed myself to pain.
He locks his hardened gaze with mine, which is now burning with fury.