I wake up to the feeling of a tiny, soft hand, pushing into my face. Baby fingers digging between my lips. I open my eyes and see one of my nephew’s hovering over me on the bed. I lean up on the bed to face him.
“Good morning,” I say, rubbing my eyes.
“Good morning,” he replies with a mischievous looking smile. He’s too little to truly be devious but he must know that waking up a grown up before they are through with their slumber is not okay.
He runs out of the bedroom leaving the door hanging wide open and as I groggily stand up to shut it, Lily walks by and peaks her head in.
“Hey. You’re up.”
“Yeah. One of your kids was responsible for that,” I respond, plopping back down flat on my back.
“You okay?” she asks, stepping into the room.
I rub my temples and silently nod.
“What’s wrong?” Lily asks again.
“My mind is just a bit discombobulated this morning. Probably mostly from coming down. MDMA tends to do that.”
I stretch my arms and yawn.
“Wait, what?” Lily asks, her voice turning slightly shrill.
“Whoa... you sounded just like Mom right now,” I tell her, rolling over onto my side.
“What are you talking about, MDMA?” she repeats, stepping fully into the room and closing the door after herself.
“Nothing. Don’t worry. Calm down.”
She takes a deep breath and sits down on the edge of the bed.
“I just can’t believe you have kids,” I say to her. “It’s fucking surreal.”
“I just… every time I think about you, I still picture you little. I picture you in the same matching outfit as me. With our pigtails. Now you’re all… adult-y. And as a mirrored reflection of myself, I guess… I guess it just feels surreal.”
“I think so too I guess. Whenever I look at my kids’ faces I wonder how I could have created entire human beings.”
“Yeah, it’s crazy. You cultivated these physical breathing beings… inside your own womb.”
“Why are you describing it so oddly?”
“Not sure. Mind of a writer. The way I describe things can be weird sometimes. At least that’s what I’ve been told.”
“Are you hungry?”
“Not even a little bit.”
“I made cinnamon rolls. Didn’t you used to love those?”
“I did. Unfortunately, I don’t have an appetite right now. Maybe if they aren’t stale later on tonight, I’ll try one.”
“Okay,” my sister says. “Sure.”
“Thank you for offering.”
“No problem. Oh, and you left your phone downstairs before you came up. It’s been vibrating for the last hour.”
She hands it to me and then leaves the room, closing the door after herself.
I have several missed calls and texts from Langston.
What in the world could he need from me so desperately that it requires 17 call attempts?
I dial him back and stare out the bedroom window as it rings.
“Lori!” he says, as soon as he picks up the call.
“It’s me!” I sarcastically respond.
“Fuck you,” he responds. I can hear in his voice that he’s smiling.
“Lucky you got a hold of me,” I tell him sharply. “I told you I needed to get away for a while.”
“Yeah. I get it. And truthfully, I do feel lucky to have gotten a hold of you. It sucks not seeing you walk into the office three hours late every day.”
“How are things going over there?”
“Not too great. Charlotte was planning to take on your column but she’s been out sick for the past few days.”
“That’s a bummer.”
“It is. But I wasn’t calling to bore you about work, Lori. I’m really just… checking in. I’m glad you made it to your mystery destination safely.”
“We ended things.”
Langston falls silent. I could have likely heard a pin drop from his end of the phone call.
“You there?” I ask.
“You guys… broke up?” he asks. His voice is super low as if he’s saying a bad word inside a church.
“Yes,” I tell him. “He’s dating a new girl already.”
“He didn’t say anything to me or Regina about that…”
“Well, he didn’t say anything to anyone about anything. He just let his feelings for me fade away and I watched it happen without stopping it.”
“You knew he was seeing someone else?”
“Of course not. I knew we were growing more and more distant from each other though. And like I said… I did nothing to stop it. Or fight for the relationship. I think I kind of wanted out as much as he did. We both just didn’t want to admit it.”
“What the fuck are you talking about? Regina does not want out of your relationship. She’s obsessed with you. Not in a crazy, pyscho stalker way but in the way that means that she would do just about anything for you to make you happy.”
“What if I don’t feel the same way about her?”
“Then don’t string her along!”
“What if I do feel that way about you?”
I sit down on the bed and take a deep sigh.
“I don’t know Langston. We never seemed to get the timing right.”
“It would have been right if I knew what you thought of me back then.”
“Would’ve, could’ve, should’ve.”
I hear his office door open and a voice in the background murmuring.
“I’ll talk to you later, Regina just stepped in.”
“Okay,” I reply.
“Please check your email… If you are able to make some time to get at least one article written this week it would really save us over here.”
“Alright,” I respond. I hang up the call and sit down on the bed to check my email.