Benjamin eyes me and Harrison with a small smile.
"Are you hungry?" He asks lowly.
It's been a few hours since I woke up. Harry sticks by my side like glue. He's up under me no matter what I'm doing. I had to make him stand outside the bathroom.
Because you've deprived him of the love of a mother.
I fucking hate my inner voice. So snarky.
"Harry, did you hear your dad?"
He stares up at me. "Are you and Dad married?"
I swallow. His questions get progressively more uncomfortable.
He asked me about my mom. He asked me if I would—
I look at Benjamin. I'm surprised he's not jumping to run his fucking mouth. Heh. Maybe dogs can learn new tricks.
"No. But your dad and I are really good friends," I explain.
"So good you had me?"
Benjamin smiled. "In fact, your mom and I...we've known each other since we were born. We've been friends for that long."
He smiles. "We've always known each other."
Harry smiles. "Wow. That's a long time."
I nod. "Yeah. That's why, when I was sick, I knew your dad would take good care of you."
Benjamin looks away. "Harry, why don't you play on your PlayStation for a while."
Harry frowns. "Mom, come play with me—"
"I'm gonna talk to mom for a little bit. We're friends, and sometimes friends need alone time. Go play. We'll call you down for lunch."
He sighs sadly, sagging upstairs.
My smile instantly falls. "What do you want?" I sneer.
He sighs. "Oh, Jessica. Listen, we never really discussed how we'd do this."
"Do what?" I ask.
"Co-parent," he whispers. "Can we do that?"
God. This is a fucking nightmare.
His eyes stay on mine intensely. "Jessica. Can we do that?"
I hate him. For everything. For all of it. But for Harry...
"I should've named him," I whisper, looking away. "Harrison. What were you thinking? I don't like it."
He chuckled. "I knew you wouldn't. I thought, when I saw him...Harrison, she would hate that. I thought you would appear to scold me about it, but you didn't."
I scoff. Harrison. Of all names.
He looked up.
"I foolishly thought if I named him after that person, that you hate...that you would come find us and tell me to change it," he smiled, looking at me. "But you never came."
No. I never planned to.
"That was immature," I murmur. "Naming a child after a person his mother hated on the off chance that I would...appear."
He smiles sadly. "I think you forget...we were both children."
I snort. Children. Were we ever really like that?
Innocence. Freedom. Optimism. All the things that come with being a child. I never felt them. And I don't really think he did either.
Children? No. We were never such creatures.
"I wonder...if I had realized how important you were to me then...if we would've been married by now. We may have raised Harrison together. Maybe had another. What do you think?"
I shrug, looking over at him. "I think...it doesn't matter. It didn't happen."
"You don't ever think of what may have been?" He asks me.
I shrug. "Sometimes. But it's useless to think of really. Call him back down. Harry."
"You're his mother," Benjamin sighs, "You call him down."
"I'll stay here for a while," I inform him. "Until we can figure out the best way to do this."
He smiles. "You know the oddest thing, about it all, Honey?"
I scoff at the nickname.
"What's that?" I ask.
He stands, stretching. "You would've been an amazing mother. You are even now. I can't ever imagine you, leaving your child."
"You were never good at make-believe, Benny."
He chuckled. "You're right."
He goes into kitchen, leaving me to think for a moment.
"Harry!" I shout.
I hear him first. His feet shake the house. I can't help but laugh. When we were little, his mother used to say we sounded like a herd of elephants.
I smile. "You sounds like a herd of elephants coming down those stairs. Are you sure you don't have any with you?"
He giggles. "No, mama. It's just me."
I smile, ruffling his hair. "Be careful down the stairs, poppet."
He snuggles up beside me on the couch, tucking his feet under him.
Here comes a question.
"Momma, you're so pretty."
I grin. "Thank you. You're the beautiful person in the world to me, Harry."
He smiles, blushing. He's just a spitting image of Benjamin. I thought having children would be like the movies. Half you, half the other person. Or at least...something.
But he doesn't get anything from me. Except...that coldness. I do see that. He's like me in that regard.
I asked him, if he loved his father. And he could say nothing in return.
Not because he was afraid. Not because of his selective mutism. And not because his father doesn't tell him, that he loves him.
Because this child doesn't quite understands emotions like that. And that's what he inherited from me.
"Harrison," I ask. "Do you love your Dad?"
He looks up at me with a smile. Then he looks down.
He looks back at me, and then nods. Yes, he is my child.
I pat his head.