“I have a son.”
My mother and I stopped eating and stared at the man who came into our lives around five years ago. He’d been the only good father I had ever known. My biological one was worthless and pathetic but continued to make himself known, just to be a jerk. So this man, this nice man across the table from me has been the only good father I’ve had since I was sixteen.
But just because you think you know someone, doesn’t mean you really know someone.
When he said the words, I didn’t understand -- then I thought I did. “You two are having a baby?” My head snapped towards my mother and she looked at me in shock and confusion.
Realizing she was going to be no help at all, I looked at David; my step-father, and waited for him to further explain. He had said tonight’s dinner was going to be important because he had something to tell us -- but I didn’t expect for it to be something like this.
“No, Sienna. I mean, I already have a son. Just like when I met your mother and she told me she had a daughter. This is the same thing, except I neglected to tell her about my son.” He sent a concerned look next to him and I looked to see my mother staring off into nothingness. She was almost in a daze. “Please, Dina. Say something. Anything.” He murmured after a while of her saying nothing.
My mother gazed at me, then shocked us both. “The missing money. The random transactions. That’s where it’s been going.”
“It’s not what you think. I don’t pay child support. It’s complicated.”
I chimed in. “Explain.” I was grown and darn it, I deserved to know as much as my mother did.
David sighed heavily but launched into a juicy story. “When my first wife and I got divorced, we were having problems with our son. We didn’t know if it was because of the divorce process, but he was lashing out horribly. It started with our wines going missing, then our cash, and then to him sneaking out at night and not seeing him until the next day.”
He glanced at my mom, who was still staring at nothing. “Finally, our divorce went through, and surprisingly, we fought over Zedlin. We thought that we could take better care of him than the other could. It took a few months to settle things out and in the end, I lost. His mom made some excuse that men would only frustrate each other and what Zedlin needed was a mother’s love. Well, the judge fell for that. She won custody of him. I thought maybe he’d be neutral with whatever happened, but the custody battle seemed to mess him up more. He became irate and unstable due to whatever substances he was using before the divorce was final. I once again offered to take care of him when he was put on parole for possession, but my ex-wife refused and swore she had it all under control. Finally, about halfway through his junior year in high school, he got arrested for some heavy stuff and there was nothing we could do--”
“For what?” I asked, interrupting. This crap was just too good and juicy.
“For possession of marijuana, assault, and battery and also... attempted murder.”
Mom gasped, “Jesus Christ.”
David yanked at the blonde hair on his forehead. “I know, it sounds bad and it was. I won’t jump into details, but they took him in and he had a trial and they placed him in a juvenile detention center. Since he got charged at seventeen, that gave him a slap on the wrist in his case. They only gave him six years--”
“Six freaking years?! Holy crap, David!” I exclaimed.
“I know. I felt livid at my ex-wife more than I did at him. She couldn’t even keep to her word and watch out for our delinquent son, but there was no point in getting angry, really. We could do nothing. There was evidence that he was the one who committed the crimes. We wished him luck and saw him off. Since my ex-wife won custody, she made the decisions and I wasn’t put on his visiting list.” David looked down at the table and I suddenly didn’t feel as mad as I once did. I felt remorse for him.
Mom placed her hand on his hand that was resting on the table, and she squeezed. “I’m sorry.”
“I tried, but it was no use. By the time he turned eighteen, his mother probably fed him so many lies, that he personally refused my visit requests. He hated me and all because of the lies she fed him. So I did the only thing I could in my position. I put money on his books for commissary.”
I frowned. “What’s commissary?”
“It’s money for their needs when incarcerated. It pays for everything. Phone cards, foods, drinks, snacks, books, games, clothes, and everything above. It’s the least I could do and the only thing of mine that he couldn’t refuse.” He said, regaining some strength of his emotions. “So, that’s that. I’m sorry, Dina and I’m sorry to you, too, Sienna. I never should have kept this from you guys.”
“Why did you decide to tell us now? What’s happened?” Mom questioned. I didn’t dare to speak, because I wanted to know too. There had to be a reason why he decided to tell us this after being with us for almost seven years. Wait a minute...
David sighed heavily. “My ex-wife called me yesterday night and she’s been remarried for a few months now. Problem is that her husband is a rude, prep-school asshole. Zedlin is getting released soon and he can’t go stay with her. She and her husband have talked about it and she’s deciding Zedlin is not welcomed back into her house. I know that asshole talked her into it. He doesn’t want people knowing he has a delinquent step-son.” He paused and my mom and I waited for the big whammy. We knew it was coming.
“So, I didn’t even have to think about it. If he’s not welcomed back into his mother’s home, then he’s welcomed into mine. I want Zedlin to come and stay with us until he gets back on his feet.” He finally spat out.
“David, can we talk about this? It’s a serious topic to think on and there are things in the situation that I’m not comfortable with.” Mom hissed at him. “I mean, how much time do we have to make a decision?” She asked.
“Of course we can discuss it and he gets released possibly next Saturday--”
“Next weekend?” I blurted.
Mom scoffed. “David, be serious! We have less than two weeks to see eye-to-eye on letting your son stay in our home! He was charged with attempted murder! I have a daughter to think about!”
“And I have a son who I am thinking about! I would never put Sienna in any type of danger. You should know that. The both of you. I just want to try it out and see how it goes.”
“Oh, David. I don’t know. I just don’t know.” Mom dropped her head into her hands and despite my churning stomach from the thought of living with a guy from prison, I just wanted to defuse the situation.
So I cleared my throat and spoke softly. “Please pass the pasta.”
-2 Weeks Later-
I went to bed that night thinking of what’d it’d be like to live with a jailbird, and currently thinking over it again, seeing as tomorrow is the day he’s supposed to be released.
Would he be violent? Would he try to hurt me? Steal my money, jewelry, clothes, and sell them? I wasn’t positively sure I was all around on board for David’s delinquent son to be moving into our house. The house I’ve felt safe in for more than six years. Sure, I felt bad that his mom is turning him away when he needs her the most, but then again -- it’s not my problem.
My mom and David still talked about his son moving in and have many mini arguments that I have the pleasure of hearing. Mom’s strong point is that his son is a man who hasn’t had female company in over six years and she doesn’t want me to be that piece of meat dangling in front of a starving cheetah. And David’s strong point is that he loves me and his son and would never let anything bad happen.
I feel like Switzerland in the situation. I mean, I have my worries, but I feel neutral.
The guy can’t do too much or else he’d be thrown right back into prison. Then again, what if he’s not so bad? What if he learned his lesson and will come out a clean, better man for it? Then there’d be absolutely nothing to worry about.
“Tomorrow is the day, right?” My friend Elise said as we walked on the treadmill next to each other. We always go out together on Friday nights to the local community center to work out. We just like to stay in shape, if not completely fit.
I adjusted my sports bra. “Yeah. My mom and David are still not happy with each other, but neither of them are calling quits. I guess he’s moving in.”
“I take it he’s taking my room, huh?” She snickered.
Elise comes over so much, that the spare guest room is basically hers. Last summer, she spent an entire month at my house and she had decorated it with a few personal items. We always joke that whenever she gets tired of her mom, she can always come and stay with us.
“Sorry, Elle. David’s been cleaning it out, I think. We’ll, trying to make it up for his son. I wonder how much he’s done or how much he can do. It’s not like he knows what he likes. He hasn’t talked to him in over six years. I can’t even imagine not talking to my mom for more than six days.” I shook my head.
“I hear that. I mean it’s absolutely nuts. Not even joking, I kinda feel sorry for his son already.”
Sucking in a deep breath, I nodded once, and then we both went back to silently jogging. I pushed my headphone closest to Elise, back into my ear and focused on the song that was playing; not doing too hot of a job as I had many flashing images of what I thought David’s son could look like.
“Thanks, Sienna! Text me!” Elise yelled out to my car as I dropped her off. She of course wanted to know the details of David’s son. I was only too willing to learn the details to give her, myself.
On my drive back home, my phone started to ring and chime-like crazy. I don’t like to use my phone while driving, so I ignored it the entire way back. I parked in my spot in our three-car garage and noticed that everyone that was supposed to be home, was home. Killing my engine, I got out of the car and made my way inside.
I walked into the house through the garage door and heard movements and voices; too active for after ten at night in this house.
“Hello?” I called up the stairs.
“Sienna?! That you!?” My mom's voice carried. “Come here!”
Taking off my shoes, I headed for the kitchen. “Okay, hold on!”
I pulled off my jacket as it’s late March and can tend to get chilly at night. Throwing it on the coat rack, I continued into the kitchen and stopped dead in my tracks.
Oh my fudging God.
Standing in the kitchen was a tall man. Had to be about six foot five inches and had to be an intruder. From the back, he was burly and tall. Tall and burly. So freakin’ huge, I felt claustrophobic even being in this big kitchen with him. He didn’t notice me, because he was stalking slowly along the kitchen walls; looking at our family pictures.
His hair was a dirty blonde, so dirty I actually thought it needed a good wash. From where I stood, it gathered on the back of his neck and I didn’t know if it went longer, because he was covered in a tight sweatshirt. His legs were also covered in the matching sweatpants. My eyes couldn’t leave him and I started to back up to leave the kitchen.
Not realizing that walking backward means I can’t see things behind me, I hit the wall next to the kitchen entrance and yelped in pain, causing the guy to swing around so fast, I wanted to bolt.
His face was something sinister. Well, it was good looking, but anger, pain, and danger was carved into it. Hazel eyes glared into my own and they were so dark, they could’ve passed for a dark gray. His hair was still that dirty blonde and long in the front, brushing the tops of his eyebrows; which were drawn inward as we continued to stare at each other.
I didn’t get to look at the rest of him in much detail, because David’s voice filled the kitchen. “Sienna, I see you’ve met Zedlin.”
“Yeah... Hi.” Was all I could say.
“Zedlin, this is my step-daughter, Sienna.” David gripped my shoulders as I looked up at him to see him smiling.
The guy, I mean, Zedlin, just stared at me and then lifted his head; nodding it a bit.
“Okay, now that you two have met, let me show you to your room.” He sounded super excited and I just swallowed, trying to get rid of the dry feeling in my throat. David let my shoulders go and I watched as he ushered Zedlin to follow him out of the kitchen. When he started to move, I realized I couldn’t. I stood and stared.
Zedlin moved like he was ready for something to come at him and if it did, it’d be over before it started. When he got by me, he spoke to me and it was a softer tone than I expected, coming from someone who looked so rough.
“Excuse me.” He said and that was that. He was out of the kitchen and I was left gawking at the space he gave back to me.
And the only coherent thought I could think was, Wow, what a well-mannered jailbird.