Surprise Me Maybe

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The Seed of Love

The new star at our dining table is Charlotte.

Chloe hasn’t stopped gushing over the brown pony she rode today. Charlotte did this, Charlotte did that, Charlotte made this sound, Charlotte’s tail swayed funnily, and the list goes on. She also doesn’t leave the part of Ashton being jerked away and fell flat on his butt when he tried to pull Charlotte to walk while the lady demanded to eat some grass instead. Chloe officially met her favorite Charlotte number two.

“Mr. Bonerz said Charlotte is going to have a sister,” Chloe says enthusiastically.

I nearly choke when I hear the name that just escaped my daughter’s lips. “Mister what?”

“Mr. Bonerz,” Chloe repeats herself slowly to make sure I don’t miss any part. “He’s the farm owner.”

Ashton clears his throat. “You can always call him by his first name, Chloe. Hugh is our old family friend. Meaning, he’s your friend, too.”

“His name is Hugh Bonerz?” I can’t help asking it. Who is crazy enough to give their son that name?

“Yes!” Chloe replies for Ashton. “He really is a cool man, Mama! Come with us when we visit him again next time!”

“Sounds like a good idea,” I answer, glancing at Ashton. I haven’t discussed the subject with him, about me coming along with them every first Saturday of the month, but judging from his expression right now, he doesn’t seem to mind it.

“If we’re lucky, we can see the baby pony sometime in early October,” Ashton adds, earning a happy squeal from our daughter.

Noticing that Chloe takes her time mixing her pasta but hasn’t eaten much, I narrow my eyes at her. “Do not play with your food.”

She stops immediately as she mumbles, “Sorry.”

“Are you not hungry?”

Chloe lifts her gaze to meet mine before shaking her head.

“How come?”

Chloe bites her lower lip. “I had a bit too much of–” the girl winces “–choco-chip cookies. Mrs. Bonerz, I mean Martha, baked it for tea time and it was delicious.”

I sigh, showing that I’m not very happy about it. It explains why she’s been a bit hyperactive today. The sugar rush.

“It’s my fault. I was in the garage with Hugh when she was attacking the cookies. I should’ve paid more attention to what she ate,” Ashton confesses. “I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.”

“Alright,” I say before turning my gaze back to my kid. “Try to have a few more bites, but if you can’t, you may stop.”

“Okay,” she murmurs before jabbing her fork into the ravioli on her plate.

The atmosphere is a bit awkward in the next few minutes. Ashton and I may have talked about the common ground in raising Chloe together, but he’s still pretty clueless about the daily basic rules. Ruining her eating rhythm will affect her dinner. The insufficient dinner might interrupt her goodnight’s sleep because she gets hungry in the middle of the night. And we know what’s going to happen the next day when kids have broken sleep.

“Charlotte doesn’t have a father, but she is still getting a sister,” Chloe continues with her new favorite topic.

“Well, Charlotte definitely has a father, and so does the unborn baby, they just don’t live in the same barn,” I reply.

“Like Ashton and us,” Chloe beams. “But I’m not getting a little sister, right?”

“Well, no.”

“Why?”

“Because having a baby is a big decision.”

“Why? How do you make a baby exactly?”

I swallow the imaginary lump in my throat. The time has arrived. She is going to start asking the famous ‘where do babies come from’ questions now. At the dinner table. In front of her dad. I glance at Ashton. Saying that he’s caught off guard by the question is an understatement of the year. Even the low monthly sale figure wouldn’t stress him out like now.

I grab a napkin and wipe my mouth slowly while clearing my throat. Where do I start? What did Sophie tell me again?

Rule number one: keep calm and take a deep breath. So, I do exactly that. Rule number two: ask what your kid already knows.

“First, I want to know what you know about how babies are made. Have you ever talked about this with your friends?” I ask, trying to sound as casual as possible.

Chloe shrugs. “Sean said the baby comes from a soda pop can. But that’s not true. Aunt Sophie would get hundreds of babies by now if it was true, right?”

“Yes, I agree!” I reply to her while trying to hold back my laughter. “So, what else do you know?”

“You can get a baby from kissing. But Diana and Robby kissed last winter, still no baby.”

“Because kissing doesn’t make you pregnant. True.”

“Anna said her parents cuddled and did funny stuff like, they rubbed each other to get a baby.” Chloe purses her lips. “But how did the baby get inside her mama’s tummy then?”

“I believe this is something that only grownups can understand,” Ashton interjects.

“I can understand,” Chloe complains, not looking happy with her dad’s answer. “I’m turning eight next month!”

Ashton’s face screams S.O.S. I’m almost sure he will excuse himself any second before dashing home, and never comes back. He probably thinks that getting involved in parenting isn’t a good idea after all. Surprisingly, he smiles at Chloe, as if he’s trying to take the situation under control. But I know he’s shaken inside. How I wish I could take a picture of this moment; it might be useful one day if I need to blackmail him. Too bad, we have this phone-free rule during dinner time.

“True! Eight is a perfect number for a big girl. However, there are things that only adults underst–”

“It’s okay,” I cut him. “We can try to explain to her since she asked.”

“What?”

“I got this.” My reply comes out as a whimper.

I give Chloe’s dad the most empathetic smile I can muster, ignoring the horror on his face before focusing my gaze back on Chloe. When my eyes lock with her green irises, I gulp again. Where was I? Oh, right.

Rule number three: never lie to your kid about how the babies are conceived, and use the proper names of the organs. Avoid borrowing weird terms like vajayjay, vegeta, pee-pee, or peen-peen. And make sure to choose the word penis over cock.

“So, women have eggs inside their bodies, and men have sperm,” I start.

“What is spem?” Chloe asks, earning a soft strangled noise from her dad.

“Sperm is a male’s seed that contributes to starting a new life.” When I see the confusion begin to leave my daughter’s face, I continue, “Sometimes adults love to kiss and touch each other’s bodies because it feels good. When they cuddle and rub each other, the seed travels from the man’s penis into the woman’s vagina to meet the eggs, and then the baby starts to grow in the womb.”

Chloe frowns so deep like a scientist trying to find a cure for the latest pandemic. “But aunt Sophie always said that babies are made of love. Is there love in Ashton’s seed?”

“Good question,” I squeak as I glance at Ashton, begging for help. The man shifts uncomfortably in his seat, probably feeling distressed that his sperm is becoming our dinner table topic.

“Love is a feeling. It’s not a seed or the substance inside the seed.” Finally, for the first time, Ashton takes his part in this task.

“No. You’re wrong,” replies Chloe as she shakes her head. “Mama said that you two had a seed of love, and that’s how I was made.”

“Well, it’s not that seed of–”

“A seed of love?” Ashton cuts me.

“A few months ago when Mama told me about you, I asked her if she loved you,” Chloe replies enthusiastically. “She said no, but she thought you were a cool guy with green eyes! If you and Mama were together longer, you two would love each other because the seed of love was there!”

Chloe’s explanation throws me back to the night when I fessed up all my lies to her. Even though she’s now talking about a totally different seed, this is even more embarrassing than talking about the sperm. But hey, I did tell her that the seed of love topic was supposed to be our little secret. So much for asking a kid to keep a secret. Can I disappear now?

“Ah, good to know,” Ashton murmurs.

“Well, t-that is not exactly the same seed as in our discussion now,” I stammer, trying to bring the conversation back to the scientific base.

“Oo.” Chloe’s lips create an ‘O’ shape. “So, the sprem is not a seed of love.”

“Sperm,” I correct her. “No, it’s not.”

“How do you make sperm then?”

Oh. My. God. It’s going to be a long night.

---

After having a long and challenging biology subject at our dining table, Chloe finally bids her father goodnight and dashes upstairs to take her bath. Ashton also can’t stay longer due to some papers he needs to go through tonight, which is good. I’m in desperate need of having a me-time right now.

I’m standing in my entrance hall, waiting for Ashton finishing his business in the guest toilet. It’s when I hear a chiming sound from Ashton’s phone. He left it on the side table in the hallway because of the phone-free rule during dinner.

I can’t help but glance down and see Dickson Knight’s name flashing on its screen. When the phone call ends, the screen switches to its home display, showing the list of incoming calls and messages Ashton received in the past hour. My eyes stumble into the very name that makes my stomach churn. I thought they stopped talking after their recent breakup.

Diandra (3): Hey, thanks for the...

I can’t read the rest because it’s just a notification display. Dammit! Thanks for what? Thanks for the talk? Thanks for the gift? Thanks for the dinner? Thanks for having me back?

“A seed of love, huh?”

I jump when I realize Ashton is already standing behind me. Does he notice I’ve been eyeing his phone?

“It’s just... you know I couldn’t tell her about the broken condom yet. She is still too young for that,” I reply in a whisper, glancing at the stairs.

“I know.” His eyes twinkle. The smile, scratch that, the smirk never leaves the corners of his lips. “Nonetheless, it was hilarious. I liked it.”

I roll my eyes before pointing my finger at his phone. “You got a... phone call from your brother. Maybe it’s important.” I bite my lips, refraining from asking about the particular text messages.

“Oh.” He grabs his phone and quickly checks it before slipping his phone into his pocket. There is no noticeable change in his facial expression. “I can call him back when I’m home.”

“Alright,” I reply as I open the front door for him. Leaning on the door frame, I cross my arms over my chest. “Hey, Ashton, I heard a rumor about him rejoining the company. Is that true?”

Ashton slips both his hands into his pockets, nodding slowly. “Yeah. I figured people are already talking about this. What I can say is, we are going to have a big management reshuffle and his name came up in the list of people we need for the new positions.”

“But I thought he was forced to step down several years back.”

“From the CEO role, true. He might not be the right person to lead the whole ship, but he is one of the sharpest persons when it comes to particular business strategies that we are planning to execute shortly.”

“Oh, I see.”

“But Charlotte, I have to warn you.” Ashton’s green eyes are fixed on me, prompting me to hold my breath. “Dickson might be my brother, but he’s not the easiest person to deal with, especially when he knows who you are to me. Please, be careful.”


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