She called me over.
She calls me over a lot but on behalf of little man. You know, it’s like, “Emmanuel made all A’s…you should come congratulate him.” Or, “Emmanuel didn’t have a good day. I think you should talk to him.” Honestly, I don’t get much of a chance to invite myself over, but that’s ok. I don’t mind. At least I know for sure she wants me to be an involved dad—not that it was ever a question. But this conversation was different. We had a little small talk like always, and when that was over, she said, “Do you think you can come by later?” I didn’t know what to make of it. Of course I told her I would, but it had me hung up. Was it about Emmanuel? Couldn’t have been or she would have said. Did she want to…talk? It was killing me. I waited about an hour before I went over there.
When I got there, she greeted me and let me in. Emmanuel wasn’t anywhere in sight. I guessed that meant we were talking. I was kinda glad. It’s been long enough. We can’t avoid this conversation forever. We’ve been acting like strangers over the past few months. Well, not exactly like strangers but as if we didn’t know what we used to mean to each other. I dunno. The point is we need to figure things out. We need to move on or work toward getting back together. I know what I want. Hopefully she wants the same thing.
The TV was on. She sat on the couch, and I sat next to her. She turned the volume down just a bit. I was expecting that she had something to say, but she sat there awkwardly looking around and smiling nervously. I wanted to ask her if she was all right, but I knew that would have added to the pressure. Instead, I asked about her job. She said she had her eye on management. Her boss and all the higher-ups said she would make a great addition to their team, so they have her on this management training program. Right now, she’s the assistant to the manager. On her next promotion, she’ll be the assistant manager. I have no idea what the difference is, but she was excited about it. She asked about mine, and I told her they still had me washing dishes. After a few more minutes of pointless conversation, she chickened out. “Let me go see what Emmanuel is doing,” she said.
Yeah, of course I want to see my son, but I came to have a conversation with Andrea. I assumed that’s what she called me for. I guess I assumed wrong. She went to his room, and I heard her tell him that I was there. He sounded so excited. Made me feel good. He came out to see me, but she went outside. Maybe she needed to get her thoughts together or something.
“Wassup, little man!”
“I heard you tried out for the team! I bet you killed ‘em. I know you did. My little baller!” I must have said something wrong. All of a sudden he looked upset. “What’s the matter?”
“I didn’t make the team.”
Poor kid. I wonder why his mama didn’t tell me. Antoine must have handled it.
“I’m sorry. You ok?”
“Yeah. I don’t want to play anyway.”
That’s a shame. Me and all my uncles were athletes. I was hoping he would follow in our footsteps.
“Really? Why not?”
“I just don’t want to!”
“Ok! Ok! No need to yell at me, boy.” That was a first. “Let’s go in your room and talk.”
“I’m sorry I yelled at you, daddy.”
“It’s ok. What happened?”
“I kept dropping the ball and everyone laughed at me.”
“Dag. I’m sorry. That must have hurt really bad.”
“Well…if you ever want to try again, you know I can help you. I played everything.”
“Sure did! Basketball, football, baseball…even soccer.”
Andrea reappeared. Must be time to talk. “You guys having fun?”
“Daddy used to play all the sports, mommy!”
“Yes, I know. Are you thinking about playing anything?”
“I don’t know.”
“That’s fine. You don’t have to if you don’t want to.” She darted those green eyes at me. “I wanna talk to your dad for a minute. Do you mind?”
“Nope! You guys stay right here. I’ll go watch TV.” He had a cheeky little smirk on his face.
“Don’t start trouble,” I said.
“I’m going to close the door. Take as loooooong as you need,” he said.
We both laughed. She sat next to me.
“Mr. Funny Man, huh?”
“That’s what he thinks,” she said.
(sigh) There she goes again with the avoidance.
“Dre… I know what you want to talk about. I wanna talk about it too. So… Let’s just talk. Ok?”
I waited for her to say what she needed to say, but she still hesitated. Did she want me to bring it up first? I mean, I will, but she invited me over here to talk. She probably been tossing this around for weeks and finally got the courage to ask me over here. Guess that’s where the courage ended. But, this could be good for me. If there is any chance of us having a future together, I’m gonna have to step up even more and be the leader of this little family. I asked her, “What would it take for us to get back together again?”
She looked surprised. Like, I wasn’t supposed to be that forward or something. But she also looked relieved like I had answered a few of her questions or something. She thought about it for a minute, and then she said, “I need to be able to trust you. I don’t feel safe with you.”
Ouch. I mean, I get it, but ouch! She had always been a straight shooter. I liked that. Not a lot of guesswork.
“What can I do to make you feel safe with me again?”
“I don’t really know. It comes with trust.”
“How can I regain your trust?”
She sighed heavily. “Zayne… I’m not going to do all the work for you. We clearly don’t know each other as well as we should. If you don’t know how to regain my trust, perhaps you need to begin there.”
Wow. Ask and you shall receive, I guess. This is going to be tough.