He’s been calling me.
It’s been a few weeks since we spoke about…. Well, I can’t even take credit for that. I was a mess. I was so nervous I couldn’t even bring myself to say anything. What I wanted to talk to him about was getting closer. I think it’s important for us, and Emmanuel, to become friends. Getting back together isn’t on my immediate radar. However, if we will be getting back together, we definitely need to have a solid friendship. So, he’s been calling me. Not every day, but a few times a week. Between me calling him about Emmanuel and him calling for me, I think we’ve spoken pretty much every day since we talked. We never talk long. Sometimes it’s hard because it feels forced while other times is just like old times. I had no delusions of it being easy. We’re not the best of friends yet, but it’s a lot less awkward to be around him now. That is until a few days ago….
Emmanuel had been doing so good in school. He wasn’t a horrible student before, but his grades had dramatically improved. Coincidentally, ever since Zayne came back into his life for good, he’s been doing better not just in school but in every area of his life. I didn’t know it was possible for my happy son to be any happier. I wanted to reward him, so I bought that slip ’n slide he always wanted. To say he was excited would be an understatement. But then he surprised me.
“Can I invite daddy over so he can try it with us?”
I started answer on autopilot and tell him it was fine, but I stopped myself. Of course I want them to spend time together. It’s very important to me. But, I kinda got a little bit selfish on this one. Scared too. Scared of what? Myself. Zayne and I are growing at a good pace right now. I like it. It’s not very fast, but I can definitely detect the growth. I don’t want to be blinded. I…ok…I’m just gonna come out and say it. No need to dance around it. I haven’t forgotten what he looks like without a shirt. What can I say? I like pecs! My son just wants to spend time with his father, and I know this shouldn’t be about me at all, but… (sigh) I hope I’ll behave.
I tried to get out of it. I knew it was Thursday, but I said, “But doesn’t he work tonight?” My little guy is smart just like me and remembers everything. I caved. There was no logical reason for why Zayne couldn’t come slide with us. I could feel Antoine looking at me. I just know he was laughing. He knows me all too well. I gave Emmanuel my cell phone so he could make the call.
“Mommy can I go get daddy?”
“Ummmm…I’m sure he’ll be here in just a minute.”
“Come on, sis. He’s only going two blocks.”
I conceded, and he ran out the door before I could suggest Antoine watch him from the porch. I know he’s eight now and not a baby, but he’s my baby. I can’t help but worry about him all the time. I know I need to have more faith and trust that he’ll do what we taught him when he’s not around us.
That word makes me mad sometimes. “Us” should have been me and Zayne. My brother has been wonderful, and I love that he helped me raise my son, but he shouldn’t have had to do that. He should have had the opportunity to be just “Uncle Antoine.” It’s been eight years, and I’ve gotten over it. But sometimes the little things set me off.
Fifteen minutes later, I was bending over the stove checking on my casserole when they arrived.
“Are you coming out?” Zayne asked.
His voice. Sometimes it still sends shivers down my spine. I answered from the stove. “Yeah, I’ll be out when the food is done.” I didn’t want to see him. I needed to behave.
I heard Emmanuel come from his room, and he and Zayne went to the backyard. I tip toed after them to see if he just so happened to wear a shirt. No shirt. Heh, if I was a guy with a beautiful chest like that, I wouldn’t wear a shirt either.
“You’re not gonna hide in here all night, are you?” my poophead brother asked.
If looks could kill…
“Ok, ok! I’m just asking!” He went to join the fun.
When my casserole was finished, I set it on the counter and turned the oven off. Then I willed myself to go change into my swim clothes and go outside. At first, I stood off to the side and watched them. they were having so much fun.
I cheered for my baby. He was doing all kinds of tricks, and he didn’t slip once! I have to say, though, there was a moment when I found my eyes drifting. I kept repeating, “You are watching your son and not watching him!” Those pecs! What’s a girl supposed to do?
Just as I decided to loosen up and have fun too, Zayne was taking another turn and completely wiped out. I have no idea how he ended up on his back, but one minute he was in the air and the next minute he was flailing on his back like a roach. I laughed. I’m sorry. Does that make me a bad person?
Emmanuel didn’t see him, but Antoine did. He knew I saw too.
“You’re awful, you know that,” he said to me.
“Hmph. Serves him right…coming out here without a shirt.”
“Hey, it’s not his fault you can’t control yourself.”
“Oh, it’s totally his fault I can’t control myself.”
“What are you guys talking about?” my innocent son asked.
“Nothing, baby. Why don’t you go make sure your dad is ok.”
He was fine, and we all went back to having fun.
The sun was going down, and it was a little bit past our dinner time. Antoine had already gone inside, and I knew Emmanuel was probably hungry even though he would have stayed out there all night. I thought it would be a nice gesture if I invited Zayne to stay for dinner. I made plenty, Emmanuel would love it, and he’s not a very good cook. I’m sure he was glad that I asked, but he played it cool of course. We all sat and ate and talked. Well, Emmanuel talked, and we all listened. He was telling jokes he heard in school.
The sun had set, and he had finished his food long before, but he was still telling jokes. I warned him. “Just because your dad is here doesn’t mean you’re gonna stay up all night and not do your homework.”
I think he really thought he was going to have some special privileges. He excused himself to go do homework.
“You should go help him,” Antoine said to Zayne.
“He’s your son, dude. Of course you can.”
I appreciate that he didn’t want to overstep any boundaries or mess up our routine, but it’s been too long for him to be acting this safe. I’d like to see him take more liberties with Emmanuel. It’ll help with some of the trust issues I have with him. He finished his food and went to help Emmanuel. I went outside to sit and think. Nothing in particular was on my mind. Just thinking. I was still sitting out there when he was done helping Emmanuel, so he came to join me.
“Want some company?”
I didn’t, but of course I couldn’t say that. It wasn’t like that though. I’m a single mom. I don’t get many quiet moments alone. I also don’t get many moments with him, so it was a welcomed bother. He sat down slowly like he was in pain. I began to giggle.
“You laughing at me, Dre?”
“I’m sorry,” I said between fits.
“How you gonna laugh at a brotha while he’s down, girl?”
He knows he liked that I laughed at him.
I calmed down enough to apologize. “Are you ok though? That was a pretty hard fall.”
I asked him about his mother, and we began to talk. It was more like catching up than real conversation. I discovered he wants to be a mixologist. I thought he just liked making drinks. I didn’t realize he wanted to make a career out of it. My mind started drifting to what that would mean for all of us if things were to change. He would permanently be on the third shift. That’s not ideal for a family. It’s already affecting Emmanuel because he can’t see him as often as he likes. Could I handle him being in the bar scene permanently? That life took him away from me. Well, that and him being afraid to settle down. Could I handle him being around those women every night? Will he be trustworthy? Why am I thinking about all this now anyway? We’re supposed to be getting to know each other.
“I guess I’ll go say goodnight before I get outta here,” he said.
“Good, ok. I guess I’ll see you sometime soon then?”
He smiled. “Yeah.”