Stumbling Ahead, Chapter 2

The next day, I slept in, a little bit. It had been a long day, yesterday, and I drank a little too much. I didn’t get sick, which I was very happy about, but on my way through the house, I was reminded of something–I am a father. At least the boy thinks so, and after we thought to bring his mother’s purse to the hospital with us, and showed the clerk her I.D., I noticed that she had the same last name as I.

So, here I was with some sort of responsibility, consisting of what, exactly, I wasn’t sure. I thought to myself, “Why do I not have any memory of all this before yesterday? What happened to me?” I thought about it for a while, then decided that it didn’t really matter. I was who I was, and there was no going back. I made some coffee and had a few cups, then decided to wake Michael up and go down the road again, hoping that having Michael with me might bring some normalcy to my life. Things had just been too weird in the last 24 hours.

“Wake up, Michael,” I said to him softly, then rubbed his arm to bring his attention to me. I patted his head and said, “Wake up, little man. We have things to do and places to go.” Michael rolled over towards me, and rubbed his eyes. “What time is it?” he asked. “It’s ten o’clock,” I said quietly. “I am going to be late for school!” he said. “No, you’re not going to school today. We’re going to just relax and take it easy for a little while, okay?” At first, he looked confused, then it hit him. He remembered what happened yesterday: He did not have a mother anymore. He started to cry a little, but I didn’t want him to dwell in it, so I decided to get him moving to distract him a little.

“C’mon, get out of bed. Don’t you need to brush your teeth or something?” I said. “What about breakfast?” he asked. “Okay, I’ll make some eggs and toast. Why don’t you take a shower while I do that?” “I don’t want to take a shower,” he said. “Alright, then, go into the living room and watch T.V.,” I told him. My head hurt too much from the hangover I had to argue with him. “Okay,” he said, and he jumped out of bed and walked out of the room and down the hall.

Just then, I started to feel really weird. I thought to myself, “What am I doing? I have no idea how to do this! Maybe I should let him go to school.” “No,” I thought. “I’m going to do this my way.” I walked out to the kitchen and made some eggs and toast, like I told Michael I would do. I realized that it would probably help the hangover to eat something, too.

Sometimes, you never know what’s going to happen. Life can deal you a hand that you never dreamed of, and you just have to adjust. Should I be bitter, though? Should I run? Should I deny Michael? Maybe, I should put him up for adoption. After all, does he really need me as his father? I wondered, then, if we were close before. I wondered how attached to me he was. He seemed to trust me, although he had already challenged my authority once. “We’ll see,” I thought. “We’ll see.” I would ride things out for a little while, anyway.

I finished making breakfast and called Michael into the kitchen. He came bouncing in, smiling. “This is fun!” he said. “Can we do this every day?” I smiled, then said, “We’ll see how things go, Michael.” I thought to myself then, “I’m crazy. This is crazy.” But I said nothing more to him about it. “Let’s eat, and we’ll just see how the day goes, okay?” He smiled again, then sat down and started to eat. “Maybe things will be okay,” I thought. “Maybe.”

After we finished eating, I told Michael to get dressed. He said, “Why? I thought we were going to relax.” I looked at him, and was about to tell him to do what I told him to do, because I said so, but I thought better of it. “We’re going to do something fun,” I said. We’re going downtown.” “What’s fun about that?” he asked, with an innocent look on his face. I was beginning to see a pattern, so I decided I was going to have to make him do things my way, or this wasn’t going to work out. “You’ll see. Trust me. Get dressed. Now.” He muttered something to himself, but he went towards his room. “And brush your teeth, too!” I shouted.

After a few minutes, he came out. He was wearing a blue and red striped shirt, tie-dye shorts, and bright green tennis shoes. “Okay,” he said, smiling. “I’m ready.” I thought to myself that this was not going to be easy, but then, I realized, it’s really no big deal. “Who cares,” I thought. “He’s just a kid.” I smiled at him and said, “I guess your mom usually picks out your clothes.” Immediately, I realized my mistake. He frowned, then began to whimper a little. Eager to set things right again, I said, “That’s okay. You look fine. We’ll just have to figure things out as we go, right?” He was still frowning, but he nodded his head in agreement.

“Okay, c’mon, let’s go,” I said, and I started to walk towards the door. I looked back to make sure he was following behind me, before I reached out for the doorknob. He was looking down, and sort of shuffling his feet, but he was coming. I opened the door and we walked outside. I fiddled with the keys I had for a minute or two, trying to figure out which key was the correct one. I had had to do the same thing last night in the dark, when we came back from the hospital, so this was a little easier, but not much. I finally found the right key, and locked the door.

I suddenly had a flashback of yesterday, and got a little nervous. I looked at Michael, who was halfway down the walkway from the door, still shuffling his feet a little, and kicking small pebbles into the grass. “Okay,” I thought. “Today is a new day. Maybe things will get better.” I didn’t believe it, though, and said a little prayer to whomever might be listening in heaven. “It’s got to be,” I thought. “Things can’t get any worse.”

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Author: Gordon S. Bowman III

Writer, Visual Artist, Blogger, Advocate

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