Happy (belated) Father’s day, everyone! This week I’ve got a companion piece to the flash story “Mother” that I published in honor of Mother’s day. Enjoy!
The word spills from her lips and my gaze falls to the pregnancy test held in her hand like a weapon. She repeats the word but it falls on deaf ears as my stomach drops down into my shoes. It’s everything I thought I wanted and yet now I’m not so sure.
She stands before me, barefoot in her PJs, and she looks so rumpled and uncertain that she might as well be naked. And I — I am uselessly and incomprehensibly at a loss for words.
The word crawls its way hoarsely from my throat. My voice sounds breathless, restless, choked. I feel trapped in this moment as the silence just keeps expanding around us until we are two — alone and lost in a bubble of deafening quiet.
I don’t know what to say and I attempt to marshal my courage even as I feel my knees melting beneath me.
My eyes reach for hers and her whole body is trembling now in some kind of time-delayed reaction. I reach out, almost without thought, and haul her rattling bones into my own. And we lean in to steady ourselves a moment.
The word trips unsteadily from my tongue once more and I’m waiting for the arrival of joy.
I expected joy. I’ve always wanted kids. And yet here I stand, dumb, trembling and panicked — and joy is nowhere to be found.
My arms wrap around her and I catch us both in the silence.
I catch my breath.
“Hey,” I say. “Hey, it’s going to be alright.”
Her eyes turn to look at me and I can see moisture trembling in her lashes.
“We were planning this, remember? We were hoping for this.”
I can feel my voice picking up confidence with every sentence — slowly gaining strength.
“We’re going to be parents.” Warmth is creeping it’s way back into my bloodstream now, back into my tone.
“We’re going to be wonderful parents.”
I can see her expression lightening a bit now, I can feel her trembling begin to slow as she nods and buries her face unsteadily in my shoulder.
“I’m going to be a Dad.” The words fall from my lips unexpectedly. (Didn’t I already know?)
And there it is: the joy I’d been expecting.
I think I could get used to that.
Now it’s your turn! Let me know what you thought of this piece in the comments below.