“Real friends help when you’re falling apart.” – Eeyore
I had only seen Brian this agitated once in the whole time I have known him, and that was when we were made to dress like the Spice Girls.
“What are you doing here? Is everything okay?” I asked. He pulled me out onto the porch and was pacing back and forth.
“You’re gonna make a indent in our porch soon,” I commented. He sighed and his phone rang, but he silenced it.
“April has been acting weird lately.” he said finally. April was his wife, he had proposed to her on one of our trips to Disney for Peter’s birthday five years ago. They’d been having issues for about a month now.
“Well, I found a pregnancy test in the bathroom and it was positive.”
“Wow. I didn’t know you guys were trying…”
“That’s the thing….we weren’t, Nick. That means I am gonna be a dad.” Brian said, looking away. I was shocked but put on a happy face for him. Brian had never been good with small kids, he always said he was never gonna have any.
“That’s great, Bri. I know you guys are gonna be really happ-”
“No….no…I can’t do this. I am not ready.” he interrupted, shaking his head.
I gaped at him. I mean, the guy used to raise a whole bunch of farm animals….why was a baby any difderent?
“Brian, babies are amazing. I think you’ll be fine.” I said. I wouldn’t trade my sons for anything in the world, it made my day to come home and be with my family.
He spent about an hour convincing me otherwise until I told him we would talk tomorrow. I made sure the kids were tucked in for bed and kissed them good night, like I did every night.
“Check the closet, Daddy.” Andrew begged me. After making sure there were no monsters in Andrew’s room, I finally made it to bed. I kissed my wife goodnight and we both fell asleep, a bit earlier than I normally would.
About two months went by without incident. I hadn’t heard about the baby since Brian’s freak out, but I was relieved because that meant maybe he changed his mind. I loved raising my kids….although Laura says all the time that was because I am a kid at heart, which was why she fell in love with me that night in Miami.
The day everything seemed to get screwy started like any other.
I was at my desk, doing some sketches…it was for a new movie we were working on. Today was rather boring. I had taken to playing with the rubber bands on my desk and flinging paper clips. I didn’t feel like I was being very productive, but at least it would hopefully help jog my creativity.
After work, I stopped by the store to pick up some milk and a few other things…eyeing some ice cream when my phone went off.
I was deciding between the strawberry cheesecake ice cream or just plain vanilla when I realized that it wasn’t Brian’s voice. It was his house number.
“Hi, April. How are you? I heard the good news….”
“Have you seen or heard from Brian? I haven’t seen him in about a week.” April asked. I dropped the milk in my hand, it spilled all over my pants leg, dripping into my socks. I looked down and sighed. People asked me if I was okay…..like the milk was about to eat through my skin and I would turn into a zombie.
Now I know where that spilt milk phrase came from.
“What do you mean, a week?”
“I don’t know….it’s like he just vanished. Have you talked to him? We had a fight about the baby and I am worried I did something wrong.” April said through tears. This wasn’t like him at all, Brian was not the type to run from something….and it made me mad because all through college he told me running away or shutting people out was never the answer.
“I will try to find him, April. Don’t worry. Everything will be fine.”
I had no idea where to start looking, he could be anywhere. I went home with the groceries and told Laura what was going on, she rubbed my back as I talked…resting her head on my shoulder.
“I am sure he will turn up, baby. Brian is probably just fine.” she whispered. Just then my dog came in and was whining to go to the bathroom, so I put on her leash and went to the yard, thinking. Where could Brian go?
“Hakuna Matata….what a wonderful phrase….”
My ringtone for Kevin started followed by my pocket vibrating. When I answered I almost dropped the phone, I just ran into the house, grabbed my keys. I ran to the car, leaving the dog inside.
Kevin’s was not too far from my house, it was across town but I made it in about fifteen minutes.
“Where is he?”
Kevin had told me Brian showed up and had been staying with him. This worried me, especially because apparently he had taken a week off from work. Brian was sitting on the couch watching some chick flick on TV in his boxers….he looked like he hadn’t shaved in a few days.
“Brian, what are you doing?” I asked.
“Did she send you chasing after me?” he snapped.
I grabbed the remote and turned the TV off standing in front of it.
“Why are you doing this? April needs you.” I said sternly. He reminded me of how I acted in college, I wondered how he put up with me because I wanted to kick his ass right about now.
“I will just screw things up. I can’t do this, Nick. I told you.” he said, sitting forward on the couch and wiping his eyes.
“Why don’t you think so? When Andy and Pete were born, I didn’t think I would be a good Dad either….but I stuck it out. They turned out just fine.”
Well, not just fine….Andrew is handicapped a bit mentally from an accident he had when he was a baby. He isn’t what you call retarded….but he picks up a bit slower than other kids his age.
“Andrew isn’t fine, Nick.”
Leave it to him to bring this up again.
“I already told you I do not blame you for what happened to Andrew.” I said firmly.
When Andrew was three Brian had been babysitting while Laura and I were taking Pluto to the vet. Andrew had somehow gotten outside and fallen into the pool. He nearly drowned….but Brian saved his life. To this day Brian blames himself for the accident.
“I looked away and next thing I knew he was face down in the pool, Nick. Let’s not forget what happened to Bella the year before we graduated either. I can’t even take care of a goat, and I almost killed your son. I am a failure.” he said, putting his head in his hands. I sat down, pulling him into a hug.
“Bella was different, Brian. You can’t beat yourself up over this stuff. Remember what Timon said in the Lion King? Bad things happen…there is nothing that you can do about them.” I said.
“You come out with a Disney quote and that is supposed to make me feel better?” Maybe I should just divorce April…..she’s better off without me screwing things up.” Brian whispered moodily, shaking me off.
“Brian, just listen to me. Everything will work out….you have to trust me. I am not mad at you for Andrew and neither is Laura. We are just happy you saved him in time. Stop doubting yourself. Running from April will not make things better….do you want this baby to be like you and not know its father?” I told him. I hated bringing that up but it seemed to make Brian stop and think.
“You’re right. I need to be there for them. I’m sorry, Nick. I just freaked out….I don’t want to disappoint anyone. When did you become so wise?” Brian said with a smile.
“When someone I know taught me the same thing in college, I just didn’t want to listen to them.”
He hugged me and it felt good knowing that he was going to be just fine.