“Sometimes we're just along for the ride. We can't control everything; we can only do our best to control our reactions when life doesn't go our way.”
“True love is the ironically selfless need to know that your person will be okay without you.”
“I learned that you can’t predict your future, there’s no crystal ball or formula for happiness. You can’t control the weather just like you can’t control the way others behave, but what you can control is how much love you give. Surrendering to this crazy thing called life is hard, but we don’t have to be the soulless sheets of paper tarrying along in the wind. We can find our people, love, respect them, and then hang on for dear life because it’s not where you go on this journey but who you’re with that matters the most.”
“I was convinced we had lived twenty thousand lives, and in each one, we had found each other, like two tiny magnets in a drawer the size of the universe.”
“I’m not sure why I had to weather the stages of grief after hearing the news that night. Maybe it was the death of my singledom or the death of my own childhood that scared me. For some reason, when you’re faced with the realization that you’re going to become a parent, it immediately changes how you view yourself. You no longer think of yourself as someone else’s child because you can’t be a parent and a child. It’s an official good-bye, and good-byes always scared the hell out of me.”
“It was dawn and the light coming through the window was a dull blue. It was peaceful, like a fading memory.”
“I thought about every mundane moment that makes up that gray area of a person’s life. It’s the hour or two a day that you clean your kitchen or watch TV or do the laundry. All my gray moments with Mia were colored in: chasing her around the Laundromat, spraying water on her from the kitchen sink, or messing around with her on the couch while we spent whole days watching reruns of The Office. I looked forward to the rest of my life, even if the rest of my life only consisted of the humdrum day-in, day-out bullshit, it didn’t matter because Mia turned the most unremarkable moments into moments I cherished.”
“I put on the most serious face I could muster. “We’re about to embark on a journey.” I used the Twilight Zone voice. “Full of involuntary sleepless nights, throw-up, and out-of-control behavior. Our freedom will no longer exist; our identities will vanish before our very eyes. We. Will. Be. PARENTS!” I mimicked loud, thundering music.
“Glad you’re excited,” Mia said.”
“What did you get her for the wedding gift?”
“Dude, I bought her a fucking Steinway.”
“Are you kidding me?”
“No, I had to. She saw it in a store and played it in the showroom. The entire staff gathered around to watch her. She kept her eyes closed and wept while she played “Isolde’s Love Death” from Tristan and Isolde. She played the whole fucking thing without any sheet music. The crowd clapped and whistled. I offered to buy it on the spot; I said we could write it off, but she said absolutely not. She wouldn’t let me.”
“How much was it?”
“Dude, tell me, how much?”
“A hundred what?” Tyler said in disbelief.
“A hundred fucking shillings. A hundred thousand dollars, you moron.”
“You bought her a hundred-thousand-dollar piano?”
“Well, technically, Alchemy Sound Studios bought it for her, but yeah”
“If it’s a girl, I want to name her Grace.”
“Okay, if it’s a boy, I think we should name him Hamsel,” I said, straight-faced.
“What?” Her tone was not nice.
“Yeah, I’ve always loved the name Hamsel, or we can name him Wilbur Jr. and just call him Junior for short.” I finally had mercy when Mia’s eyes were open as wide as they would go. “I’m kidding. What names do you like?”
“For a boy, hmm. I don’t know; we’ll have to think on it. I really like Birch or Branch, you know something earthy…maybe Webb.” I laughed but she deadpanned, “What? I mean if you don’t like those, I also really like Stream or Haze.”
Oh my God, she’s serious.
She tilted her head to the side, smiled, and cackled like a witch. “Ha, ha, Will. Two can play this game.”
“Thank God, I thought you were serious. Shit.”
She socked me in the chest”
“Apparently while Tyler and I sat unaware, arguing over where to get the best pizza, Kyle and Josh were having a heart-to-heart. It started when Josh apologized for the scene earlier with Tinker Bell. The conversation went on and on, both of them professing their drunken love for each other while Tyler and I continued an old argument about the difference between yams and sweet potatoes—that’s the kind of profound shit Tyler and I talked about.”
“When Tyler got to my apartment, he looked disappointed. Scowling and shaking his head, he said, “What are you wearing?”
I had on a red T-shirt that said “Sup” on it and black jeans. “I like this shirt. What’s wrong with it?”
“Don’t you have any shirts that don’t have writing on them?”
I walked back to my room, tore my shirt off and threw it on the bed. I stared up into my closet.
Tyler came to my room and stood in the doorway. “How do you have f**king abs? You don’t even work out.”
“You admiring my physique?” I said to him without taking my eyes off the closet.
“It’s just not right.”
I pulled a plain black T-shirt off the hanger and slipped it over my head. “How’s this?”
“She cupped my face. “Wilbur, you are so sexy when you’re not pretending to be an eighties butt-rocker.”
“You know what’s not sexy?”
“What?” she said on a breath between laying kisses on my cheek.
“June pooping on the floor.”
Mia jumped off my lap and darted over to the kitchen, screeching in her highest voice. “No, no, no, Juney.” She caught our little puppy mid-poop and picked her up, held her arms out and screamed, “What do I do?”
There was no way Mia would be able to get June outside without leaving a trail of poop in her wake. “Put her over the toilet!”
I followed her as she ran down the hallway and into our tiny bathroom at the end. She held the squirming puppy over the toilet until the doggie business was complete.
Setting June on the ground, she glanced up at me, frowned, and then mumbled, “I’m gonna be a terrible mother.”
I helped her up and then stood behind her at the sink as she washed her hands. “No, you’re going to be perfect.” I smirked when she looked at me in the mirror. “You did exactly the right thing. First you screamed and charged at her with your arms flailing around, and then you basically held her by the neck while you ran around in a circle yelling. That is exactly what you will probably do if the same situation happens to play out with one of our babies.”
“Thanks a lot.”
“Gravity has got the best of me.
She takes a hold,
won’t let me go.
She rips me into pieces.
I’m left alone with nothing but a box
of mismatched socks
and missing puzzle pieces.
I’m lost but never found.
I’m riding the wind
and coming down
until I’m swept away again.
You’ve said cut ties.
You’ve said count lies.
Break your best intentions and leave no trace.
All the hurt can be erased if you stay with me on the surface.
I’m lost but never found.
I’m riding the wind
and coming down
until I’m swept away again.”
“I played a few rough versions of songs while Chad sat by, looking lost. Mia came in wearing black leather pants and a tight sweater. As I strummed the Gibson, she made her way over to the piano. She smiled and threw her hand up, waving to Chad. He smiled back and then I watched him study her as she passed. Then his dipshit, googly eyes dropped to her ass while she moved the piano bench out.
When he looked back at me, I glared at him and began strumming a dreary and much louder tune. His body sank into his chair and he dropped his head down to stare at his fidgeting hands. Mia began playing a sullen little melody in an attempt to accompany the monotonous song I was forming, and then she stopped abruptly and turned toward me.
I continued playing.
“Is this going to be a ballad?” she asked.
Without taking my eyes off of dipshit, I said, “No, baby, this is what’s called a funeral march.”
Chad threw his arms up and said, “I get it. I get it. I’m sorry.”
“Sorry for what?” Mia asked.
“Nothing!” Chad and I both shouted.
“Let’s move on,” I said, arching one eyebrow at him.
Chad kept his eyes trained on either the ground or me through the rest of the session”
“He gave me the biggest bear hug and lifted me off the ground in the process. “Oh, man, that’s awesome news, bro.”
A bear hug from Tyler truly felt like a bear hug. Being six foot myself, I was rarely picked up and twirled around by others. I was surprised ”
“Martha would come over every week and check on Mia and work with her on relaxation and breathing exercises to prepare for the natural labor. Jenny was on board with the natural thing too, so of course she and Mia dragged Tyler and me to the Bradley Birthing Method classes.
It was hysterical; we had to get in all kinds of weird poses with the girls while they mimicked being in labor. We would massage their backs while they were perched on all fours, moaning. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done is contain my laughter during those classes. Mia was the freakin’ teacher’s pet because she was taking it so seriously.
Right around the third class, they showed us a video of a live birth. I had nightmares for a week after that. Tyler and I agreed that we had to find a way to get out of going to the classes.
We hadn’t mutually agreed on a plan, so during the fifth class, Tyler took it upon himself and used his own bodily gifts to get us into a heap of trouble. Tyler is lactose intolerant, and he has to take these little white tablets every time he eats cheese. The morning of the class, he stopped by the studio with a half-eaten pizza. I didn’t even think twice about it until that night in class during our visualization exercises when this god-awful, horrendous odor overtook our senses.
At first everyone kept quiet and just looked around for the source. There wasn’t a sound to accompany the lethal attack, so everyone went into investigation mode, staring each other down. Mia began to gag. I heard Jenny cry a little behind us. Finally when I turned toward Tyler, I noticed he had the most triumphant glimmer in his eyes. I completely lost my shit. I was rolling around, laughing hysterically.
Mia grabbed the hood of my sweatshirt and pulled me to my feet. “Outside, now!” She was scowling as she dragged me along. When we passed Tyler, she pointed to him angrily. “You too, joker.”
Mia and Jenny pressed us up against the brick wall outside and then gave us the death stare, both of them with their arms crossed over their blooming bellies. They whispered something to each other and then turned and walked off, arm in arm.
We followed. “Come on, you guys, it was funny.”
Jenny stopped dead in her tracks and turned. She jabbed her index finger into my chest and said, “Yes, it is funny. When you’re five! Not when you’re in a room full of pregnant women. Do you know how sensitive our noses are?”
I shrugged. “It wasn’t me.”
“Oh, I know he’s a child,” she said but wouldn’t even look at Tyler. “And you are too, Will, for encouraging it.”
Mia was glaring at me with a disappointed look, and then she shook her head and turned to continue down the street. Jenny caught up and walked away with her.
“God, they’re so sensitive,” I whispered to Tyler.
“Yeah, I kinda feel bad.”
Without turning around, Mia yelled to us, “You guys don’t have to come anymore. Jenny and I can be each other’s partners.”
I turned to Tyler and mouthed, “It worked!” I had a huge smile on my face.
Tyler and I high-fived.
“Why don’t you guys go celebrate? I know that’s what you wanted,” Jenny yelled back as they made a sharp turn down the sidewalk and down the stairs to the subway.
“Nothing gets past them,” Tyler said”
“We greeted the guests and mingled with everyone until dinner was served. Mia stood up and addressed the crowd, something extremely out of character for her. I thought for sure she expected me to make the announcement. She took my hand in hers before she started her speech.
“Thank you, everyone, for being here. Will and I feel extremely grateful for having family and friends to share this day with.” She picked up her glass, raised it, and very quickly said, “I’m drinking apple cider because I’m pregnant! So cheers to family and making it bigger!”
“Cheers!” I said with the crowd and clanked my glass with Mia’s.
“How was that?” she said.
“Great, honey.” It may very well have been the worst wedding speech ever.
Two people immediately rushed our table—Mia’s mom and Tyler. Tyler arrived first, but Liz, who only came up to Tyler’s waist, stomped on his foot and then cut in front of him. She glared at us from the other side of the table.
“Mom, I was going to tell you.”
“The plain truth can be the hardest thing to see when it's about yourself. If you don't want to know the truth, you'll do anything to disguise it.”
“It may...be judged indecent in me to come forward on this occasion; but when I see a fellow-creature about to perish through the cowardice of her pretended friends, I wish to be allowed to speak, that I may say what I know of her character.”
“Several pallets had been pulled to the middle of the open space and stacked two high with a large blanket over them. The implication stunned her – it was so unexpected, so unlike what she believed about him – her mind only registered denial.
She heard Ash bolt the door and remove his leather jacket, felt his hands on her shoulders as he turned her around to face him. He stroked her cheek with one hand while the other reached for his belt. “My sweet, innocent Sage,” he whispered, and still her thoughts could gain no traction.
There was the snap of a release from his belt, and though she continued to meet his eyes, she saw a sheathed dagger in the hand he raised between them.
“Tonight I must teach you how to kill a man.”
“Slow and steady wins the race."
"That is almost always untrue."
"Take it up with Aesop."
"Aesop never existed. The stories credited to him were the work of two female slaves."
"That sounds about typical. I'll ponder it on the way down.”
“I'm Cam, a Cheesehead drug dealer. Nice to meet you.
"Ha. Nice man."
Does he know I'm joking?”
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