I like storms.
They let me know that even
It was storming by the time I reached my parents' house. I knew an umbrella would be useless against the onslaught, so I made a dash for the porch instead, getting predictably soaked in the meantime.
After my break-up with Jane, if it could be called that, I'd fought with my parents over my defense of her actions. They'd been right, which I knew even as I argued with them, but there was nothing I could do about the way it made me feel. Broken, unwanted, useless. Inadequate.
I'd been entirely lost with the ripping away of my predetermined future. For someone like me, knowing where you're going in life gives you a sense of purpose, and you know which steps to take and when. If all of that changes, what do you do?
Apparently you avoid the people that told you the truth, since I hadn't been back in over a month. My mother opened the door, a look of uncertainty on her face. I pulled her into a wet hug, delighting in the way I made her squeal.
"Edward Anthony!" she admonished, just the way she did when I was little.
"I love you, you know that, right?"
"Of course, don't be foolish. I love you, even when you're being a stubborn ass." She smiled to show she was mostly teasing, though I knew that was the way I'd acted.
"Yeah." I looked around the foyer. "Dad home?"
"He's on the back deck."
My father loved the rain almost as much as he loved my mother and me. He would sit on the covered deck and watch the rain, especially the way it changed the flow of the river on the back of the property.
"I'll find him," I said. Mom nodded, then went to the linen closet in the hall.
"Here, for the both of you."
I guessed that meant dad had ventured off the deck at some point in time.
When I opened the french doors to the deck, the noise of the worsening storm was the first thing I noticed. The wind was howling through the trees, which were bent with the force.
"They'll stand again, straight as ever, when this rain and wind pass us by," my father said as though he could read my thoughts.
"That they will," I replied, handing him a towel.
He looked over at me as he accepted it, then scrubbed it over his head. "I can't help it, I love to stand in it before it's too much. When it's just on this side of dangerous to be out there."
I laughed. "Nothing ever changes."
"You sure don't. You're such a constant creature. I know we upset you the last time, and for that I'm sorry." He held up a hand when I opened my mouth. "I'm not sorry for speaking my mind, but I'm sorry that those words hurt you in any way."
"I needed to hear the truth, Dad. I knew it, but I was in denial. Now that I've had time to reflect, I realize I don't even miss her. And that's sad all by itself."
"Not missing someone you've, so far, spent your whole life with, is a sign."
"Yeah." I didn't know what else to say about it. Words were swirling in my brain about her, and I needed to spit them out. I didn't know how to explain it, though. The great need, the even greater fear.
"I met someone," I started off with.
"Oh?" he said mildly. He was dad enough not to make a big deal without more information.
"Ah, you can't tell mom this part, but…"
"Son, it's fine to talk about sex with me." He scratched his chin. "But yeah, I wouldn't tell your mother about her baby boy having sex with a woman." He laughed a little, but I couldn't seem to join in.
"We met the night I found Jane and Felix." Odd, it didn't even hurt to say it anymore. "She owns Charlie's Bar."
"Heard of it. Maybe been in once or twice. You get drunk?"
I swallowed. "Yeah. A handful of glasses of whiskey make me…"
"Right. You didn't drive home, did you?" he asked in concern.
"No, no. That's how she and I… she offered to drive me home, but I didn't have a home just then. I'd gone to get wasted instead of checking into the motel or the B&B."
"Sensible of her," he said with humor in his voice.
"Well, you ought to know by now that Jane is the only one I'd ever been with."
"Pigeonholed yourself with that one."
I sighed. "I woke up the next morning in her bed, with no idea of what happened the night before. So I left, feeling embarrassed, and went about trying to find a routine. I came here, we, uh, we fought, I rented a place on the edge of the reservation, went back to the base…"
"What is it that has you so twisted up, Edward?"
"She is my complete opposite. We have nothing in common."
I coughed at my father's forwardness. "What would we talk about, if I told her I wanted to date her? Where would we go? What would we do on a day to day basis? I don't know how to move on after Jane, and even worse, this woman is stuck in my head. She's all wrong for me."
The force of the storm died down, the trees only swaying slightly. Yes, I have always been a constant type of person. A stick in the mud, I guess.
"You worry too much. Who's to say it wouldn't be amazing? Do you want to date your clone? Being different can be exciting, Edward. You get to know each other's likes and dislikes, learn new things." He clapped me on the shoulder. "You should make an effort to get to know her, ask her on a date."
I shrugged. "I screwed it up the last time I saw her. I was too chicken to stay, to talk. I was afraid she'd find me boring."
"You can't decide for her, Edward. You're thwarting your chances before even giving it a try."
My girls always knew the right thing to do. Whiskey, beer, brownies and ice cream were sitting on my kitchen counter. Mary Alice was sad because she and her boyfriend were having arguments over their long distance thing. Rosie was sad because her husband wanted babies and she wasn't ready yet.
I missed my father with a fierceness I could no longer bear.
I made brownie sundaes, topping each off with cherries and whipped cream for days. Ro poured us each generous glasses of whiskey before we all sat at my coffee table. I wanted to watch sappy girl movies, but we all started talking at once instead.
"Ali, you go," I said.
She took a deep breath before blurting out, "I'm pregnant." She pushed her glass of whiskey towards me, shaking her head as tears fell in her lap.
"Rose," I said sharply. Turning to Alice, I said, "How do you feel about it? Does Jasper know?"
She hiccuped a breath before answering. "I tried to talk to him last night, but I said everything wrong, and we fought instead." I pulled her face into my shoulder, stroking her head.
"It's okay, sweetie. We've got your back. Do you want to keep it?"
"Of course I do," she said into my shirt. "I want to get married and raise the baby together. He refuses to move, though."
"Maybe if he knew, he'd move," Rosie piped up.
Nodding, I picked Alice's head up with my hands near her ears. "If you want, I'll drive out there and make sure this is the only kid he has."
She laughed through her tears, wiping her face on her shirttail. "No, but maybe we can go there together and hold hands while we talk."
"You should ask him to marry you, Alice."
I looked to Rose. "That's a good idea. If you ask him, and tell him about the baby, then surely he'll see he needs to move here with you."
Alice sniffed. "You're right. I'll drive out tomorrow and talk to him in person." She wiped her eyes on her sleeve. "Enough about me. Who's going next?"
"Well, unlike you, I do not want kids. At least not right now. Emmett has been bugging me daily on getting pregnant, though."
"He needs to back off. You can't have an adult conversation if he's constantly whining about his wants. I've heard him when he gets started, and your first reaction is to roll your eyes and tell him off." I swallowed some of my drink, enjoying the burn down my throat. "Sit down with him and talk seriously about what you both want. Lay it out, agree on a timeline. Tell him why you want to wait, but don't make it sound like it'll be forever. Give him a time frame." I shoveled some melting ice cream into my mouth to shut myself up.
"You're good at this," Rosie said. "I'll do what you suggested, but if that doesn't work, I'm bringing you and your ballbusting services into the game."
Alice laughed so hard she cried again, and I just kept eating my ice cream.
"You haven't shared yet, B. What's going on with you?" Rosie asked.
I sighed, sitting back against the couch. I swirled my whiskey around before throwing it back. Alice pushed her glass at me again, and I smiled before taking it. I stared at it for awhile, feeling the ache behind my eyes. I needed to cry, but I was afraid I wouldn't stop if I started.