Daniel Cole never thought he'd be a father, and Elle Coker never thought she'd be just another statistic.
“No! It must be my fault! It’s always my fucking fault, isn’t it?”
“Don’t swear in front of the baby, please, and stop yelling. I’m right here; I can hear you.” Elle set the boy in his crib and flicked the switch on the overhead mobile, the one with light-up fish and sea-creatures that Dan’s mother had given them at the baby shower. Nautical music rang lightly from the plastic machine, taking on a sinister feel in the tense, angry silence between the two young adults as they stormed out of the child’s room. Once Elle had shut the door, Dan started in again, this time in a hushed, yet still angry whisper.
“The baby, the baby, the baby! It’s always about the fucking baby, Elle. What about us? What about me? We live here, too! We’re people too! It seems like all you care about anymore is the fucking baby, and not our relationship or our life!” Elle whipped around, tangled, messy hair flying in all directions. Her eyes were narrow slits in her face, aflame with anger, her cheeks as red as her hair, her fists clenched at her sides.
“And it seems like all you care about is yourself, Daniel! This isn’t a pet, or a science project, this is a child, a human life! Nate depends on us for everything, so we have to give him everything! That’s what we promised to do when we got married and decided to do this together.” Elle couldn’t believe they were having this fight, again. It seemed like Daniel was completely consumed with himself, these days. Elle had tried to be understanding and patient with her husband, but it was certainly difficult to do when he placed his own needs above those of their infant son.
“I was only twenty-two, Elle! I wasn’t ready! I thought I was, but I wasn’t! I didn’t get a chance to do anything I wanted with my life before this happened to me!” Elle could see in Daniel’s face that he knew immediately that he’d said the wrong thing. His mouth hung agape and he backed away from his wife slowly, look of horror frozen in place.
“You weren’t ready? You weren’t ready! Don’t talk to me about not being ready to give up your entire life and potential, Daniel, please don’t! I had to give up a hell of a lot more than you did, but guess what? I dealt with it, because I had a baby on the way, and I didn’t have time to sit around feeling sorry for myself, or go drinking my problems away with the boys, or put in for extra hours at work so I could try to forget what I was doing with my life.” Elle shook her head in amazement. How could Daniel be saying these things? It was like he regretted having Nate. The realization of how accurate that might be stabbed Elle in the gut, and she had to chew the inside of her lip to keep from tearing up.
“Please, Elle, tell me more about how you’re a much better person than I am! That’s what you’re getting at, isn’t it? Fine. You’re better than me, you’re better than me, you are just an all-around better, more self-sacrificing person than I am, and I don’t deserve someone as great as you! Is that what you want to hear?” He stormed over to the kitchenette and slammed his palms down on the wooden table, shoulders hunching, breathing heavy.
“No, Daniel! That’s the last thing I want to hear! Why would I want to hear that? But there comes a time when you have to step up or step aside, and right now you’re standing in the way! Step up, Daniel! It’s time for you to step up!” Elle shook her head and pleaded with her eyes for Daniel to understand what she was saying; he seemed purposefully oblivious to everything she wanted him to comprehend.
“What if I don’t want to step up!”
Elle stared at her husband, her hearing going foggy. There was a muffled, full silence in the room, the kitchen full of a ringing, blaring, accusatory hush. Daniel’s jaw trembled, but Elle’s just locked into place, a vein pulsing near her throat. She swallowed thickly but didn’t falter.
“No, Daniel,” Elle said quietly. Her voice was gentle, but by no means anything but shocked. Her brow creased and she straightened, crossing to where her husband stood on the other side of the kitchen table. Her words were so quiet, he had to lean closer to hang on every one she said. “Don’t apologize. You’re right. You don’t have to step up. You can tell me to go into our room right now and pack my things. Then, I’ll go into Nate’s room and pack his things. I’ll go to my parents’ house, and you will never see either one of us again--that I can promise. We’ll go, and you can carry on with your life. Live in this apartment, alone. Eat dinner every night, alone. Wait for someone else to come along who makes you want to step up. Don’t worry about us. I’ll raise Nate; maybe on my own, maybe with someone who’s ready to step up, but I will be there for my son, no matter what I have to sacrifice.
“But just know this, Daniel. One day, Nate will ask me where his father is, and I won’t be able to tell him. One day, he’ll ask me why he doesn’t know his father, and I know exactly what I will tell him. I will tell your son that his father couldn’t be bothered to stop his life and own up to his mistakes. I’ll tell him that his father was too caught up in the negative aspects of every situation to see the kind of gift we got out of the hand we were dealt. I’ll tell your son that I gave you the choice to step up or step aside, and you chose to step to the side and watch us leave, because you were too scared to love him, too scared to realize that with all the planning and plotting, life is unpredictable and happens fast. I’ll tell him not to feel sorry for himself for living without a father, but to feel sorry for you, a father living without his son.” Elle took a deep breath and looked at Daniel expectantly. When he didn’t reply, she exhaled and turned, slowly making her way back to their bedroom. Her feet dragged and her head dropped down onto her chest. Her shoulders hunched and she felt as though she would collapse beneath them.
“Elle, please wait!” Daniel ran up and grabbed her, spinning her by the shoulder. He pulled her in for a deep kiss, but her lips only pressed limply against his. “Please, Elle, I didn’t mean it like that.”
“Then what are you going to do, Daniel?”
“Are you going to step up and be a father, or are you going to pretend everything’s back to normal for a week until we have this same fight again? I don’t want to keep having these screaming matches that don’t go anywhere, Daniel. Are you going to step up, or step aside?”
Daniel was frozen in place. He said nothing, but his silence spoke volumes. Elle swallowed thickly, sighed heavily, and began her descent to the back bedroom once more.
“Hey, Dan, have you seen the new girl?” Ryan smirked at his manager and friend.
“No, I haven’t. Why, is she a troll?” Dan snorted.
“No way, man!” Ryan messed with Dan’s tie, loosening it and throwing it over the young man’s shoulder.
“Hey, cut that shit out. Is she hot, then?” Dan ducked under the counter leading into the concession stand.
“Well, no…not exactly. Hey, now you cut it out!” Dan was fiddling with Ryan’s register.
“What? Let’s see your average per-capita income, Mr. I-Up-Sell-To-Every-Customer!” Dan punched in his manager log-in and brought up Ryan’s sale information. “Hmm…I see there’s an unusual shortage of large popcorns being sold to the lovely movie-goers of this fair town…Tsk, tsk. And if she’s not ugly, and she’s not hot, she’s average, right?”
“Well, no, not exactly. And I can’t help it if all the old badgers are cheap as shit! I try, Dan.” Ryan quickly closed out of the screen with his disappointing sales.
“Sure you do. Okay. If she’s not hot, she’s not ugly, and she’s not average, then what is she?”
“I don’t know, man. She’s just…I don’t know. You gotta see her, I guess.”
“Well, what’s she look like?”
“She’s got, like…red hair--”
“--and she’s probably about five foot--”
“What is she, twelve?”
“--kinda chubby, I guess, is what you’d call it--”
“And, like…I don’t know.”
“Well, from what you’ve told me so far, she seems like a fucking prize. What’s her name, again?”
“Her name’s Elle; it’s French, or something. You just gotta see her, man. Trust me. There’s something about her.” Dan smirked and punched Ryan lightly in the arm.
“Don’t go all sappy romance movie on me, man. Did you have an instant connection, or something?” Dan teased his friend.
Ryan snorted. “In her dreams, maybe.”
“Okay, so we have a fat, short ginger named Elle. I don’t think this is gonna work, Ryan. How’s she gonna look in the orange uniform?”
“Hey, hey, hey, I guess we’re about to find out!” Ryan nodded toward the entrance to the movie theatre, where a short, curvy girl with long, curly red hair had just walked in, carrying the orange polo shirt given to all the employees. She had a round, freckled face with big, green eyes. She had a large chest and large hips, with a tiny waist in between the two. Her torso was short, but she had very long legs. She was wearing the uniform black pants, black non-slip shoes, and white undershirt. Ryan had been right; there was something about her. “Hey, Elle!” Ryan called, raising his arm above his head and waving. Elle smiled back and held up a hand in greeting before walking into the break room to clock in.
“What the fuck is wrong with you?” Dan asked in a hushed whisper the moment the door had closed. “She’s definitely hot.”
“Yeah…Yeah, I guess.” Ryan rubbed the back of his neck. Dan saw why he’d been hesitant to label her as “hot,” but there was no doubt that this girl was incredibly attractive, and hot was an adequate enough word to describe her.
“I’m totally gonna hit that,” Dan muttered, still watching the door the girl had just disappeared through.
“Don’t get too excited, bro,” Ryan said, clapping the manager on his suit jacketed shoulder. “She’s jail-bait. Told me she’s seventeen.” Dan groaned.
“What a waste,” he said as the girl walked out, scraping her red curls back into a loose ponytail. Well, he thought to himself as she joined them behind the concession stand. They didn’t have to worry about how she’d look in the uniform.
I suppose this is strange. I've been pretty dormant on this site for a while now. I recently got this idea and decided I might as well give it a shot. It's not my first OF, so I haven't any delusions about this getting a huge response, but it would be nice. Another chapter is very soon to come. This story will be alternating point-of-view, but in what I believe is a very interesting and unique way. So, for those of you who decided to read this, what do you think? Worth continuing, at least for a bit? Well, I'll probably continue, regardless, but I certainly would like to hear some feedback. Let's just take this one chapter at a time. Thanks for reading, now go comment, rate, and subscribe, please! OverAndOutxx