Things like this usually happen when you ask yourself if it could actually get any worse.
A twenty-something woman sitting on a bench on a playground. She's watching the little kids running around, squealing. Waves at a small boy who's just reached the top of the slide. Down he goes. As soon as he's reached the ground with his tiny legs he runs over to her.
"Mom! Did you see me slide down?" he asks eagerly, beaming with joy.
"Of course, Peter," her fingers graze his cheek.
"When's Frank coming?" the boy looks around.
She starts stroking his hair, "He'll be here soon, don't you worry."
The boy pulls a face and softly pushes her hand off his head, "I'm not a baby anymore, Mom."
She laughs slightly.
"And then... then we're going to the zoo, right?"
She nods, "Yep, honey."
"Yay! But can I go slide some more? While we're waiting for Frank?"
"Certainly, I'll be here. Watching you."
He smiles and runs back to the slide.
"Be careful, Peter!" she yells after him.
"Hi, there," a man says and sits down on the bench next to her.
"Hi," she replies.
"I'm Michael. Sharon's dad?" he smiles at her.
She shakes her head, "Ah, of course. Sorry I didn't recognize you at first."
They shake hands.
"Pete's a lovely boy," the man nods towards the child.
She sighs blissfully, "He sure is. Such a blessing, really."
"I bet your husband is really proud of him, too."
The woman hesitates for a moment, staring at her son. "Yes, he is," she finally replies. "He loves him more than anything."
Me? Is it me?
I take my eyes off the screen, now showing the countdown. Channel 1, like before with Patrick.
I can't be his father. She would have told me.
Pete. His name is Pete.
Caren would have surely informed me if I had a son. If she'd been pregnant when I'd left her.
His name is Peter.
Frank was her boyfriend. Husband. Apparently they had married, I saw a ring on her finger.
"Tell me if he's my son, goddamnit!" I slammed my fist against the wall. No pain. No other effect either.
There was no reply. Of course.
If he was my son, what difference would it make? He had a father. Frank. And most definitely I was dead anyways.
If I had only known earlier. I wouldn't have left her. No. I would have been a good father. Maybe not. But I would have given it my best try. I would have... I would have...
I always wanted kids. Just not then. We talked it through. We always used protection. She was on the pill. Accidents happen.
How old was he? Was he older than four? If he was he couldn't be Frank's. If he's my son he must be around five by now.
I have a son. He's gorgeous. I think he's got my eyes. I think, I haven't seen them in a while. God, I wish I could see him again.
"Show me more! I wanna see my son..." I commanded. But I was ignored.
Same shit, different day.
How did she pull that off? She didn't meet Frank until... Ha, one year after we broke up? Did she finish her psychology program? I bet her mother helped her. She's always been very supportive of Caren.
I hate her. She should have told me if he's my son. I have a right to know.
I would have given her money. I would have taken care of him. I would have played with him. Changed his diapers. Hear him say his first words.
I let my back hit the mattress and looked at the ceiling.
Why did she call him Pete? Frank surely wouldn't have approved. Nobody wants to name their son after their wife's ex.
He must be my son.
He's so perfect. Already so much more than I ever was.
I try to recall every little thing about him. Every motion he's made.
I can't even remember the color of his pants. It's killing me. He's slipping away. Just when I found out about him.
I would have never called my son 'Peter'. Maybe as a middle name, but certainly not the first one. I always liked 'Christopher'. Or 'Marcus'. Yes, I would've called him Marcus.
Marcus Peter Wentz.
Marcus Christopher Wentz. Yes, that's got a nice ring to it.
Dark brown. His pants were dark brown. Definitely.