a one-shot i put together out of sadness, written on the back of useless receipts when i was bored at work. reviews are always helpful*
"Three years is a long time" Huffed from deep in his throat, the surprise faltering as a collective calm now settled in. Fidgeting with the zipper on her jacket, the girl to his left then fidgeted slightly in the swing, her eyes dropping sadly to the ground.
"You'll never know how sorry I am. It was the last thing I wanted for you at 19; you were working on your career and it was just a stupid mistake that we both-"
Cutting her off, his voice was louder now, clearer than before, "It wasn't a mistake" he assured her, "She's beautiful."
"Regardless" The laughter of the young child filled the air, before being drowned out by the sound of her voice, "Gracie just broke your heart and you were never around; you had so much on your plate, how could I add the stress?"
"I don't know Bri, I just ..." Sighing heavily, he searched for the words to convey the emotions he would have never expected to feel, "I feel like a failure, like I should have known, like I'm letting her down, like I should have made it right somehow."
Brianna sighed; there was nothing she could say to take away the pain in his heart or to water down the truth. Secrets were meant to stay locked away forever, but the sadness in his eyes when he saw her that afternoon, the emotions that poured through the windows to his soul broke her down, there was no way she keep it a secret any longer. Fidgeting again in the swing, she picked absently and nervously at her finger nails, Brianna fought back the tears that she knew she had been hiding for three long years.
"At least she's still a Trohman ..." The attempt at content humor in his voice broke her heart, Jake was his cousin, his very best friend for the majority of his life, and the pain that was surfacing inside of him, knowing his best friend, his own flesh and blood had taken the responsibility of cleaning up his mess.
"You're not a failure Joe and you aren't letting her down ..." Brianna cooed, taking his hand into her own, the warmth of her skin against his own relaxing him more than he would have liked it to. "You can still be a part of her life, without the responsibility, no questions asked."
"To be fair, it's obviously too late to take responsibility now." Anger surfaced in his voice, but he held back the outburst that was burning deep inside. Taken slightly aback by his tone, Brianna felt the tears well again before standing her ground.
"To be fair, you left for six months, with a few phone calls here and there, whenever you remembered that you had friends and family back home." Matching his anger, she took a stand on the situation, "How was I supposed to break the news to you when I could barely get you on the phone? And after you stopped calling and answering all together, what then?"
Dropping his head in shame, he took her truthful jab in stride, mumbling an apology to the dirt below his feet. Success momentarily got to his head, and he forgot what he had left behind; the break off of his long-term relationship with the self-proclaimed love of his life forced his heart to push away all positive feelings, pushing Brianna, the girl who had stood by his side through it all, to the side.
Noticing his sudden silence, she sighed heavily before proposing a truce, "I don't want to fight with you about the past, we made a mistake, you were heart-broken and I was vulnerable. Luckily our mistake brought that beautiful little girl into the world, and without her, I think I would have gone crazy after you left. You said it yourself Joe, three years is a long time."
Breaking into a million little pieces, his heart fell to the ground as the little girl came rushing over from the playground, her dark hair blowing in the breeze, her tiny legs carrying her as fast as they could. "Mommy, who is your friend?" The sound of her voice triggered the emotion he had be trying hard to hold back and the sound of the word 'friend' crashing over her lips triggered the tears to quickly well up in the corner of his eyes.
"Ava, this is your Uncle Joe."
"I have an Uncle Joe?" Ava asked, clutching her mother's leg, nervously peering over at him, a tiny smirk playing on her lips.
"Yes sweetie, this is your Uncle Joe, be polite, say hello." Brianna smiled down at her daughter, the resemblance was uncanny and for the first year of her life, it was hard for Brianna to hold back the tears whenever she looked at her daughter, at the life they had brought into this world together.
"Hello Uncle Joe, it's very nice to meet you." Ava cooed shyly, her cheeks flushing a light pink, before she took off running, back to the playground.
Sighing heavily, Joe felt his heart plummet down further than it had previously fallen. "What now?" Was the only statement, question, he could form, resting his head on the cold metal chain of the swing.
Brianna sighed, "We go back to Aurora, you and Jake reconcile and you take the leading role of cool Uncle Joe."
"Mommy, will you push me?" Ava shouted, from a nearby swing set, shrunken just right for her size.
'It's that simple" Brianna smiled at Joe as she pushed herself off of the swing set.
"What if it isn't that simple Bri?" He mumbled quietly to no one but himself as she shuffled over to her daughter, his daughter, their daughter. Resting his elbows on his knees, he dropped his head into his hands as the tears broke quietly through the barrier, mumbling to himself as dampness covered the palms of his hands.
"What if I love you? What if I've loved you my whole life? What if I ran away because I was afraid, I was afraid that you didn't love me too? What if I want to be a family and I want to love my daughter as much as I love you? Is it all really that simple?"
No matter how hard we try to simplify our lives, our emotions counteract the simplicity, complicating every situation to the brink of a breakdown. What is done can never be undone, and its hard to place the blame after the mess is cleaned up, the shambles of a disaster swept to the side; it's then when we realize what we have done, when we are alone with our choices and the remains of the mistakes we knew we were making.