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Pen Your Pride

The Kid

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My hair is still damp when I hear a knock on my door. I wish I could have a solid 45 minutes to myself. That's all I want. I get home from work at 2:30 and I have to pick up my baby at 3:15 from preschool. Why can't I just be alone, just once. Dear god, just once. I placed my mug of tea on the counter and crossed through the living room to the foyer where the front door is. I mean honestly, the doorman didn't just let anyone come up and not buzz me first. Maybe it is the doorman, with a package or something. Why does it even matter, point is I'm pissed because I want to be alone. I unlocked it, twisted the knob and almost started screeching at the person in front of me.

My eyes feel like they could explode along with my heart and just about every other organ in my body. My hands feel on fire and my neck has this weird tingling burning sensation.

"Harry, what the hell-"

"Hey babe."

He blatantly moves me aside as he walks into my apartment. I stumble against the open door, out of breath and possibly in need of a paper sack to either breathe into or throw up in. I accidentally slam the door and follow the fellow I haven't seen for years. He's in my living room, searching for something as his eyes scan the entirety of the room.

"Looking for something?" I ask crossing my arms.

"Yeah, a picture of my kid. Why don't you have any pictures of my kid?" He kinda throws his arms in the air before ruffling them through his curls.

"Oh? Your kid? You mean the kid I've been taking care of for four years, your kid? Your kid? The one that you haven't even-"

"I get it, god, calm the f--- down will you?"

"Me calm down?! What? I haven't heard from you in years and you just barge into my life? How did you even get here?"

"Let's just say Paul's nephew is a cop and I paid him a lot to tell me where you live."

"So considerate of you, you stalker."

He stares at me with this smug face and he throws a shrug in there as well.

"Well what do you want?"

"I want to meet...it."

"It?"

"I don't know if it's a boy or girl."

"Uh-huh."

His eyes widen and his cheeks get pink. I smile smug now, seeing him fuming in my living room. So he wants to meet my child. After all this time. How about no.

"Harry," I begin with a sigh.

"No!" He shouts. I jump back and he immediately retracts his loud statement with a sorry. "I mean, I mean...don't start with that 'Harry' thing. I know how this works. You explain to me in your calm witch craft voice and get me to do what you want. I'm not listening. We can do this the hard way, where I get a lawyer to sue your ass for keeping my kid away from me, or the easy way where you let me meet...it."

I can't believe the tightening of my throat is getting me to start crying, oh lord why. I'm upset, angry, confused, and about a million more emotions are pounding through me. This isn't fair, he can't do this to me. We are perfectly fine and we don't need him to screw everything up. He can't just come right back and demand this, he didn't do anything. My child is my child, not his. It's not fair, it's not fair.

"You can't...y-you can't do this," I breathe, my arms wrapped around myself for some kind of comfort. This is how it has been. If anything goes wrong I've had to comfort myself in a crying session in my room with some tequila and lime because that's all I had. I get borderline drunk, cry off the stress and wake up the next day okay once again. He can't ruin my perfectly good system. And now that I think about it that is actually a horrible system. Why does Harry have to ruin everything?

I literally crumple to the floor in a crying mess at that very thought, holding my knees and sobbing.

"Oh f---, no, don't cry. I-you know what it does to me when you cry. I didn't mean to come on so strong it's just...you make me nervous and I don't know what else to do-"

"Shut up Harry," I continue to sob. I hear him bend to the ground next to me and simply rub my back as I cry like a baby. After a few minutes I wipe at my cheeks and shove myself up onto my feet. I feel him stare at me as I continue to clear my face of the weakness that spilled from my eyes. I straighten my shirt out and take a deep breath before meeting his eyes again. "You call one of them easy and one of the ways hard but they're both hard for me. It's not f-fair," I say, one of those after-math crying shakes interrupting the last word.

He swallows, and bites onto his lower lip.

"I'm sorry, I just don't know what else to do."

I nod.

"Do you want some tea? Or coffee? Maybe we could just sit down?" I ask him.

"I'm fine, really," he tells me.

"You've always said that," I tell him, barley smiling. He shrugs and simply smiles back. I squeeze his forearm before leaving the living room to the kitchen. I make him some tea and take my own unfinished tea that's probably lukewarm by now. He's sitting on one of the sofas, bouncing his leg and resting his head against his hand. I set a mug in front of him and sit down on the love seat to his right.

"I want to meet the kid." I stare at him, trying to say something but nothing is coming to mind. "You left me, and said that I wasn't ready, you told me to have fun. I've had my fun okay? I'm ready now." I blink, remembering what I said to him. When I left he had just turned 21, and it's been three years and ten months since I left, so he will be 25 and I'll be 24. Its scary to think that it's been this long. I wonder if he's thought about us while 'having fun.' "I haven't forgotten about you, like you said to though. I couldn't. I was....scared that you weren't okay, that maybe you got rid if the baby or that something happened during the pregnancy and I just had to wait and it was painful."

"I can't tie you down-"

"You're not going to. This is my choice. Like I said, I want to see my kid. I'm going to no matter what you say, and I'm not trying to get angry but you're not helping me here." He groans and rubs his face with his palms.

"Harry, I need you to listen to me okay?" I look at him with an intense stare. He nods, watching me with that beautiful face of his. God they look so much alike. "If you enter OUR kids life, you can't come and go as you please. They need stability, I need stability. There is sacrifice, no more late nights, no more hard partying, and no more putting yourself first. The kid comes first. For everything. Understand?" He nods again. "Okay. Now, how long are you here for?"

"As long as you'll let me, I booked the hotel for a couple weeks so I can leave whenever you start screaming at me," he says with a bright, relieved smile. I laugh, then glance at the clock.

"Would you like to meet the kid today?"

His mouth parts and his hand pauses from touching his hair incessantly.

"Really??"

"Yeah I have to go pick the KID up at 3:15 so we need to leave soon."

"You're not going to give me a gender? A name???"

"Nope," I say popping the p. He might as well stomp his foot with that face. I start laughing at his grumpy self, cackling and squirming in the chair.

"Come on!"

"When you meet THE KID, I'll tell you their name." I laugh as I get up to get my shoes on in the foyer. He follows me and still has his arms grumpily crossed when I finished lacing up my boots. I shrug on my coat and we walk out the door.

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