3 - Epic, book-worthy beginnings.

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Karen and I continued to talk about my family for ages, which is how long it takes when there's as much history as we all had. It's a good thing she books double-sessions for the first counselling appointment — to get all the messy family dynamics out of the way before you can delve into the specifics of how your life turned to shit. I had a feeling explaining my family to her would take a little longer than two very expensive hours, though. Lucky me.

Somehow, the conversation shifted slightly, and I found myself explaining to Karen that there have been so many moments in life where I look back and wonder how things would have turned out if I made a different choice. Not necessary a better choice, just a different one.

The time when Madden came and Bree left (again) was one of these moments, because around that time it happened all over again, but with two very different and very attractive people.


Madden continued sleeping in my bedroom when Bree left, partly due to me begging my parents to let him, and partly because there simply wasn't any more room in the house for him to live anywhere else. For some inexplicable reason, it was comforting to have him there, even if it was weird as all hell have a restless, crying baby dominating your life at sixteen.

For as long as I can remember, I had never slept well, so Madden waking up throughout the night was never a major issue in that respect. In fact, I was usually able to get some extra study done in the dim light of my bedside lamp when he was feeding, which actually helped carry me through my senior high school studies.

What I struggled with most when it came to Madden was the conflict I felt whenever I would leave him to do things, like school, or work, or the rare times I just tried to be a normal teenager and socialise with my friends. A very big part of me felt like I had assumed the full responsibility for him when I begged for him to stay living in my room, and therefore needed to be present at all times to make sure he was okay. I had learned by then that my stepfather was definitely not to be trusted to keep anyone safe, least of all a baby, and my mother was too depressed and alcohol-dependant to be thinking responsibly at the best of times. So, as the eldest, it then fell on me as a sacred duty to be the responsible one and take care of him, just like I guess I did with my own siblings.

But I was also seventeen and starting to want new things in life that didn't involve baby vomit and preparing school lunches every day.

Ruben was a very big part of the pull I felt to just be a teenager and not the primary caregiver to my nephew.

But he was also the one responsible for me wanting not to be a teenager and actually being the primary caregiver to my nephew.

We had been dating for almost a year when Bree returned before having Madden. I met him at my work, where he rushed in from the torrential downpour outside seeking warmth and solace by our fireplace in the café. I know in movies and books it's always the girls that are usually falling victim to Mother Nature and sexualised with soaking clothes clinging to their every curve, only to be gawked at by dudes lusting over everything they can now more accurately imagine is going on underneath. But I can say, without a doubt, that the reverse, where the guy is the one dripping wet, especially when that guy is a tall sixteen-year old who had been playing footy his whole life and was therefore more chiselled than Michelangelo's David, is just as breathtaking. 

The ridiculous jokes that spewed forth from my mouth in a lame attempt at flirtation when we first met were completely beyond my control and horribly embarrassing. Whatever I said must have worked though, because I caught him staring and smiling at me as often as I was caught staring and lusting over him for the next hour that he remained seated at my work.

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