Chapter Twenty-Nine

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Writer's Note: Check out my SBF&L bonus content featuring extra scenes from chapters 21, 22, 27, and 28 in my book, SBF&L: But make it spicy. Check it out if you're interested in spicy stuff...

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Me and Manny were catching up at the basketball court housed in the gym the both of us went to. He was officially out of a cast and although he was taking it easy he wanted to shoot around and talk.

"I think me and Marí might actually get married soon..." he started off hesitantly. Manny and his fiancée were on again off again childhood sweethearts but they'd only gotten serious in the past few years. Once they had gotten serious they got engaged after six months of dating because Marísol had gotten pregnant and Manny was traditional in that way. He wasn't about to be an unmarried father.

But then...they'd lost the baby. It had been the first trimester but it was still so unexpected it had sent Manny and Marí reeling. They didn't feel like they could get married under those circumstances and had opted for a long engagement. It had been almost four years since then and I understood that they needed time to process what had happened. There had been a time when Manny told me he felt like he'd lost his faith in God. He couldn't understand why something like that had had to happen.

I'd tried to be there for him in my own way but he would just seem so far away from me. One night we'd had drinks in his apartment and Manny was a bit drunk when he admitted when he wanted to name the baby after me.

He'd had his hands in his hair and looked irritated. "I keep thinking what things would've been like by now. You know, with another mijo. You'll always be mijo to me and I wanted to name the...I wanted to name the baby after you." Manny started to cry and I scooted over on the couch and folded my arms around him. "You're such a good guy and so pure. And, babies are like that, too. So good. I don't understand. Was I not good enough? I know Marí is. So it had to be me. Maybe I didn't pray enough. Maybe I drink too much." Manny was half-laying on my chest, soaking my shirt with his tears.  "I don't know how to be okay again."

I petted Manny's hair, feeling heartbroken for my closest friend. I never thought of what it would be like to lose a child or even the idea of getting someone pregnant because I was gay and I didn't know if I wanted children. I didn't know if I wanted to subject myself to thousands of dollars for surrogacy or preparing for an adoption process. So, I just didn't think about it.

But, Manny had always wanted to be a dad. I knew he'd be great at it, too. He'd accepted me despite my stuttering and my awkwardness and my anxiety. I knew that if he had a kid, no matter how they turned out, he'd love them unconditionally.

At the time I'd tried to be honest. "I think you'll be okay again," I said softly, stroking his hair, "maybe not today or tomorrow, but eventually. You pray all the time and you don't drink too much. Sometimes, terrible things happen and it's not anyone's fault. And one day you guys will have a kid. And they don't have to have my name, and they'll be healthy. And you'll be an amazing parent. You're so good to me even though I— even though I'd understand if you weren't."

Manny sniffled loudly. "Aw, mijo. And I like taking care of you, so it's no biggie. I just wish— things had turned out differently. Then you'd have another niece or nephew. CJ could've had a little cousin." Then all of a sudden Manny was crying again. "We still have all that fucking baby clothing. We told people too fast. Mierda. Next time will be different."

I let Manny ramble and cry for a few more minutes before he fell asleep. After he started to drool on my shirt I shook him awake and brought him to my room. He stripped down to his boxers and stared at the ceiling while lying down.

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