Something Beautiful by Jacob Banks
Tanya walked into the room and placed her items on the table. She looked around and smiled and said
“I think we should all take a seat in the living room and hash this out”
Anthony took a sip from his glass as we all gravitated towards the living room. I gently tugged Tanya on her arm and said
“What are you doing?
This was not what we talked about”
She stopped, turned around and placed both hands on my cheeks as she said
“Do you trust me?”
I bowed my head but showed a look of approval and she said,
“I got you. I’ve always had your back. So lets go and you’ll see”
We all sat down and you could feel there was tension in the air. Tanya opened the floor by saying
“I know a few of you are wondering why I’m here and what I have to say but I wanted to clarify that…”
“Why is she moderating this meeting?!”
My mother interrupted from her seat.
Tanya smiled and said
“Mrs. Williamson, with all due respect, I will sit here quietly if you go ahead and address the situation with complete honesty and leaving no details out.
If not, please let me speak for the benefit of us all”
My mother relaxed in her seat.
I have to admit to you all that I was really confused that day. I had never seen my mother on the defensive that much. Much less because it was a woman “less” than she was, putting her in check.
She seemed so guilty but it still wasn’t making sense.
Tanya continued and said,
“Now, the big question we all want answered is not just if Ruby is Andrew’s but how Janet kept it from us all for so long.
So who would like to start?”
I jumped in and said
“I just want to know how anyone thought it was okay to deprive me of my youth. Allow me to be stuck in a loveless marriage when they knew I was not the father of the girl I have come to adore so much.
How is that fair? How have you been able to sleep at night for seven years?
Janet wiped the tears streaming down her cheeks and responding to me, she said
“While I’m not going to sit here and defend hiding it from you or saying I shouldn’t have been honest; what you just said right there is the reason why I never told you.
You adore Ruby!
From the moment my family had come to your house to tell you I was pregnant, you have been an amazing father to Ruby.
Why would I want to jeopardize that?
Besides, I was made to believe that raising a child with you was the best option I had at the time by people”
I looked at her and said
“Who the hell gave you that impression?”
She wiped some more tears off her face with her right hand and pointed to my mother with her left hand.
Everybody turned his or her head towards my mother.
She lifted her head and sat up straight.
Ruby was still off in the other room, making all sorts of noises with her toys and such.
Anthony had still not spoken and Janet was still crying.
Tanya had this look of “let’s hear it” written across her face.
I just wanted more clarity.
My mother was about to speak.
She fiddled with beads on her wrist as she said
“I have gathered very quickly that I will be the one identified to be the scapegoat in all of this and while I recognize that I had a part to play in a lot, I never did anything to hurt anyone of you.
That being said, the topic of Ruby as its own was secondary to the initial problem.
Andrew, remember when you were in your final year in high school and you were playing football.
Remember that injury you got?”
I looked over and nodded. I was getting a sense of where she was going.
“You were hit really hard below the belt around your testicles.
The options were surgery or intensive medication with no playing. You left the team for the rest of the season.
When we went for the follow up months later, the doctor told me we had to change the medication because there were rumors in the medical community that the drug led to low sperm count.
So you see, I have always had the worry since then that you would not be able to have your own children.
When the situation presented itself and I found out that you and Anthony had been with the same girl, when she reported she was pregnant, I encouraged her to go with you.
She seemed fairly confident that the baby was Anthony’s but I leaned in on her and encouraged her to pick you.
I was trying to help you.
Anthony was not serious with his life and he still isn’t at the moment. You Andrew, you were the better opportunity for Ruby to have a good life.
And how was I supposed to gamble on your future that you may or may not have children. You have one now and that’s all that matters to me”
There was a very brief moment of silence as my mother rested her back on the sofa and we all took that in.
I understood it a bit.
After all, she was looking out for me but she should have told me, I thought to myself. I could have handled it; I think.
Anthony downed the rest of the drink in his glass and he blurted out
“Mum, you see why you are the problem. You have always been the problem.
You always put me down. Ever since dad died, you have always put me down.
Nothing I do is good enough.
Because I elected not to finish college and pursue art, you have always ridiculed me.
Now you’re saying you might have given my daughter to Andrew because he might never have kids?
How about me mum?
How about me?!
When will you start thinking about me and what I want and need? When?”
Anthony stood up as he began to yell towards my mother.
My mother got up and got in his face as she said
“You will watch your tone when you speak to me and speak to me with respect.
Sit down and talk like a man and stop yelling like a stupid child.”
Anthony was heaving and huffing. His chest was rising as you could tell he was filled with anger.
He took a few steps back and then he sat down in his seat.
My mother walked backwards and sat down.
She was back.
That woman was the one that we grew up with cutthroat to the core and no nonsense.
It took me a minute to refocus but I said
You are about to make this about you. Mum just said that for all we know, I may never be able to have children and you’re here talking about being unfairly treated?
Are you for real, bro?”
If Anthony could punch me in the face at that moment, I bet he would have.
I believe that he was so angry that he now had a smile on his face.
He looked at me as he gestured and said
“Look at you again with your righteous ass self-pity cry. It has always been like this since we were kids. It has always been about you.
You’re one who was good at school. You played the sports.
You made mom laugh, everyone loved you.
You got the girls and friends. Yet you still always took from me.
You have always been taking from me.
When she was running for office and all that stuff, who was she always taking to work with her?
You were like her only son and we all know it.
Now here we are, forgive me for not having sympathy for your situation because mom here will find a way to fix your problem for you.
Or steal someone else’s child to make you happy but Ruby is mine and I’m taking her. I don’t care what any of you have to say.
I have to win something too and this is it for me”
I was taken aback.
The level of jealousy and resentment laced in Anthony’s voice broke my heart.
How could I have never known that my brother felt this was about me?
We had been best friends till his Freshman year in college when he became cool and pledged to a fraternity and all.
He was hanging out and calling me less and eventually we grew apart as a day to day friendship but I never once doubted his love for me or believed he would doubt mine.
I was shocked.
“Wait, Anthony you think this is a game?”
“You think Ruby’s life is something to be played with because you are clearly jealous of your younger brother?
Wow. That is so low.
This is a life we are talking about here. This is 7years of my life invested into this girl and you want to throw that away?
How can you be so mean?
You have no means of taking care of her or providing for her. You can’t even love her properly.
Man fuck this!”
I scoffed and clenched my fists as I paced the floor
“Look, I don’t hate you or have anything against you. For the most part, I think we all love each other. I just want what is mine.
Ruby is mine.”
Our mother jumped in and said
“Ruby is not a toy and you cannot be trusted to take care of her the way she deserves. Also it is very possible that she could be Andrews.”
Anthony got up and said
“See you’re doing it again?!
Never any validity for me. Why wouldn’t you trust me?!
I am your son too!”
My mom was close to tears as he yelled at her when she yelled back
“Because you are just like your father!”
All eyes were glued on her.
What did she just say?
Where was it coming from?
“You are just like your father.
You have always been like him.
At the time you were involved with Janet, I was getting calls every other day about your exploits with other women. You valued no one but yourself.
Not my hard work, not the family name, not even your family. Now you might have changed but every time I looked at you, all I saw was your father.
The man who walked out on me and died on his way to his mistresses house.
I have always seen him in you and I cannot connect with it. Have I loved you less?
But knowingly putting Ruby in your care?
I just couldn’t.”
My mother got up as if to leave.
Anthony stood there glued.
She was right.
Back then, Anthony was reckless but he still loved his family. At least that was what I felt like was happening.
My mother continued and said
“Like I said earlier, I don’t mind being the one to take the fall for everything but here is what is at hand. I assume the two of you brothers want to figure who Ruby’s father is.
So go ahead and get a paternity test done and we can all move on.
At least I know that all I have ever done is to protect you but I am a mother and I don’t mind being the target of all the blame”
Tanya who had been sitting quietly then said
“Is that so?
So how will you explain when I came to your house back then, before my parents shipped me out of the country to beg you to talk to my parents. I told you that I was in love with your son and I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him and you told me to leave.
You told me that I would find somebody else.
Who were you protecting then?”
My mother stopped in her tracks.
She scanned Tanya up and down and said
“Look here, I know my son loves you now and probably did then too but you will not question me.
Just for the sake of today, I will answer.
I was protecting my son and you if you think about it. The doctors told me that he may not be able to have kids.
And you were drunk in love with him.
How was I to know that after 10years of waiting, your family will not ask you to leave?
Or blame it on you even?
I wanted any woman there gone so if he met someone new, at least he would already be a father.
It was nothing personal but my family comes first.
I had to make sure that Andrew was protected in the event that he may never have kids again”
Tanya smiled and said to my mother
“I understand that now but years ago, it just seemed like you were pushing me away from the man that I loved.
And then I heard later that he was having a baby, I couldn’t take it.
If I had known the situation, I would have stayed with him. Your son is and has been everything to me for years. He is my best friend and the man I love.
Mrs. Williamson, I am also sorry to say that you made a mistake back then because I am pregnant.
Yes, for your son Andrew.”
My mother’s eyes grew big. Janet looked up, Anthony just sat still and I said
She smiled and stood up as she repeated
“I am pregnant Andrew. I am having our baby”
I didn’t know what to say.
That came straight out of now where. I came closer to her and squeezed her in a big hug.
It was a relief for me personally because it meant I was fully functioning.
I squeezed her so tight and as I placed her down and turned around, my eyes caught Ruby standing in the doorway.
“Daddy, I’m hungry”
The tension in the room was palpable.
You could even feel it burning the hairs on your skin.
But that was how I was feeling now.
Knots in my stomach as I clutched Tanya’s left hand in my right as we waited in the hospital for the results of the paternity test.
I just wanted to get it over with.
Ruby had been staying with Janet in the home.
Janet was more involved with her and focusing more of her energy into her. I think the events at the cabin made it clear to her that she needed to take a bit more control of her life.
The divorce papers had been signed and it was clear that we were going to go our separate ways unless connected by Ruby.
I knew in my heart that no matter how it turned out, I would be there for Ruby.
I wasn’t going to abandon her, she gave me life when she was born and I would repay her with love as much as I could.
The waiting room almost felt like an episode of the popular show Maury.
My mother was there sitting with Anthony, they had begun repairing their long strained relationship.
I was with Tanya while Ruby and Janet played with some of the toys.
Remember Sarah, from way back when?
Well she was one of the nurses at the hospital. She came over to me and said
“Congratulations you too.
He’s a good one. Keep him”
Referring to Tanya. I thanked her as she walked away.
A few minutes later, the doctor called us into his office.
The office was too small to fit all of us. My mother and Janet sat down while Tanya, Anthony and I stood behind them.
One of the nurses was playing with Ruby down the hall.
The doctor thanked us for our patience and cooperation. It all just seemed like a waste of time. I just wanted to know and I needed to know as soon as possible.
Eventually, the doctor pulled out the envelope and said
“….. we did a series of tests on the three of you and while we can confirm that Janet is Ruby’s mother. You men are not a match.
Neither of you is Ruby’s father.”
The whole room gasped and Janet began to cry profusely. Nobody knew the right words to say. We all just stood there wondering what the next move should be.
Janet was inconsolable.
I couldn’t believe it.
We couldn’t believe it.
What The Heck Man right?
Slowly, we filed out of the room..
Anthony seemed shot. Like all the verve in his step was gone.
I think he had hoped that raising Ruby would give him purpose in life; a reason for a new direction.
My mother walked away seeming like all the work she had done for all those years had gone to waste.
I gave Ruby a hug and as I got up, she said
“Daddy don’t cry…”
And I cried even more. I wasn’t going to leave her life, but I thought she was mine.
I had hoped she was mine.
I had prayed she was mine.
But we don’t always get what we want now, do we?
Janet came and they walked out. I couldn’t even watch. It hurt too much.
Crying was the only thing that felt human.
It had been two weeks since the hospital and Tanya was moved in to our new condo, as we prepared for our baby.
We were getting ready to attend a friend’s book launch party when I heard a knock on the door.
“T, could you check the door please”
I said from the kitchen
Tanya went to the door and opened it. Then she said
“Babe, it’s Janet.
Please come in”
She declined as I appeared and she said
“Andrew, can I talk to you please?”
I came close to her as she spoke
“Since the hospital, I have done a lot of reflecting and thinking. I have concluded that you are Ruby’s father.
You might not be her father biologically but you are her father. There is no man on this Earth that can love her better than you.
You have given her everything since conception and I would hope that you can continue to love her that way.
I have taken a new job about 3hours away and I will start soon.
I know you have wanted Ruby and you’re expecting another but I need you to parent this girl with me.
She is all I have and I know she is what you have needed for so long.
What do you say?”
I looked at her and thanked her.
Nothing else was said.
Ruby stepped out of the car and ran into my arms. I gave her a big hug as she broke and ran into the house and hugged Tanya.
Then she noticed Tanya’s dog, well you know they instantly fell in love.
Janet waved and whispered
as she got into her car
I walked back into the house and shut the door behind me. Ruby was playing with the dog to my right and Tanya was standing to my left.
I looked at Ruby and then at Tanya.
Tanya smiled and said
“I told you we should have gotten the house with the big yard”
I walked over to her and gave her a kiss. She kissed me back and said
“I love you baby”
I smiled and said
“I love you too”
I let out a deep sigh and Tanya came up behind me and hugged me from the back as she said
“Wherever we go, however high we fly; I got you baby.”
For the first time in a long time, I truly believed that.
Ladies and Gentlemen: it’s been Turbulence 4. It’s been #What The Heck Man. Thank you for coming. I am The Wordsmith.
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