- Art & Soul
We thanked her as she left the room.
Paul pinched the bridge of his nose and sniffled before wrapping his arms around Keira and pulling her into a tight hug. He kissed her forehead and they cried together. “Thank you, Aria. Thank you so much for this.”
Mom was crying too, squeezing my hand every now and then. Everyone cried except me.
I was numb.
It’s a boy.
Early Friday morning, I awoke to knocking at my window. My eyes moved over to the alarm clock on my nightstand. I rubbed my palms over my eyes, trying to focus on the numbers.
What the hell?
Pulling myself up from the bed, I dragged myself to the window. I was shaken awake, seeing Aria standing there in her long nightgown with monkeys all over it and matching monkey slippers.
I swung the window open and gazed straight into her eyes. “Art, what’s wrong?” Panic raced through me as I stared at her tear-filled eyes.
“Sorry to wake you. I know we aren’t talking right now, and normally when I have nights where I can’t sleep, I go to Simon’s, but he’s too happy about getting a sibling and I wouldn’t want to make him feel bad. If you want me to go I can. I just…I have no one to talk to.”
“What’s going on? Come inside and talk to me.”
She climbed inside the window.
She wiped her hands across her eyes to remove the tears that were now falling and chuckled softly. “I’m sorry. I’m just emotional and…” Her shoulders rose and fell. As if by instinct, I moved my fingers to her face and wiped at her tears. If she knew what it did to my heart when she cried…
“Talk to me,” I said again, guiding her to my bed.
“It’s silly,” she warned, sitting. I sat beside her. She’d never been in my house. This was a first for us.
She must’ve been really broken.
I wanted to inch closer and hold her against me.
But I wouldn’t.
“It’s not,” I promised. If it was bothering her, if it was making her cry, it wasn’t silly. “Talk to me,” I repeated for a third time.
“He moved,” she whispered, placing her hands against her stomach. Her head rose and her chocolate eyes smiled with her beautiful lips. “He’s kicking. Before it was just small flutters, but now he’s full-blown kicking.”
My eyes widened and without a thought my hands went to feel her stomach, but then I remembered. I paused, uncertain if I should. She took my hands into hers and placed them against her stomach. I felt it, too. The movement. The life. “Jesus,” I muttered. I’d never felt anything so magical, so real.
“Give me a word to describe it. It feels like butterflies, and stomach flips, and stomach knots all at once. What’s a word for that?”
“Happy?” she asked.
“Happy,” I replied.
She nodded. “I can’t stop crying.”
“I think that’s okay,” I said. “It’s a boy?”
“We found out today.” She cried harder. “And I’m a terrible person because I thought about keeping him when I heard that. I thought about what I would name him and who he would grow up to be, and then I wondered what I would say when he asked about the guy who called me cute but didn’t really mean it.”
“You’re beautiful,” I said, handing her one of my T-shirts to blow her nose in.
She cried even harder, because she knew I meant it.
“You’re not a terrible person because you think things like that, Art.”
“Then what does it make me? I told my best friend’s parents they could have the baby and then I think about taking it back. If that doesn’t make me terrible than what does it make me?”
I paused, searching for the right word. “Human. It makes you human.” We sat with our hands resting against her stomach. Each time we felt a kick, my heart flipped a little.
“He’s a cantaloupe now,” she told me.
“That’s pretty big, but still pretty small at the same time.” I stood up from my bed and turned on the light. “I have an idea.”
“And that is?”
“Stand up. You have to stand up for this idea.”
Questioningly, she stood. I went digging through my CD collection, searching for a certain song. “Ah, here it is,” I muttered, tossing it into the boom box that sat on top of my dresser. I went digging into my closest, knocking over boxes and my hanging clothes. Then I pulled out an old guitar case and sat it on the ground in front of Aria.
“What are you doing?” She laughed, wiping at her eyes.
“Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed I take my violin to the woods and play until I feel a little less broken. And seeing how it’s too cold to play outside, and no offense, but you are freaking terrible at playing instruments, therefore I am going to teach you the gift of this beauty.” I bent down and unlatched the case, opening it to reveal nothing and everything all at once.
“What are we looking at?” she asked.
I reached down, lifting up my first ever air guitar. “This right here is a Myers’ family antique. My grandfather taught my father his first air guitar song on this beauty here, and my father taught me on the same one. And now I would like to teach Cantaloupe his first air guitar song. Granted, I might need you to supply the fingers for the playing since Cantaloupe isn’t really…ya know, fully functional yet.”
“Understandable.” She giggled.
I placed it in her hold, and she took it. “Careful, you have to be gentle.”