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    comicfan
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

A prompt a week - 15. What makes a family? - Prompt 330

Sometimes it takes an outsider to make you look at your life and see things for what they really are. When Mary comes over after the neighborhood block party, Neil sits down and has to re-examine his choices as he helps Mary with her own problems.

Frank was exhausted and he fell asleep in my arms as I carried my little man to his bedroom. He had a ball playing all day at the block party, but by his bed time he was barely standing on his feet. I set him on his bed and managed to tug his shirt off. His shoes were already untied and I was glad they hadn’t fallen off on the way home as I slipped them off and pulled his socks off too. Usually, I would get him into the tub and cleaned up, but tonight he was already asleep as I unbuttoned his shorts and left him asleep on his bed in his underwear. I left the nightlight on as I gathered his clothes together and tossed them in his hamper.

“How is he?” Mary stood with her arms crossed halfway down the hallway.

“He is already asleep. I guess he enjoyed the circus theme of the block party.”

“Why didn’t you let him get his face painted like the other kids?” Mary asked as she led the way back to my kitchen.

“Because he has a fear of clowns and Mrs. Bacon was doing the face painting dressed as one. I really wanted him to have fun, but every time he sees a clown, I’m up all night cause he has nightmares.”

Mary nodded. She leaned against the counter looking sort of depressed.

“Spit it out. What is wrong?”

“Nothing.” Mary looked up and tried to smile. It looked almost painful.

“Yeah, right. Like I believe that.”

Mary shot me a dirty look before walking over and sitting down at my kitchen table.

“Okay, if you are going to sit, I know this is going to be a long conversation. Do you want coffee?”

“Yeah.”

I walked over to my Keurig and slipped in a fresh k-cup, grabbed a mug down for Mary and one for myself. I slipped the first mug under and hit the button. While the first cup brewed I grabbed the milk out of the fridge.

“Is this going to be a cup story or a cup and cake story?”

“Funny man. Where is Tony anyway?”

“Hubby had to go help his parents this weekend. There is no way his father is climbing on the roof to clean gutters and all. Tony went to help them get everything ready for summer.”

“That explains why you and the kiddo are alone.”

“You could have asked.” I set a plate of fresh chocolate chip cookies down and slipped another k-cup in. I brought Mary the first mug and waited for mine to finish.

“I was afraid it would be something stupid like mine.”

“So spill already. What is the problem?”

“My husband is an ass.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. Mary and Christopher were both barely twenty years old and finishing college. They married a week after they graduated high school and were renting the house next door from Chris’s parents. They worked two jobs each, plus went to college full time. I never knew how they had time for each other cause they were never on the same schedule. The only thing they both seemed to have in common was they fell in love with Frank and would visit with Tony and I whenever they could.

“So what is wrong?” I grabbed a cookie and looked at my neighbor as she sat back in her chair.

“We had a half hour argument today and it was over the stupidest thing.”

I took a bite of my cookie and looked at Mary.

“Toilet paper. Can you believe two grownups can argue about toilet paper?”

I almost laughed. I could remember Tony and I going round for round about whether to buy one or two ply. It was when things were a bit rocky in our first year of getting set up together. It is one thing to date, but another when you are living day to day with each other.

“Let me grab my cup and then we can talk.” I walked over to the Keurig and took a deep breath. I grabbed my mug and headed back to the table.

“Well? Did you and Tony ever fight over something so stupid?”

I took a sip and looked Mary in the eyes. “Yup. We fought for a month over toilet paper. Every time we went to the store it was a fight over one or two ply paper. It was stupid, but one argued for the septic tank and the other for cleaning and comfort.”

Mary shook her head. “I wish it was that intelligent. We fought over whether the toilet paper should go over or under.”

I couldn’t help myself. I burst out laughing.

“Thanks a lot you bastard. I thought you would help.” Mary reached out and snagged a cookie. She took a bite and shot me another dirty look.

“I’m sure the toilet paper isn’t the real reason you two were fighting. It wasn’t for me and Tony either. What’s really wrong?”

Mary set the cookie down and then hugged herself. “Frank.”

“Frank? What does my son have to do with anything?”

Mary looked miserable. “Chris wants to start our family. I want to finish college and start work. He says we both have fun around Frank. He wants a child of his own.”

I sat there and thought back to when Tony and I had decided we wanted a child. We looked into adoption and the time to be approved for child, including the wait was years. Tony was the one who suggested finding a surrogate. The idea that the child would actually be part of one of us scared me. What if Tony had the child and we divorced. What if he was the biological father? What about me? We had long talks and he worked hard at getting me to see that by doing it with a surrogate we could have our child. He didn’t tell me that he had always intended for me to be the father of our first child. Now that Frank was nearly five, we were thinking of having a second to make our family complete. I knew how scary that step was in deciding to have a child.

“Is it that you don’t want children or you aren’t ready for one?”

Mary looked up at me, her eyes full of tears.

I reached out and offered her my hand. She got up and walked over to hug me. “You’re the first person to ask me and not tell me something. Even Chris hasn’t asked me if I want a child, just said we should have one.”

It was uncomfortable to have Mary spilling her secrets to me. I felt this was something she needed to tell Chris, but I also knew how important it was to have someone you could confide in. I held her while she cried.

“I’m scared, Neil. I’m so scared that I’m going to screw up. That I won’t be a good mother. I don’t know how you and Tony do it. You make it seem so easy.”

“Mary, there isn’t anything easy about raising a child. The first time Frank got sick I was a goddamn basket case. I rushed him to the hospital afraid he was dying, called Tony and told him our baby was in the hospital. Thank god the nurse realized I was a nervous first time father. She walked me through how to take his temp, what to watch for, the fact I should have called his pediatrician first and the whole bit. Children don’t come with an instruction booklet. You just do the best you can and you love your child. It is all you can do.”

“You didn’t really rush him to the hospital, did you?”

“Yup. Tony rushed there from his job. I nearly gave him a heart attack. Once he knew Frank and I were alright, instead of being mad he just kissed and hugged us both. I’m lucky I have him.”

The phone rang and I left Mary sitting in my chair while I went to answer it.

“Hello.” I answered the phone then noticed it was Chris’s parent’s number

“Hey babe. How did Frank like the block party?”

“He loved it. He had a ball, but our little man was so tired he fell asleep on his feet. I had to carry him home and put him to bed.”

“Sounds like he enjoyed it. I wish I had been there. Babe, my parents are doing okay, but, well, I called to let you know I am bringing home a surprise.”

“A surprise?” Tony’s idea of a surprise usually meant I was going to be doing a lot of work. “What kind of surprise?”

“The Keyholes, my parent’s neighbors, well their dog had puppies. They are old enough to be weaned now and I took one for Frankie.”

“You did what?”

“I got us a puppy.”

I counted to ten before I said another word. “I thought you wanted to wait to get a pet until after we decided if we were going to have another baby.”

“Honey, I figured the puppy would be a good way for Frank to learn some responsibility before the baby came.”

I didn’t want to fight with Tony over the phone. I still had Mary sitting a few feet away and Frank asleep just down the hall. The biggest problem was, I knew the moment I laid eyes on the puppy there would be no way I could say no. I’d lost this battle before it was begun.

“Just remember, you and Frank are going to be responsible for the puppy. I still have enough to do without worrying about taking the pup out for a walk.”

“I knew you would say yes. Don’t tell Frank. I want to surprise him. Talk to you later, hon. I got help my father move his grill into place. Love you.”

“Love you too.”

I stood holding the phone as dial tone came on.

“You got a puppy?” Mary sat looking at me wide eyed.

“Shh. Tony wants to surprise Frank.”

“I wonder … are you trying for sainthood?”

“No. But are you ready for motherhood?”

Mary stuck her tongue out and took a sip out of her mug.

I had a feeling my night was far from over.

So that was my take on prompt 330. The original prompt asked you to use the following words in a story – puppy, circus, clown, underwear, and toilet paper. So what did you think? Did you like my story? Comments are always welcomed and thank you for reading my story.

Copyright © 2017 comicfan; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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There´s one thing wrong with the prompts, they always end too soon. This was a sweet little story.

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On 06/11/2014 10:21 AM, Valkyrie said:
Great story. :) It was very relatable and a nice look inside the lives of two good friends.
Thanks Valkyrie. Glad you enjoyed my story.
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On 06/11/2014 01:30 AM, Slytherin said:
I agree with Suvitar, I never want your prompts to end because I love your writing ! :hug:
Thank you, Sly. I'm glad you loved it. :hug:
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On 06/10/2014 08:26 PM, Suvitar said:
There´s one thing wrong with the prompts, they always end too soon. This was a sweet little story.
Prompts are meant to be short, but more times than not they sort of get away from all of us and then look out. :)
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