Reggie wakes me up in the middle of the night only to ask me that one question:
“So, what about a honeymoon?” I don’t look at him, shutting my eyes tightly in hope that he gives up. He has got to be kidding me. Normally, I’d explode at anyone trying to have me cut down on my precious sleep, but it appears I must have a soft spot for Reggie, because I just continue to peacefully lie, ready to fall back asleep. A shame that he doesn’t take advantage from my out of the common kindness.
“What about a baby?” I blurt out, not even opening my eyes. Oh crap. What have I just said? Hopefully he doesn’t pay attention. “Go back to sleep, love,” I promptly add, counting on the fact that he didn’t hear. Unlickily for me, he did hear.
“Wait, what was that? Are you serious?” He asks, genuinely shocked. Dammit, it could go better than that. Now, something to cool things off. He must be the first person ever who doesn’t get a good vendetta in revenge for waking me up.
I sigh almost theatrically and reluctantly raise my body a bit, realizing that I really won’t have any more sleep today. To hell with you, Reggie.
“Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t really want to think about that after the Clinton fiasco,” I respond truthfully. I certainly do not think… whatever time it is (4 am?!)… is a good time to discuss babies. But maybe he has other plans. Not that I’m questioning his apparently strange sleeping habits, but… Whom the heck am I married to?
“Well, I am not sure how I would feel about a baby. It’s… hard to imagine after losing April.” Noticing how his voice breaks for a while, I frown slightly, suddenly paying more attention to him, sleep remnants swiftly departing, leaving me wide awake at this ungodly hour.
“You’ve never told me much about either her or Amanda. Maybe now’s the time. Tell me… what was she like?” A forced, muffled laugh comes out of his chest. Is it a good sign or…?
“Amanda was… so very different from you. She was determined, always knew what she wanted and had her methods to arrange your life, whether you liked it or not.” Don’t try to tell me I am not determined just because I don’t wake up at 4 am… “She was a great runner, always up for one marathon or another. She loved training people and I believe she was brilliant at that, though I never let her train myself. At that moment when we met… I was at the point where I really needed someone like her. Someone, who, you know, would direct me, tell me what to do. She was good for support, but, deep down, I know she never liked the idea of me risking my life for a hobby. To her, it was never a passion, just a hobby.” He ceases speaking for a moment to catch some breath. It looks as it’s not easy for him to speak about her, still. No matter if he critizes her or not, there’s this softness applied to his voice as he speaks about his dead wife. I wish he spoke about me this way. How does he even speak about me? Chances are I never paid attention to it up to now… I straighten up, not wanting him to be aware of my jealousy.
“I… I have never been really good with words. You know that, Hailey. You all know that. You, women, you have these instincts, insight that I’ve always been jealous of as a man. You can voice your feelings with ease. Amanda was like that. She appeared tough on the surface, but there was this soft side of her as well. She could be really lovely if she wanted to. And her determination could make up for a trillion of people. It’s she who made me who I am now. But…”
I don’t know if what Reggie has just said is true for I don’t know what to say to his statement and I don’t think I can use my ‘instinct’ for that, so I just wait for him to say some more, just so I can come up with a smart remark. I am starting to regret bringing up the topic of Amanda as the more he talks, the more uneasy I’m feeling.
“… she wasn’t you, Hailey. That relationship about her was rich when it comes to mental-ish things. But she wasn’t really passionate, or at least not in the way you are. She wanted me to grow up, to… to be that dad of a teenage daughter, to carry that assigned role with pride and dignity. She wanted me to do something ‘serious’, even though it’s she who helped me get where I am in racing. She never encouraged that. It sounds so cliché, Hailey, but I felt like she was hurting that little boy inside of me, the very same one who loved sudden surges of adrenaline overtaking him, who loved living on the edge, not thinking the consequences over. Amanda always thought of the them. To the point she exactly planned when the best time to conceive our child would be. She planned April and she, to some extent, planned me, to. But that plan, I mean myself, I didn’t go according to the plan. For that boy inside of me could not be killed, it could only be put in a coma, but not killed.” He cuts his monologue, apparently only then becoming aware of my presence. He gives me a sad look, searching for something in my eyes that he doesn’t appear to find. “You don’t understand,” he states matter-of-factly. I shake my head, trying to think of something coherent to say. But I’m at loss for words.
“Amanda was not me,” I say slowly. “We’re very different from one another.”
“I don’t think you understand why I chose you out of all, Hailey. Do you?” I shake my head yet again, looking at him expectantly, secretly thankful for the change of topic.
“Remember that boy I’ve been talking about, yeah?” I quickly nod. “So it’s you who put him out of that coma. At first, I knew you were young, although I never suspected as young as you were. And yet I wanted to help you, convincing myself that it wasn’t more than just the fact I liked the way you sang. Then, as we started hooking up, and you told me your age, I couldn’t get that out of my system that you were exactly of April’s age and I was afraid of getting involved in anything more physical with you. That felt too wrong, as if I was either some sort of a pedophile or getting involved in an incest. I had a similar feeling with you that I had with my daughter. The urge to protect you at any cost, to make sure no one hurts you. But another feeling was added to that and that was the sexual attraction I felt for you. It is this part of my feeling for you that made me feel guilty and disgusted with myself. I felt like those nasty old men who want to take advantage of young, inexperienced girls. I never wanted to take advantage of you. And then you started practically forcing myself onto me. Again, I admired the intensity of your emotions and how well you could show them. I was never good at telling what it is exactly that I want. And you made me understand that back then, it was you that I wanted. And guess what? It still is you, the true ball of fire I’ve come to love.”
“Wow, Reggie, I am not sure what to say. Do you still miss Amanda, though? You speak of her with a lot of love, as if she was right here with you.” Goodness, Hailey, he’s just said a ton of nice things about you and here you are, bringing Amanda again. Mental slap in the face wouldn’t help, would it? Get over it, girl.
“Who knows, maybe she is still somewhere floating around us? No, Hailey, I don’t want Amanda back. And in fact, that makes me feel horrible, because I can’t help but wonder if our marriage would have survived had she not died that early. If we could go on living like that, with her dictating my every step and every day killing more of the child in me. I was on my way to become that bitter old man. It’s funny how old I felt being with her, and you made me feel that perhaps I’m not yet on my way to start thinking of a fancy coffin.” He smiles at me for the first time during this talk. But his remarks have me tired. How many times do I have to tell him the same things? Over and over again. Here we go.
“Because you are not, Reggie. You’re not a nasty old chap, you know. You should stop thinking in labels as this really won’t get you anywhere. And I feel like I should come clean now, as well, now that you’ve confided in me. So, remember that unfortunate article? It had this brief mention about my affair with a certain policeman in it…” I take a deep breath, readying myself to say what I am about to confess.
“Yes, I do remember. I didn’t want to ask too many questions, though. You’ve probably moved on from that… perhaps even more so than I have from Amanda.” Sad smile strikes again. Green eyes glistening in the faint light cast by Reggie’s bedlamp.
“Moved on? Not exactly. I don’t think I ever wil with the amount of pain I’ve caused. You see, Cedric was Frank’s dad. We had an affair when I was in high school and it eventually caused Frank’s parents to divorce. For me, I had to pay a certain price for my irresponsibility. Clinton…” Reggie looks me in the eyes with apparent disbelief.
“Wait, don’t tell me that he’s actually Frank’s brother!” I bite my lip, throwing him an apologizing glance.
“But he is…” He keeps quiet for a moment until he finally speaks.
“You’ve had your fair share of drama, as well, it appears.”
“It never ends, though…” I sigh yet again, nervously adjusting my unkempt, staight-from-the-bed hairstyle, as if it could help it.
“What do you mean?” How can he be so freaking clueless?
“Remember that thing about child I blurted out?”
“Yeah, so?… Oh my God, it wasn’t hypothetical?!”
“Not only that. It’s twice as bad as you think.”
“I don’t get it.” Doesn’t get metaphors. Doesn’t get almost direct. What is wrong with you, Reggie? No, I’m not going to tell him that. I’m going to wait till he knows. And if he doesn’t – well, his fault, not mine.
“Twice as bad, Reggie. Think.”
“Twice as bad… As I and Adam sorta thing?” Well, my sincere congratulations, Sherlock.
“You were right, Hailey. It never really ends.”
“As if I didn’t know. Congratulations, Daddy.”
“Bad wording.” Seriously?
“If your life already consists of awful biffs, why not help it at it?”
“We’re going to make it work.”
“Of course. We have to after all, Mr. Smarty.” Reggie playfully pushes me to the pillows to have me look him in the eyes.
“Well, well, there’s improvement. We’ve moved on from daddy at least.” We spend the rest of the night talking about the new improvements in our life and, surprisingly, this time I don’t feel as if I have fallen into a hole with no way out. I know it’s going to be okay with Reggie.