The light on the balcony shone white rays into the bedroom through the cream curtains on the window. It was just a little past midnight on a Monday night and he could not sleep. It was not an uncomfortable night either. The temperature was just right and the streets below them were quiet. It was some a subtle uneasiness that had found a way into his head, into his body and into his heart. He felt a familiar kind of strangeness. For the better part of an hour, he had watched the way the light fell on the door and bounced off the aluminum doorknob in different positions on his side of the bed. He was careful when shifting not to wake her up, as she slept softly by his side. With her back gently by his side and her left hand curved in a v beneath her face. Her right hand was resting on her side, the fingertips feeling the seven month bump in her stomach. He would look at her resting frame occasionally during that hour and he would be calm. Lost in the beauty that seemed to take away all anxiety that shadowed him. The pregnancy had been a surprise to them both but surprises don’t last long. After a month of doubt and nights of heart griping fear, here they were, already used to the baby they decided to keep. But as the reality of childbirth slowly crept in, the anxiety came back, along with it.
He made his mind up and started to slowly get out from under the covers. He felt her squirm a little in her sleep as the cold took his place against her skin. As he stood up, he made sure she was all covered up and then he remained there for a minute. In his boxers and t-shirt, with his toes in the cozy rug, he looked like a black hole in the shadow. He felt like reaching into her stillness and loosing themselves in it. He felt her light shining at the shores of his troubled depths. It would all be alright as long as they were alright. He turned slowly and made his way to the living room.
The living room was in complete darkness. He felt around the wall and switched on the softer side lights on the adjacent walls. He closed the door behind him and walked across the floor straight to the kitchen. He passed an impressive layout for such a small apartment. There seemed to be a strange sense brown in the whole place. The polished wooden furniture and the huge painting by the window on the opposite wall were largely responsible for this. It screamed modesty and beauty. He walked into the kitchen and then stopped at the sink to fill a glass of water. He stood by that sink window and drank slowly, feeling no taste of it. He watched the road below him, lit dimly by a lone street light at a corner. There was no sign of life outside. He felt himself sigh. He turned and sat on one of the two raised seats at the small kitchen table that absorbed some light from the living room, glowing. He opened the laptop computer on the table and booted it up as he took another sip of the water. Out of habit more than need. He stared at the screen and thought about all the things running through his mind. He thought of the things he couldn’t say to her and the way they weighed on him. He thought of all the things that he wanted for his little daughter. He thought of all the ways he was unsuitable to raise a child. And he thought he could write about them.
He clicked on the Notepad icon on his desktop and waited, thinking of some order to his jumbled up thoughts. Three minutes later, he was staring at the blinking cursor on the white background that invited him in and waited patiently. He knew it was a fruitless hope. He could not write like this. So he thought of the next best thing and turned on the webcam. It did not blink as he started recording and he stared into the red light and began to speak.
“For the longest time, I have taken for granted the fact that I never really had a father. I thought it was just one of those things that were and could not be changed. And because I was so young when he was taken from us, my perception of him remained just sort of an incomplete feeling. This helped the process of disregarding the reality and importance of the father. My mom tried with me, fact, she did more than try. She did it the best way she knew how. I was pointed to father figures and I was gently probed towards male role models. And most times than not, she was both my father and my mother. But I was different then. My anxiety was more violent in the way that it affected my actions. I did not see the need and I definitely did not need that kind of pressure. Because family is pressure. And I was so young. I was so lost and I did not know I was lost. I thought I knew exactly how I felt about the world.”
He took a small pause to take a breath before continuing. He could feel the flow coming.
“And then you gave me this little gift that completely overwhelms me. Every time I think about that little life that grows inside of you I feel like my life finally makes sense. I feel like this is what it was all about. It feels like all the roads I have taken in my life have led to this moment. All my time to this stilling and all my pain to this healing. I look at you and you look so beautifully happy and I want to cry because for the first time ever, I have given someone so much. And you have given me even more to be happy about baby. You have made it all shine again. But with this bliss, there follows a distant uncomfortableness that sticks like a patch in my delight. Then slowly fear creeps in too and suddenly there is a thousand little what if’s. Then I finally figured it out. My own father. The person I was becoming in less than two months and by scientific definition, the person I already was. And I know that deep within me, all these uncertainties would have been bearable if he was still around. Or if I had an influence like his on my life. And then I miss him so much. Which is weird, because you cannot miss something you never had.”
He noticed that he had begun to pick a pace and a pitch with his words and he thought he should probably talk a little slower and more silently. He did not want to wake her up. So he continued, as soft as he had started out.
“But I cannot do anything about that now and the reality is I am going to be a father real soon. So I am going to have to go about it the best way I know, and I feel how. So I want to promise you something honey. I want to promise that I will be as loyal to our little girl as Jesus is loyal to God. I am going to make up things as I go along…”
He stopped suddenly as he heard the sharp honk of a car from the other side of the building. It was a late tenant asking for the gates to the apartment buildings to be opened. And he thought, as we all do, that someone else would get it. The second and third honks however, came in quick succession and a scream followed.
He startled out the chair and fumbled for the keys on the table in a sudden panic. He rushed to the bedroom and saw that she was still peacefully out. He then threw on a long trench coat and proceeded to open the door and walked outside. He banged on his neighbor’s doors a couple of times as he rushed down the single flight of stairs, fumbling for the key to the main gate. As he came to the ground floor and turned into the parking lot that covered most of it, he saw the night watchman fumbling at the gate, while the headlights of the car that had kept on honking shone through the spaces. He half ran and half walked towards the gate, seeking to help, the sandals on his feet making a sound that was drowned out by the now incessant honking. Then he heard the unmistakable sound of a car charging forward just as the watchman began to pull the gate away. The car leapt forward and pushed open rest of the gate, throwing the watchman clear over a short distance.
It was coming at him like a light bomb, fast and bright. He did not once notice the sound of braking tires on the floor as it hit him on the side of his stomach when he tried to dodge away.