I was lucky that today was a slow day for me here at the bookstore, not many customers have come in since the Easter Festival began today and a lot of the employees have either gone home or left early to enjoy the festival. It was about four in the afternoon and I sat in my office, doing some inventory, paperwork and filling out the last of my orders that I needed to place before the end of the day so new product would arrive on time for Monday morning. It was Friday, about five months after Hannah and I had our housewarming party and we were doing well in my opinion. Sure, I still wasn’t home as often as I would like, but Hannah’s suddenly become more understanding about it, and she doesn’t mind so much when I need to stay late. I don’t know what changed her mind since we fought for about a week straight after the night we had a fight when my family was over, but I was grateful that she’s been more on-board with me working so much to get all of this debt out of the way.
Our debt has been dwindling faster than I thought, Hannah’s been making more money at the bakery and I guess people around town have really taken a liking to what she can create. She’s been catering desserts for weddings, birthdays, baby showers and anniversary parties a lot more and has been staying open a little later, so we sometimes get home at the same time. I was actually pretty impressed with her and how hard she seemed to be working to make her business bloom. Every now and then when she works one of her catering jobs, I need to bring Oliver with me to the bookstore and watch him since she’d be way too busy to keep an eye on him. I don’t mind that much, he’s a very well behaved boy and I always enjoy our time together. Ever since Hannah made it clear that Oliver barely knows anything about me since I’d been so absent, I tried to fix that situation and the relationship with my son has gotten a lot better since I had been bringing him to my work sometimes. I suppose everything wasn’t so bad anymore, even though I still don’t spend much time with Hannah, I’ve been getting more time with Oliver and that makes me a lot happier than I have been.
Apparently Gareth and Nina have been at the rockiest point so far in their relationship, Nina and Kat have been staying at our place every now and then whenever Gareth and her get into big fights where Nina doesn’t want her and Kat to be around him. I don’t mind having them over, Kat and Oliver have always been close, so at least he has someone to play with a lot more now besides us grown-up’s.. He needs someone his age to be around and I think he’s been a lot happier lately, too. Hannah doesn’t seem to care for Nina very much, but I convinced her to let Nina help her with her catering jobs so Nina can get her mind off of Gareth, and also because Hannah doesn’t have enough help at the bakery. Hannah, Nina and Kat are working a dessert booth at the festival right now to promote the bakery and whenever I get done with my work, which I can guess I’ll be done around five or six, Oliver and I will meet up with them at the festival. I wondered if Gareth would show up, but I didn’t expect him to, not unless there was a free bottomless bar.
I heard a few quiet groans coming from Oliver on the couch he was sleeping on and I looked over towards him, seeing him stir a little in his sleep and a smirk ran across my lips. My office was as silence as could be, and it needed to be in order to get Ollie to take a nap. Him being a light sleeper was rather troublesome on occasion, but at seldom times like these where I got to put him to bed and be there when he woke up, it was all worth the trouble of bringing him to the bookstore with me, even if it was a slight struggle on the days I was busy.
I heard the quietest knock on the other side of the door to my office and I looked up from my computer, seeing one of my employees trying to get my attention. They all knew whenever Oliver was with me and they all knew to look through the glass of the door to check and see if he was sleeping or not to judge the volume of their knock, otherwise I’d make them regret it if they ever woke him. I was happy that the almost silent knock didn’t wake him and I got up, leaving my office as quietly as I could to go to my employee and see what they wanted.
“Yes, Jaime..?” I questioned.
“Hey, uhm.. I was just wondering if I could go home at five..? I don’t want to bore you, but.. My girlfriend is meeting me up at the festival and it’s our three year anniversary, I wanna show up and surprise her with something nice.. So, could I leave at five to go get ready beforehand and meet her there?” He asked and I stared at him for a moment. “I-I mean.. Only if you don’t need me to work anymore.. Jill and Mike are still here working the registers, but there’s barely anyone in the store.. I was.. Just asking.. If not, it’s okay I guess.. I’ll just text her telling her I’ll be late..”
“Why would you be late? Wouldn’t that mean that you planned it earlier during your shift in hopes of getting out early in the first place?” I asked, crossing my arms over my chest and he began to squirm a little as he stood there.
“Oh, uhm.. W-Well, it wasn’t on purpose, really.. I actually was scheduled to only work until two today, but Cindy left early and I had to take over her shift,” he said with a sorrowful tone.
“So, she left without telling me and stuck you with her remaining hours?” I asked and he nodded, “I see..” I replied, thinking for a moment as he continued to act nervous, awaiting my answer eagerly. But, he was lucky I was in a good mood, “Well, her mistake was not being a good worker in the first place, and also not telling me.. Yeah, you can go now if you’d like instead of five, thank you for sticking around and taking over her shift, even though you didn’t have to. I assume she’ll be at the festival, so if you see her before me, tell her she’s fired..” I replied, seeing his expression do a complete turn around and he smiled.
“I’ll definitely do that, thank you for letting me go! Will I see you there, too, after you close?” He asked, comfortable with me now that he knew I wasn’t mad at him.
“Yeah, maybe I’ll see you.. Ollie and I are going to meet my wife up there. You should stop by her dessert table, she makes an excellent funnel cake,” I reply with a smirk and he smiles more with a nod.
“Awesome, sounds good! I’ll see you later then, boss, thanks again,” he answered happily and I nodded, watching him leave before turning back around and going back into my office quietly. He was a good kid and a good worker, I enjoyed having him around the bookstore, and his honesty along with his genuine nature towards people made me briefly consider making him an assistant manager in the near future. I could use someone around here to help me so I don’t get overwhelmed by doing everything myself.
I went back into my office and worked on more of what I needed to finish, and roughly around five thirty, Ollie began to wake up. Even though I only had a few more things to complete, the more he woke up, the more energy he got and he wanted to go to the festival eagerly to see his Mother, so I called it quits before the clock hit six and I got Ollie dressed to go to the festival. Nina had bought him a few Easter outfits to choose from to wear tonight, so I let him wear whichever one he wanted to make Nina happy. She needed her spirits lifted after dealing with Gareth for so long, and I’m sure seeing Oliver wearing the clothes she bought for him would bring up her mood. I cared for Nina because she was the mother of my niece, and I know I always thought less of her for being too naive to leave Gareth for how badly he treats her, but I had to admit I was impressed by how long she’s been able to put up with him. She was a lot stronger than I thought to deal with such a menace on her own. I knew I could deal with it because he was my brother and I had to growing up, but I gave her a lot of credit for being able to stay with him for the sake of Kat, even with now hearing from her that he hasn’t been faithful, which didn’t surprise me at all when she told us.. Their awful relationship made me grateful that I had someone as dedicated as Hannah in my life.
“You look great, Ollie. You ready to go see Mommy and find some Easter eggs?” I asked him, carrying him out of my office after I had shut everything off.
“Yeah! And I wanna eat a cupcake and ice cream, a-and..” He answered excitedly, trying to think of everything he wanted to do when we got to the festival.
I chuckled at how excited he was, warming my heart as I tried to think of other things for us to do, “How about getting your face painted?”
“Yeah, that, too!” He replied and I chuckled happily again.
“How aboutttt.. Bobbing for apples?” I continued and he nodded happily with a smile, “And.. Oh! There’s some fireworks later, too! Are you excited for those?”
“Yeah, yeah! Mommy likes fireworks, too!”
“Yup, she sure does,” I answered with a laugh, leaning in and pecking his cheek happily. We walked downstairs and I let the rest of the employees leave with us, locking the door behind us and Oliver and I made our way to the festival.
When Ollie and I got to the festival, we walked around for a few minutes, admiring all of the decorations and children running around gathering Easter eggs for the spring season. I set Oliver down on the ground and encouraged him to go and find a lilac colored egg to bring to his mother and he excitedly ran off to carefully inspect every egg he could find until he found the perfect one. “Daddy, look! I can’t find lilac, but I found purple..?”
“Good job, I’m sure she’ll love it,” I replied with a smile, taking it from him to hold onto and Oliver rushed off to find more eggs just for fun.
After about twenty minutes of being there, I decided it was time that Ollie and I go on the search for Hannah’s booth and when we were looking around, I ran into Jaime from earlier with the girlfriend that he was supposed to meet here. “Hey, Mr. Dubois!” I heard from a distance, seeing him pulling his girlfriend towards me with a smile and I smiled warmly at the sight of them together, “This is my girlfriend, Belle,” he introduced her, but stopped to correct himself, “Sorry, uhm.. Fiance, Belle,” he added, giving a shy look towards her and I held an impressed expression. “This is my boss at the bookstore, Mr. Dubois.”
“Hello, Mr. Dubois,” she said politely.
“Please, call me Gibson, it’s good to meet you,” I replied, looking to Jaime then, “So, the surprise for her was a ring? That’s wonderful, congrats,” I reply and he chuckled nervously, “Let me see the ring,” I requested politely and she showed it to me with the biggest grin on her lips, “Wow.. That’s a big rock. You’re a very lucky young woman, he’s a great kid,” I complimented and he bowed his head in appreciation.
“Oh, this is my son, Oliver.. Say hi to Jaime and Belle, Ollie,” I insisted, but he hid his face in my neck and we all laughed softly.
Belle stepped closer, “It’s great to meet you, Oliver.. I like the egg you have, is it for anyone?” She asked nicely and he still hid his face.
“Oliver, answer her,” I insisted more and he finally came out from my neck and looked to Belle.
“..My mommy..” He answered quietly and I chuckled.
“Aww that’s so sweet of you! My dress has purple on it, too, do you like it?” Belle asked and we watched as he shyly nodded, then went back into my neck, hugging me and hiding his face and we all laughed softly again at his behavior. I liked Jaime’s fiance, it was obvious that she liked children and I liked how she was with Oliver.
“Do you babysit by chance, Belle?” I asked, seeing her face grow slight remorse.
“No, I actually don’t.. I’m just good with kids because I have three younger siblings I used to watch. I have a part-time job right now in the mornings, but if you and your wife ever need a date night, I’d be glad to watch him if it’s anytime after five?” She hinted with a smile and I snickered.
“We’re actually in need a date night very soon, been at the office a little too much,” I replied and Jaime chuckled and nodded in agreement, “I’d love to give you a call whenever that comes up. I’ll get your number from Jaime on Monday at work if that’s alright?”
“Yes, of course, that would be wonderful! Since we’re planning a wedding now, the extra money would be amazing,” she said with joy, looking to Jaime with a warm smile.
“Great, sounds good. Would you like to walk with us and try and find my wife’s booth?”
“Yeah, sure! We’ll get one of those great funnel cakes you recommended,” Jaime replied and I smiled with a nod, walking with Jaime, Belle and Oliver around the festival to find Hannah’s dessert table.
Eventually, we found our way to Hannah’s booth and there were a few customers she was waiting on, but she looked over briefly and smiled when she saw Oliver in my arms. When we had arrived, she finished up with the line she had and the last customers were Jaime and Belle, giving them a funnel cake as I had promised they’d get and they thanked me before telling us to have a good night and they went on their way alone. I was happy for them, Jaime reminded me a lot of myself when I had first met Hannah and I enjoyed seeing him with the one he loved. Now that Hannah had closed the booth for the night, I was glad to finally get some time with her and Oliver together rather than at home in the normal, uneventful setting we always had to deal with.
Hannah came over to us after closing with a smile on her face, “There’s my big boy! Oh my go- You look so cute!” She cooed sweetly and I smiled as I watched them together.
“I found this for you.. It’s not lilac, but it’s purple!” Oliver said excitedly and Hannah smiled.
“Awww, thank you, you’re such a sweet boy,” Hannah replied, reaching for Oliver and I handed him to her, Hannah then looking towards Nina and walking off towards her and I assumed that she was going to show Nina the outfit that Oliver had chosen to wear. I let her go, though I felt a little ignored when she hadn’t even kissed me, let alone say anything at all to me before leaving my side with Oliver and going to Nina.
I watched as Nina swooned over Oliver and his outfit that she had got him, smirking lightly to myself as I watched them, yet I couldn’t help but feel a sense of loneliness now that I wasn’t with my son or wife, or anyone. I stood there alone, averting my eyes from them eventually and looking out to the festival, seeing children and adults alike having fun on this spring holiday and I somewhat wished that I had come not dressed up in my work clothes, maybe then Hannah would have said something to me instead of ignoring me.
I felt a slight tug on my pant leg and I looked down, seeing Katalina looking up at me with a big, beautiful smile, “Uncle Gibby, do you like my flowers?” She asked and I couldn’t hold back a smile of my own. I hated being called ‘Gibby’, but the only one I let call me that without feeling any sense of resentment was my niece.
I picked her up and looked at her headband made of flowers, “Oohhh, they’re very pretty.. You look so perfect, Kat,” I replied, seeing her smile, pleased with my response, “Do you know if your Daddy is coming to the festival?” I asked and I watched her shrug.
“I dunno.. I hope he does,” she replied and I nodded.
“I hope he comes, too, then he can see how gorgeous you look,” I replied, hearing her laugh softly. “Do you miss him?” I asked, watching her smile fade and she nodded, “I know you and Mommy have been at our place a lot, but sometimes being apart for a little while can really help people.. You’ll see him very soon, I know it,” I reassured her, though I wasn’t even sure if I was lying at this point or not..
“Hey, do you wanna walk around the festival with me for a little bit? Let’s go find some Easter eggs, huh..?” I offered, wanting to spend time with someone and who better than my niece since everyone else seemed to be so occupied?
“Yeah!” She answered happily and I walked away from Hannah’s dessert table to enjoy the festival with Kat.
We walked around for a little bit, soon finding an open area and I sat down on a bench, watching her run around, looking like a little princess and having fun being dolled up for this once-a-year occasion. Kat would run around and find a few eggs at a time, bringing them all back to me and making a small pile to hoard them for herself, telling me to keep an eye on them and I promised I would with a laugh under my breath at how adorable she was. But, as much fun as I was having with Katalina, I wished that Oliver was with us, too, but I didn’t want to take him away from Hannah after she had closed to be with him.
I know it was a stupid idea, especially given the situation Hannah and I were in, but Katalina made me want more kids, a daughter to be specific. How could Gareth not even show the slightest bit of care for this girl when all she did was love him unconditionally? Oliver never showed that type of excitement whenever he laid eyes on me, he did it for Hannah a lot, but that’s only because he’s spent a lot more time with her and he just prefers her most of the time. Though, with a girl, maybe I would get that attention, maybe someone would be excited to see me whenever I get home from work.
“Fancy seeing you here,” I heard a familiar voice and Kat put a name to the face that I hadn’t turned to see yet.
“Daddy! Daddy’s here!” She called out, running passed me and I finally looked over to see Gareth, not bothering to pay any attention to Kat or even picking her up to greet her and he stopped next to me, sitting down on the bench.
Kat followed him eagerly, forcing him to notice her by crawling up and into his lap and trying to show him her dress and flowery headband, “Daddy, look! Do you like my flowers?” She asked, wanting him to acknowledge her and he looked to her with disinterest.
“Oh, uhm.. Yeah, baby, really pretty,” he replied with a fake smirk and she showed joy in her expression.
“Why aren’t you wearing Easter colors?” She asked, looking at his outfit and becoming displeased by his lack of holiday involvement.
“Because, Daddy doesn’t like wearing frilly girly colors.. Uncle Gibs isn’t wearing any Easter colors, either, go yell at him instead,” he dismissed her like I knew he would, but luckily before Kat could get on my case about not wearing any holiday colors, I gave her another suggestion instead of Gareth’s.
“Hey, Kat.. Since he isn’t wearing any colors, you should go around and find him some flowers so he can have a pretty headband like you, then you two could match!” I said happily and Kat’s level of excitement went through the roof, climbing off of Gareth and running off to find flowers.
“No, no-no-no-no, Kat!” Gareth tried to stop her and I laughed under my breath as she ignored him, her excitement of matching flower headbands with her father was too hard for her to resist.
“You must actually really hate me to suggest something like that to her,” Gareth said pretend sadly as he hunched over and I chuckled again under my breath.
“It’ll be fun for her.. She’s always so excited to see you.. With you and Nina being apart a lot lately, she doesn’t get a lot of time to see you anymore,” I tried to reason with him.
“You don’t hear me complaining,” he replied and I sighed heavily.
“Yeah, well.. I hear complaining a lot from her. Would it really kill you to spend an hour with her? Let her make you a flower headband thing and when you leave you can get rid of it or do whatever the hell you want,” I reply and he let out a groan. “Just make her happy today.. She misses you, Gareth, a lot.”
“Is Nina here?” He asked, ignoring my previous statements and he watched me nod, “Great.. I was hoping she wouldn’t be, but I don’t know why I thought she wouldn’t.. I don’t even want to talk to her if she sees me, but I know she’s going to want to.. She always does,” he continued and his tone sounded irritated, “I should just leave while I still have a chance to not be seen,” he added, beginning to get up from the bench, but I put my hand on his shoulder and forced him back down into the seat.
“Stop being so immature. Your daughter is out there making you a crown out of flowers so you two can match because she barely gets to see you anymore and she would be crushed if you left without saying goodbye. If you’re not here for Nina, then be here for Kat, alright? Look at everything she does for you to get your attention.. She didn’t do anything wrong to deserve any of this, so don’t put it on her,” I stated, seeing him lean back and roll his eyes.
“Yeah, yeah.. Whatever..” He dismissed me, yet he sat there and stayed, something I didn’t expect.
“Well.. If you’re not here for either of them, who are you here for?” I asked, looking back at him and he looked to me as well.
“That wasn’t believable at all,” I replied, watching him look away from me and he didn’t bother correcting himself, though we both knew he was lying. “Why so secretive? You used to brag about it all the time, telling me every gruesome, graphic detail that I never wanted to hear,” I continued, chuckling softly.
“Yeah, used to,” he answered, still facing away from me and I lost whatever smirk I held.
I faced forward, sighing softly as I looked around the park and noticed it was getting darker since the parks lights had turned on. The fireworks would be starting soon and I wanted to be with Oliver and Hannah, though if I left, I knew Gareth would ditch, leaving Kat to come back to no one and I couldn’t let that happen.. “Why does this never change..? Ever since I met someone and moved out, we’ve never been the same. Everything kind of just.. Toppled over and there’s no bottom to stop the falling.. Did I do something?” I asked. “I know this isn’t the most ideal place to talk about this, but when are we going to get another chance? ..I just want to know what I did, simplify it even and say it outright so I understand right away,” I continued, looking back at him and he looked towards me as well.
“..You’re really bad at being there for people.. Is that simple enough?” Gareth replied and I grew discouraged instantly.
“Okay.. I understand, but.. Can you give me an example maybe?” I asked, wanting him to go more in depth.
“Well, for one, you never helped me out with Kat when she was born like you said you would, it was hell trying to figure all of that shit without you and with Nina..” He replied somewhat angrily.
“Look.. I’m sorry that I didn’t help you as much as I had originally intended, but to be fair, I was going through the exact same thing you were but I was only behind by a couple of months.. I had Hannah and work to worry about, and when Oliver was born and with how busy I got with my job, I didn’t have the time I thought I would to come over and help you. I don’t think it’s fair that you hold some kind of grudge against me because of it,” I replied and he didn’t respond, looking away from me and I sighed softly as I faced away from him as well. This was going nowhere, just like all of our other conversations we’ve had ever since I moved out, but I didn’t know what else to say to make him happy and to make sure we were okay again.. Was this the last chance I had at trying to make things better between us?
“I understand if you think I wasn’t there for you before, but parenting isn’t exactly supposed to be easy in the first place.. If you needed that much help, you could’ve easy looked up some stuff on how to do whatever it is you were having trouble with when raising Kat.. You don’t need me to guide you through it, you’re smarter than that, Gareth,” I replied, looking back at him and seeing he was still angry.
“That’s assuming that I wanted to succeed at this kind of thing, when in reality I couldn’t give two fucks. I know she’s my daughter and I’m supposed to love her an’ all that.. But it’s hard when I didn’t even want any of this to happen in the first place,” he rebutted, though I don’t even know why this was turning into an argument instead of a simple conversation.. I guess there was no such thing as ‘simple’ when it came to us.
“Well, it did happen and there’s nothing you can do about it now, so man-up and get used to it, because Kat’s already born and waiting every second of her life for you to notice her without her needing to beg for you to.. Don’t you find it comforting at all that she loves you so unconditionally that no matter what you do, she still keeps coming back, trying to make you happy? She has as big of a heart as Nina does for you and you completely ignore it.. Why? Why do you hate to be loved so much?” I asked, seeing him look to me with a disheveled face, but before he could answer, Kat came running back towards us.
“Daddy! Look, look! Isn’t it beautiful?” She called out, running over towards us with the flower crown she had made Gareth and I smiled towards her, “Let me put it on you,” she said excitedly and I looked to Gareth, seeing him look at me for a few long seconds and he let out a heavy sigh, leaning forward and Kat placed the flowers on his head. He pulled back and Kat clapped her hands together happily, “You look so pretty, Daddy!” She said with joy and I watched as he rolled his eyes.
“Don’t call me pretty or else I’ll take it off,” he replied blandly, reaching forward and picking her up to place on his lap. “There, now we match.. Happy?” He asked with an angered tone and she nodded with pure joy.
“Wow, Kat.. You made that all by yourself?” I asked and she nodded with a wide smile.
“Mommy showed me how,” she replied.
“Well, you did an amazing job. You’re so artistic,” I complimented and she continued to smile at me.
I got up and took my phone out, “What are you doing..?” Gareth asked and I didn’t answer him, going to my camera, turning the flash on and smiling as I positioned it towards them, “No, no no, no pictures!” Gareth contested and I snapped the photo with Kat smiling as best she could and Gareth putting his hand up to hide his face. I let out a soft laugh at the photo I had gotten, wanting to send it to Nina so she had at least one picture of Gareth and Kat together, making history by getting this good of a photo with them since it was the first one I had known that had been taken of them together.. Or, well.. The best photo that I could get of them together..
“You’re officially dead to me,” Gareth said with a sigh, laughing softly as I put my phone away.
“Oh, shut up.. It’s a good picture. It’ll be nice for Kat to have as a memory when she gets older,” I replied and it was obvious that he could care less.
“Kat! Oh, thank goodness, I thought I had lost her!” Nina’s gentle voice came from a little ways away from us and we all looked towards her, seeing Hannah following her holding Oliver. Nina went to Kat and took her from Gareth, hugging her tightly and I felt bad a little for not remembering to tell her I was taking her.
“Sorry, Nina.. I took her and we walked around the festival together, I should’ve told you,” I said to her and she shook her head.
“It’s okay, Gibson, I was just worried.. I should’ve known you had her because both of you were gone.. I’m just glad she was with you and not on her own,” she replied and I smirked, glad that she wasn’t upset.
“I like your flowers, Gareth,” we heard Hannah say with a soft chuckle following her words and I smiled, looking to Gareth and I saw him smirk towards her.
“Thanks, Han.. Kat made it for me,” he replied, noticing him not breaking eye contact anytime soon from Hannah and I cleared my throat, standing up and walking over to her holding Oliver.
“Don’t you think we should give them some time alone?”
“Don’t need any time, because I’m leaving..” Gareth said before Hannah could answer me and we watched as he stood from the bench, walking away from us without even saying goodbye.
“Wait, Daddy! The fireworks!” Kat called out, trying to get him to stay a little longer, but he didn’t listen, continuing to walk away from us all and I sighed, feeling bad for Kat.. I guess he really couldn’t stand spending an hour with Kat, even for her sake..
“Gareth, wait!” Nina called out, handing Kat to me in a hurry and I took her, Hannah and I watching as she went after Gareth.
I looked to Kat, getting her attention to take her mind off of her dysfunctional parents, “Hey, they’ll be right back.. Let’s go find a spot where we can watch the fireworks while they talk, okay?” I asked and she eventually nodded in agreement with a blank expression, though I knew she was sad and even without her being old enough to understand, I felt that even she knew that Gareth wasn’t going to be coming back with Nina whenever they’d be done talking..
We all found a spot in an open area where we could be seen by Nina whenever she came back, and also far away enough from the crowd where we could enjoy the fireworks alone as a family. We sat and waited, Hannah and I sitting next to one another and we watched as Oliver and Kat played in the grass together, waiting for the fireworks to start. I looked towards Hannah and she had a soft smile on her lips as she watched the kids, smirking to myself as I watched her enjoying them and I scooted a little closer, “It’s nice to be together and out of the house, isn’t it? I look forward to Holiday events a lot, as much as I still look forward to Sunday’s with you two,” I said quietly, leaning towards her and kissing her cheek for a few long seconds.
I pulled away and looked to the side of her face, seeing her look at me briefly with what I believed to be a fake smile and my expression went troubled, “Are you okay..? I feel like you’ve been trying to avoid me tonight,” I say with a nervous chuckle and she faced the kids playing in front of us.
“Yeah, I’m fine.. I haven’t been avoiding you, I’ve just been with Oliver and Nina.. We needed to clean up the booth before we could enjoy the festival so I wanted to get that out of the way quickly. After we did that, you were gone with Kat, so I thought it would be nice if you spent some time with her since Gareth wasn’t here.. She needs a man in her life a lot more now that Gareth has been so absent, just like every child their age does,” she replied and I couldn’t help but wonder if that was a stab towards not only Gareth, but me as well.. But, I agreed with her, in times like these without Gareth, I needed to be the one to help Kat get through this better, and as much as I didn’t mind spending time with her, I still wished that Gareth would at least be with her more than he was while him and Nina were going through this rough patch.
As I looked at Hannah, I began to feel guilty about how absent I myself have been from them. I didn’t want Hannah or Oliver to ever think that I would do the things that Gareth is doing, I never wanted to be in his position and I never would not care about my family as much as he doesn’t.. I leaned towards Hannah again and brought my hand to the side of her face, turning her head towards me to get her attention, “I love you.. I’ll never be like Gareth and I’ll never ruin what we have, I promise,” I said softly, pulling her into a soft kiss for a few moments and pulling away with a smirk on my lips.
The fireworks started and I looked away from Hannah, looking up to the sky as I watched the bursts of light explode in the night with a loud bang echoing across the town, “Kids, come here, come watch the fireworks,” I said to Kat and Oliver, watching as they ran back to us and Oliver climbed in Hannah’s lap as Kat crawled into mine. The fireworks continued and I smiled as I watched them, Kat and Oliver getting excited whenever they saw one they loved, but when I looked towards Hannah from the corner of my eye to see if she was having as good of a time as we were, I noticed that her gaze wasn’t even looking up. Her eyes looked off into the distance longingly and there wasn’t a smile on her face, worrying me a little and I knew that something was wrong with her even when she had said she was fine. Was it something I said? I thought that what I told her would make her happy and I thought spending this kind of time together would, too, but I couldn’t help but feel that there was more to what met the eye. The lack of happiness in her eyes made me worry and the lack of her involvement with me today still bothered me, like there was something she wasn’t telling me..
Was I lying to her again..? To myself? Had I already ruined what I thought was still a good thing..? I couldn’t be imagining things, she obviously wasn’t happy with either what I said or it had to be something else completely.. She and I were on the best terms we could be on I had thought, and I knew it would get better once the debt was paid off and I could be home more often, but was that kinda of patience asking for too much? Had I been working myself to death to provide for them, only to get a cold shoulder when we finally had the chance to be with one another? Gareth’s words were on repeat in my head, “you’re really bad at being there for people”.. When he had told me that, at first I thought he was only talking about himself, but as I thought about it more, it seemed that he might’ve been talking more in a generality. But, no.. That didn’t make sense.. He wouldn’t know how Hannah or anyone else was feeling because he never sees anyone anymore.. He segregates himself and there isn’t much anyone can say to change that. ..Yet, why do I feel like him referring to his words in a general sense could be true? Was I a bad father? A poor husband? A shoddy brother..? I couldn’t tell if I was ever doing the right thing anymore, and I was beginning to worry that I had failed to see the lives I had tarnished and brought down with me the last few years when I had thought things would get better.. But, I was naive to think that; if anything, things were getting worse.. What was supposed to be a fun-filled, beautiful night with my family, it had left me feeling nothing but a slight sense of loneliness and a large amount of regret for reasons I wasn’t even sure of.